Sunday Sharing: How Do You Choose Your Foundation Shade?

This is definitely your foundation shade. People usually wear this shade, so it should be good for you too. Ah, one look and I know you’re this foundation shade. No, this shade is too dark / light for you. These are generally what beauty consultants say when it comes to picking a foundation shade.

Choosing the right foundation shade is the trickiest. We are all individuals and there is no such thing as one shade for all (looking at you BB creams). I told you about my mismatch before, and the effects being sallow skin. Let me just tell you a little about the condition of my face, colour wise. I have warm undertones, but my face gets red very easily…I wish I get rosy red cheeks but imagine having beetroot for a face πŸ™ Β Sans makeup, my face is markedly darker than my neck and the rest of my body. So, naturally, my face is the odd one out. Solution? Foundation that matches my neck.


Now, my problem is, every time I go to the counter, the beauty consultants will tell me to match the foundation to my face. Usually at least 1 shade darker than the right shade. When I argue, they’d have that look on their face, saying they know better. The only person who matched me correctly is the senior makeup artist from Dior. Zaidi did a remarkable transformation on me and you can read all about it here. So, it’s safe to say that beauty consultants are not trained makeup artists, hence we should take their advice with a pinch of salt.

So how do I choose my foundation shade and decide if it’s right for me?

First of all, mute the beauty consultant. Hahahaha! I mean, just swatch it yourself without their help.



I look for a foundation with yellowish undertone. This will tone down the redness of my face. If your face is generally dull and sallow, I’d suggest one with pinkish undertones. I like to take a swatch (blended) on my neck. Reason explained above. If the shade is close, I will then approach the beauty consultants to try it on my face. I do not purchase the foundation immediately. After applying the potential foundation onto my face, I will take a walk around the mall. After about half an hour, I’d take a look at myself again (in good lighting, natural sunlight preferable). Did it oxidize well? Did it settle into pores / lines? Did it blend into my skin or is it still sitting on the surface? Most importantly for me, does my face match my neck colour now?



Let’s say everything is great. I still like to ask for a sample. That is to test if it passes my 5 hour mark. If the foundation slides off or melts before that, I’d skip it. For those of you with sensitive skin, samples are great to see if your skin has any adverse reaction to it. Bring a little container along, in case they don’t have samples in your shade. Do not be shy to ask for samples, or squeeze a few squirts of the tester foundation into your container. They are meant to be given out anyway. Some beauty consultants might give you the evil eye when you ask for samples. I’ve encountered that a few times before. I usually walk away and approach another beauty consultant.

Anyway, when everything goes well, I will go back to the same counter and purchase from the beauty consultant who served me previously. I assume they get paid on commission and tracked on sales performance too, so it’s only fair to approach the same person.Β AND… I’ve written more than I should again. Sure it might seem tedious and I can be perceived as being fussy, but at least I know my money is not spent on something that’s not right for me.

How do you choose your right foundation shade? Is there a shorter process for getting the right shade?


xoxo Lily



  • Great tips!

    I did everything as yours except for taking a walk around the mall for half an hour and return for sample hehe. Normally I’d prefer asking for sample after trying it on my face and test the sample the next day with my usual routine. I too will purchase from the same BA (the nice one) πŸ™‚

    • Lily

      I learned to remember to bring a small container. Those samples in sachets might not have the right shade for everyone. And yes to going back to the nice lady who served us. I think that’s important πŸ™‚

      • You’re right. And they might not have sample in sachet too πŸ™‚

        • Lily

          Yeah, I was told that before, saying they do not actually have samples of my shade. Some brands don’t have little containers lying around too. I remember my Dior beauty consultant reminded me to bring my own container. I thought that was super helpful. LOL!

  • Finding the right shade is so tricky idd! I made my share of mistakes for sure! So yes, trying out a sample before buying it is kind of a must, because it’s an investment and skin can be so unpredictable sometimes, lol!

    • Lily

      Yes, especially when the foundation is so expensive like the GA Maestro Fusion makeup you just blogged about. I really hate it when the beauty consultants just simply push a foundation shade to you, and get all impatient when you want to test it out properly!

      • Yeah I totally agree Lily! I was lucky to receive a press sample of it, else I would definitely ask a sample beforehand. Buying foundation is scary stuff, lol!

        • Lily

          Press samples are tricky too. Glad you were given the right shade. It’s such a waste if there was a mismatch in foundation shade >.<"

  • Stephanie/Yukaeshi

    Great post and tips! I think I’ve been fairly lucky so far with choosing foundation shades (Especially when buying online), but I think that’s because I usually go for sheer coverage foundies so if the shade’s a bit off it doesn’t show much LOL! So I think that’s a trick in a way- sheer foundies if you’re into it πŸ˜›

    I never listen to SAs/BAs either 😑 Except one at the Burberry makeup counter at Isetan KLCC, she was actually a makeup artist herself and was visiting so she matched me haha!

    • Lily

      This post is actually prompted by our conversation on Twitter with the RMK foundation shades and what not. Also, some experiences at the counters. Getting samples is the safest, I think. Oh Burberry…I’ve been wanting to try their eye shadows forever! I still haven’t actually gone to the counter in person yet. One day… πŸ™‚

    • The makeup artist at Burberry is Janet?

