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FAQ: Temptalia’s Foundation Matches, Skintone, & Skin Type

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Foundation
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Foundation

About My Coloring

I would describe myself as light-medium in color with soft, warm, yellowish undertones.  My neck is closer to light in color, while the edges of my face are closer to true light-medium and the center of my face is closer to light-to-light-medium.  As a result, I find color matches that are slightly warmer and yellower to suit me best, as true neutral foundations look rosier/pinker against my complexion. I also will lean lighter but usually go darker than my neck as I find that matching to my neck looks unnaturally light to me (a little stark) but if I match solely to my face, I have to take my foundation down quite far to avoid obvious changes in color!

I have hazel eyes (a mixture of green and brown) and black-brown hair (now with golden-copper highlights) with less warmth in my eyebrows (they aren’t true black but warmer brow colors tend to look obvious).

About My Skin

I have normal-to-dry skin overall.  The majority of my face is normal most of the time, but occasionally, I get dryness on my eyelids, around my nostrils, and on my cheeks.  I have some fine lines around my eyes and underneath my eyes as well as visible smile lines.  I have a larger line that runs across my forehead and noticeable smile lines.  As far as skin concerns go, I am most concerned with signs of aging around my eyes and evenness of my skin overall.  I feel like I have normal-sized pores, as I do not notice them all. the. time. but find they can be visible and emphasized by the texture and finish of products.  I would not consider my skin sensitive, and after trialing so many products over the last ten years, I’d actually say it’s rather resilient.

I suffer from eczema on occasion, and it’s typically on my arms and hands but can occur on my eyelids (this happened often when I tried to wear liquid eyeliner or if I fuss too much along my upper lash line with some brushes).  (This is compounded by eyes severely affected by allergies… but with respect to irritation, redness, and some swelling underneath the lid and skin around the eye, not necessarily the actual eyeball.)

I have not had any fillers or injections. If that ever changes, it will be disclosed as necessary (e.g. under eye filler would be disclosed when discussing skin care or how complexion products sit in fine lines around the eye).

