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Descriptive Guide and Tips to Select the Right Foundation Shade and Type | Makeup Beauty Blog

April 13, 2015

Hello my nuggets


I hope you are doing fantastic. Today I am going to do a wholesome BIG post with tips on how the choose the right foundation based on your skin type and how to choose the right shade. Choosing the right type and shade of foundation is one of the biggest nightmares for every single girl (and guy) out there. There are sooooo many varieties, brands, shades... it is basically like a huge task... sometimes you shortlist and then remain inconclusive... something like choosing whether to buy a Agatha Christie or Sidney Sheldon... !! LOL! ;) 


I have done this series through my Facebook Page 'The Face Palette by Lekshmi Menon' last year and many girls did read through the tips I had given and did benefit from it. However, I would like to put the same series into this blog because, I want many other girls like you to also benefit from it. When you have the right shade and type of foundation in hand, it is like you have filled half of your makeup kit. So, hopefully this will help many of you lovelies out there. :)


I will be doing this in several parts throughout this post, so be patient, grab a cuppa tea/coffee/wine/juice and read through. Through the Foundation series I will give you important tips to get the perfect foundation for your skin and will elaborate on each points to get it just right.


Remember, the purpose of a foundation is not to make you look LIGHTER or DARKER! Its purpose is to even out your complexion to give you a flawless base. It is important you know how to choose the right product so that you don't blindly fall under what the sales assistant at the makeup counters ask you to buy. Remember, it is crucial to get your base makeup right. Knowing how to select the right product can help you achieve your desired look and will help you from wasting money on all those foundations that you have stacked up in your shelf which are the wrong shades. Foundation is the base, get your base right and everything else will fall into place. :)


The most important key points you need to note when you purchase your foundation should be:

  1. Get it matched based on your skin type

  2. Get the right undertone

  3. Get the finish you require, dewy/matte/semi-matte/satin etc.

  4. Does your foundation oxidise on your skin?

  5. Does it fall under your budget?

1. Match your Skin Type


It is important to OBSERVE your skin closely to understand the type of skin you have first. Figure out whether it is oily, combination, normal, sensitive, dry, very dry, acne-prone etc. Look at your skin closely and understand how it changes its texture throughout the year. This is important since your foundation should always match your skin type as the formulation works accordingly. If you do not do this, you can cause excessive dryness or breakouts. Usually a foundation contain a base such as water, oil or wax. Depending on the skin type the foundation is made for, the base of the foundation also vary. Therefore, it is vital for you to select the right foundation formula based on your skin type.



People with oily skin require a foundation that is oil-free, has matte finish, absorbent formula that can absorb the excessive sebum production on your face. It usually contains silica beads to absorb excess oil from the skin. A foundation that is suitable for oily skin does not contain oil as the skin itself produces enough oil. 



People with dry skin, however, require a foundation that has oil to compensate for the dryness, has more oil in its formulation and its base and can give a natural dewy glow finish.



You need to also determine whether you are somebody who have combination skin type. For such a person, you can get several foundations in the market that contain silica beads to absorb excess oil and at the same time contain lecithin that can provide the necessary hydration as well.



If you are somebody who suffer from excessive acne, you can get foundations in the market that contain Salicylic acid, that does not contain acne exacerbating ingredients such as mineral oils and waxes or certain ingredients such as polyethylene. If you are somebody who does fall into such a category, look out for brands that do such formulation of foundations. 


If a person with oily skin use a foundation formulated for dry skin, it can make your face look too oily and blotchy causing breakouts. On the other hand, people with dry skin, if you use a matte formula foundation suitable for oily skin, it can cause excessive dryness and the foundation can really cling to the dry patches on your face making it look uneven. Sometimes matte foundations on dry skin can also look as though your face has creases and it has cracked. If you have acne prone skin, remember, other foundations may contain ingredients that can trigger a breakout and can be sensitive to your skin type. Therefore, it is important to make sure you get your skin type right while buying your foundation.



