How To Pick Your Perfect Foundation Shade

Michael Brown

Beauty Expert

Whether you’re a makeup junkie or not, I think we can all relate to at one time (or maybe a few) wearing the incorrect foundation shade, usually too dark for our skin tone, resulting in a ‘heavy’ looking build up around the jaw and hair line. Noooo!

Foundation is the base of your entire makeup look, get that wrong and there isn’t any going back and being all about the skin myself as a Makeup Artist, there is nothing worse than seeing foundation before natural glowing skin.


Now, not all of us are blessed with flawless skin, but there are ways to build coverage naturally, so you don’t look caked up and it all starts with the right texture and of course, the correct foundation shade and one of my top picks is the new Clinique 2-in-1 Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer! 


Warm or Cool

Shade selection can be daunting and it’s not just about light or dark shades, it has more to do with your skin undertone. Light, fair skin has more of a pink undertone and tanned, olive skin has more of a yellow undertone.

Because of this, fair skin usually want to even out their skin, removing any unwanted pink/redness present, whereas olive skin, usually have a concern of dull skin, as it can lack colour and/or brightness.

Apart from any obvious signs of colour or lack of, the back of your wrist is the foolproof place to determine your skin undertone.

Fair, pink based skin usually has a brighter blue vein colour (cool) and olive, yellow based skin usually has a deeper blue, but more green vein colour (warm).

Pink based skin being cool, needs to neutralize redness and in some cases, warm up their tone and Yellow based skin being warm, needs to keep to their tone and slightly brighten.


Most foundations have either a pink, neutral or yellow base to them, and in Australia, neutral to yellow are the most popular.

This is because a lot of fair skin tones have redness to neutralize and having a large multi-cultural population, yellow shades are the go-to.

Pink shades may not be as popular, but are great for the extremely pale, some Asian skin tones and mature skin that needs a boost of colour.

Sometimes neutral foundation shades may not look exciting within their packaging, often looking dull, as they have a mixture of black and white pigments within to have a neutralizing effect.

This is perfect for a skin with pink/redness, as it will calm down these tones, giving a more even look to the skin.

Testing Shades

It’s a great idea to choose at least 2 shades that you think will suit your skin.

Always match foundation at the side of your cheek, on the jawline, as this will show the most natural looking shade from face to neck – matching on your hand is a no no, as your hands are often more tanned than your face.

It’s always best to go for the shade that looks more invisible, you want realistic looking skin and when trying to add colour to your face, do this with other makeup items like bronzer, blush, lipstick, rather than risking your foundation to look visible by choosing an incorrect shade.

For those of us that change colour dramatically from summer to winter, buying two foundation shades is your best answer and when in between seasons, mix the two for the perfect match.

If your skin tone has pigmentation, like sun spots, freckles or just general dark pigment, this means you may have to use a slightly deeper tone foundation on these areas, otherwise the area can look grey. This works the same when concealing dark circles under the eyes also.


Most makeup artists never use just the one shade on the face, as so many of us have different tones on the face that need addressing, it can really make a flawless face.


In Australia, we tend to over-apply foundation, often looking heavy, building up at the hair and jaw line and having one coverage over the entire face.

In reality, we should only apply coverage to areas that need it and with the right prep + correct shade, foundation should look like a second skin, just more flawless.

For foundation, I like to start application in the centre of the face, as this is where most have skin concerns, then sweep outwards so there is no build up on the outer areas of the face.

For Concealer under the eyes, only cover where a dark circle is present, not the entire under eye area, as this could bunch up and age your look later on in the day, less is best and keep product concentrated on the dark area for best results.

Dark circles usually only appear from inner under eye, to mid-way, so to avoid concealer creasing, there is no need to apply on the outer eye where expression lines usually appear.

I like to apply 3 dots of concealer under the eye – 1 right under the tear duct, 1 just below it and the last on the dark circle mid under eye, then blend and dab for coverage.

For concealing face, a light dabbing effect is best to gain coverage on the concern area.

The new Clinique 2-in-1 Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer has a unique application tool. You can apply dots on the face in areas you need coverage, then turn sideways to spread across large areas like cheek, then the tip for smaller areas like under the eye and around the nose.

Smooth, and sweep for initial blend and then dab and oat for extra coverage on an area of concern, not covering the entire face if not needed and you will have perfect, plus weightless skin every time.

Clinique are a commercial partner of RESCU

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