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Ask An Expert: How do I find the perfect foundation match for my skintone online?

Q How do I find the perfect foundation match for my skintone online?

A Marie Claire Digital Beauty Writer Lucy Abbersteen: In an age where the majority of us feel time-poor, the luxury of scouring umpteen beauty counters to find your best, perfect fit foundation match can feel tricky at best. Thank heavens for online shopping, right! 

You could have the best foundation in the world, but if it doesn’t match your skin tone, it won’t look great. So how do you avoid a mismatching incident when ordering foundation online? 

How-to: Find the perfect foundation match for your skintone: 

1. Think about your favourite finish 

Before swatching any formulas, your starting point is the finish you’d like. Matte? Demi-matte? Dewy? This will help you choose a foundation to play with. 

Dewy foundation fans will love NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation, which gives you a healthy glow without looking oily and is available in 33 shades. 

If you like somewhere in the middle – not too dewy, not too matte – the Bobbi Brown Stick Foundation is one of the best selling formulas of all time and can be built up depending on how full a look you’re after. 

Meanwhile matte foundation lovers should try Urban Decay All Nighter Liquid Makeup, which has super matte finish without looking ‘flat’ and buildable, long-lasting full coverage. 

2... And the coverage you’d like


Coverage ranges from lightweight, just adding a little something to your skin, or flawless full coverage foundation for something heavier. Buildable coverage gives you a bit more flexibility with your look; you can keep it minimal for everyday wear or layer it up when you fancy something heavier. Fabled by Marie Claire swears by Burberry Skin Fresh Glow Gel Stick Foundation & Concealer (main image: above) for medium to full coverage that still boasts a beautiful, dewy glow. 

3. Match it to your skin type

Matching your skin type to the formula is another essential step in your foundation looking great on your face. Oil-free foundation isn’t compulsory but a great match foundation for oily skin. As are powder formulas, like bareMinerals BAREPRO Performance Wear Powder Foundation, a high performance pressed mineral powder foundation that works to keep shine at bay all day long. 

In terms of foundation for dry skin, look for formulas with moisturising properties. Clinique Even Better Glow's hydrating and lightweight formula keeps your skin free of that ‘tight’ feeling that dry skin can bring and it's luminising pigments instantly create a natural-looking radiance.

4. Know your skin’s undertone


People of all skin tones, from very fair to deep, can have cool, warm, or neutral undertones. Generally speaking, warmer skin tones have more yellow undertones, while cooler skin tones have pink or red undertones. 

An easier way to tell is to take a look at the veins on your wrists. If they’re green, your skin has warm undertones, and if they’re blue you have cool undertones. Somewhere in between? Your skin’s undertone is neutral, meaning your foundation doesn’t need to lean more towards cool or warm tones.


Once you know your undertone, it’s easier to pick your shade based on online descriptions on our product pages. And my top tip? Whether you’re looking for the best foundation for dark skin, olive skin or paler skin with pink undertones – try Bobbi Brown and NARS first and foremost. Both brands offer an impressively wide variation of shade ranges, and with dream coverage to match. 

- Makeup Artist Pat McGrath set the internet alight when she recommended colour matching foundation to your stomach: ‘If you’re going to do the face, you basically have to look at the stomach.’ Given it’s less likely to see the light of day regularly, it’s a good gauge of your natural skin tone. 
- Pro Makeup Artist Lisa Eldridge recommends applying a couple of shades (to the area one inch in from your ears, towards the centre of your cheek) then taking it for a test drive for a couple of hours to get the full effect in natural light. You could even buy it online at that evening. 
- Makeup Artist Lauren Gott recommends a foundation shade for winter, and one for summer: ‘Skin tones can change with the season due to sun exposure,’ says Gott, ‘but undertones remain the same.’ So make sure you shop by undertone as much as you do your ‘surface skin tone.’ 

Happy shopping!

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