Beauty Tips

Finding a Foundation That Matches Your Skin Tone

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I'm Natalie. No matter where you are on your makeup journey or hustle, I'm so glad you're here! I truly believe that makeup, when applied well, it can transform us in so many ways. My page is a space for inspiration, education, and advice. Thanks for being here & I'd love to connect with you!

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Finding your color match can be tricky, and I have to say, this is probably the question I get asked the most by my clients and my followers on social media. People are often surprised to find out that my professional kit doesn’t actually contain THAT many foundation shades. For the most part, I mix custom foundations for my clients. It’s a common misconception that a makeup artist will have a perfect match for you in their kit. Sorry, but your girl isn’t going to carry around that many foundations!

Finding a Foundation Pinterest Graphic

I recorded a bonus podcast episode on finding a foundation that matches your skin tone, and I wanted to also share that information right here on the blog in case you missed it or wanted something to go back to and reference as you’re out shopping for your perfect foundation!

Listen iTunes | Spotify |  Other

How To Find A Foundation That Matches Anchor Graphic


Probably the easiest way to find your match is to go to a store that allows you to sample products right in the store. However, if you’re on a drugstore budget, this isn’t going to be possible. I’m going to give you some tips and tricks to find your foundation color match without falling victim to an expensive trial and error process! Ready? Here we go!


Tip One: Get a Color Match at Sephora




Image credit:


The first thing to keep in mind is seasonal changes to your skin tone. If you have distinct summer and winter seasons, you probably need two foundations – one for when you have a tan in the summer, and one for when you don’t in the winter. In the spring and fall, you can blend your two foundations to create your own custom shade!

Sephora has an amazing Pantone tool that they can use to color match your skin tone and get your foundation color in the different brands they carry both in store and online. Best part? It’s totally free, and if you stop in once in the summer and once in the winter, you’ll know exactly what shades you need to have on hand to create a perfect match throughout the year. Genius!

If you have an account with Sephora, they will store this information in your account so you can access it anytime. Super convenient!


Tip Two: Visit a MAC Counter


MAC Cosmetics Foundation

Photo: MAC Cosmetics India


Whether you are a MAC foundation wearer or not, their representatives are also specially trained to match foundations and they have a great range for nearly all skin tones. If you know your MAC foundation color, it’s easy to use that color to search for matches with that color, if that makes sense. A simple google search “What is MAC NW20 in xyz foundation name?” should do the trick.

Now keep in mind that I’m not being paid or sponsored by MAC to tell you this. If you choose to go this route, keep in mind that they are salespeople so they’re going to try to sell you all the things. MAC has some great products, but just know it could (and probably will) turn into a sales situation.


Tip Three: Know Your Undertone


Terri Tomlinson Flesh Toned Color Wheel



Finding a foundation color match has a lot to do with knowing your undertone. I have a fantastic section and chart in my book to really help guide you to confidently determining your undertone. Do you tend to tan easily and look better in gold jewelry? You’re probably a warm tone. Do you have fair skin that burns easily? Does silver jewelry look better on you? You’re probably a cool tone. If you don’t know, ask a professional (not necessarily a sales person, ok?). Check out this amazing interview with Terri Tomlinson, the founder of the Flesh Toned Color Wheel, where she really  helps guide us on finding amazing color matches. 


If you’re in the middle, you are probably a neutral (like me). This is both good and bad. You can wear a lot of different bronzers and blushes, but eyeshadows and foundations can be tricky. You have to try different formulas depending on what your skin is doing in the moment and what you’re wearing.


A great rule of thumb when shopping for foundations is learning how to decipher the color name.


R/P ### generally indicates a foundation with a Red or Pink undertone. Generally speaking (but not always), those of you with red undertones fall into the COOL color category.

Y ### indicates a yellow undertone.  Again, and generally speaking, if you have yellow undertones you can also assume you have a warmer skin tone.

N ### or  foundation names without prefixes generally indicates a Neutral undertone.


Wrapping Up


I hope you learned a little bit about finding a foundation that matches your skin tone. If you want to read more about finding dupes, check out this blog post. My sister and fellow makeup lover Azadeh even talks specifically about MAC foundation dupes! If you want to get personalized advice about your skin tone or the best products to use (and how to apply them), I offer one-on-one lessons and makeup artists sessions. I can even take a look at the items you’re currently using and give you my professional advice! Head here to learn more about that.


Natalie Setareh Skin Type Guide


Be beautiful!


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  1. […] The first thing I want to note is that you may be reacting to a color mismatch rather than the application itself. If a foundation doesn’t match, for example, it might make you feel like you look different and you may think it’s that you’re wearing too much makeup. I did a blog post all about finding your perfect foundation color match, which you can read here. […]

  2. […] know how to find the right shade of foundation for you, I’ve got you covered in this post here on Finding A Foundation That Matches Your Skintone. Check it […]

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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

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