Better Foundation Matches

  • Anastasia Stick Foundation in Beige — 1/2 shade too light
  • Cle de Peau Concealer in Almond — slightly cool
  • Cle de Peau Concealer in Ochre — 1/4 shade too dark
  • Cle de Peau Radiant Stick Foundation in Ochre — 1/4 shade too dark
  • ColourPop No Filter Concealer in Light 20 — 1/4 to 1/2 shade too light for face, correct for under eye
  • ColourPop No Filter Foundation in Light 45 — 1/4 shade too light
  • ColourPop No Filter Foundation in Light 65 — 1/2 shade too dark, yellow (I mix with Light 45)
  • Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup in Desert Beige 2N1 — 1/2 shade too light
  • Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r in 180 — 1/4 shade too light for face, slightly yellow
  • Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r in 150 — 1/4 shade too dark, slightly pink (I usually mix 180 and 150!)
  • Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Makeup in 4.5 — 1/4 shade too light
  • Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow Makeup in 4.0 — A bit yellow
  • Giorgio Armani Power Fabric in 4.5 — A bit yellow
  • Guerlain Lingerie de Peau (Discontinued) in 02 Beige Clair — 1/2 shade too light
  • Guerlain Lingerie de Peau (2016) in 02N Natural — 1/2 shade too light
  • Guerlain Lingerie de Peau (2016) in 02W Light Warm — 1/4 shade too light, a bit yellow
  • Guerlain Parure de Lumiere in 02 Beige Clair — 1/2 shade too light
  • Guerlain Parure Gold in 02 Beige Clair — 1/2 shade too light, too pink
  • Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish in Warm Ivory — 1/4 shade too light
  • Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish in Nude — 1/4 shade too dark, slightly yellower
  • Hourglass Veil Fluid in Nude 1.5 — A touch pink
  • Huda Beauty #FauxFilter in Custard 220N — 1/2 shade too dark, slightly neutral
  • La Mer The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation in Linen 13 — 1/4 shade too light
  • Lancome Skin Feels Good in 025W Soft Beige — slightly yellow
  • Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation in 270 Bisque W — slightly yellow
  • Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous in Dusk — A smidgen too dark
  • MAC Studio Fix Fluid in NC20 — slightly yellow
  • MAC Studio Waterweight in NC25 — 1/2 to 1 shade too light
  • Make Up For Ever Lift in #2 — 1/2 shade too light
  • Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Liquid Foundation in Y305 (140) — 1/8 to 1/4 shade too dark
  • Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Liquid Foundation in Y315 (125) — 1/4 shade too dark
  • Make Up For Ever Water Blend Face & Body in Y315 — 1/2 to 1/4 shade too dark
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty Shameless Youthful-Look in Light Y210 — 1/4 shade too light
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty Shameless Youthful-Look in Light Y270 — 1/2 shade too dark
  • NARS Natural Radiant Longwear in Fiji — 1/4 shade too light, too yellow
  • NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Cannelle — for spot concealing, under eyes
  • NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard — for under eye concealing
  • NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Macadamia — for spot concealing, 1/4 shade too dark
  • NARS Soft Matte Concealer in Cannelle — A perfect match
  • Sunday Riley The Influencer Clean Long Wear Foundation in 140 — 1/4 too light, slightly yellow
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage in Light-Medium Neutral — A bit too yellow
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer in Light-Medium Neutral — A bit too yellow
  • Tarte Rainforest of the Sea in Light-Medium Neutral — 1/4 shade too dark
  • Tarte Tape Shape Concealer in Light/Medium — 1/4 shade too light for face
  • Tarte Tape Shape Concealer in Light Neutral — 1/4 shade too light for face
  • Tarte Tape Shape Concealer in Light Sand — 1/2 shade too light for face, slightly yellow
  • Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick in Fawn — 1/2 shade too light
  • Urban Decay All Nighter in 3.25 — 1/2 shade too light
  • Urban Decay Naked Skin in 4.0 — A bit yellow
  • YSL All Hours in B30 Almond — 1/4 shade too dark

Too Light Foundations

  • Kat Von D Lock-It Creme Concealer in Light 15 — 1-2 shades too light for face, 1/2 to 1 shade too light for under eye
  • Kat Von D Lock-It Liquid Foundation in Light 48 — 1-2 shades too light, a bit pink
  • MAC Studio Waterweight in NC20 — 1-2 shades too light
  • Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Stick Foundation in Y315 (125) — 1/2 to 1 shade too light
  • Tarte Tape Shape Concealer in Light/Medium — 1-2 shades too light for face, 1/2 to 1 shade too light for under eye
  • Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick in Fawn — 1 shade too light

Too Dark Foundations

  • Anastasia Stick Foundation in Natural — 1 shade too dark
  • Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup in Ivory Beige 3N1 — 2-3 shades too dark, rosier
  • Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup in 6.5 — 1/2 to 1 shade too dark
  • Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup in 7.0  — 3 shades too dark
  • Guerlain Lingerie de Peau (Discontinued) in 03 Beige Natural — 1 shade too dark
  • Guerlain Lingerie de Peau (2016) in 03N Natural — 1/2 to 1 shade too dark, more neutral/rosier
  • Guerlain Parure de Lumiere in 03 Beige Natural — 1 shade too dark
  • Guerlain Parure Gold in 03 Beige Natural — 1 shade too dark
  • Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish in Nude — 1/2 to 1 shade too dark, slightly yellower
  • IT Cosmetics CC+ in Medium — 1-2 shades too dark
  • Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Sand — 2-3 shades too dark, too yellow
  • Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Almond — 4 shades too dark
  • Laura Mercier Silk Creme Moisturizing Photo Edition in Cashew Beige — 2-3 shades too dark, too warm
  • MAC Face & Body in N3 — 1/2 to 1 shade too dark, a bit yellow
  • MAC Pro Longwear in NW30 — 3-4 shades too dark, too yellow
  • MAC Studio Fix Fluid in NC25 — 2-3 shades too dark, too yellow
  • Make Up For Ever Water Blend Face & Body in Y305 — 1/2 shade too dark, slightly yellow
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty Re(marc)able in Beige 32 — 1 shades too dark, too yellow
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty Re(marc)able in Beige 33 — 2-3 shades too dark, too yellow
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty Re(marc)able in Golden Beige 36 — 3-4 shades too dark, too yellow
  • Tarte Double Duty Beauty Empowered Hybrid Gel in Medium Neutral — 1/2 to 1 shade too dark, pinker
  • Tom Ford Traceless Foundation in Natural — 2-3 Shades too dark
  • Urban Decay All Nighter in 4.0 — 1 to 1 1/2 shades too dark, too yellow

