Have you ever stepped into the drugstore and looked at all of the foundations available? It can be overwhelming! From brand to shade range to skin type, the task can really be a challenge at first. Unlike higher end foundations, you won’t be able to just pick a shade and sample it to be sure it’s your shade or have someone foundation match you in the store. I remember my first drugstore foundation purchase: I walked down the aisles thinking, “Where do I even start?” and just walked right out. But after years of drugstore foundation shopping, I’ve up with a process that really works for me. Here are some tips on finding your perfect foundation shade at the drugstore.
1. Indentify your undertone
This one can be tricky, especially if you are a neutral skin tone like me. There are three types of skin tones: Warm, Cool, and Neutral. Warm skin tones tend to look better in golds, off-whites and creams, while cool skin tones look good in silver and white. Warm tones typically have more yellow to their skin, while cool tones have more pink. Neutral skin tones have both yellow and pink tones and silver, gold, off-white and white all flatter them well.
My personal favorite way to figure out skin tone is to look at the veins on the inner wrist. If you have blue veins, you are likely a cool tone. Green veins? You’re probably a warm tone. A mixture of both? You’re a neutral! You can read more about skin undertones in my upcoming post. Additionally, I created a handy chart to remember the basics, including celebrities with each undertone.
Now, how does this relate to foundation buying?
Warm: Purchase a foundation that has more of a yellow tint to it
Cool: Purchase a foundation that has more of a pink tint to it
Neutral: Purchase a foundation that is neither yellow or pink, just right in the middle
Additionally, companies will sometimes label their foundations warm, cool, or neutral to help you out, so keep an eye out for that!
2. Indentify Your Skin Type
Ok, so we have your undertone. Now, we need to know if you have more oily skin, dry skin, or “normal”. Normal just means its not oily or dry, just kind of in the middle. As I’ve gotten older my skin has changed from oily to dry and that’s pretty typical for aging, so make sure to do this assessment every few years.
So what do you have? Oily skin typically has… you guess it! Oily texture. This means that you are typically producing more oil throughout the day and that oil sometimes breaks down your foundation. This is why there are specific foundations just for oily skin. Dry skin will typically feel tighter, have scaly or flaky patches, and can be dull. If you’re neither of these, or somewhere in between, you probably have “normal” skin.
How does this relate to finding your perfect drugstore foundation shade?
Well, we don’t want to just match foundation shade, we want to find one that will be suitable for your skin as well! Companies often formulate their foundations based on the type of skin you have, so check your bottle to see if it says “For Oily/Combination” or “For Dry Skin.”
3. Have a Few Foundations You’re Interested In
There are tons of foundations in the drugstore, so I like to have a few on my list of ones I’d like to try when I show up, so I don’t get overwhelmed by all of the choices available to me. If you need ideas on which to try first, check my post on The Best Drugstore Foundations Foundations for Dry Skin. I have a list there of the different ones I’ve tried and how they worked well for me.
Typcially, I like to try brands that I know work on having good shade ranges. This means a mix of cool, warm, and neutral colors ranging from really fair skin to really deep skin. This way I know I’ll have the best foundation match for me.
4. Bring a Bottle That Already Works For You
This is my BEST tip for finding your perfect drugstore foundation shade and how I found the first one that REALLY worked for me. I brought in a high-end foundation that had been professionally matched to my skin and compared it to the other bottles in the store. My first high-end foundation was Estee Lauder Double Wear (review in upcoming post!) in the shade Ecru. I brought that bottle with me and put it side by side with other foundations that I was interested in matching the criteria above.
On my list of foundations to try that day was L’Oreal Paris Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation with SPF (review in upcoming post). So I scoured the shelves for the foundations that looked about right to me and grabbed a few. Since I had the Estee Lauder Double Wear with me in my bag, I was able to grab it and compare the shades that might be in the right color range for me. Using what I knew about my undertones, I made sure to only grab ones that looked neutral (remember, that means no overly yellow or pink tones to it) and compared them side by side with my trusty Double Wear foundation. This lead me to my perfect L’Oreal shade in 420 True Beige!
5. …Or, Bring a Bottle That Doesn’t
If you don’t currently have a foundation that works for you, you can still do this process. First, you will just have to determine what about your current foundation do you not like? Is it a bit too dark? A bit too yellow? Doesn’t match your undertones? Once that is determined, you can still bring it to your local drugstore and compare shades side-by-side to get your true match. In fact, I often do this when the seasons change and my skin gets either a little darker in the summer or a little lighter in the winter. For example, this year I knew I wanted to go back for my L’Oreal Infallible 24 HR Fresh Wear Foundation, but I needed a slightly darker shade for summer. So I brought the shade that I knew worked for me over the winter and just went up a shade, sticking to the same undertone that had already worked for me.
Getting the hang of purhcasing drugstore foundation can be pretty difficult, but once you’ve found one shade that really works for you, it can be a breeze to choose a foundation from any brand that will match your skin tone.