“What colour foundation should I use??? Nothing seems to be right”
This is a question I get asked all the time. Why does this question baffle so many of us. The answer is a very simple one, but to understand properly, I will need to change the way you’ve probably been thinking about skin colour for a very long time.
Firstly, it is very rare that you should just use one colour at any given time. I generally use a minimum of two, an average of three, and a maximum of six, different colours, and below I will give you an understanding of why doing this creates the most natural looking foundation.
Before I get into the techniques of it all and how to best choose foundation colours, let me explain a little bit about skin colour.
Skin is a rather transparent substance and has many layers of colours. Skin itself, is a bluey-white type colour. But, it is the many layers that give it a whole new spectrum. Under our skin, giving it some of its colour, we have veins – red, green, purple, blue one, blood flow to cells, a fatty layer, hair follicles, sweat glands – all adding their own colour to the skin, as if the skin were frosted glass showing what is behind it.
Then, other factors come into play – the colour of our skin due to genes or race, whether that be very light, through to very dark. This acts as another layer of colour to our skin.
Then, there are seasonal changes, even if you haven’t spent much time outside. At the end of winter, for example, we are generally at our fairest, and at the end of the summer months, we are generally at our darkest. On top of this, some of us can have varying pigmentation such as freckles. Generally we will not tan perfectly evenly – we will be darker where the sun has kissed, so this also creates great variation in the skin. One of my clients is an ear, nose and throat surgeon. She told me that when providing a prosthetic ear to patients, they give them a “winter ear” and a “summer ear” – that is how obvious changes can be in skin colour between seasons.
Some people believe that when they tan, they are a darker version of the same colour. Not so, where you tan, you could considerable more golden, yellow, peach, whereas when you are fairer you are likely less yellow and ever so slightly more blue looking (we are talking about very fine differences here). So your winter foundation may need to be different types of colour to your summer foundation colours.
Our skin colour can also change from day to day – depending on our activity levels, health, tiredness, diet… For example when we are tired, a little more redness can show around our noses and mouth and the skin overall can have an ever so slight grey tinge.
All of these transparent layers come together to make up dozens of different colours throughout our skin. So, not only is our skin NOT one colour at any given time, it is constantly changing.
And to further bamboozle you before I shed some light on how to handle this, colours will look completely different under different light. In low light everything looks darker – thus getting away with half a shade fairer skin at night, and in bright daylight we easily look too fair – thus needing extra bronzer for the beach, just to look natural. Fluoro light will make everything a dull green colour, while nightlight makes foundation appear more yellow.
“OMG What do I do now??”
So, without giving an uber-technical lesson on light rays, biology and the like just yet, I will share with you some tips that will get you started on your way to better foundation choices.
1. Always, always, always do your foundation/ face makeup in the light it’s going to be seen in OR at least check it and adjust in the light it will be seen in. If you work under fluorescent lighting, you may choose to do your eye makeup at home and your foundation at the office. Foundations with a slightly more orange or red base tend to suit these enviroments. If you are going to be going out to dinner or party where you know there is very low lighting, pull down the blinds and recreate a similar lighting environment to do your makeup in, or at least check your make in this light.
2. A little trick is to match your foundation to the lightest colour in your skin, then, using a darker foundation that matches the darkest parts of your skin, paint back in the colour where the sun would naturally hit. It’s also very flattering to lightly do this around your hairline, too.
3. Generally you would use a lighter foundation in these areas:
- centre of your forehead and on your nose in-between the eyes,
- around your mouth, i
- n your eye socket and under your eyes,
- along the jawline, centre of chin.
Use your bronzer/ darker (but still matching) foundation over
- most of your forehead except the very centre,
- sides of your nose
- over the cheeks where the sun would touch.
4. Dab all the different colours from dark to light in there appropriate places, Use my Magic Foundation Brush™ to blend it all in.
5. Most of the time, skin on the chest, shoulders or body is darker than the skin on the face. If any skin on your shoulders or body will be seen, ensure you bring some of the same darker colour into the face by using it around the hair line and particularly where the sun hits. In this way, you will look like you belong on your body.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions, feedback, or success from this article, please let me know in the comments below.