Right Skin Tone, Wrong Undertone

  • Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup in 5.5 — Too pink to wear
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage in Light-Medium Neutral — A bit too yellow, wearable
  • Urban Decay Naked Skin in 4.0 — A bit yellow, wearable
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76 Comments

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Oh, this is SUPER helpful! Lucky me, I think I’m very close in coloring to you, maybe a touch darker (at least seasonally?) and maybe a tiny bit less warm. This is a great guide, though!!

This is really interesting because in your photos I always assumed your skintone was quite a bit darker than my own, but based on your description and foundation shade matches you’re actually pretty close to me in terms of depth (light-medium). I still think your skin is a little warmer than mine however. I consider my skin to be neutral-warm. I usually wear light-medium neutral in Tarte foundations, but some formulas run too peachy.

Whenever I see a true neutral foundation, it looks peachy/almost rosy to me! I find a bit of yellow is still better for my skin tone overall, at least compared to pink and peach, lol!

Your observations were mine as well! All of her shades that say “1/2 shade too light ” are my perfect winter shades. I also think that Christine is a bit warmer than me. I am a TRUE neutral. This is so helpful for a reference!

Love this post….We are 95% similar in shade. And I am so so please to see you match Anastasia Stick Foundation in Beige – that’s the colour I bought after Warm Ivory turns out to be so pink.

Interesting that your wrong tones were usually too yellow, rather than too rosy. But you WERE starting on the warmer side….Today I realized that the dry down/? Oxidation also can play a big part. At Ulta, I swatched tf and Tarte tape concealer both the lt-med and med, on the back of my left arm, prob the darkest part, due to driver tan. (No room on the inner surface due to swatch mania.). Both way too yellow, even with a tan, that warms your skin. The tf stayed very yellow, but the tarte dried down much redder, not pinker or cooler exactly, but less yellow and more red. Suspect there’s some iron oxide in the formula and it rusts a bit in the dry down. Might not be as crazy as it sounds. Maybe a recheck on face. think that just like with Wendy’s olive lean confounding matching, maybe ‘cooler’ people can have a red undertone that complicates things by not being actually pink/rosy. And a warm shade could also be too yellow, but not red enough. I suspect that the color model for facial skin is actually on three or five axes, not two. What proportion of the 3 primary colors is present, plus what amount of white (representing lighter) and black (representing darker) is there? The foundations probably use all these parameters in formulation, but the language would confuse the head of Harvard linguistics. I remember occ saying, when my skin was younger and more translucent, too pink and not enough gray……Omg is foundation complicated.

It’s so important to let any liquid/cream foundation dry down as long as you can let it for a good comparison! I think this is why it’s hard to judge by a bottle alone! I usually try to gauge based on the shade range at a glance – I know I’m going to be on the lighter side, and I know I’m not going to be the lightest and probably anything that says medium is too dark (which is a newer outlook for me).

I’m still getting used to veering lighter, because I’ve thought myself as medium for so long. I just tried MAC Studio Fix Fluid in NC25 recently (I wanted to review the formula), and it’s so, so off — but then MAC Studio Waterweight’s NC25 is night and day from Studio Fix Fluid NC25, too, so that’s you know, frustrating!

