Are you left bewildered by the number of different formulations and colours of foundation that are available on the market? Maybe you have a bathroom full of different colours, types and brands but are still unable to find the right colour and product for you.
Not only have you wasted time and money, you may have also been left embarrassed when a well meaning friend or family member has remarked that you look pale, jaundiced or ill. You have probably all seen the classic yellow/orange jawline, where not only has the wrong colour been applied, it also hasn’t been blended in to the neck properly. And don’t be fooled by department store lighting. The seemingly perfect colour, can be the completely wrong shade when you step out into natural light.
Now if you also suffer from a skin condition like acne, psoriasis, rosacea, hyper-pigmentation, birthmarks etc. expert colour matching is even more crucial. We wear our skin everyday, it’s the first thing people see, so if the colour isn’t right we can actually make the problem worse. I recall a boy in my class at school who had severe acne. He would conceal his blemishes with a yellowy orange concealer, thou being fair skinned he actually drew more attention to the one area he was trying to conceal and was cruelly bullied for wearing makeup.
So how do we decide which colour is best for our skin? Whilst depth of skin tone is important, many people make the mistake of choosing a foundation solely on how light or dark they think they are, when they should also be looking at undertones. An undertone is the colour that is just beneath the skin. While your skin tone can change over time, with sun exposure etc., the undertone does not. In most cases we are either cool (pink), warm (yellow) or neutral (both). However it is possible to fall somewhere in between, you could be “neutral-warm,” for instance. A quick way to identify which bracket you fall into is to look at your wrists.
If you’re cool like Emma Stone or Eva Longoria, the veins on your inner wrist appear blue or purple, you tend to turn a flushed pink color in the sun, and you burn easily, so you want to look for a foundation that has rosier, redder, or blue base.
If you’re warm like Cheryl Fernandez-Verzini or Eva Mendes, the veins on your wrist appear green or olive, and you quickly bronze or darken in the sun, so look for a foundation that has a golden or yellow base.
For the neutral ladies like Selena Gomez or Kate Hudson, you’ve got an equal number of blue and green veins. You are also one of the lucky ones who can pull off any shade of lipstick and eyeshadow.
FAST MATCH TIP: If gold jewellery melts into your skin, you have warm undertones. If silver does, you have cool undertones, and if both flatter you, you are a neutral.
To get a true colour match we need to match the foundation to the colour of the décolletage. In most cases this is the area that is our natural colour. It is the area of skin that is least prone to sun damage or issues of oiliness, dryness, redness and hyperpigmentation. By colour matching to the chest and bringing that colour up on to the face, we can achieve a beautifully natural complexion that blends throughout.
Not everyone however is born with the perfect skin. Sometimes just applying a foundation in the colour of your natural skintone doesn’t actually solve the problem. Sometimes you need to correct the colour imbalance first before applying the base colour. By applying colour correctors they help to balance and neutralise any tonal imperfections in your skin, such as dark under eye circles, blemishes or redness. It is often recommended that to counteract redness you should apply a green-based concealer as it is the opposite to red on the colour wheel. I don’t actually use green in my work as I find it can make the skin look grey or ashy, and if you apply too much you can look like Shrek, and that’s not a good look for anybody. I actually find yellow works far better. I have redness all around my eyes. By applying a yellow based concealer it counteracts the red and balances my skin tone. Yellow is also good for blemishes, blotchiness, broken veins, rosacea and purple tones under your eyes, and helps to lift and brighten the area. If you have yellow or sallow skin, a lilac corrector works well to prevent dullness and a peach/terracotta is perfect for dark undereye circles, hyper-pigmentation and tattoos.
When picking a corrector, colour alone is not enough. The depth of the chosen shade is also key. For example, if you have darker skin, pick a deeper terracotta to counteract dark circles. Pastels like peachy orange have too much white in them and will be too light for darker skin tones and more suited to pale complexions.
You must also analyse the colour of the area requiring camouflage because vascular dermatoses, bruises and erythematous scars are not pure hues, neither are tattoo inks. This is where it can get tricky for a novice to understand and why it is then necessary to seek expert advice. As a professional Skin Camouflage Practitioner I can assess your skin condition, skin tone, undertone and whether you need a complementary colour to provide you with an expert colour match and help you to understand the ratios required to attain a flawless complexion.
I hope that this has given you an insight into colour theory and helps to guide you when selecting the right colour foundation and concealer. If you would like to book a consultation please contact me. It can get quite confusing, but I can help you to find the right colour and product to meet your needs.
Charlotte Trendell is a Professional Makeup Artist and Skin Camouflage Practitioner