How to choose the right foundation shade

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that looks less appealing than a woman with the wrong foundation shade. You could look like Angelina Jolie or Gloria Diaz but with the wrong foundation all your good looks will just turn out...odd. Gray. Orange. Yellow. It depends! That's why you must pick your foundation carefully, since it could really make or break your appearance.

Always remember that foundation should look natural. It should look like skin. Otherwise, you'll just end up looking like you have a blanket of color on top of your face - and you don't want that! So, here are a few tips on how to choose your best foundation shade:

  1. Determine your skin tone. Your skin tone could be one of two: warm and cool. Warm tones include yellow and olive, while cool tones include beige. One way to determine if you're warm or cool is by checking if you look better with gold or silver jewelry. If gold makes you glow, you're warm. Same with silver! Thus, if you're warm-toned, get yellowish foundations. If you're cool-toned, get beige foundations.
  2. Determine your skin undertone. While your skin tone is subject to change according to your exposure to the sun, your skin undertone will remain constant! Check the veins in your wrist. If they're green, your undertone is yellow. If they're bluish, your undertone is most likely beige. If they're a mix of blue and green, you're a neutral. Girls with yellow undertones must get yellowish foundation; blue, beige and pinkish foundations; neutral can go either way!
  3. Now that you know whether you should stick with yellow or beige foundations, you have to determine your actual skin shade. Depending on your genes and exposure to the sun, you could be light, light-medium, medium, or dark-skinned. I find that a majority of Filipinas are warm-toned and medium/ dark depending on the season. 
  4. Once you have your skin tone, undertone, and shade down pat, it's time to pick a foundation! I know it sounds tedious but it's easier to pick once you've narrowed down your skin's specs, so to speak. Once in the department store, choose three foundation shades that are most likely to match you. Swatch it on your neck. Others would recommend the jaw, but I prefer the neck since I want to match my foundation to my body, not the other way around. But it depends ha! If your neck's color is nearer to your body's color, match there. But if your face is nearer, swatch there instead. For me, my face is lighter than my body, so I swatch on my neck.
  5. Have the salesperson apply the foundation all over your face. It's the best way to find out - there are no short cuts. Then, go out in daylight and check if the foundation looks natural and matches your body. Store lighting can be deceiving, so always check foundation in natural light! Also, try to wear the foundation for five hours before buying it so you can check if the color changes. Just to be sure.
  6. There are tons of the foundations in the market so it can get really confusing for a makeup newbie - heck, even an experienced makeup enthusiast - to choose. It doesn't matter how awesome a foundation is, if the line has no shade that perfectly matches yours, then skip it. I've stuck with some good foundations but bad shade matches before and believe me, I regretted it! I ended up wasting money because I don't use it anyway.

Some notes:

  • Brands like Bobbi Brown claim that yellow foundation is the only way to go. All her foundations are yellow and work for all skin tones. But that's Bobbi Brown; her foundations have great formulas that blend with skin, so the yellow just sortof "enhances" whatever color the wearer has already. But other foundations may not have the same formula, so it's safer to stick with a foundation that matches your skin tone and undertone.
  • Invest in a good foundation, if you can. By invest I mean spend big bucks! The top-tier foundies are expensive for a reason, I find, so stick with those if budget allows. But hey, there are good cheap alternatives, so those are good too.
  • There's this myth that goes something like this: if your skin is acidic, choose lighter foundation since it will oxidize and turn darker during the day. I don't believe that. I think that all foundations change color as you wear it, since your skin secretes oil and the pigments settle down and adjust to your skin. The really good foundations don't show a major change, but the bad ones will. When you choose a foundation, still match it with your skin and don't go a shade lighter. It's actually better to have slightly darker skin than a white mask, IMO.
  • Foundations with SPF may look lighter if you're under harsh, direct light and flash photography. That's what they call a "white cast". It's ok if you're not going to be on the stage or in front of the camera, but if you are, then avoid SPF in your foundations.

Example of a bad foundation match - too light and too beige

Example of a great foundation match

And that's it! Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions. :)