Four thoughts:
-I think all of us were swayed into thinking we were darker for the longest time due to plain ignorance. The opening up of the Asian cosmetics market has recognized those of us who look like we have visible colour, and yet do not possess the depth. Kinda a narrow caucasian skin view really.
– I also think the nomenclature is changing in belated recognition of the wider range of Global skintones. So, the old medium now seems to be light-medium or even light. I see that a lot.
-Regular use of anti-aging skincare and sunscreen have changed our match over time.
-Aging seems to pull us away from the poles of cool and warm.

I know that for me it is partially my ethnic background – though I’m essentially half white (1/2 Vietnamese, 1/4 Swiss, 1/4 German), I don’t look it, never looked it, and have known that I am “not white” when it comes to general perception. So words like “fair” and “light” have never seemed to apply to me. The second thing is I know that I started wearing SPF religiously in my early 20s (I started wearing makeup at 18, and I think within a couple of years, the SPF lightbulb went off for me), which I think has attributed to a general “lightening” over the years that has taken me longer to realize visually as I spent so long thinking “I’m medium and warm toned!”

Frankly, even now, thinking of myself as lighter than light-medium is mind-boggling.

I’m by large caucasian: British, more distantly German, and a small percentage First Nations. I’m not even certain where the olive came from..could be the indigenous or even a ‘celtic’ influence as well. But who knows, I also look a bit like Franka Potente who is German and she looks quite olivey to me. Certainly we are all members of the world melting pot and that’s a beautiful thing.

I just deleted a Drumpf rant.

Being racially mixed has made finding that just *right* undertone and depth in a foundation and concealer a lifelong struggle for me too. I am 1/2 white on my mother’s side (1/4 Irish, 1/4 Italian), my father is Native American of Hispanic culture; Tejano. My skin undertone is obviously olive, but the overtones confound all but a few MUA’s. I, just like you, do not look “white”, and even though I am matched to NC37-40, and better still, Tarte Medium Honey, I have an illusion of “lightness”. It’s truly bizarre! I literally have olive, soft-yellow AND light terracotta going on all at once! ?

Christine, I’ve been following your reviews for YEARS and never once did it occur to me that you are in any way Vietnamese (like me)! The Tarte Rainforest in Medium-Light and MUFE 140/Y305 match me! So does Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk 3.5.

I think I was always accustomed to assuming that I was Viet and therefore one of the “darker skinned” Asian ethnicities, even though there is a huge range of skintones/depths in Vietnamese people!

No worries, most people do not think I am Asian at all!

My mom was actually darker as a kid but is lighter than me now (except she spends more time outside, so sometimes she can darken). My sister is much, much darker than me – like probably 3-4 shades darker! Most of my relatives (all full Vietnamese) are lighter, though, but they might also obsess over the sun ;P I have a couple of male cousins that I’d say are medium to medium-tan!

one more question christine- for some reason i can’t directly reply to you comment further down the thread. on a scale of 1-10 how muted vs clear would you describe your skin tone, 1 being super muted and 10 being very clear? i feel we have really similar skin tone but i’m more on the muted side. i feel like when i try lip colors they pull a little differently on me than your website swatches. but i can’t tell if that’s because of different nuance in our skin or because your swatches tend to pull warmer on my computer screen than in real life

I found this so helpful! My best match for foundation has been the MUFE Ultra HD in 305 so I guess we’re quite close. Will you be updating this every once in a while, Christine?

This is fabulous, Christine.. Similar to your painstaking process, as I mentioned last week, I have been re-evaluating my foundation stash. Now I have exactly 6 foundations sitting on my table with only one truly being proper in terms of undertone. I am mixing my #1 match to gain some wear from the lesser matches in the group. It makes me feel less wasteful while still giving me respectable results. The ones which didn’t make the cut, why bother? I’ve learned something and I’m moving on.

