How To Find The Correct Shade For Your Skin Tone

Michael Brown

Beauty Expert

You may have heard many times, “There are no rules with makeup”. It’s fine if you pile on truckloads of foundation to totally mask your natural skin tone, but there are definite guidelines when it comes to makeup shades that suit areas of the face and it’s easier than you think.

You also hear “opposites attract”, a makeup guideline I swear by, especially when it comes to choosing eye shadow that will contrast your natural eye colour to make them pop. But the best way to choose shades is to always think of the highlight and shade principle. Light will reflect, brighten and bring forward an area, while shade will recede, deepen and re-structure an area.

A lot of women are very good at applying makeup, but just aren’t using the correct shades for their colouring, it really does make a difference for more wow factor and a natural approach. 


The main point to remember with choosing shades for our skin, whether it is foundation or blush, is to know your skin tone.

Fair, pink base skin tones need warmth and in extreme cases, they need to be neutralised, so it is so important to think summery shades like warm bronzers for blush and for foundation, stay away from pink or very yellow shades and always opt for neutral shades.

emmastoneImage via pinterest


Neutral foundation shades often look dull in packaging, but that is their purpose, to dull down a pink base skin to get a more balanced and even skin tone.

Neutral foundation shades have more black and white pigment within, therefore can grey out any redness. This is why they are great for pink/sensitive skin tones.

Olive, yellow base skin tones are sometimes referred to as dull, or looking flat, due to lack of natural colour and/or pigmentation.

Because of this, its great to choose bright, lifting shades when it comes to blush, these are usually in the cooler category for contrast and with foundation, its best to keep to the skin tone, so yellow base works best.


If you try to brighten a dull/yellow base skin with a pink or neutral tone foundation, you run the risk of it looking grey, especially in flash photography.

If you have pigmentation present, it’s wise to apply a slightly deeper tone, this will help correct the depth that pigmentation can have. An orange base concealer/foundation can really assist if the case is more noticeable.

Points to Remember:

In Australia, we sell a lot more yellow to neutral shades of foundation, due to redness around the centre of our faces – gotta love the Aussie environment.

Pink base foundations are rarely used, but helpful when a mature skin is lacking in colour, and also for the porcelain skin tones, especially in the Asian demographic.

For the cheeks, my go-to blush if you are confused which way to go with a summer or winter shade, is peach.

This shade suits both tones as it gives colour, without being bold like pink, or dull like bronzer.


Your eye colour should always be focus when it comes to eye makeup and the only way to do this, is to work with opposite shades.

If you wear shades too similar, they wont look bad as such, but your eyes can be lost as the shades are complimentary, not contrasting.

Whatever eye colour you have, go to the other end of the colour scale and you will see instantly your eye colour come alive.

jennifer-eyesimage via Zimbio

Here’s a little guide with a sample of main shades included:

Blue Eyes – Summery/warm, chocolate, caramel, taupe, bronze, khaki and granite

Green Eyes – Copper, earthy/terracotta, orange, bronze, plum and purple

Brown Eyes – Warm bronze shades rather than cool chocolate shades, navy, emerald green, granite, silver smokey and plum

This is just a guide to show the shade opposites and of course some shades can be worn across the board, but there are key shades per eye colour for best results.

Traditionally with eyes, the socket area is where we need to apply deeper and matte tones, as in the contouring world, this where we re-shape the eye for lift.

Anything brighter or metallic should be worn on the mobile eyelid, just above the upper lash line.


Our lips can be a big focus when it comes to makeup, especially when choosing a bold shade and/or when wearing less eye makeup.

Rather than looking on your natural lip colour, shades are better chosen to suit your lip shape, but bearing in mind your skin tone, when not wearing much foundation for balance, is also a key makeup artist tip.

amanda-lipsimage via Zimbio


Small Lips

These lip shapes need brighter, lighter, glossy shades to have any chance of looking plump.

They can still wear bold colour, just on the brighter scale and can even have a slightly deeper shade around the edges for definition, with a lighter shade in the centre area to promote fullness. Matte shades I would avoid as they are not light reflecting.

Full Lips

These lips are lucky in a way, as they can generally wear a multiple of shades and textures, but, if you want to reduce the size of your lips (umm, why?) try matte textures and deeper shades like brown, deep red or plum.

Lip shades can make a difference with skin tone also.

If your skin tone is looking dull, wear a brighter, glossy shade (cool shades can work well) and if you have a lot of pink present in your skin, avoid pink and anything cool, summer tones will be best.


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