Complexion Perfection: choosing the right color for your skin tone

Choosing the right color for your skin tone is a challenge for most women. Finding makeup to match your skin tone can seem like an impossible task. For women of color, it can be even more daunting. Although there are more cosmetic companies offering shades for deeper complexions, they don’t often address the varying undertones in our skin. This is what can cause makeup to appear grey or “ashy” on our skin, or make certain colors just “not look right” to you in the mirror. Here are some tips to help you navigate your way through your next trip to the cosmetic counter.

Check your undertones

Wearing colors that don’t match the undertones in your complexion can make or break your makeup look. Most all skin has three basic undertones: warm, cool or neutral. An easy way to determine what your undertones are is your preference in jewelry. If your complexion looks brightest and most vibrant in gold jewelry then your undertones are warm. If you look best in silver jewelry then you have cool undertones. If your skin looks equally complimented in both silver and gold, then you are most likely neutral. If you don’t wear jewelry, look at the inside of your wrists. Bluish veins indicate cool undertones; greenish veins are warm and a combination of the two put you in the neutral category.

Warm undertones – Warm completions have yellow to gold tones at the lighter range, and golden to red-orange in the deeper range.

Cool undertones – Cool complexions have pink to reddish tones at the lighter range, and blue-red to even olive in the deeper range.

Neutral undertones – A neutral complexion is a mix of both warm and cool.

Many Asians are thought to be warm because of the yellow tone in their skin, but can also be cool. African Americans are often assumed to be cool, especially those with deeper skin tones, but can also be warm or neutral like me. Latinas and those of Middle Eastern or Indian descent can tend to be more olive, which puts them in the cool category, but can often be neutral or even warm. And a change in your hair color can sometimes move you from one category to another.

How does this help me pick the right foundation, powder and concealer?

When you’re matching foundation and powder you need to consider not only your surface tone (fair, medium, dark) but also your undertone. Always stripe a few colors on your jaw line where your complexion is the most even to see if it matches both. The color that seems to disappear when blended is the right color for your skin Your concealer should also match your undertones, but can be either a shade lighter or the same shade as your surface tone depending on how intense the shadows are under your eyes.

Tip: don’t be swayed by what the color looks like inside the bottle. Its undertone can often appear more dramatic there, especially in the deeper shades. You’ll have to actually see it on your skin to be sure.

BB and CC creams and tinted moisturizer

The newer BB and CC creams, like tinted moisturizer, not only add color to your skin but also help to even out your complexion. Matching your undertone is still essential with these, but an exact match with your surface tone is less important because the product will be somewhat absorbed into your skin rather than sitting on top. With these products you can choose a color that most closely resembles your skin’s natural intensity (fair, medium, or dark) and blends in without looking obvious.

You may have to try several different shades and brands before you find your perfect match. A few of my favorites are Makeup Forever, Lancome, MAC, Covergirl Queen Collection and Bobbi Brown. These lines have a great selection of both liquid and powder foundation in a variety of shades and undertones. If you prefer an all-in-one mineral makeup try Valana Minerals. She offers a diverse range of shades and undertones, and you can even purchase a sample pack to try out a few different shades before deciding. Try to view the foundation color on your skin in natural light, even if that means walking outside with a mirror. Choosing the right shade will ensure you always put your best face forward!

About the author: Karol Young Moses is a professional makeup artist and beauty expert based in Southern California. Her work can be seen on the red carpet and the runway as well as in print, film and television. In addition to hosting makeup workshops and seminars she helps brides look their best on their special day. Karol also appears regularly on-camera offering makeup and beauty tips to viewers. She is currently working on her first beauty book.

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