Matching Skin Undertone: Sheer to Full Coverage Foundation Palette In Every Shade

A flawless base begins by choosing a foundation palette that matches your skin undertone. Whether it's a full coverage foundation base for an event when the paparazzi are popping (ok, maybe lots of selfies with your ride or die, but still) or your every day, natural, routine, you want your foundation makeup to match your natural skin tone. Starting off with a clean, even, long lasting foundation base will ensure that every product you apply on top will blend more easily and stay in place.

Whether you shop online to restock your favs or take a trip to your local beauty counter to see and sample new products, you will be faced with an eye-watering amount of options of formulas, shades, and tools for creating the perfect base. As always, you are faced with three decisions: Formula, Finish and Shade. Our MUAs @Revelere have done the homework and have recommendations for choosing and applying the perfect foundation palette to build your look.


When choosing a powder vs liquid foundation formula, your skin type will be the deciding factor. For those with oily, acne-prone skin or looking for a foundation for sensitive skin, a powder foundation is the way to go. For combination and dry skin, a liquid or cream foundation will work well.

Liquid Foundation

Liquid foundations are the perfect options for building a lightweight base to full coverage while hiding fine line and wrinkles. Liquid foundations are offered in a variety of finishes, such as matte, natural and dewy. The liquid moisturizing foundation is better for blending and will often have additional benefits such as SPF. On the opposite side of the scale, a liquid will slide and move around your face more easily, so proper application is crucial to keep your makeup fresh all day.

Cream Foundation

Cream foundations have been around forever, used in TV, film and stage makeup crews. A creamy oil based foundation will give a medium to fuller coverage with less product. Creams will tend to leave a dewy, moist glow to your skin. As with liquid foundation, this formula can be embraced by those with dry skin but should be avoided by those with acne-prone and sensitive skin. Again, application is crucial, as creams tend to crease more easily. Start with a small amount dab on the back of your hand and blend well. Cream foundations will sit heavier on your skin and will stay in place. For these reasons, cream foundations are great when you intend to contour. Our recommendation: keep cream foundation for special occasions and stick with liquid or powder foundations for daily wear.

Pressed Powder Foundation

We all look forward to relaxing summer months, but heat and humidity can cause havoc to your makeup. Step forward pressed powder foundations. This sweat proof foundation formula is perfect for building coverage and touch-ups anywhere to fix any midday shine. Many products will include an SPF, which makes this product ideal for days at the beach and hiking trips.

Mineral/Loose Powder Foundation

Rules are made to be broken. With mineral makeup, you can choose a liquid or powder foundation which has been specially developed for sensitive skin using all natural minerals. As more women have become aware of the benefits of mineral makeup, brands have responded to the demands with loose powder foundation for dry skin. With benefits such as a natural SPF and suitable for even the most acne-prone skin, these all natural foundation made from finely ground minerals are taking up more and more space on beauty counters. Loose mineral powders provide excellent coverage for sensitive skin without making problems worse. Many mineral makeup brands have expanded their product range with offering full coverage foundation for dry skin. Loose powders are more difficult to touch up 'on the go,' so you will be packing a brush or two. Powders are intended for light coverage and daily wear, but you will never get a dramatic finish you see from your favorite YouTubers. For those looks, stick with cream or liquid foundation.

Bottom line: if you want a light, natural coverage for your daily makeup routine, powdered sheer foundation will do the trick. But special occasions when only a full-on, flawless face will do, reach for the liquid and cream foundations.


Do you want your skin to radiate a soft natural look or reflect a dewy, moist glow? The most correct answer is: what is your skin telling you today? Any product with a shimmer is going to add a luminous glow where you put it. But on uneven complexion, a shimmer will highlight any pimples, bumps and large pores. If you're having a bad skin day, stick with a matt light foundation.


Once upon a time, you'd be lucky if your favorite foundation came in five shades. Good news: Brands have acknowledged that beauty isn't 'one size fits all' and they have produced more and more shade variations to meet the demands of today's savvy consumers. Bad news: figuring out which foundation shade is best for your skin tone could become a full-time job! Today, you can choose from 50 shades, with numbers and names such as warm, cool and neutral. But which shade is your perfect shade? Save yourself some time and effort. Before you hit the makeup counter, spend 10 minutes to determine your skin tone and undertone.