I just ordered swatch kits from Frankie Rose for the liquid foundation. I had never heard of the brand prior, but lurking into the light olive community, I read somewhere it has some cooler yellow toned shades, a true olive shade, plus a shade with equal parts neutral and olive.. So definitely interesting to me and quite fun because the sample kits are totally low risk guilt free purchase. Is it just more olive shade double talk and mumbo jumbo..I will find out. I wish more companies would provide kits, and not just the typical sample pack which includes their basic or most popular shades.

I went through a drawer of older foundations, and I was surprised at how few match me now!

Fingers crossed something useful comes of the Frankie Rose swatch kits, Wendy! It would be SO awesome if more brands offered a diverse range of samples to try before you buy (without having to GO to a store/counter).

Wendy, I think you are the person who left 2 links in your comment about 10 days ago, I was trying to find that post to thank you! Those links were SO helpful and I have saved them! I am Italian with olive skin, black eyebrows etc and have always struggled to find the right foundation colour. I am sort of warm neutral but most foundations look too yellow or too orange and oxidise on me. Some ‘neutral’ foundations wash me out but are a better match at times. The best colour I found so far is Inglot MW100 but a tad pale. My skin can look warm yet grey/pale when Im tired or ill. I cannot wear all the lovely pale lipsticks, they make me look sick. Orange lipsticks need to have a deep red undertone to them or it looks garish, but I can handle a lot of ‘colour’ somehow. My personal trick out of desperation, is to take some foundation that is too yellow/orange/red and put it in a small container and add a drop of leaf green gel food colouring to it with the tip of a toothpick till Im happy with the colour. Sometimes I add too much and have to adjust, but any yellowish green colour added to foundation makes it more wearable for me…my skin has a slight green tinge around the collar bone in natural light so I know most foundations need more green for me! I have even taken a bit of ‘chartreuse’ coloured eyeshadow and scraped it into a bit of foundation which always makes it look better for me. At the moment I have 11 different foundations (shriek) and none of them is perfectly right for me. It is the bane of my life. Most people wouldnt notice that often my foundation looks too light or too dark, but I do. When I tan, I dont go tawny orange, I go ‘bronze’. I live in South Africa where we do not get MUF but we have most other brands, so it is trial and error. It is so weird because people call my skin golden olive, yet when I was colour analyzed years ago I was classified as a cool Winter. Most Mac foundations look yellow/orange on me..SFF in NC20 is ok but a bit pale/yellow (no one else would notice but me), NC25 is darker but leans orange…It is hard not to seek perfection! Thanks again for providing such useful links.

Greetings to you Vivella! I visited beautiful SA many years ago in 1999: Joburg and subsequently over to Mala Mala. I didn’t have the time to make it over to the Capes, and I do regret missing it.
Your response has absolutely made my day. I am so happy to help. I love your creative solutions with the food colouring and chartreuse eyeshadows. I just had a ‘duh’ why didn’t I think of that moment. I’m going to take a look at your close by light match Inglot MW100. Your description and comments on MAC NC20 and NC25 are in every way identical to mine. My hairdresser swears I am Winter, but I definitely can wear warmer colours too. Colour disappears on my face just as yours and when I tan, I go antique bronze (no orange at ALL). Above all, it’s impossible not to seek perfection. I concur wholeheartedly. 😀

Hi Wendy, thank you so much for replying! In case you do try Inglot, it is the AMC foundation, and they are usually good about giving samples – MW100 is more neutral/green and MW101 is slightly warmer in colour. I dont really like powder foundations but I once bought Palladio powder compact in Cypress Beige and it is a surprisingly good colour, so I sometimes use it lightly with a brush over other foundations to correct them, or to touch up. Maybeline Fit Me (the old version) in colour 220 is also a lovely colour but a tad too dark for my untanned skin – maybe if you tan you would like it. I am happy to know you have been to SA, though I dont really like Joburg to live in, but I love living in beautiful Cape Town – I hope you get the chance to visit some time. Have a lovely day!