2. Match your Skin Undertone


Source: Google images,


It is very important to get this step absolutely right. Many of us make the mistake of either getting the foundation too light or too dark (trust me, I have done it couple of times before). LOL ! It is very important to note that understanding what undertone you are plays a very crucial role in selecting the right shade of foundation. Undertones depend on a person's melanin percentage, diet, HB levels so it tend to vary from person to person. This is the shade that basically lies under the surface of the exposed skin. Knowing your undertone can help you to understand what makeup will sit best on your skin tone.



Every face and every skin colour is different. Some people have more yellow in their colour, some have more pinks, some have neutrals. Undertones are of 3 types:


Cool tones, Warm tones and Neutrals

  • People with cool tones have more pinks, blues or reds in their skin. 

  • Warm tones will be generally more yellow, gold and olive skin.

  • Neutrals will be a mix of both cool and warm.

When an artist paints human skin colour, they do not just mix yellow or white to get the skin shade right. They use blues/reds/yellow etc to get the right skintone. Similarly a makeup artist does the same job when they apply your foundation.


The most generic way to determine your undertone is through the vein test.



a) Observe the inside wrists of your hands and watch closely in natural light.

b) If you have more blue-purple veins, you have a COOL undertone.

c) If you have more greens and olive veins then you have a WARM undertone.

d) If you have a mix of both blue and green veins then you have more NEUTRAL undertone.



a) Cleanse your face well and pat dry. Wear a nice clean white dress/top/blouse/t-shirt anything.

b) Go to natural daylight and place a mirror in front.

c) Observe your skin closely all around your neck and face and check whether you have more yellow or pinks or reds in your skin.



a) People with warm tone in their skin will look better with yellow/gold jewellery on their neck.

b) People with cool tone in their skin will look pretty with more silver/white gold/platinum jewellery on their neck.


Once you determine your undertone, you can get the shade match absolutely right. 



3. Match the Right Foundation Finish



If you are somebody who has oily/combination skin type, it is always better to go for a foundation that has a matte or semi-matte finish. Such foundations usually do not contain oil based ingredients and they are made in such a way that they can very well work with a skin that produces excessive oils. They contain ingredients such as Kaolin Clay and absorbent ingredients and powder like formula. These matte finish foundations usually have silica, cornstarch and other talc based products that can keep the oils from skin at bay and can prevent skin getting oily for a period of time. It is important that a matte finish foundation is blended well into the skin else it can look cakey pretty easily. They tend to be usually medium to full coverage so can easily help to conceal pigmentation and blemishes on the skin. If you wish to get a lighter coverage from such a foundation, mix it with a bit of a light moisturiser. 


If you are somebody who has oily skin and wants a dewy glowing finish to your face, remember, that such a foundation can make your face look too oily. Tips i can give you is, you can powder your face after applying your foundation without caking it up, especially around your T-zone. Keep oil blotting papers in hands and blot throughout the day to prevent oils and shine. Sometimes, such amount of excessive oil secretion can make your skin acne prone and can cause breakouts as well, so be warned! :)



If you are somebody who do have dry to very dry skin, most of the foundations will tend to have a dewy, satin finish. Most of the foundations that are made for dry skin contain oils as a base. They mostly contain jojoba oil, avocado oil or even glycerides to provide the necessary hydration and glow to compensate for the lack of natural oil production in your skin. Dewy foundation can look natural and can make the finish look as though it is skin. Dewy foundations are usually light to medium coverage which are buildable upon desire. If you wish to have a better coverage for a foundation of this formula, always build it up layer by layer. This finish of foundation can really make your skin glow and look young and youthful.


If you are somebody who has dry skin and prefer a matte finish foundation, remember, they are not actually apt for you. A tip you can use is mix the foundation with 2 drops of jojoba oil or a well hydrating primer and moisturiser or a glowing base such as MAC Strobe cream underneath. These can give a bit of shine to your face. However, after sometime, if you have very dry skin, the dry patches may still cling or crack on your skin.



