foundation shades for neutral undertone

How often have you thought you found your perfect foundation shade only to realize something about it looks off? We know shopping for foundation makeup is not an easy task, whether you’re looking for liquid, cream, or powder foundation. If you think only knowing how light or dark your skin tone is will help you get the right foundation shade for a flawless makeup base, think again. Your foundation shade does not just depend on your skin’s colour, it relies heavily on your skin’s undertones as well.

If you want to learn more about how to choose foundation shade for neutral undertone, how to choose foundation for neutral undertone, and what is neutral undertone foundation, keep reading.

How To Choose best foundation shade for neutral skin tone

Once you know skin color and undertone, your search for the right foundation shade narrows down considerably. You will, most likely, by now have a handful of foundations shades to choose from. In such a scenario it’s best to test the shades on your skin and find the perfect match.

Start by shortlisting three shades that seem to be a good match. Then, dab some of each shade as short lines on your jaw line (do keep some space in between each). Don’t just consider your face for making the final decision but also your neck. The foundation you choose should blend seamlessly with both your face and your neck.

How to determine which foundation shade looks best
Of the three swatches, remove the two that don’t suit you. Now, spread the finalised shade across your jawline, and sweep a cotton bud soaked in makeup remover right in the middle. If you don’t notice any difference between your foundation and bare skin, then that’s the foundation for you. But, if you see a difference between the two, this shade is not for you. Repeat the cycle till you find the shade you are looking for.

How To Choose best foundation shades for neutral undertones

  1. Identify your correct undertone
    As most of us know there’s no ‘one skin type fits all’ and when it comes to selecting foundation you want to establish what your skin’s natural undertone is. There’s generally considered to be three in total – cool, warm and neutral – and this affects what colour foundation will compliment your skin.

“To determine your skin’s undertone, take a simple look at the veins on your wrists,” says Joy Howieson, a former MUA for MAC and founder of beauty brand Project Lip(opens in new tab). “Blue or purple wrist veins typically indicate that you have cool undertones, while green or olive means you have a warmer undertone.”

Neither? It’s likely you’ll have a ‘neutral’ undertone to your skin. Though neutral individuals tend to be rare.

“Neutral undertones are somewhere in the middle,” California-based make-up artist Lynn Simpson(opens in new tab) tells us. “Your skin can pull either direction – warmer or cooler depending on colours you’re wearing or perhaps if you are slightly tanner in the summer or more fair in the winter. Celebrities with your skin tone include Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, and Kerry Washington.”

Celebrities like Keira Knightley, Adele and Rihanna fall under the ‘cool’ complexion category. Whilst Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson are blessed with a ‘warm’ undertone. Should this comparison help with defining your own.

Many foundations are broken down into these cool, warm and neutral categories so when you’re shopping, aim for a shade that fits these.

Cool undertones should opt for a pink or beige like foundation. Whilst those who are warm should go for a foundation that’s “golden or yellow” – according to Lynn. For those rarer individuals that fall under ‘neutral’ – avoid ones that are too warm or yellow and select one with a hint of peach.

Undertones matter when it comes to picking foundation. Those that are cool and choose a warm or neutral foundation will end up with a yellow complexion. In contrast, ‘warm’ undertones using a cool foundation will look pale and grey.

  1. Consider your skin type
    Whether you have oily, dry or combination skin – skin types can have an effect on what foundation shade you pick as specific formulas will work better on the type they’re designed for. So it’s something worth taking into account.

Oily skin: Matte foundation
Dry skin: Moisture-rich foundation
Combination skin: Satin formula foundation
“Your skin type definitely impacts the type of foundation shade you should select,” says No7 Makeup Ambassador Joy Adenuga(opens in new tab). “For instance, if you have dry skin, try to ensure you use a hydrating foundation.”

As a general rule of thumb, dewy, radiant foundations will suit dry skin, matte formulas are best for oily skin and satin formulas last best on combination skin types.

  1. Think about coverage
    The amount of camouflage your foundation provides is key in the foundation shade finder process. Wearing a full coverage foundation can feel like a heavy mask if you’re used to sheer formulas. Whilst anything too thin might not totally conceal imperfections.

It’s a great idea to talk to an expert if you’re stuck on coverage. “Work with your local beauty consultant,” suggests Joy. “They’ll be able to help you identify which brands offer suitable products.”

Alternatively, look at your skin in the mirror and see where you need coverage. If you want to get rid of dark circles under your eyes(opens in new tab), a sheer foundation with a thicker concealer might be sufficient but if you’re suffering from acne scars(opens in new tab), you may want a medium-full coverage foundation.

  1. In-store sampling
    Of course – the best and original way to ensure a perfect shade is to head to the shops and try it out in person. And No7’s make-up ambassador Joy Adenuga still swears by this method. But make sure to follow her instructions to ensure the perfect shade – as that classic dabbing it on your hand technique just doesn’t quite cut it.

“We have a tendency to swatch foundation on our hands,” explains Joy. “While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s also useful to try out potential foundation shades on your jawline, which tends to provide you with greater accuracy of what the shade will look like.”

In addition to jaw-testing, Joy stresses to not make the common mistake of swatching a foundation then choosing that shade straight away. You want to wait a while as some foundations can change colour. This is called oxidising and happens when the formula reacts to oxygen in the air.

Joy explains: “Once applied to your jawline, don’t make a decision right away. Allow the foundation to sit on your skin for a few moments and settle down. Also, do ensure you get a chance to see how the foundation looks in natural light to get a true reflection of the colour.”

  1. Use virtual try-on tools
    Shopping for foundation online means you don’t have the luxury of trying on in-store. But thankfully advancements in technology have meant using a digital foundation shade finder is more accurate than ever. Many brands offer virtual try-on tools in order to determine your shade online including Il Makiage(opens in new tab), MAC Cosmetics(opens in new tab) and Estée Lauder(opens in new tab).

Bobbi Brown is another beloved brand that offers the service. And it’s so simple to navigate – simply allow access to your phone’s camera, position your head in the face grid and select different shades to try on.

  1. Get those samples
    If you’re shopping for other make-up products online you can also request foundation samples at select beauty sites that will arrive alongside your order. Big name make-up brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Mac and Glossier offer this option at checkout.

We’re also fans of FeelUnique(opens in new tab)’s foundation approach. If you buy a foundation via their site be sure to hit the Try Me button. This sends you a matching sample pot alongside the foundation you’ve decided buy. And this means you can try the same product in sample form before breaking the seal of the full-size one. Great if you get it wrong and need to send it back.

  1. Compare your current shade
    Another fantastic foundation shade finder tool available is the website in new tab). This site allows you to input your current shade of foundation and find its matching shade in another brand/formula. Its database houses over 68,000 foundation shades and cross references each product in order to find your perfect match. Genius.
  2. Adapt to the seasons
    During the summer months, especially if you’re not using the best sunscreen for your face(opens in new tab), it’s common to be a shade darker than your ‘normal’ skin tone and in the winter, you might be a little paler. This is completely normal and just means that you’ll need to adapt your foundation to suit.

“Selecting the wrong shade tends to make the skin look a bit sallow and grey,” says Joy. So, it’s always worth having two foundation shades on rotation to see you through the year.

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