Hey Wendy I know I am a bit late to reply but Ko Gen Doh Aqua has a great truly olive shade..number 213 (probably between Nc20 and 25), which may be slightly dark for you but it may be worth checking out and even mixing with a lightener since it truly is olive!

Hi Amy: Thanks kindly for your response. I know it, and have it. KGD 213 is indeed dark for me and runs a tad too green as well. (I’m with you, it is definitely a true olive foundation; the greenest I’ve got). I’m okay with the formula, but do like a bit more coverage (53 yrs old) so I frequently use this foundation as a mixer to introduce enough green for a good match. At this point, I mix foundations everyday and like the results (finish and colour) better than any one foundation. This one is indispensable in my stash! 🙂

Oh interesting! I’m definitely lighter than you, light/light medium with cool yellow undertones. I have Tarte Rainforest of the Sea in Light Sand (light skin w/yellow undertones), and it’s a decent match, so I’m one shade lighter than you in that formula. I think you were trying to find a match in the Marc Jacobs Re (marc) able Full Coverage Foundation concentrate. I have 2 bottles of that. #27 Bisque Neutral (fair with yellow undertones) is a little too light for me, but it can work in the winter time. #28 Bisque Taupe (fair light with yellow undertones) is probably 1 shade too dark for me, but works in the summertime, when my face takes on more color, and since my neck is darker. I tried mixing the 2 but it doesn’t seem to mix too well. But I’m wondering if #28 might work for you, since all of the other shades you tried were too dark……….. #29 is described as peach undertones, so probably won’t work for you, then it jumps to #32, which is 1 shade too dark for you

Thanks for the shade recs for Re(marc)able! I’ve already spent money on four shades but don’t like the formula enough to spend another $60ish, lol! (I didn’t return any.)

Ouch! I had to return 1 bottle, and get like 6 samples before finding shades that were close, and even then, it’s not an easy formula to work with. It’s a fussy foundation, I find it’s very easy to screw up and end up looking horrible , but if I get it right, it looks really great. But glad you found your fave, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea!

This is very helpful Chistine! After reading this post, now I know we have very similar skin tones. The Tarte Rainforest of sea water foundation in Light medium Neutral is also my almost perfect shade 🙂 The hourglass vanish seamless foundation stick in Nude is a little dark for me, but I am able to make it work.
For future foundation posts, I will have a better idea of what might be a better match for me.

This was great to read for comparison. And I would venture that your skin is absolutely resilient! Whenever I find myself falling behind on a planned product review, I just stop and think about how many products you must be testing in a week’s time alone. lol

Yeah, I don’t find I breakout or have any obvious “reactions” to trying new products 🙂 Of course, I try not to introduce 100 new things in a week – I am diligent about adding only one new skincare product every 2 weeks or so into my routine (cleansers I’m less stringent on, as they don’t sit on the skin for long).

I have a terrible time finding foundation shades. Because of my undertones, people try to match me to much darker shades that look like they fit initially in fluorescent lighting, but as soon as I’m outside, I look like I’ve got a reddish tan face. I’ve got mostly olive, yellow and a touch of orange undertones making me a very golden complexion and I can very green in some lights. I’ve wasted so much money this way that I won’t buy anything unless I have a sample made or I try out shades in natural sunlight. I’ve been using Dior’s Nude Air serum in #3 which I think dries to a shade close enough that doesn’t clash with my undertones. It’s like finding a really good pair of jeans that fit well, right?

It really is! You can find many that are okay, maybe wearable, but it’s hard to find the one that is really, really just right.

So many people are soo lucky to have shade options, but when your this ( > _ < ) pale and olive tone. Adding white my foundation is not always the answer either as it turns most shades very pastel and not desaturated. 🙁

I'm kind of jealous because there are a lot of foundation on the market I would still like to try but they lightest shade are in the NC25 range…… boo.

Hopefully more brands expand their ranges! I think we are seeing it happen, but it’s obviously not happening enough/fast enough yet.

