So, how many times have you bought the wrong foundation shade? Me, too many to count.
When I first started getting into makeup, back in high school, I didn’t have much of a choice. I was on a strict budget and none of the foundations that I could afford came in shades light enough for my skintone. I always had to get a darker shade, which wasn’t a big problem in winter, when I wore high-neck sweaters. But in the summer, I’d have to go barefaced.
But even when I finally had more money to invest in a pricier foundation, I would still often end up purchasing the wrong pale shade. Limited shade selection, and the awful lights in the shops, had something to do with it, but there was also another factor that contributed to this bad choice: I was trying on foundation shades in all the wrong places.
For years, I tried foundation shades on my inner wrist. It was what everyone else was doing, including SAs (some of them here still do now *cringes*). Even a few mags suggested it. That must have been the right way, I thought. And yet, when you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense. Look at your inner wrist. Is it the same colour as your face? Nope. Mine is an even paler shade than my face and has stronger yellow undertones. That led me to choose foundations who had strong yellow undertones too, so no wonder they didn’t look good on me! Duh!
So, I next matched my foundation to my jawline. The reasoning behind this is simple. If you pick a shade that only matches your face, you’ll look like you’re wearing a mask that ends at your jawline. Ew! But while this advice has served me well in winter, it failed me in the summer. I still looked like I was wearing a mask because the rest of my body is a different colour than my face. And so, very likely, is yours. It may be darker, it may have sallower or pinker undertones, or you may have a skin condition that causes redness. By focusing on your jawline only, it’s easy to pick up the wrong shade.
Did you know that your neck contains less melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin, which gives skin its colour)? Add to that that your face casts a shadow upon your neck, and it’s no wonder that this is one of the palest parts of your body. It’s often much paler than your chest. So, if you choose a foundation shade that only matches your neck, you may look ok when wearing a round collar top. But when you don a low cut top, or just slightly unbutton your shirt, you will look like you’re wearing a ghostly mask that ends at your neck! Argh! Why can’t our skin just be one colour all over?!
If you live somewhere cold where you’re forced to wear turtle necks or round collar tops a lot, matching your foundation to your jawline may make sense. But even then, you’ll sometimes wear a low-cut dress, or even just a V-neck top or a blouse that’s not buttoned all the way up. Unless you want to apply your foundation to your chest (which may not be a big deal if only a small amount of it is exposed but becomes a pain when you’re wearing something strapless, or off-the-shoulder or just a skimpy summer top), you’ll have to pick a shade that matches it. That way, your face and body will be the same colour.
The Bottom Line
When choosing a new foundation shade, try and match it to your chest. That’s usually the best place to ensure you pick a shade that won’t make you look like you’re wearing a mask. However, don’t forget that we are all different. We have different skintones, different undertones and live in different places, with different climates that affects our skin colours differently. If you find that matching your foundation to your jawline works best for you, keep doing it. But if a shade picked that way has never satisfied you, try matching it to your chest next time. The result may surprise you.
Where do you match your foundation?