No Testers? No Problem - A Guide to Online Foundation Shopping
Well before coronavirus turned our world upside down, foundation shopping (and shade matching) was a tricky business. Different finishes, strengths of pigment, and a kaleidoscope of undertones; getting it right can feel like a maze and It has been known to challenge casual buyers and make-up professionals alike. Even YouTube icon James Charles has admitted that he has battled to find a perfect foundation match.
Finding My PERFECT Foundation Match... Finally
Relying on online swatches for the likes of eyeshadow palettes and lipsticks is (for the most part) a safe gamble but traditionally foundation shopping requires a closer inspection in- store. We’ve all done the classic trick of applying a tester swatch and running out the store to quickly catch a view of the shade in natural lighting but in a post-coronavirus world, it seems make-up testers are set to become a thing of the past. The hygiene of beauty testers has frequently been called into question and parting with them IS in the interest of public health but now, how do we go about finding our perfect shade?
Voir has you covered. Here, our hours of scrolling and hauling our way through online retailers such as Cult Beauty and Beauty Bay have allowed us to achieve expert status in the online foundation shopping department and we have some hints and tips to share.
‘Find your undertone’ is a phrase passed around a lot in the beauty world but let’s start by explaining what an undertone actually is. An undertone is a tone/colour that underlies your skin and there are three to choose from - warm (yellow and gold), cool (pink and blue), and neutral (a mix of both warm and cool). Knowing your undertone will make the whole process of online foundation shopping much easier and convenient, many brands indicate the undertones of a foundation within the shade name, typically represented by the first letter of the undertone - W, C, or N.
There are plenty of tricks to decode which undertone you personally have. A classic example is to take a glance at the colour of your veins. Experts suggest that blue-toned veins indicate a cool tone whereas green suggests a warmer tone. Similarly, trying on gold and silver jewellery can give a helpful insight into skin undertones. If you glow in gold, then you may sway towards a warm undertone or perhaps you shine in silver in which case, cooler tones could be your perfect match. Or maybe you love both (us too!), so neutral tones are your preference.
For the most part, a good bare-faced look in the mirror in natural lighting can offer a fair indication of what your undertone is but If in doubt, selecting a neutral shade is the safest bet for creating a well-matched base.
Selecting the Right Shade
Very fair, fair, light, light medium, medium, dark, very dark - feeling overwhelmed? It’s a lot simpler than it seems and far more obvious than deciphering undertones. These are the descriptors typically used by a wide range of make-up brands and luckily, once you crack which shade you are in one brand, it’s a safe conclusion that you’ll probably be the same in another.
Websites often offer a clear description of the shades and some have even introduced photos of models corresponding to each foundation colour which enables you to easily compare your own skin to a model of a similar shade; making colour matching almost as visual as being in the physical store.
Never underestimate the importance of reading reviews from fellow shoppers. While many brands will claim their foundation is the key to achieving flawless skin, customer reviews allow us to see which products are really up to scratch away from the biases of Instagram advertisements and YouTube sponsorships.
Coverage, longevity and how it feels on the skin - these are all things that are commented on in reviews and they are important qualities worth investigating before committing to an online purchase. If you are sceptical of reviews on brand sites then there are online forums such as MakeupAlley which offer a wide range of honest and fair reviews.
Take a Brand Quiz
Luckily, many brands such as Too Faced, BareMinerals and Maybelline have noticed a rise in online foundation shopping and in turn, have created clever quizzes to match their potential customers to their perfect foundation. Answering just a handful of questions on their sites will help their algorithm suggest a good foundation for your skin type, desired coverage and the ideal shade for you too. How fancy?
Findation.com is a project that launched in 2012 and it is taking all the hard work out of online foundation matching. Utilising their enormous database of shades, Findation allows you to enter two foundation shades that you have used and loved before from a range of brands. From there, their clever search engine can curate a list of shades from other beauty brands of a similar tone and colour that are set to match you perfectly.
Words by Yasmin Norvill
Graphics by Frances Scott