The Search for the Holy Grail, or, How To Choose the Correct Shade of Foundation

Choosing the correct shade of foundation for your skin tone is one of the most critical elements of obtaining a natural looking makeup application.   Yet it also seems to be one of the most elusive – so elusive, in fact, that many women compare searching for the perfect foundation shade to the search for the Holy Grail!

I believe one of the main reasons it seems to be so difficult for so many women is that they are not sure to which part of their skin they are supposed to match the foundation. Should you match it to the inside of the wrist, the neck or the face? The other question is one of skin tone. Is your skin tone warm, cool or neutral?

Let’s talk about skin tone first. Most people will look best in warm or neutral tones, but especially if you are very fair, you may be a true cool.

The simplest way to determine whether your skin tone is warm or cool is by how easily you tan. In general, warm toned skin tans easily and cool toned skin burns easily.

Another simple way to determine your skin tone is to hold up a piece of silver jewelry to your face while looking in a mirror. Then hold up a piece of gold jewelry. Which one brings out the glow of your skin and sparkle of your eyes? If it is the silver, your skin tone is cool. If it is the gold, your skin tone is warm. If you look equally good in both, you are neutral.

Another very basic way to determine your skin tone is to simply observe the color of your skin, either by looking at yourself closely in the mirror, or better yet, at the underside of your wrist or elbow where the skin has been exposed to minimal amounts of sunlight. You may be able to notice right away whether your skin has golden undertones, or pink or blue undertones. Golden, olive, cream, peach or brown undertones are all considered warm, while pink, or dark brown skin with blue undertones are considered cool.

Now, where to match your foundation? If you match your foundation to the inside of your wrist, the chances that it will be the right foundation for you are pretty slim. The skin on the inside of your wrist may be a good indicator of whether your skin tone is warm, cool or neutral, but since it receives very minimal amounts of sunlight, it will most always be a much lighter shade than your face.

If you match your foundation to your neck, you run into the same problem. The skin on your neck is usually much lighter than your face.

The best solution is to match your foundation to the skin on your face. That is where it is going to be applied anyway. Apply some along the lower cheek, right above the jawline. Then get a hand mirror and look at it under natural light. This is important as artificial lighting can make your skin appear different. For a natural look, you need to see yourself in natural light. If you can’t see the foundation on your skin because it blends in so well, you know you’ve got the right shade.

Most people will find that their skin is a shade or two lighter in the winter than it is in the summer, so it is important to make sure you match a foundation for each season.

Don’t fret if you can’t find a shade that is an exact match for you. Most people find that they need to combine a couple of different shades to find a perfect match, but when you do find that winning combination, you’ll definitely know it!

Herbs of Grace Natural Look Foundation Shades:

Warm Shades Cool Shades
  • Linden (neutral)
  • Butternut
  • Wheat
  • Amaranth (neutral to warm)
  • Almond
  • Hazelnut
  • Fig
  • Avena
  • Linden (neutral)
  • Flaxseed (neutral to cool)
  • Adzuki
  • Raisin
  • Coffee Bean

Herbs of Grace Product Recommendation: Foundation Powders

©2014, Herbs of Grace.

This article is copyrighted by Vanessa Nixon Klein, the proprietor of Herbs of Grace, who is a Traditional Naturopath specializing in medicinal herbalism, nutritional therapy, homeopathy and aromatherapy. If you would like to reprint this article, either online or in print, please contact us.

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