How to find your perfect foundation match

Still on the hunt for that perfect foundation match? Read on!
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • It’s more important to match your foundation than any other piece of make-up.

    Even the best foundation won’t look all that great if it doesn’t suit your skin type and tone, so it’s worth ensuring you find one that’s a true match. These days, every foundation worth buying boasts skincare benefits, so the first two things you should consider are your skin type, and what it needs. 

    Are you dry or dehydrated? Confusingly, they’re not the same thing. Dry skin is a type that naturally lacks oil, whereas dehydrated skin lacks water and that can happen to any type. If your face absorbs make-up by lunch it’s probably parched, while long-term dry skin feels tight and rough-textured. 

    If you suspect you’re on the oily side, look in a magnifying mirror at your nose and chin – clogged pores and blackheads are a key sign of congestion. And what if your skin depends on the day, month or season? 

    Rosacea is commonplace among women over 40, as is skin that’s generally well behaved with the odd hormonal flare-up causing dry patches and irritation. If any of this applies then it’s likely you, like so many of us, have changeable and reactive skin, so you need to go for a similarly adaptable formula.

    How to pick the right foundation formula for your skin type 

     Most foundations have a water or silicone base, which determines how it interacts with your skin. 

    Combination skin is commonplace, but if oil’s a real issue, look for silicone bases with mattifying elements like micro-powders.

    For dryness, pick products with oils and vitamin E, while dehydrated skin loves water-based formulas that quench without overloading.

    If your skin is changeable, your foundation should do a bit of everything — hydrate, cover, and last — without going too far in any one direction.

    Go fragrance-free if you’re prone to irritation and avoid very glowy formulas, which can look a bit slick over rosacea flushing. Tinted moisturisers with skincare ingredients will suit you, as will light semi-matte foundations depending on the look you want. 

    How to shade match foundation 

    Once you’ve determined the right ingredients for your skin and picked a few prospective products, the next challenge is finding the best foundation match to flatter your skin tone. Celebrity make-up artist Ruby Hammer MBE reveals her top shade-matching tips… 

    • “Always look at foundation in daylight. Not department store light, not evening light, but God’s light. If you’re in a store, nip out to natural daylight and have a look.  
    • Try it on the cheek, where you are going to put it, not the hand or the neck. Don’t be worried about asking to do this.  It’s a big investment.
    • Leave the product on your skin for half an hour – your foundation will change as it oxidises. 
    • Accept you will be two different shades in summer and winter. I’m as many as four different shades different with a tan.
    • Ideally you don’t want to have to mix colours, and now shade ranges are so much wider it’s less likely you’ll have to, but there’s a chance, in order to get it spot on, you may have to.” 

    Smudges of foundation in various skin tones

    What’s your skin’s undertone? 

    As well as the depth of your skin tone, think about your skin’s undertone too, as many shade ranges tend to include cool, neutral or warm variants. 

    If you have blue veins, suit silver jewellery and have a tendency to get a bit pink or flushed, you have cool undertones. 

    Warmer skin usually has green veins, suits gold and can appear slightly sallow. 

    If you’re a mixture of the two, then you may well be neutral, which makes life easier, as you can adapt to a wider range of shades.

    What if your perfect foundation has been discontinued?

    Easy, use Findation! The idea behind Findation is simple, but effective. Simply enter the name and shade of your current foundation and they will generate thousands of shades to find a foundation match based on the one you already wear.

    But is it really possible to find foundation online? “Yes!” says top make-up artist Lisa Armstrong, who’s collaborated with Avon to create a new make-up collection. As a guide she recommends that “it’s good to know what your skin undertone is so you narrow down the options – if you don’t know it’s easy by looking at your veins. If you have blue veins you have a pink undertone or if they’re green you have a yellow undertone. Most online beauty stores, like Avon, offer samples and a free returns policy so you can try at home and return shades that don’t match.”

    Findation launched in 2012 and now the Australia-based site is home to the world’s largest usable database of matching foundation colours. So whether you live in Brisbane, Bristol, Berlin or Boston, there’s no need to trawl the high street to meet your foundation match.

    Change your foundation according to the seasons

    Findation is also handy if you want to switch up your base with the seasons, trading winter’s full coverage, party-ready mattes for dewy, barely-there formulas for the best foundations come summer.

    “Even if you religiously wear SPF, your skin colour will change in the summer so make sure you change your shade,” advises Lisa. “But it’s also lovely to show off your summer skin and with the heat it may be more comfortable to wear a tinted moisturiser rather than a foundation. I would usually switch up my foundation finish in the summer, with a lighter coverage than my winter one.”

    Top make up tip? Get your base perfect before layering on foundation and other products.

    How to use Findation to find your foundation match

    Step 1

    Using the Findation website is relatively straightforward. As a first step, enter the brand of foundation you normally use.

    Step 2

    Next, add the specific product you use from that brand. The amount of options varies from brand to brand depending on their offering. Findation include discontinued products here too, which is really handy.

    Step 3

    Then, add the shade you normally wear in that foundation or concealer. You can usually find this on the base of the bottle or tube. It will either be a name like ‘golden beige’ or a series of letters and numbers like ‘NC25’.

    Step 4

    To increase the chances of finding a perfect match, repeat the process again to add a second foundation. The more information you give Findation, the more precise your results will be.

    Step 5

    Once you’ve entered all your information, you can then browse recommendations from a wide range of brands. Scroll through if you’re open to options or filter by specific brands and products if you’ve already got your eye on something.

    The best foundations for every skin type and tone

    Keen to try something new or can’t get your hands on your favourite foundation? We’ve done the research for you.

     No7 HydraLuminous Moisturising Foundation

    No7 hydra luminous foundation

    Tip-toeing the line between foundation and skincare, this No7 foundation treats skin with a blend of antioxidants and vitamins.

    View No7 HydraLuminous Moisturising Foundation, £15, Boots

    Boutique at Sainsbury’s Serum Foundation


    A slippy silicone base with hydrating hyaluronic acid for combination skin.

    View Boutique at Sainsbury’s Serum Foundation, £5, Sainsbury’

    Morphe Fluidity Full-Coverage Foundation

    Morphe Fluidity Foundation

    Full cover with a matte finish yet comfortable feel.  Comes in a whopping 60 shades.

    View Morphe Fluidity, £16,

    YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint Foundation

    YSL Touche Eclat Foundation

    Controls oil without looking flat – well worth the investment. 

    View YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint Foundation, £35,

    Ciaté Extraordinary Foundation

    Ciate Extraordinary Foundation Product Linen

    Medium, beautiful and buildable. Has a nice “blurring” effect on pores and lines.

    View Ciaté Extraordinary Foundation, £22.40,





    Latest Stories