  • Hannah

    I’m like you! My whole face is reddish but my neck is yellowish. Other than going for shades with beige or neutral undertones (which still gives me pinkish look), I now try to go one shade up from what the beauty consultants recommend. So far, this has worked for me with 3 types of foundation between 2 brands. Still not a 100% match between my face and neck, but the difference is very slight and I can finally bye-bye to the “pink face yellow neck” effect. So now I’m sticking with this “one-shade-up” approach until I find a brand and a shade that matches my face to my neck perfectly.

    • Lily

      I’m glad I’m not the only one, Hannah. If your face gets really red, then you might want to try a yellow toned foundation instead of beige or neutral. I find that beige / neutral foundations still make me red. The yellow undertone makes my skin look calmer. I hope you’ll try it!

      • Hannah

        Haha I thought I was the only one with this red face problem! Thanks for the tip! Ok I’ll insist on yellow toned foundations next time. And I shall now keep put a little empty container in my bag at all times. Never know when I might want to try a new foundation. πŸ˜‰

        • Lily

          Well, have a try anyway. I hope the sharing helped πŸ™‚

  • Hanny Daforcena

    Usually when I get interested in a foundation, the first thing I do is to check Temptalia’s Foundation Matrix ( to see what shades of that foundation matches me. It’s usually pretty accurate for me so I trust it heh heh heh. Then I’d go out into the store to get samples of the foundation. So far, the only foundations I’ve got for myself are the Revlon Colorstay and Photoready foundations, along with MAC Pro Longwear, and they matched me perfectly at time of purchase (The photoready can no longer be used because I got darker over time).

    So yeah, I’d completely bypass the SAs’ help, unless to score the samples, but I realized that some counters rarely offer samples and only do when there are “promotions” for the foundation. Clinique would be one of them and several Japanese brands I cannot recall. Bobbi Brown and MAC are usually generous heh heh.

    • Lily

      I’ve seen and tested the Temptalia’s matrix. However, you still need to know what foundation shade you are first (say, maybe MAC NC15) so that you can compare with the rest of the brands with similar shades to NC15. So if you didn’t know what shade you are in the first place, the matrix is pretty useless. I wouldn’t say it’s 100% accurate, but can be quite close. Very helpful indeed and I’m sure Christine put in a lot of time and effort to come up with that.

  • I like to think I’m pretty good at picking my own foundation shade. I can typically tell by swatching it on my hand if it’s going to match me – I just know. HOWEVER – when I’m going for a more high-end foundation such as Illamasqua, Chanel, Lancome etc, I always get a neck and face swatch first. And I never buy a foundation without reading loads of reviews first.

    • Lily

      Hi Chelsea, it’s great that you know your skin so well πŸ™‚ Yes, reviews help too… and I’d also like to think that our skin type and skin tone are unique, so I take reviews with a pinch of salt. Heh πŸ˜€

  • I can nearly always pick out a shade for myself now by looking at a swatch on my hand. I guess because SA’s were always wrong in my experience too, I just tried to understand the color and undertones as best as I could! I like to test them out in store (without a sales associate! lol) and wear it around for the day. I’m definitely looking for a new foundation since I’ve suddenly become much less tan LOL. (Can’t decide if I want to get the same product or a different one!)

    • Ooo… do keep us updated on what foundation you’re getting. I usually prefer something with light to medium coverage. Full coverage ones tend to feel heavier and less natural, in my opinion πŸ™‚

  • xin

    i am one of those who are too shy to ask for sample! especially if they don’t offer it to me on their own >< i usually swatched it on neck to check the color match, if i buy it, i need to pray that it doesn't oxidize on me, so there is always a risk…

    • LOL! You shouldn’t be shy to ask for a sample. If not, then at least try it on your face and leave it on for the whole day to see how bad it oxidises. You’re too kind, Xin!

  • Sophia

    GREAT TIP. Bring spare container for samples πŸ™‚

    I am never keen to use foundation as I don’t like the sticky thick feeling. BUT I’m all nuts to get a good consealer color for my under eye dark ring. Always hate it when beauty consultants tell me to get 1 shade lighter but it doesn’t even cover the dark shade AT ALL. And more oftenly than not it looks like I’m wearing a white mask over my eye area.

    Am using Sephora & Bobbi Brown now; mixing de shades of lavender/apple mint, with 1 tan and finally 1 lighter shade (or fair light) to match my skin tone.

    • I’m glad you found your concealer shade! It does take some trial and error at times but it’s great when you find something that works πŸ™‚ Nowadays, many liquid foundations are made to feel weightless on the skin. Maybe you can try sampling some new age ones πŸ˜‰ Some of them are pretty awesome!

  • Jasmine

    Choosing the right foundation I find the most difficult. Too shy to ask for assistance I rather look at the colour and guess wich fits me the best. So not the right way =] Sometimes I use some of the tester, but gosh they are some really filthy and rather weird looking testers with product all over the packaging.

    • I know what you mean by dirty testers, especially those drugstore items. One of the reasons I hardly buy drugstore foundations is because I can’t test them properly.