Oof, I feel ya on the being super fair and olive situation. My skin has a noticeable blue/green/grey undertone to it that makes finding foundation and concealers very very difficult… I have no issue adding white to a foundation with the right formula and undertone, but I have yet to find any kind of base makeup that hits at least two of the three necessary points (depth/undertone/formula). The closest has been

these days, I mostly go without any base. it’s mostly brows, blush and lipstick for me these days!

This is SUPER helpful Christine, as I suspect we have a pretty similar skintone (light-medium with a slight yellow undertone). Thanks so much!

My neck/body is also paler than my face. I use sunscreen but a year ago or so I had the flu and when I was sick, face was same color as rest of body so I have realized the darker face is a sign of health in me.
I sort of feel like I am all over the place when it comes to good matches. For example Armani 5.25 is really good but a slightly too dark but not so much it gets visable to others. Clinique’s shade ivory is also rather good. Possibly a bit too yellow but ok.
The weird part about this is that I am sure ivory is for fair skin and Armani is for light-medium skin. There are several brands where I range from fair to medium.

Sometimes the finish, dry down, and coverage level can make a huge difference in how the match looks at the end of the day – sheerer formulas are more forgiving whereas fuller coverage needs to be much closer to your coloring or else it will look mask-like!

This is a super interesting post! One of the reasons I became such a fan of the blog (a long time ago now) is because you and I have similar coloring. I used to live in a country where I couldn’t try most products in person, but could get them easily shipped so having a point of reference to guess was great!

My biggest problem with foundation matching, though, is undertone. The beauty industry has certainly improved over the years in terms of their offerings, but I find that although I can get a good color match now, my olive undertone is almost always covered up. Because of this, I tend to go lighter on application because without it, I find I look unnatural. I know it’s not nice to think about, but I have green and grey in my skin and that’s just how my natural coloring is! Armani tends to have some good olive tones, although the most olive shades are not in my range. The best match I’ve ever found is the EX1 Invisiwear foundation. They used to only have a few colors, but it looks like they’ve expanded their range, which is great because before I could only wear it during the summer months when I had a good tan.

Undertone is definitely the hard part – too often brands skimp on descriptions and often have no rhyme or reason to what shades are pink/yellow/neutral (least of all, olive or red).

I get very irritated as an online shopper that brands can’t even give generic descriptions – “light with yellow undertones” when they launch a range. When they develop and formulate their shade range, it’s not like they’re just throwing shades of beige and brown in a bottle and hoping for the best! They are curating a shade range based on what they perceive as their customer base, so obviously some shades are warmer/cooler – so why not share that info with the people who want to buy your product?

I’d personally like to see more brands indicate strength of undertones, too – very yellow vs. subtle yellow is meaningful.

This is very helpful. Thank you! With my summer tan ( I wear a sunscreen but swim 6 days a week), I’m very close to your coloring. I’ve been having a hard time finding a foundation to match. This is really helpful. UD Allnighter in 3.25 is a pretty good match for me but its a bit light. I’m going to try another from your list.

I love this discussion! I am 60, and finally starting to wear foundation on a very regular basis. I have thrown hundreds of dollars away on wrong matches. This has been so helpful to me as you and I are basically in the same range. You have saved me much frustration, and many dollars. Tarte rainforest of the sea light-medium neutral Ulta here I come….
I THANK YOU!

Rainforest of the Sea is still exclusive to Sephora (and Tarte has it on their site) 🙁 But hopefully you have a Sephora nearby, too!

But worth noting, for a shade match, I find that Light-Medium Neutral is pretty similar in their other formulations (Amazonian Clay, BB Cream).

Crazy! I thought we had very different coloring but I was color matched at Sephora by a Tarte sales trainer who was filling in and she did an excellent job. I am the exact same color. It is undetectable in me! Blew my theories out of the window. I will go upstairs later and check the rest of my stash as I am notoriously bad at remembering color and product names. As I’ve said, I don’t wear glasses when applying makeup and can’t read without them!

