Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Foundation Match Making

As a makeup artist, the question I get asked most frequently is consistently the same, 'how do I choose the right shade?'
So here is a quick but accurate 'how to' guide to getting it right....

Firstly, you must test it in the right place; this means slap bang in the middle of your face where you can see it. Not on the hand, which is fine for testing texture and level of coverage but the colour of your hand does not relate whatsoever to your face.
Also rule out testing for shade on the inside of your wrist, under your chin, on your neck or anywhere other than where the product is designed for!
I know it can be tricky to test at counters and they certainly don't make it an easy process for you as they glare at you and ask you 'are you alright?' 50 times whilst simultaneously re-applying their own lip gloss and discussing last night's escapades with their colleague ( who is also glaring at you!).
Now, I know I'm being harsh, and there are some truly talented artists behind counters these days, but it's an intimidating experience if you don't feel that you know your cool tones from your warm tones. Don't even start on corrective undertones, textures or pigments!

It's a minefield at those counters, so my one piece of advice is to make it easy on yourself ...get samples and try at home. In your own mirror when you have the time to really analyse if it looks good on you. It's also a good idea to wear a possible new foundation for a full day so you can see how it lasts over time. If they aren't forthcoming with these little sample sachets that appear to be more precious than gold, then bring in your own empty pot. Bring several, in fact, and fill up with three different shades in colour sequence. So, the shade you think looks closest to your skin tone and the two shades on either side.

When it comes to trying them on, have a clean face. If you are swatching at a counter and really want to purchase there and then, ask for a wipe to clean off any makeup you have on so you can get a proper sense of the shade. Then apply to your full cheek, blend it in and wait a minute as it drys as a lot of foundations tend to dry darker than they look wet.

The golden rule of colour matching is this; If it blends in seamlessly into the skin , if it almost disappears; then it is the correct shade. If it shows up as yellow, it is too dark. If it looks ashy, it is too pale. In fact, if it looks obvious at all, it is wrong.

It is the job of foundation to even out and perfect your skin, not create a mask, so always bear this in mind. Never try to add colour or tan to your skin with a dark shade -there is nothing more aging. Learn to use bronzer correctly but get your skin tone right and you will always look better.

It's as simple as that!


PP said...

Sounds easy.... but as we all know its not :) the amount of pale shades i have but actually probably none of them match me :(

Ellie Balfe said...

The problem is that most brands struggle with the pale shades. As a rule, the French brands (Chanel, Clarins etc) are too dark for really pale skins. Try Stila, Bourjois, Armani, Becca and Revlon for good pale tones.
(Estee Lauder and Lancome are not great either to be honest)

Velveteen said...

Oh I can never get it right!!! Either too yellowy, too cakey, too pale........! Don't know if I'm cool or warm toned! Don't know if I should use a yellow based or pink based foundation? Hmmm, maybe I'll sign up for your Basics course and have all my questions answered!!

Ellie Balfe said...

Hi Velveteen,
As a general rule, a cool tone can't tan in the sun and a warm tone can...
But to be honest, if you ignore the classifications it's best as they actually mean nothing - what's important is how they LOOK on your skin...so test everything and see which sits best and looks the most natural,
And by all means come on a course at some stage!

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