5 Tips on How To Pick the Right Foundation Shade That's Your Color at The Drugstore or Online

Hey Everyone,
This is possibly one one of my most frequently asked makeup questions on the list. I receive emails and questions about helping people find their foundation shade because they can’t whip out the testers at the drugstore. Not to fret, superman might be late, but I am here yet again to save the day.

*Image Source: Beautylish
1. Observe your undertone
You can observe your undertone by flipping your forearm over. If your veins that show through your underarm skin appear green, then you have a yellow or warm undertone and if your veins appear blue/purple-ish, then you have a pink or cool undertone. This is because your veins near your forearm area are blue and the undertone of your skin (yellow + blue = green) and (pink + blue = purple, blue) can thus be displayed.
You need to not only match your shade, but you also need to match your undertone. A fair skin lady with a yellow undertone wearing a foundation that is meant for a pink undertone will have a maskey look that doesn’t look so great unless you are auditioning for the Phantom of the Opera. Ha-ha. *crickets chirping in the background*. Nevermind.
Know your undertone first so when you go to the drugstore, you can match your undertone and your face shade.
2. Search online communities and google beforehand – Get your keywords right

If you’ve been thinking of getting a foundation, you can search on google for people who you know is your shade and what color of the foundation you want that they are wearing.  This is a little online research beforehand and is something I always do.
Here are the steps to getting this process right:
1. It is always handy to know your shade in M.A.C
M.A.C is almost like the universal shade language in the makeup world. Knowing your shade in M.A.C is like unlocking the key mysteries in life. Well, not really, but almost. O C’mon, if you can say “Girlfriend, whatcha talkin’ bout, I use the 116 to put some color on my cheeks, the 134 to dust my powder all over, the 217, 224 for the eyes and the 109 for my contour and the 190 beforehand. Duh,” you know you’re there. Just kidding. Back to the topic. Just go to the fiesty sales assistants at M.A.C in your local department store and ask them to color match you (if you dare) and you are just about about halfway there.
If you don’t know your foundation shade in M.A.C and don’t have a M.A.C nearby, know it well in another common foundation that’s been written a lot about online. You basically need a point of comparison or reference so that you know that when this person is an NC30 in MAC, you can pretty much imagine it on yourself already.
2. If you’re able to get a hold on your M.A.C Shade, look on Temptalia’s Awesome Foundation Matrix. it uses your MAC shade as your point of reference and will tell you your shade in just about any other foundation. It’s awesome. Really. Like Kung Fu Panda! Alright, I’ll stop now.
Just key in if you’re a cool or warm tone (depending on your undertone) and what category you fall under:

Search and scroll for your foundation. I’m an NC30 so now I know that I’m a Soft Beige or Nude in the Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation which is totally true:

3. If That doesn’t work… and if you know your shade (or point of reference), type in google and search for a review or a blog post on the foundation you want and make sure the person who wrote the review has the same shade to see what shade they are in the foundation that you want.
For example, if I am an NC30 in M.A.C (my point of reference) and I want to know what shade I am in the Maybelline Superstay foundation,
I would type in google “NC30 MAC Maybelline Superstay foundation color shade Nude” Putting in a random shade helps the search even if it’s not the right one. You’ll get something like this:

Ta-Da! You can get a pretty good idea of your shade in the foundation that you want now!
3. Bring along foundation that you know is your color to the store:
If all else fails and your online search bears no babies, then bring a foundation that you know is your color to the store and color match the bottles with your eye. A neat trick but not something that most people think about. Just put the foundation you bring and the foundation you want at the store side by side and see if the color matches. If there are testers, you can even pour the foundation out to see if they match!
4. If you have testers, match it on your jawline
And if you do have testers and you know that this foundation stuff isn’t gross and disgusting or have an insane need to put it on your face to know, then your jawline is the place to go. The foundation should match your neck and jawline. I do not endorse or support this practice as makeup on the tester aisle can be full of bacteria that should be a no show for your complexion.
5. Forget about your hand:
Your hand is not the same color or texture or skin as your face. Forget about it. Period. “Oo it matches my hand, thus it should match my face” IS NOT, I repeat more pleasantly, not the way to go darling.
And there you have it! I shall no longer do the searches for you. And no, I cannot possilby know what foundation shade you are if I have never seen you before in ma life!

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Lots of Love,



  • ishikaaz

    I use Temptalia’s Foundation Matrix too! Its awesome!!

  • roseannetangrs

    cool 🙂 yeah its an awesome application!

  • madlynny

    hi roseanne, do people say their mac shade from the powder shade or liquid shade? or are both of them the same?

  • roseannetangrs

    all of them are the same 🙂

  • Cendana K

    LOL love this post, roseanne =) it’s tricky at times but i’m getting better at it. if it looks a tad pink, nah, i won’t buy it haha because i just think it would look too warm on my skin (despite the fact that i think i’m warm toned with yellow undertone). too warm would refer to being something along the line of NW’s, yea, y’know what I’m talking bout, dontcha? ;p
    hippy happy that your skintone is about the same … i wear Nude in Maybelline Superstay and wear NC30 in MAC =D *squeal in agreement – yay!* … btw i can so relate to that bit *crickets chirping in the background* hahaha

  • Bun Bun Makeup Tips

    Great post! =)

  • roseannetangrs

    thanks both of you! <3

  • Mrs K

    Wow, great post, I didn’t know that if you know your shade in MAC it’s easier to know your shades with other foundations.No wonder other people always refer to NC/NW ahaaaa. Now I shall look out for a MAC nearby and brave myself to get a color match! (If I come out of the store alive, I just hate SA at MAC’s) Well,anyway thank you! 🙂

    • roseannetangrs (author)

      Awesome, that’s true the SA at M.A.C can sometimes be a little too edgy if you know what i mean, good luck dear and thanks for reading 🙂

  • Bern

    Thx for enlightening me. I was really wondering what’s NC30…. So now have to head down to MAC counter and ask for help. Really learn a lot!

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