Thursday, March 24, 2011

Makeup for Absolute Beginners | Foundations: Coverage, Finish + Shades and Undertones

Foundation can do fabulous things to the skin. It can make your skin appear dewy, make your oily skin matte, cover blemishes, etc.  In addition to finding the right foundation for your skin type, coverage and finish are factors to consider also.

Coverage~ how much of your natural skin will show through.

Sheer coverage- gives luminosity to the skin.
Medium coverage-natural but can cover blemishes or redness.
Full coverage- will completely cover anything you would like to conceal.

Finish~ texture the foundation leaves on your skin.

Satin- dewy, luminous
Natural- perfect balance between satin and matte. Perfect for everyday.
Matte- oil controlled. No shine at all.

Shade and Undertones

This is where it can get real tricky. We've all picked up foundation that we thought were sure to be a perfect match on to find out it was all wrong. Choosing the correct shade and matching your undertones is imperative to the perfect foundation.

Undertones refer to the tones underneath your skin. Most people are yellow/golden, olive or pink/red. This is why some cosmetic companies use labels like warm/neutral/cool.  

Yellow/Golden = Warm
Olive = Neutral
Pink/Red = Cool

[Note: MAC's Neutral Cool (NC) vs Neutral Warm (NW) foundations work a little different.  For example, I have warm undertones but MAC's NC shades work best for my complexion because the cool from the NC shades neutralizes my warm undertones making the foundation appear more natural on me. Depending on your shade {see below} this theory may not work for you. I can only use this reverse theory with MAC. With other foundations like Loreal True Match, I have to stick to their warm shades. Get it?  Confusing.. I know.]

Some easy ways to determine your undertone is to (1) stand in natural light with a bare face and see which color(s) shine through your skin most or (2) look at the veins in your arm; if they appear green then your are more than likely warm, if they appear blue you are more than likely cool.

Shade refers to how light or dark your skin is. You should your match foundation on high plains of cheek to neck. A lot of us run into the issue where we may have two or three different shades on our face. You may have to use a lighter shade in the center of your face and a darker shade on the outer areas to avoid looking 'washed out'.

** I feel like this may be a little (a lot) confusing but I explained it the best I could. Remember 'if it aint broke don't fix it' and 'keep it simple'. I will try my best to answer any questions you may have.


  1. great breakdown! I am sure this will serve as a great help to most consumers. :)

  2. Thank you for this post. I was so lost about undertones I thought I was warm until to MAC and was given NC foundation - I was totally confused.... But I get it now!

  3. Beautiful looks! You do a great job. Thanks for the info. Very useful


  4. I LOVE the makeup looks.. what eyeshadows did you use on each models eyes?

  5. Thanks ladies! I'm glad this helped!

    Courtney~ the model on the left had on MUFE eyeshadow in #'s 75 and 92. Model on the right had on MAC's juiced, sumptuous olive and embark.


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