Diary / Beauty / Jan 19, 2023
How to Match the Right Foundation for Your Skin Tone
Written by: Michele Ross
Photography by: Ben Ritter & Jon Paterson
Foundation is a staple in most makeup routines, but learning how to match foundation to your skin tone can be challenging. The color you see on a swatch or in a jar won’t always translate to your skin perfectly upon application. Since many of us prefer the convenience of shopping for makeup online, we need to be a bit more diligent to find our ideal shade without testing it in-person. Jones Road simplifies things to make the process as foolproof as possible.
Knowing how to match the right foundation for your skin is a subtle art, but it’s one that we’ve mastered. According to Bobbi, “You’ll know that you've found the right foundation for you if you look in the mirror and can’t even tell you’re wearing any. A lot of them look heavy or cakey, but the right foundation should look like your skin—but better.”
We rounded up the best ways to match foundation so it looks exactly like your skin, featuring expert tips and tricks from Bobbi herself. Keep reading so you can shop for foundation with confidence.
How to color match foundation like a pro
Here are five tips on how to match foundation to your skin tone, covering essential FYIs on how to test color and more.
1. Gain clarity on your true skin tone
Having a solid grasp of your skin tone is the foundation (no pun intended) of shade matching. There are countless different skin tones and yours might land somewhere in between a few. For example, olive skin tones may be more medium in the summer and light-medium in the winter. “If your skin tone gets darker in the summer or on a vacation, you may need to adjust your foundation tone,” Bobbi explains.
If you’re unsure where to start, it's helpful to look at photos of models or consumers wearing the exact product and shade(s) you're considering to help you hone in on which one is right for you. Similarly, reading through customers' reviews about the product (its texture, shade matching efficacy, how long it’ll hold up, etc.) can help. These reviews may even include photos; in this case, you can find someone with a similar skin tone as your own. These reviews could end up being the deciding factor in whether or not you choose a certain shade—so trust that the extra time and effort will pay off in the long run.
2. Take a shade matching quiz
If you need to match the right foundation shade for your skin without shopping in-store, take a shade matching quiz.
Jones Road Beauty offers a shade matching quiz for What the Foundation (aka WTF), which includes:
-selections for your skin type and biggest skin concerns
-preferences for foundation application
Based on your selections, you’ll discover your best shade of WTF; there are 12 ranging from porcelain to espresso. (By the way, there’s no need to complicate things by guessing what your undertone might or might not be. Jones Road formulated WTF based on skin tone only, as we value simplicity.) The quiz takes under a minute to complete and pairs you up with your perfect match.
In case you’re new to the world of JRB, What the Foundation is a tinted moisture balm meets traditional foundation. It’ll even out your complexion while nourishing your skin with antioxidant-rich jojoba oil and plumping sodium hyaluronate. “It provides buildable, natural, light-medium coverage that won’t dry you out and leaves skin fresh, healthy, and radiant,” Bobbi summarizes.
3. Prep your skin for testing
Now it’s time to make sure you nail down how to test the foundation color itself. Your skin type will dictate your ideal skin prep protocol.
It’s best to stick to a consistent exfoliating routine to sweep away dead skin cells and promote a smoother, clearer complexion. A more even base will allow your foundation to sit better on your skin to yield a natural look. (Note: Oily skin types may take to daily exfoliation just fine. Those more prone to dryness and reactivity may want to limit exfoliation to only once weekly, or more often as tolerated.)
What the Foundation is a highly nourishing skincare/makeup hybrid. Before using it, we suggest the following variations on skin prep before testing the color:
-Oily skin: skip the moisturizer (WTF offers ample hydration without risking excess buildup)
-Balanced/combination skin: apply a small amount of Light Moisture Cream
-Dry skin: apply a small amount of Miracle Cream or Miracle Balm for an extra surge of moisture
4. Test the product the right way
The first rule of thumb is to find good lighting (natural or sunlit, when possible) so you can evaluate your color match as accurately as possible. Bobbi then shares the following tips so you can match the right foundation for your skin tone and get a natural, no-makeup look:
-Swatch colors exactly where you’ll apply them. It won’t do you any good to swatch colors on the back of your hand if you’ll be applying foundation to your face.
-Start small and focus on areas that require the most coverage. It’s easier to build up coverage than it is to correct a heavy-handed application. Bobbi loves to start by applying foundation in certain spots (to cover dullness, redness, blemishes, etc.). Blend it in with clean fingers or a brush, then add more as needed.
-Keep an eye out for harsh, uneven lines. “The correct shade will disappear into your skin. It won’t look mask-like or leave a harsh line,” Bobbi explains. Keep an eye out for imbalances from your face to your neck in particular. If your skin looks radically different above and below the jawline, it’s a clear sign that you’ve yet to find your ideal shade match.
5. Mix and match foundation shades to find the perfect fit
Remember that there’s a chance you’ll need to switch up your foundation shades from one season to the next—and that’s when a new Bobbi-approved tip comes in handy. “Keep a deeper shade on hand to accommodate any changes in tone [when you’re more tan],” she suggests. “You can even blend it with your regular shade if you are between the two.”
A little experimentation with shade matching goes a long way to make your own unique color that’s perfect for your skin tone. “I’m a huge fan of mixing foundation shades, and I always recommend people purchase two shades when it comes to both WTF and The Face Pencil,” she continues.
Bonus tip: Even things out with a bit of bronze
We’re confident that these tips will help you match the right foundation for your skin, but Bobbi shares one final hack for a seamless, effortless look. “Keep in mind that even with the right foundation color, some women have more color on their face and chest and less on their neck,” she points out. Her quick fix: a touch of bronzer.
“Bronzer is the best way to make sure foundation blends with the rest of the body, which is where Miracle Balm comes in. It’s a great way to add a healthy glow all over the face and to even out any color differences through the neck and body.”
There you have it: a foolproof guide on how to color match foundation, with a little something extra. And if you ever make it to Montclair, New Jersey, be sure to stop by the Jones Road flagship store to test out WTF IRL.