How to Find The Perfect Foundation Shade for Your Face

Finding the Right Foundation

Model: @_sabateur / Photographer: @thomasskirk

Finding the right foundation shade can be a challenge, especially for darker skin tones, as they can have a mixture of red, blue, and golden undertones. Not to mention with the new normal of beauty brands having up to 40 shades to choose from, making the right selection may have gotten a little more complicated— in the best possible way. If you're wondering where to start, don't you worry because we have editorial makeup artist Brittany Whitfield, to share what steps we should take on the road to finding the perfect foundation shade. 

Find Your Undertones

Before we get started, there are a few questions you need the answer before you settle on a new foundation. First things first, you want to get a full understanding of your undertones. Now, this may sound like you need a degree in color theory, but we promise it's a much simpler process than that.

"My anecdotal tip way of self-matching is to flip your arm where your wrists and veins are visibly upright," Whitfield shares. "If you see mostly green toned veins, you have yellow/ cooler undertones; if they seem blueish/plum, you're probably neutral /warm. We all have multiple tones in our skin, so that's my ideal starting point, which then you can easily narrow down. Having the right shade, but the wrong undertone happens all the time, sadly."

Pretty simple, right?

Now, these next two steps are essential in the color matching process, so you'll want to pay close attention.

Test The Foundation In The Right Place

Foundation Swatches

Most makeup artists start by matching a new foundation to your jawline, and Whitfield leans into that same matching method. "I prefer to match clients on the jawline first. It's a common misconception that your foundation should match your neck exactly." But she tells us that isn't always the best idea. "Your neck specifically is more often than not much lighter or darker [if you have hyper-pigmentation] than your actual face or body. Of course, you don't want to be completely different colors. Ideally, you should match the center of your face with your neck color [if it's fairer] to keep everything consistent.

One other important place on the face to keep in mind is the perimeter because, as Whitfield explains, "your forehead shade is always deeper than anywhere else as it's the highest point of your face and naturally hits the sun the most. Whereas your neck is usually hidden beneath the shadows of your chin, by your clothes, etc."

Keep Oxidation In Mind

Once you find your perfect shade match and formula, put it to the test just in case the foundation oxidizes. "Think of oxidation as biting into an apple and leaving it on the counter for 30 minutes. After the time has passed, you'll notice the inside will begin to brown," says Whitfield. If you notice the foundation looks darker or more yellow or red than you remember when you tested it at the counter or drugstore, it's likely due to oxidization. You can thank science for that since exposure to oxygen, and your unique skin chemistry (oils and body temperature) can change the color of your new foundation.

BLK OPL Foundations

"There are so many factors that can affect how your makeup oxidizes, such as environment and weather, oily vs. dry skin, types of preservatives in the product, etc.," Whitfield explains. "When testing foundations, blend a swatch on your hand for a few minutes and walk around the store. If you approve of the dry down shade, then you've met your match."


New York City native Brittany Whitfield is a seasoned makeup artist, writer & groomer with 10+ years of professional experience in fashion, beauty, and entertainment

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