face makeup

How to Find Your Foundation Shade Match in 4 Easy Steps

The right foundation color should match your face,  jawline and chest. 

August 04, 2023
How To Find Your Foundation Shade

Foundation is among the few makeup essentials that you don’t want others to see, meaning it’s supposed to look like your skin but better. But when it comes to finding your perfect match, things can get a bit tricky, especially with the massive variety of shades and formulas to choose from. Luckily, we have a few solutions to help ensure a seamless finish. To start, you’ll need to have some knowledge of your complexion and undertones. Need some guidance? Keep reading to learn more about how to find your undertone and foundation color match, plus some of the best drugstore foundations you can use, ranging from powder to liquid formulas

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How to Determine Your Undertone

While most people already have an inkling of what their skin tone is, the same can’t always be said for skin undertones. The difference between the two is that your skin tone refers to your complexion, whereas undertones are the colors that come through your skin and affect its overall hue. 

The undertones of your skin are either cool, warm, or neutral. Cool undertones appear in your complexion as hints of blue or pink, while warm undertones appear more yellow or golden. If your undertones are neutral, you often have a mix of both. For example, olive skin tones tend to have neutral undertones. 

1. Look at Your Veins

To find your undertone, look at the inside of your arm. If your veins appear blue or purple, you’re cool-toned, while green veins indicate warm-toned skin. For those who are unsure or see a mix of both, you likely have neutral undertones. 

2. Try the Paper Test

You can also try holding a white piece of paper next to your face to determine your undertone. The white should create a cast of color on your skin. If your face appears more pink or blue, you fall into the cool category, and if you take on a more yellowish hue, you’re warm. If your skin seems gray, you’re neutral. 


How to Find Your Foundation Shade 

Once you’ve figured out your undertone, you’ll be able to look for foundation shades that correlate. If you have a warm undertone, you should look for foundations with warm tones. Cool undertones should go for formulas that have hints of pink tones. Some foundation shades even come with a label that will signify the undertones to make it easier to find a match (for example, an N will correspond to a neutral shade and a W will stand for warm).

When it comes to testing out foundation shades, there are some important techniques you should take note of. Check out our tips to find a good match, below: 


1. Test On the Right Body Part

Finding a foundation shade that best suits your skin tone will require a few trials. To color-match like a pro, try swiping your foundation shade on your jawline so you can find one that matches your face and neck. If your complexion is different shades (i.e. your forehead is darker than the rest of your complexion), invest in a few foundation shades so that you can multi-foundation (kind of like multi-masking) accordingly. To keep the brightness at the center of your face, highlight with a concealer or foundation that’s two shades lighter than your actual skin tone. 

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Since our faces and necks can be several different colors all over due to sun exposure, hyperpigmentation, and more, some women prefer to test foundation at the center of their chest for an overall even look that also matches the body. 

2. Test Under Different Lighting

Keep in mind that depending on the season, your complexion might change. You may be lighter in the winter due to less sun exposure, and darker in the summer if you tan. So be sure to apply a swipe of foundation first and look at it under different lighting before doing your entire face. And when it comes to lightning, don’t just rely on your bathroom lights (since you most likely won’t have bright lights around you all the time), be sure to test out your foundation in natural lighting to get a sense of what it will look like when you’re spending time outside.  

How to Find Your Foundation Match Online

Thanks to modern technology, you can actually find your perfect foundation shade without leaving the house. Here’s how: 

Use a Virtual Foundation Try-On Tool

Unable to test out foundation shades in store? Consider shopping online: Not only do you get to see all the shades presented to you, but you can also learn about the undertones of each. To find the right match, try out the L’Oréal Paris Virtual Makeup Try-On Tool, which allows you to test different shades from any of the L’Oréal Paris foundation lines. That’s more than 100 shades in total, and you can test without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

Should Foundation Be Lighter or Darker Than Your Skin?

When in doubt, always choose the lighter shade of foundation because you add warmth to it with contour and bronzer. Choosing the darker shade can often result in a face that is an entirely different shade than your body, which always looks unnatural.

The Best Foundations for Every Skin Tone

If you’re looking to add some new foundations to your beauty kit, read on for some of our favorite drugstore picks.

L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation

This foundation offers buildable, tried-and-true shades that match your skin’s texture and tone. With 47 shades organized by warm, cool and neutral undertones, there’s a pick for almost everyone, and the formula includes pro-vitamin B5 and vitamin E to keep skin looking radiant and healthy. Plus, it’s also free of oils and fragrances, and it won’t clog pores

Editor’s tip: Don’t forget to set your foundation makeup with powder. Reach for the L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Powder and dust it lightly across your face after applying your foundation.
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L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation, Lightweight

This lightweight, long-wear foundation works to give your skin the medium-to-full coverage you crave while resisting sweat, water and transfer. It comes in 30 shades,  has an ultra-thin liquid formula that goes on smoothly and helps create a fresh, healthy-looking complexion. 

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear in a Powder

Powder foundations are great for achieving a flawless, skin-like look. This breathable and weightless formula stays put for up to 24 hours and offers a soft matte finish that’s comfortable, and suitable for all skin types. The best part? It’s waterproof and sweatproof, so you won’t have to worry about touch-ups throughout the day.

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L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Makeup Radiant Serum Foundation with SPF 50

This liquid formula offers the full coverage of a foundation and the skin care benefits of a serum. Specially designed for mature skin, it’s formulated with vitamin B3, SPF 50, and a hydrating serum to keep the skin looking moisturized and healthy. It works to deliver a natural, radiant finish that evens out skin tone without settling into fine lines.


Next: The 9 Best Tips on Where to Put Blush

Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Mecca Allah

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