How to Figure Out What Foundation Color You Are

Published Categorized as Makeup Tips

Foundation is a base you use for almost any makeup. It helps in covering up blemishes and evening out complexion. It gives a more uniform surface to apply the rest of your makeup. But how do you figure out what foundation color you are?

It’s crucial to choose the right shade of foundation. No matter what type of foundation you prefer (whether that’s a full-coverage powder foundation or the latest liquid foundation in the market), the wrong shade will look obvious and unnatural. It’s best to choose the closest foundation color to your skin possible.

We understand that finding the perfect shade of foundation can feel close to impossible. Thankfully, more and more brands are creating foundations for a variety of skin tones, as they should.

So, exactly how should you be determining the perfect foundation for yourself?

Table of Contents

How to Figure Out What Foundation Color You Are - Ellis James Designs

How to Figure Out What Foundation Color You Are

1. Determine Your Skin Tone

The very first step in finding out what shade of foundation you should be using is identifying your skin tone. No matter if the type of foundation you’re choosing is powder or liquid foundation, you have to figure this out first. Your skin tone refers to the natural color of your foundation. This ranges from fair skin to dark skin.

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The simplest way to determine your skin tone is:

  • Fair: You will probably be described as having porcelain-like skin a couple of times by your friends and family.
  • Light: You are pale but not necessarily as light as someone who has a porcelain-like skin.
  • Medium: It gets a bit complicated as you get stuck in between. Your skin tone is neither super fair nor is it super dark, but somewhere in between.
  • Dark: Your complexion is on the deeper side.
How to Figure Out What Foundation Color You Are - Ellis James Designs

2. Determine Your Undertone

The next step in finding the perfect shade of foundation is determining your undertone. This isn’t as easy as determining your skin tone.

Skin tone basically refers to the shade of your skin and your complexion, while undertones are colors that come from within your skin. These can affect your overall hue. Typically, undertones of the skin can be neutral, warm, or cool.

People with cool undertones in their complexion will have hints of pink or blue.

Warm undertones will be more peachy or yellow.

With neutral undertones, you are not too pink, nor too yellow.

How to Figure Out What Foundation Color You Are - Ellis James Designs

There are ways that can help to determine your undertone:

Looking at the inner part of your arm

You’ll need to take a closer look at your veins. If they appear to be purplish or bluish, then you most likely have a cool undertone.

People with green-looking veins mean they have a warm undertone.

If it looks like more of an in-between of green and blue, then you most likely have a neutral undertone.

Holding a piece of white paper to the face

Take something white, like a piece of paper, and place it to your face. The white color should create a cast of color on your skin. If your face suddenly looks blue or pink, then you have a cool undertone.

You think your face looks more yellow against the paper? Then you have a warm undertone.

If your face looks greyish in contrast, then you have a neutral undertone.

Consider the color of the jewelry you typically wear that looks good on you

We all have a type of jewelry that we steer towards, either silver or gold. If you are the type that wears gold and it compliments you well, then you most likely have a warm undertone.

On the other hand, if you look better with silver jewelry, then you most likely have a cool undertone.

If you notice no difference or if both of them look good on you, then you’re likely neutral.

3. Getting the Perfect Shade of Foundation

Now that you have a good understanding of how to determine your skin tone and undertone, let’s move on to finding you the perfect foundation shade.

Use your own skin tone

If you have a cool undertone, pick a foundation with a blue, pink, or red base. Stick to shades such as sable, porcelain, cocoa, and rose.

If you have a warm undertone, stick to foundations with a yellow or golden base, with shades such as chestnut, beige, caramel, and tan.

For neutral undertones, stick to shades such as ivory, praline, buff, or nude.

Begin with drugstore foundations

We know finding your perfect shade of foundation is not easy. Hence, we recommend you first hit the department store or the pharmacy to find yourself a foundation to try.

Not only are they cheaper, most drugstore makeup these days are available in multiple shades.

When at a store or boutique, ask for help when shade-matching. If there isn’t anyone around, try out most of the store testers to find yourself the perfect shade.

If you get it wrong, it isn’t too painful on the pocket, and you can try again.

Test the shades

When searching for a foundation, look out for shades matching closely to your skin tone going by eye. Once you have selected a couple of them, test each of them by simply dabbing some swatches preferably on your jawline.

This is because the skin at the jawline is typically truer to our natural undertone. It gives you the best idea of how your foundation looks when swatched closer to the neck.

For stores that don’t offer testers, simply hold the bottle close to your neck and the jawline to determine if it’s right for you.

In addition, avoid the lighting in the store and go closer to an area with natural lighting.

Choosing foundation

Always remember that the perfect shade of foundation is the kind that will effortlessly blend into your own skin. Foundation is not supposed to be visible. Its main job is to provide you with an even canvas on which you can work.

Make sure that your foundation does a good job at covering how much you want covered, but at the same time makes you look natural.


In case you do not find the perfect shade, you can always pick up two or more foundations close to your shade. Blend them together to make a shade that looks perfect for your skin tone.

There you have it!

Hopefully we’ve been of help in figuring out what foundation color you are. As you can see, it majorly depends on your undertone.

Be sure to try out several tester foundations on your jawline before settling for one!

Good luck!

Read more about foundation on our blog:

Tell us, how did you find your perfect shade of foundation?

By Ellis James

We design luxuriously glamorous bags, organizers and life essentials for you. At Ellis James Designs, it’s all about YOU. Your bag, Your way. Our exclusive designs are timeless, indulgent and most importantly inspired by you. What will be your first Ellis James Design?