I commented prior to reading all of the other comments too. I have to agree that companies seem to be providing many more color ranges and depths and lightness of colors. It’s about time! We are a world of many colors. In addition, as the Nat Geo commercials indicate, many ppl are surprised by their ancestry too. Just can’t always go by family history.

Thanks, Christine, this is so helpful. I’ve always had a terrible time matching foundations. My skin is light, but it has yellow/olive undertones. I also have acne scars from 40 years ago! Clinique
Even Better serum helped flatten those, plus I wore the foundation in Creamwhip (a decent match, but not great). Then I decided to go cruelty free, and it’s been a wild ride ever since! I now have pore issues and redness on my chin. Tarte Amazon Clay foundation gives decent coverage – I’ve been wearing light sand, but the red still shows. I love the new gel hybrid foundation, also in light sand, but the red still shows. Plus – my neck is a lot lighter than my jaw. Do you have any suggestions for the yellow undertones with patches of red, and the light neck? I’d be so grateful. I did try the KVD Lock It foundation, and the color worked better than anything I’ve tried – but it was way too dry and matte for my 62 yr old skin! Thanks so much.

It’s interesting because the Tarte Amazonian Clay is supposed to be full coverage, so I am surprised the red is still coming through!

From what I have personally learned having a much lighter neck, lighter center of face but darker along the edge (forehead, jaw) is that I try to get somewhere between my neck and chest color (also lighter than my face but not quite as light as the neck).

I was going to suggest Estee Lauder Double Wear, but you mentioned Cruelty Free, and I believe they still sell in China so there’s that. Tarte has a Double Duty Gel/Cream foundation that has good coverage and seems like it would be better on drier skin (it’s a hydrating formula) that’s available at Ulta – the shade range is more limited, though.

I dont’ have any of the foundations you have tried, and I thingk I have a lot of them. The foundation stash seems to grow as it’s so hard to find that really right one.
I’m generally matched too dark and too warm, so I always start with a “I’m lighter than you think” to the sales person.
I’m quite light, and I’m almost neurtal, I think.
Even though I don’t have, nor have tried any of the foundions you have listed, I think it’s an interesting and helpful post.

Hi Peggy,

I did… I indicated my best matches – a whole list of them. I have only found one shade that is almost perfect match while the rest are very good but imperfect – I explained what those imperfections were, which I find useful when I’m reading someone else’s matches. I listed my best matches, which are ones I can wear alone, as well as shades I have happened to try that are definitely too light or too dark alone. I’m not sure what more I could have listed – literally all the shades I wear personally are listed above!

This is so fascinating. I loved your detailed description of your skin color, and the sort of things that went into your thinking (the color differences based on portion of your face, the particular areas prone to dryness, your eyebrow shades). My skin is much darker and more yellow and brown than yours (I use Tan Sand in Rainforest of the Sea right now), but the pink/yellow notes on this chart are really helpful to me. Once I get lighter in the fall/winter, I’m going to need to pick out a different foundation, and I might want to try lighter coverage in case this foundation (and not stress) are what is causing me to have pimples recently.

Christine, I think this is my first time commenting something although I’m huge fan. I find this really helpful as your skin is similar to mine. I would like to try Tarte Rainforest but I have to buy it online without a chance to try and i’m not sure what shade I should purchase. I generally use Nars Sheer Glow Barcelona and Parure Gold 03 Beige Naturel when I need more coverage. Would you be so kind to advise me as regards what shade you think is a match for me? Thank you in advance.

So helpful im desert beige and also Mac nc 20 I also love Chanel velvet in b20 and Chanel lumiere also b20 with the Chanel les beiges powder in 10 over the top leaves a lovely finish xx

Hi Christine. This list is extremely helpful. Thank you. I was wondering if you have done a complete review in the original Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay in Place liquid foundation? I have tried the search function but cannot find it. Thanks!

Hi Christine I find that the blusher you used on your profile pic is simply gorgeous! May I know what shade and brand you are using? It leans towards pinkish but it makes you look glowy and beautiful!

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