Find your perfect foundation match with this foundation shade finder

How to find your perfect foundation match online and in-store

13th February 2020 | Author: Abigail Beall

Finding your perfect foundation match is much more difficult than it should be.

You can spend a fortune on finding the best foundation, but not a single brand – from budget to designer – will look right until you find the correct foundation shade and tone for your skin.

READ NEXT: The best foundation for all skin types

As a guide, you’ll know when you’ve got a perfect foundation match when you are able to apply it to only parts of your face without it being obvious.

In our How to apply foundation like a pro, our resident makeup artist Victoria Howe explains – as part of our Ask the MUA series – that if you have to apply foundation all over your face to balance out the colour, you’ve got the wrong shade and tone.

How to find a foundation match

The first place to start when looking at foundation types and brands is to determine what your skin tone is, but this is notoriously the most difficult part.

What is my skin tone?

Undertones fall into three categories – warm, cool and neutral –  and choosing a foundation with the wrong undertone is what causes your face to look yellow or orange when applied. So how can you tell which of these three categories you fall into?

§ Foundation match: Vein test

In natural lighting, look at the veins on your wrist.

  • If they appear green, you have a warm skin tone
  • If they appear blue or purple, your skin tone is cool
  • If you find it hard to tell, your tone is likely to have neutral undertones

§ Foundation match: Jewellery test

In natural lighting, put on a piece of gold and silver jewellery at the same time.

  • If the gold jewellery looks better against your skin, you have a warm skin tone
  • If the silver jewellery looks better, your skin tone is cool
  • If both colours suit you, your tone is most likely neutral

§ Foundation match: White test

In natural lighting, hold a pure white piece of clothing next to your skin, followed by an off-white piece of clothing.

  • If you better suit the pure white clothing, you have a warm skin tone
  • If the off-white clothing looks better against your skin, your tone is cool
  • If both suit you, your tone is most likely neutral

If you have warm skin tone, look for foundations with yellow and peachy undertones.

If you have cool skin tone, your skin better suits makeup with pink/red and blue tones.

If your skin is neutral, a mixture of the two will look great.

This brilliant video from Birchbox helps explain these tests in more detail.

How to match foundation to your skin online

It is always important to try any foundation before you buy it, and most shops and online retailers will be able to provide samples for this once you’ve narrowed down your shade. They will also be able to help you make these selections. Alternatively, you can carry on reading to find out how to match foundation to your skin online. 

Findation Foundation Finder

Some foundation match sites, like Findation, work by comparing the similarity between brands. For example, if you know your match in Smashbox, for instance, they will tell you what Laura Mercier foundation is right for you.

You can add just one product, or multiple products, and they will build a picture of what your skin tone is.


Boots offers a fantastic service under its No7 brand called Match Made.

This involves putting a sensor on your skin to get an exact skin tone reading before being recommended the most appropriate foundation match.

You can then use this shade to find alternatives on Findation.

The downside is that if you’re yet to find a foundation match, you won’t have a point of reference, but we do have a way around this (see boxout).

Temptalia Foundation Matrix

With Temptalia’s foundation matrix , you can start from scratch. Using information about your undertones and how fair your skin is, manually input by you, you’ll be given a foundation match.

Of course, the accuracy depends on the information you input, and the exact foundation colour match you need can change throughout the year.

In summer, if you spend a lot of time in the sun, your skin might tan or become freckly. In this case, you will need a different shade of foundation. Unless your foundation changes colour to match your skin.

Foundation samples

Many beauty counters in shops and department stores will not only advise you or your shade and tone but will give you a small sample pot of foundation which allows you to try before you buy. These samples are not only great for helping you determine if the tone is right, but you can check the foundation’s coverage, consistency and staying power.

This is great if you have the time, and the confidence, to go to a beauty counter but many of us don’t and we rely on buying foundations online which can be even more difficult. That’s where Feelunique comes in. The site offers a Try Me service which means that when you buy any foundation from the site, it will include a matching sample pot.

If you decide the shade or texture isn’t right, you can return the unopened, full-size product and get your money back within 31 days. This promotion is only for customers in the UK. We love Feelunique because it very often sells many of our favourite products at a discounted price and it’s worth keeping an eye on our makeup sale page for the best bargains.

How to shade match Urban Decay foundation

Urban Decay offers a great online Find my Shade quiz that helps you find a foundation match, but (unsurprisingly) it will only match you to an Urban Decay Stay Naked foundation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we’re big fans of this foundation – particularly for dark skin tones – but it is pricey. If you use the quiz to determine which foundation match you think you’ll need, you can then buy it from Feelunique to get a sample pot. 

Then, once you’ve established which shade best matches your skin tone, you can use the Findation site to find cheaper alternatives. 

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