The Foundation Bible - Undertones, Coverage, and Matching
Ever applied your makeup, gone about your day and at lunchtime, looked in the mirror and wondered why on earth your face was a completely different colour the rest of your body? Or did something seem not quite right, but you couldn’t for the life of you put your finger on what it was? Me too! Before I learnt about undertones, I walked around with a pink face and yellow body for YEARS *facepalm*. I’ve seen my sister-in-law (who is a strong yellow) come home with a $70 foundation from a reputable, not to mention expensive makeup company that she simply could not use as the undertone was so pink it made her look like her face didn’t belong on her body. NOT OKAY!
Unfortunately, the counter guys and gals don’t get it quiiiiiiite right, and over the years I have learnt that their word is in fact NOT gospel. With the correct knowledge under your belt, you will be able to match your own foundation perfectly - every time…without being hassled into buying an extra $3,678.00 worth of product you’d never use anyway.
DETERMINING YOUR SKINS UNDERTONE
So, what does yellow, pink, warm, cool, and undertone even mean? And how do they relate to foundation? Let me take you on a magic carpet ride…I can literally show you the world (of undertones).
Basically, your skin is either a yellow (warm) undertone, or a pink (cool) undertone. There are also a few people who are neutral or can get away with both. For the majority of my clients (99.9%) I use a yellow (or warm) undertone foundation, why? because I HATE pink (or cool) undertones. And why do I hate pink undertones, you may ask? Have you seen someone with sunburn? Does it look nice? Exactly. Using a pink undertone foundation on a pink undertone person is only going to emphasise the pink in their skin and make them look redder and, in my humble opinion, unnatural. A yellow or neutral undertone is going to help correct this issue and make your skin look a lot brighter and healthier. As stated, this is just my personal opinion and you may very well find that a pink undertone looks beautiful on you - it can sometimes just be a case of trial and error. And although I am mostly against pink undertones, I am going to talk you through each undertone so you can make an informed decision on which one you may be.
PINK - Pink undertone skin will generally have blue/purple veins, look best in jewel tones such as blue, purple, and emerald green, suit sliver jewellery more than gold, and, unfortunately, burn easier.
YELLOW - Yellow undertone skin will generally have green veins, look best in earthier colours such as red, orange, and olive green, suit gold jewellery, and you guessed it, tan easily.
NEUTRAL - If you can’t tell what colour your veins are, or they’re a mix of both, you look good in all colours and suit both metals…lucky you - you’re a neutral.
SHOPPING FOR YOUR PERFECT SHADE OF FOUNDATION
Armed with this information, you can now (hopefully) match your foundation correctly…to your BODY. Many people make the mistake of popping into Farmers, swiping a bit of foundy on their nose and thinking it looks grouse ‘cause it matches their nose PERFECTLY! Na uh honey, not today. In order to look seamless, your foundation needs to match your chest area, NOT your face colour. Why? Because if you want to look ‘natural’, everything needs to correlate from top to toe.
99% of people will notice that without makeup, their face and neck are a lot lighter in colour than their chest and arms. Our faces have less pigment in them and therefore take longer to naturally tan than the rest of our bodies, resulting in a paler face and neck, and tanned arms and chest. Some people swear by matching foundation to your jawbone/neck area - the reason I am against this is because your head naturally casts a shadow over your neck, which means your neck area doesn’t see a lot of sun and typically stays just as pale as your face. Believe me, it is A LOT easier to apply foundation to your face and neck to help everything match, than to your arms and chest.
So, next time you’re off to Farmers, pick up your chosen foundation and rub it into your chest or collarbone area until it disappears and looks seamless in correlation to your skin. If you’re a full coverage gal, apply a few layers to ensure that you do in fact have the correct shade and undertone. Then, take a minute or two and have a look around the lingerie or homeware section. Why? Farmers have great homeware at the moment, and also, some foundations have a habit of oxidising. Just like apples and other fruit will turn brown when exposed to the oxygen in the air, foundation can turn a shade or two darker (or more orange) on your skin over the course of the day. The below image is an extreme case of this happening. Usually you will be able to tell after five or so minutes if the foundation is going to oxidise, so make sure you do take the time to complete this process or ask for a tester (especially if you’re investing in a more expensive foundation). Most counters will be happy to help out and if they’re not - find another brand that will. Purchasing the correct foundation can cost a bomb and should be seen as an investment, so don’t be scared to try, try, try until you find the perfect match!
PICKING THE COVERAGE YOU DESIRE
Lastly when choosing a foundation, you will need to decide what type of coverage you’d like to go for. There are three types of coverage in my book. Light, medium, and full.
LIGHT - A ‘barely there’, no makeup, makeup. Your skin will still show through and so will most imperfections (if you have any). Foundations perfect for achieving this look can be BB or CC creams such as Bobbi Brown CC Cream, or Chi Chi Super BB Cream, tinted moisturisers such as NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint or Mecca Cosmetica In A Good Light Tinted Moisturiser, mineral powders such as VANI-T Mineral Powder or Thin Lizzy Mineral Foundation.
MEDIUM - You can tell you’ve got foundation on, it covers your imperfections, but still looks like your skin. Foundations perfect for achieving this look can be MAC Face and Body Foundation, L’Oreal True Match Foundation or Lumi Magique Foundation, NYX Total Control Drop Foundation, or Too Faced Born This Way Foundation.
FULL - For someone who wants to look like they have makeup on, or may have insecurities about their skin such as blemishes or redness that they want fully covered. Foundations perfect for achieving this look can be MAC Studio Fix Fluid and/or Powder Foundation, Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation, Marc Jacobs Re(marc)able Foundation, L’oreal Infallible Total Cover or Pro Matte Foundation, or Revlon Colourstay Foundation.
99% of the above said foundations can be found in store or online at Farmers.
I hope this spiel has made the big wide world of foundation seem a little less daunting. Please keep in mind that these are all my personal opinions and experiences. What I have found worked for me, may not work for you or your makeup artist! If you have any further questions, feedback or feel you still need more help - please get in touch! I am always more than happy to give advice (especially when it comes to this topic) as there is nothing more that bugs be on this earth than a pink face and yellow body!