What Foundation Should I Use? – Part 1

Author: MMM Team

17 Sep 2019

Tips & Tutorials, Color Cosmetics

Foundation Dictionary

1. Colour

  • Cooler: This means it has a pink base or undertone. Common words to look out for when describing a cool based foundation are Blue, Rose or Pink.

  • Warmer: This means the foundation has yellow undertones. Common words that are used to describe a warm undertone are Golden, Yellow or Olive.

  • Neutral: This means the foundation is neither pink nor yellow based.

    Foundation swatches for warm, cool and netural undertones

    The above photo shows the same colour with different undertones. It will be hard to tell at first glance, but look closer and you’ll be able to see the slight difference.

    2. Finish

    • Matte: No shine or light reflecting particles in the foundation. Color stay formulas are usually quite matte. Common words used to describe a matte formula include Stay-In-Place, Transfer resistant or Color Stay. Think foundation finishes such as Revlon ColorStay, Lancome 24hr Teint Idole.

    • Dewy: Foundations with a dewy formulation will have more moisturizing properties. Leaves skin looking hydrated. Common words used to describe dewy include Luminous or Glow. Think foundation textures such as Nars Sheer Glow Foundation, L’Oreal True Match, MAC Studio Fix or most Tinted Moisturizers.

    • Velvety: These formulations usually contain ingredients to smooth out the skin, similar to a primer. The finish is in the middle of matte and dewy. Gives your skin a very slight glow. Words used to describe velvety finishes include satin, silky, illuminating or radiant. Think YSL Touche Eclat Foundation, Urban Decay Naked, Make Up Forever HD Foundation.

    3. Coverage

    • Sheer: Evens out the skin tone but will not cover pigmentation or blemishes. Words used to describe sheer include Tint.

    • Medium: Evens out skin tone and will cover slight imperfections on the skin. Will cover the redness from rosacea but will not conceal dark pigmentation caused by blemishes or sun damage.

    • Full: Will cover and conceal most skin imperfections. Significantly conceals pigmentation and acne scars.

    Where should I match my foundation?

    • Contrary to what many people advise – to match on your jawline, the BEST place to match foundation is actually on your chest. The reason being, your neck/jawline are usually lighter than your chest because it gets exposed to less sunlight and you’ve remembered to put on the SPF on your face but not all the way down to your chest. Also, when you take a photo, a face that is matched to the chest will look a lot more natural than if you were to have 2 different colours.

    • The photo’s below show what happens when foundation is matched to the face and chest. The difference is very subtle but noticeable. The first photo is of my natural face and chest – my face is slightly lighter than my chest. The second photo demonstrates a shade that is matched to my jawline so it appears a little whiter than my chest and makes me look like I’m wearing more makeup than what I’m actually wearing – this was a tinted moisturizer (Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Alaska), so you can imagine what it would look like if it were a full coverage foundation. In the third photo, you see that the first 2 shades (Benefit Oxygen Wow in Honey and Makeup For Ever HD Foundation in 140) blend better with my chest than the latter 2 which matched my face perfectly (Nars Sheer Glow in Punjab and Nars Tinted moisturizer in Alaska). The final photo shows a full coverage foundation that is matched to my chest (Makeup For Ever HD Foundation in 140).

    From left: The natural face, Foundation matched to the face, Matching to the chest, Foundation matched to chest.

The harsh reality is that you might not always get the perfect foundation color match from a single product. In this case, it’s time to mix and match! Go for two shades of the same foundation and use them together to create the perfect foundation color. Also, this idea also works when your skin becomes either lighter or darker, depending on the season. Another important trick that you can do when you don’t find your exact foundation shade match is to go for the lighter one. You can always darken it with a bit of bronzer and it will look good. A darker shade always looks fake and unpleasant. This is how to chose foundation color (online).

  1. 5. Be careful with your swatches and foundation color match!

Makeup recommendations tell us that the inner wrist or the hand are not the best places to swatch foundations on. These swatches might look amazing on Instagram, but the reality is different. In fact, in order to perfectly match your foundation color with that of your skin, you should always try it on either your jawline or your neck. These places always offer a very precise match. If you’re still uninitiated in the art of makeup, and are on the lookout for makeup ideas you should search for tutorials on how to put on makeup or watch similar YouTube videos. They are truly a blessing of the modern age.


All in all, it seems that figuring out what shade of foundation you need can be a real struggle, especially when you’re doing it online. Thankfully, there are tools that make your life easier and help you buy the perfect products for you without having to waste so much time in physical makeup shops. However, it’s important to remember those tips each time you’re buying something online so that you end up with the perfect foundation for your skin type and color.

Watch out for our Foundation Basics Part 2 – Find your undertones!

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