If you have really sensitive acne prone skin and are prone to getting blemishes, remember to select foundations that contain ingredients such as Salicylic acid or Benzoyl peroxide that can help to fight blemishes. Remember, all the foundation suitable to acne prone skin are oil-free and do not contain mineral oils that can actually trigger a blemish. Mineral foundations are a really good option for people suffering from acne-prone skin. They are natural looking, does not cake up nor clog pores in your skin.



4. Does your Foundation Oxidise?? The Oompa-Loompa effect!!


 Source: Collage created from Google Images


One of the major concerns for many people after they buy a foundation is to get the right shade and sometimes, after you test the shade that matches your skin tone, you buy the product and take it home and wear it for that very special function.. after 2-3 hours, you take your mirror and look at yourself, you see the foundation rather looking darker / orange or dull on your skin.


This has been a big concern for many girls out there who buy foundation and is still a big dilemma. ( I know girls, don't worry.. I have been through that phase myself! )


The reason for this is because your foundation has OXIDISED on your face.


This majorly happens with people who have very oily / oily / combination skin type. There is no one specific reason why this happens but it is generally due to the PH factor in your skin that reacts with the ingredients in the foundation that makes it oxidise. Foundations are usually made of ingredients such as Zinc oxide, Titanium Dioxide and other metal oxides that usually provide the pigments to create the foundation shade. When the natural oils in your skin has a higher PH balance, and when it is exposed to the air, it reacts with the ingredients in your foundation, causing the reaction to turn your face darker / orange. This is one of the major reasons why you need to have a clean face before you apply your makeup. Climatic conditions and certain people's body types also play a role in your foundations oxidising. Remember every person is different and can react differently to wearing foundation as well.


Another reason why a foundation oxidises is because, some foundations suitable for oily/combination skin contain powder talc ingredients and when the powder finish settling into your skin, the finish and the shade differ.


To avoid this scenario, it is very very important for you to test your foundation prior to buying the full-size. When you go to a store/cosmetic retailer to buy a foundation, NEVER EVER buy spontaneously. ALWAYS ask for a tester to take it home and see how it sits on your skin in natural daylight. Follow the below steps always:


a) When you reach a store to buy your foundation and they shade test it for you, remember, the store lighting plays a role in making you look all perfect, however, that may not be the case when you see yourself in natural daylight.


b) DO NOT hesitate to ask the consultant to test it for you on your face FULLY and ask them for a sample to take it home so that you can test it yourself and be 100% sure before you spend your money.


c) If they refuse to help you out with a sample, find an alternative store that can give you a sample. REMEMBER it is your money and they are there to help you out.


d) Take the sample home, cleanse your face very well, apply a good moisturiser and then wear your foundation blended well into your skin, both on your face and neck.


e) Check the shade in natural daylight and observe the finish, how it looks naturally and let it sit for 2-3 hours. Observe the skin again and check whether your foundation has turned darker / whether your skin looks oily / blotchy/ dry etc. Wear for another 4-5 hrs and see how it looks on your skin through the day.


f) If the foundation has darkened in the period of time, that clearly states that it has oxidised on your skin. This indicates that you need to go for a shade or two lighter than the foundation shade recommended to you. If you go for a shade or two lighter, then it will balance out with your own skin colour even after oxidising. If it has turned too oily / dry, go back to the consultant and ask for an alternative foundation that specifically suits your skin type.



There are few steps you can follow to reduce your foundation from oxidising on your skin.

  • Always cleanse your face well and apply a good moisturiser.

  • Using a silicone-based primer prior to applying your foundation will help to lock all your natural oils in place.

  • Always match your foundation to your undertone. If you have yellow warm undertones in your skin, never use a foundation with pink cool undertones and same vice versa.

  • If you have oily/ combination skin, always use products that are oil-free.

  • Have a diet regime with antioxidants can restore your natural PH balan