How to find your perfect ethnic foundation

Friday, 21 February 2014

How to find your perfect ethnic foundation

Few things are as difficult as picking a proper foundation for women of colour. It doesn’t really matter whether she is of light or dark complexion; our skin colour and undertones tend to be difficult to match. Although most cosmetics companies have a larger range of shades for brown skin tones, if you don’t know how to choose the prefect shade, the selection is useless. Not to worry though, with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you’ll fast be on your way to navigating the make-up aisle with confidence and avoiding the dreaded ashy look.

How to define your skin’s undertone
You skin’s undertone will act as a much needed guide to choosing a foundation. If you look at the inside of your wrist, the unifying hue will either be olive, red or yellow. Once you’ve determined which of the three undertones you fall under, you’ll be halfway to choosing your perfect foundation.

How to hone in on the right foundation shade
Once you have determined your unifying colour, an overall shade based on skin tone can be selected. The next task will be to choose the light, medium or dark version of that shade and test it.

  1. Always test foundation on cleansed and moisturised skin.
  2. Natural light is the ideal light to determine if you have a match. The fluorescent light in most department stores can give all shades a greenish tone.
  3. Test three different shades, one that is one shade lighter, one that looks like it matches perfectly and another that is slightly darker.
  4. Apply each shade in a line from your cheek to your jawline and allow it to settle for 10 minutes.
  5. The shade of foundation that disappears and blends seamlessly into the skin without leaving a line at your neck is your perfect shade.

How to apply your foundation
Technique is everything when applying your foundation. You will make great use of the three shades you tested at the make-up counter earlier. This will help you highlight, contour and add needed dimension to your face.

  1. Apply the lightest shade in the center of the face – down the center of the nose, under the eyes and the center of the forehead only.
  2. Apply the darker shade underneath the cheekbones, on the jaw line, hairline and down the sides of the nose to sculpt and contour the face.
  3. Lastly, use a shade that matches the skin in the remaining areas and blend them all together.
  4. Be sure to blend the foundation around your ears and down your neck for a flawless finish.

This technique will give women of colour the most natural and polished look that is readily sought-after. Having more than one shade handy will also prove to be helpful during the winter months when skin tends to be lighter, and during the summer months when skin tends to be darker. Don’t make the mistake of picking a foundation to either lighten or darken your skin tone. This will make your face look unnatural. A shade that is too light can make you look blotchy, tired or sick and a one that is too dark can make you look too orange or give you the appearance of wearing a mask. Follow all of these tips and you’ll be a master at the make-up counter.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Foundations for women of colour
Foundation for your wedding day
Foundation types explained: liquid
Foundation types explained: powder
The most reviewed foundations of 2013

Written by

Kavuli Nyali-Binase is a beauty fanatic with too many cosmetics and not enough time to test them all. When she isn't contributing to BeautySouthAfrica, you may find her on Good Hair Diaries and Twitter, ranting about all things beautiful.

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  1. WAFIQA ABBAS

    I’m indian and have a tannish skin tone and find it so difficult to find the correct shade. Thanks for the tips!

    3 years ago •

  1. Tandana Mtegha

    This is going to help so much in the future!

    4 years ago •

  1. Nomahlubi

    Heey where has this article been all my life. I’ve been doing it all wrong!! Thank you for this …

    5 years ago •

  1. Kwena Meso

    I can relate to this article. I used to struggle trying to find the perfect foundation for my skin tone as I have slightly two colors. Only recently that’s when I found my shade. This is really helpful for all those people still struggling. Nice one :)

    5 years ago •

  1. Gugu Ogunfowora

    Thanks for the article, really great! I have two distinct tones on my face and the tip of using 3 shades is one I simply cannot wait to try! What I have found to work as well is using a liquid foundation mixed with my moisturiser, then finishing off with a slightly lighter tone powder foundation. It lasted matt longer on my combi/oily skin and it looks light and natural, like I wasted plastered with make-up because I don’t use as much liquid foundation, which I find heavy on my skin and pores.

    5 years ago •

  1. Ruweida

    Finding the perfect shade is always tricky; thanks for the tips.

    5 years ago •

  1. Mpoyif

    Great article. Very helpful and interesting

    5 years ago •

  1. Ayesh

    Such a stunning article. I have seen what it looks like when darker skin women apply the incorrect shade of foundation. Absolutely horrible. This will definitely help people with ethnic tones… It’s also very interesting that you don’t suggest testing foundation on the inside of your arm, or between your index finger and thumb. I think it SHOULD be tested on the face. Obviously. You’re not going to apply it to cover up anything else. That was an excellent tip. x

    5 years ago •

  1. Palesa Mokoena

    Thanks for the tip. I will definitely try it.

    5 years ago •

  1. Gervase

    Thanks for the tip. People at the make up counter at stores tend to give me lighter shades. I hate that. I have a two tone complexion and would prefer to use the darker shade instead.

    5 years ago •

  1. Sunuri Subramoney

    Always a challenge trying to find the right shade for me! Thanks for the tips :)

    5 years ago •

  1. AndreaM

    Kavuli needs an award for being a beauty master for us black girls, proud of you :)

    5 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    I usually use two shades to achieve a more natural look.

    5 years ago •

  1. Nomahlubi

    This is very helpful….as i’m struggling to get the right one for my tone.

    5 years ago •

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