Skin Tone

Skin tone is determined by the natural amount of melanin in your skin. It's genetics pure and simple. Cosmetic companies generally classify skin tones into three broad categories based on the amount of melanin in your skin: Light / Fair, Medium / Olive, and Dark. Since each person is unique, your skin tone can fall into a spectrum within each of the categories. Your skin can fall into a dark category, but skin tones can vary between ebony, walnut, and chestnut. Likewise, Light / Fair category can include skin tones such as ivory, buff, and porcelain. Knowing which category your skin falls into is the first step in finding the perfect shade for you.

Skin Undertone: Cool, Warm or Neutral

Makeup brands have spent a lot of time figuring out how different shades will look on different skin tones. One of their tricks is to the look at the colors just below the surface of the skin. While your top layers will tan and fade, the underking layers of your skin will keep the same color. They have named these undertones as Cool, Warm and Neutral. Wondering how to find your undertone? There are some simple tips and tricks to help you figure it out:

1. Hit the jewelry counter before the beauty counter. Which looks better on your skin? Gold or Silver? If silver looks better, you are probably a cool undertone. Cool undertones will have visible blues, pinks, and reds under the skin. Is gold your go-to metallic? Yellow, peachy and golden hues will be visible under the skin of warm undertones. 2. Your veins could map out the direction of your skin undertone. Look at your veins on the underside of your forearm in natural light. If your veins look purple or blue, your skin falls into a cool undertone. If green or bluish green veins appear, then your skin sounds like it has warm undertones. If you can't decide, then your skin has a neutral undertone. 3. Is the sun your friend or foe? Skins with a cool undertone will burn more easily since the skin doesn't have a lot of melanin present to counteract the harmful rays. Skin with warm undertones will tan more easily. 4. Grab some paper. Ideally, you want a white paper and an off white paper. Lay your forearm on the paper. If you prefer your forearm against the white paper, chances are your skin has a warm undertone, while an off-white preference suggests a cool skin tone. 5. Still on the fence? If you have a mixture of blues, pinks, yellows, peachy and reds, your skin is probably a neutral skin undertone.

Summary: Skin tones will vary based on the amount of time you spend in the sun. When your skin is exposed to the sun, the body's natural defenses kick in, and your skin produces more melanin to absorb the harmful rays of sunshine. And when you produce more melanin, your skin tans. So consider that a foundation shade during the winters months when the days are shorter and you spend more time indoors away from natural sunlight may need to change shade in the summer when you are enjoying longer days and soaking up those rays.

What's The Best Shade For My Skintones?

As a general rule to follow, select a foundation shade that has only the slightest hint of your skin’s undertone. Your natural skin tone and your foundation shade should blend along your jawline, without leaving a visible hard line between your foundation shade and your natural skin tone. Don't necessarily believe that a shade labeled 'warm' or 'cool' is right for your skin undertone. A cool shade may make your skin look too blue, or a warm shade may contain too much yellow for your natural skin.

    If You Have A Cool Undertone

    A cool undertone foundation should have a rosy pink hue. Skin with a cool undertone should avoid foundations with any yellow or gold hues, as that will make the skin look jaundice. On the flip side, if you have a medium to dark skin tone with a red undertone, a foundation with a reddish brown hue may look better. It's important to note that when we say 'hue,' we mean just a mere hint of color.

    If You Have A Warm Undertone

    Warm undertones tend to look better with the foundation with a slightly gold hue or yellow undertone foundation. Stay away from foundations with a pink hue, as that will make your skin tone look ruddy.

    If You Have A Neutral Undertone

    Don't get hung up trying to decide if a cool / pink or a warm / yellow looks better. Instead opt for a foundation with a peach hue, which is both warm and cool.

    If You Have An Olive Undertone

    If you have an olive undertone, avoid a foundation with yellow hues, as this combination can create a ruddy complexion. Instead, play off the greens in your natural skin tone and look for a foundation with a gold hue.

Summary: with all of the foundation options, this is a choice that is best made by experimenting with samples in natural light. Dab a small sample onto the back of your forearm and look for a shade that complements (but doesn't match) your skin undertone. Once you've found the perfect shades (for winter, for summer or even for vacation), you will have the ideal base on which to build your personal beauty style.

Pro Tip: Still confused? Many retailers have Foundation Finders that help you choose the right product and the right shade. We recommend and


Always keep in mind, there is an essential strategy when apply layers of products: start with the thinner liquid products first and build up to thicker solids and powders. This is not a hard and fast rule, and we will highlight some of the reasons that 'rules are made to be broken.'

