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/ June 15, 2019

How To Know Your Foundation Color + Buy The Right Shade of Foundation (and concealer!) Online

It feels like in the past few years the majority of foundation and concealer launches have happened online before landing in stores.  I wish that it would be possible to see all the shades in real life before ordering, but when you can’t, here is my exact method how I order the perfect color or foundation and concealer online.

Before you read this post, I highly recommend knowing your skin’s undertone.  This blog post + video go in to detail about figuring out your undertone. It’s how I color match all of my clients in 60 seconds or less and works every time.



STEP 1 | Find Your Skintone 

There are generally five skin tone categories used to group foundations:

  • fair
  • light
  • medium
  • tan
  • deep

Step 1, figure out which group you are in. I’m “Light.”

foundation shade categories

STEP 2 | Match Undertone

There are different undertones:

  • silver (cool)
  • pink (cool)
  • yellow (warm)
  • peach (warm)
  • olive (cool)
  • red (warm)
  • a neutral undertone is an equal blend of pink and yellow tones.

Generally (but not always):

  • extremely fair skin tones will have silver or pink undertones
  • light skin will have neutral, pink, yellow, or peach
  • medium skin tones will have neutral, yellow, peach, or olive
  • tan skin tones will have neutral, peach, yellow, olive, or red
  • deep skin tones will have neutral, yellow, olive or red

Each skin tone and undertone are so unique! So these are general examples of more common undertones according to skin tone.

However, someone with a Light skin tone could also have a cool, olive undertone. And someone who with a Deep skin tone could also have cool, pink undertones.

Related Post | Finding Your Skin Undertone

foundation undertones guide

STEP 3 | Search Website Product Description

Most stores (Ulta/Sephora) and brand websites (Nars/Milani) now give shade and undertone descriptions on the website.  This is HUGE and one of the major resources I use for finding the right product shade. I always go through the skin tone and undertone descriptions to find my match.

  • navigate to the product page and click on the shade
  • then check skin tone category
  • then check undertone description

how to find foundation and concealer shade online

Based off of my skin tone and under tone, I look for products that are labeled light, with peach undertones.

If this skin tone and undertone information isn’t listed on the website, I always direct message the brand on Instagram or via customer service.

STEP 4 | Match Your Body

Often times I’ll give myself a faux tan or clients will have a spray tan and their bodies will be a bit lighter than their face.  Also, we tend to exfoliate our faces more than bodies and wear more sunscreen on our faces, so it stays lighter than our bodies.

Always make sure your foundation is the same color as your chest and neck area.  Test a little foundation there and if it blends in perfectly, you’ve got a match.

Most tanners will add a bit of a yellow or olive surface tone to your skin, so you might need to adjust your foundation to match those tones if you opt for a very, very dark self-tan.

STEP 5  |  Tried + True

Still feel unsure?  Go with a brand that nails their shade undertones.  There are a few brands that have accurate, true-to-life undertones.

KGD | Although Koh Gen Do offers fewer undertones, their shades and undertones are SO accurate and reflective of real skin tones. These are not just shades slapped out, they are so carefully crafted.

I find myself almost exclusively using KGD in my makeup artist kit because it’s so easy to match people from fair to deep skin tone categories.  Every single client, of every skin tone and undertone, takes a photo of the foundation number I used on them once their foundation is done. That is how accurately their shades match.

ARMANI | The Armani is great because they offer a peach undertone, so it really blends flawlessly for me.  They also have great olive undertones, so for people who struggle finding good peach, olive, or red undertones, Armani does them all well.

NARS | I love the NARS Cosmetics range. They have a complete range of skin tone shades and undertones and a formula for every skin type: dry, oily, etc. I’ve really taken to the Radiant Longer formula this year on days I’d like full coverage.

MILANI | Milani has such an incredible range of foundation skin tone and undertone offerings. I’m so impressed with their entire brand, it really holds up to luxury brand performance.

The 2+ 1 foundation can be a little heavy, so I advise wearing one pump with very well hydrated skin and a primer. I love their Prime Light primer underneath, it truly is a gorgeous combination.

L’OREAL | I’ve been loving the new L’oreal Infallible Fresh Wear foundation.   It’s looks so pretty on the skin and layers nicely to whatever level of coverage I’d like that day.

It’s become my go-to errand running or quick dinner makeup. I do advise to wear with a primer, or else my skin can get a bit itchy while wearing this, I have sensitive skin.

To be honest, the L’oreal Fresh Wear foundation undertones were confusing me, because it was hard to find out any information.  I did some digging using their foundation comparison shade matcher on their website (matches your old brand and shade of foundation to theirs).

From that, I made the chart below, to hopefully make it a bit easier. I spent way, way too many hours doing this, ha!

I have found shade Rose Vanilla 435 is actually a light peach undertone, all others are accurate.

STEP 6 | Google, Pinterest, + Instagram

The Internet can be so helpful when trying to find the right foundation shade!  This is what I do when I’m ordering a  foundation that I’ve never tried before.

Step 1 | On Google (or Pinterest) type in:

  • the product name
  • and then the word “swatches.”

For example: “Armani Luminous Silk Foundation Swatches.”

Step 2 | Hit “images” at the top menu bar of search results. 

This will take you to all the photos and you can start to see what the shades look like on real people.

Generally swatches are done on the arm.  I prefer the face and jawline so you can really see how the undertones look, but I’ll take what I can get, especially if it’s a newer launch.

Step 3 | Once you have a general idea of what shade you might be, type in the product name and that specific shade, then again click on image results page.

For example: “Armani Luminous Silk foundation shade 4.25”.   You’ll get a better idea if this could be your shade when you see on on someone with similar coloring to you.

Step 4 | For newer foundation launches, swatches might not be online yet, so I recommend checking out Instagram.  The brand’s page will usually have swatches and @trendmood1 always reposts what she can find for swatches really quickly. Her account is a great follow and she’s genuinely a nice person!

how to buy foundation online search



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  1. Your chart for the Loreal Infallible foundation is very helpful but I don’t see 411 Beige Ivory listed. I’ve been wearing that shade all winter but now I’m needing a shade darker and I have no idea which shade I should get. I have 204 Natural Ivory in Loreal Pro-Glow but it’s way too yellow. 180 Sand Beige in Revlon Colorstay Normal/Dry skin is a pretty good match for me but I prefer the wear of the Infallible Fresh Wear. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Hey Molly I have been watching some of your videos on YouTube and they have been super helpful. I think I’ve finally got my foundation match by my jawline, but my problem is I’m covered in freckles so as soon as I start blending higher it looks atrocious. I’ve always struggled with makeup because of this. I dont want to hide my freckles with foundation but as I am getting older 37 years, I do need to cover some red spots on my cheeks and enlarging pores on my nose 🙁 Do you have any suggestions on how to do a light coverage on cheeks and nose to cover red and pores, without it being too obvious I have makeup on top of freckles!? Thank you <3

  3. Hello! I’m hoping you can point me in the right direction. I use Nars Chantilly RCC and it is literally a perfect match to my skin. I think that gives me a greyish undertone? Would that be cool? Do you have any recs for foundations? Thank you!