  • Exfoliate. Always start with a clean canvas. You want your skin to be clean and fresh to hold down the makeup you are going to apply. Any dry patches on your skin will absorb more foundation product, which will create uneven coverage. Trust us.: this is a quick and easy first step, but critical. At this stage, you should moisturize and treat your face to a spritz of rosewater or a face mist to prep your skin for what is to come.

  • Prime. A primer will smooth the service of your skin, help to control any excess oil, minimize large pores, and blur fine lines. When you apply foundation, you will use less product, and the product will stay in place.

  • Apply foundation. For every MUA, there is a preferred product, process and tool out there for creating the perfect base. Keep reading for our recommendations and the benefits of each.

  • Insider Tip: YouTube videos are creating using a light ring which is much brighter than the natural daylight. In this bright light, every bump and blotch is revealed. To accommodate for the brighter lights required for filming, a larger amount of foundation is applied. For most of us, we aren't on stage or in the movies, so this amount of foundation probably isn't required. Start with a lighter layer and build until you get the base you want for natural light.

  • Conceal. Concealer has two primary uses: color correction and hiding dark circles under eyes. And either of those scenarios will require slightly different concealer shades. For dark areas, such as under your eyes, you should use a concealer which is a shade or two lighter than your foundation. But for those areas of redness, you should use a green concealer. Likewise, for areas of your skin which have a darker pigment, a peach, red or orange concealer will counteract unevenness.

  • Insider Tip: The debate is eternal: should I apply concealer or foundation first? If you have a blemish or a scar, apply some concealer over those areas followed by foundation.

  • Set.Apply a setting powder to lock your base down. Since we've just applied liquid makeup products, we want a base which will prevent blushes, contour and bronzing products from sticking. When you use setting powder before other powdered products, you will need less blush since they will go down on a smoother surface and not be absorbed by the foundation. Setting powder will also absorb any oils which your skin produces throughout the day, again making your makeup last longer.

How To Apply Liquid Foundation


Brushes are the mainstay of any MAU's kit. A brush is a fast, easy way to apply foundation, with more control over the coverage and blending. Confused by the brush choices? Start with deciding what sort of finish you'd like. If you're going for full coverage, use a tapered foundation brush or a domed foundation brush. The firmly packed bristles will hold a lot of product for heavy applications, but you will still need a buffer brush with a big flat top for blending. Are you looking for a light wash of foundation? A stipple brush is your go-to brush. A stippling brush is used to recreate a light air-brushed finish. These brushes should press the product into your skin, rather than sweep across your face.

Electric Foundation Brush

When Technology meets Beauty, you get electronic makeup brushes. Brands such as blendSmart offers quick and easy tools to achieve a flawless airbrush finish with less makeup. Start by applying a small dab of your product on your forehand, chin, nose, and cheeks, and then blend, blend, blend. And blend some more. These tools come with various heads, so can be used for foundation, but also contouring and powder too.

Beauty Blenders

Beauty blenders and sponges are truly the supporting star attraction in any YouTube video. Beauty blenders can create a flawless light natural finish, or be used to build up full coverage. If you have dry skin that is irritated by bristles, a beauty blender is a great alternative to a stipple brush. The technique is simple; dampen a sponge and then gently press the foundation into your skin.


No matter how hard science tries, technology can't replace your best tool; your hands and fingers. Squeeze a dot of foundation on the back of your hand or wrist, and use your fingers to warm the cream or liquid. Starting in circular motions, blend the foundation into your skin.

How To Apply Powder Foundation


When applying a powder foundation, it's all about the tools. The core of any brush set should include a Kabuki brush. Available as either a rounded top or flat top brush, the dense bristles will hold a fair amount of powder to build medium coverage. If you want a more natural, sheer powder base, MUAs recommend a medium powder brush for achieving a thin, even layer of powder. Oval brushes are a more recent entry to the Vloggers vocab over the last several years. An oval brush is made with much more bristles than a typical brush, which means a super smooth application and blending.

Beauty Blenders

Not just for liquid makeup, beauty blenders can be used to apply powders too. For a very light, natural finish, coat a sponge in powder and then gently dab on your skin. Since sponges are easier to control with your hands, they can be used for very focused areas such as the under eye area. For medium or fuller coverage, wet a beauty sponge and use it to apply the pressed powder. The result is a luminous, dewy finish!


Most pressed powders include a puff – cover the puff in powder and then pat well onto the skin for natural, flawless coverage. Use the puff for on-the-go touch-ups by patting the powder over any oil-prone section like your nose or forehead.

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