If you want to look fresh-faced in a flash, the quickest way is to even out your skin tone. However perfecting the appearance of a flawless complexion is a lost cause if you’re not starting with the right foundation.
The trick to acing your base? Makeup artist Bob Scott, who works with celebs like Bella Hadid and Chrissy Teigen, recommends figuring out what undertone your skin has by looking at the veins on the underside of your wrists. If your veins are mostly blue or purple, you have cool undertones; if they’re more of a greenish yellow, you have warm undertones; and if your veins look like a mix of green, blue, yellow, and purple, your undertones are neutral.
Once you know your undertone, you can find your formula, depending on your complexion’s needs. “We aren’t all one shade all year round, so it’s good to create a custom look that complements your natural coloring,” Scott says. To nail your exact shade, Scott recommends picking two tones — a lighter and darker one — and applying the lighter foundation over the triangular area that makes up the center of your face, and see how well the shade disappears into your skin. “You’ll know it’s too light if it looks chalky,” he adds. “Then, take the deeper shade and mix it with the lighter one, and blend it over the side of your cheek and down onto your neck. If both shades look good in the store lighting as well as in natural light, you know you’ve found your go-to and you can blend them together accordingly to match your skin throughout the year.”
Here, 10 foundation brands that offer up a wide range of shades so you can find your exact fit.
Not only does this lightweight foundation range come in 40 complexion-complementing shades, it contains hyaluronic spheres that make sure your skin stays super-hydrated, and leaves you with poreless and perfectly even.
Number of shades: 40, from “Alabaster” to “Dark Brown”
This formula instantly gives you with flawless skin but also works to leave your complexion looking its best long after you remove your makeup at night. Here’s why: It contains firming mushroom extract, hydrating hyaluronic acid spheres, collagen-producing vitamin C, and broad-spectrum SPF 15 to protect it from future sun damage.
Number of shades: 12, from “Fair” to “Dark.”
This powder foundation not only offers coverage that’s selfie-worthy, the matte formula claims to stay on for 12 hours. Plus, it’s noncomedogenic and non-acnegenic, so it won’t break you out.
Number of shades: 30, from “Fair” to “Cocoa.”
With seven shades in each category: light, medium, and dark, and coverage that still lets your skin breathe (aka isn’t heavy), you’re sure to find a foundation that suits your skin’s every need.
Number of shades: 21, from “Ivory” to “Soft Sable.”
Whether you need coverage in certain spots or are looking to apply a full face of makeup, this lightweight formula will give you an effect that looks like skin, not makeup. Plus, it comes in an abundance of shades that have every skin tone covered.
Number of shades: 30, from “Alabaster” to “Cool Espresso.”
This long-wearing, oil-free cushion compact is one of my favorites, because, like the Bobbi Brown formula, it too offers ample coverage, yet lets your skin peek through so your makeup doesn’t look caked on.
Tip: To be sure you aren’t contaminating your cushion, wash your hands or get a fresh makeup sponge before applying or touching up your foundation.
Number of shades: 18, from the “Buff” (the lightest) to “Suede C” (the deepest, launching in spring 2017).
While UD’s latest foundation is free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, GMOs, and triclosan, it’s full of nourishing ingredients, like Matrixyl 3000 (a powerful anti-wrinkle peptide), green tea, and Litchiderm to help brighten. It also comes in warm and cool tones to perfectly complement your complexion, and dries matte but still manages to look luminous, thanks to its light-diffusing properties.
Number of shades: 24, from “0.5” (for fair skin) to “12” for (super-deep tones).
This foundation is the ultimate multitasker. You can use it all-over as a full-coverage formula, sheer it out and wear it as a tinted moisturizer, apply it to trouble spots as concealer, or use it to highlight and contour.
Number of Shades: 30, from “Alabaster” to “Deep Skin With Red Undertones.”
Oil-, fragrance-, and paraben-free, this formula gives you “I woke up like this” skin aka flawless AF after applying just one non-cakey layer.
Number of shades: 12, from “Champagne Beige” to “Suede Mocha.”
If you consider time a luxury, you’ll love that this foundation dries right away. The standout ingredient? Cashmere Kaolinite clay, which absorbs oily secretions without robbing your skin of moisture. Shades run from “Pearl,” which is meant for very fair skin with neutral undertones, to “Chestnut,” which is made for deep skin with neutral to red undertones. In between those, you’ll find names like “Shell,” “Sand,” and “Sable.”
Number of Shades: 16
Inspired by the silk fashion designer Giorgio Armani chooses for his high-end clothing collections, this lightweight foundation uses Micro-Fil technology for a luminous finish. Shades range from “Color 3,” which is for fair women with a neutral undertone, to “Color 14,” which is for women with a dark, rich skin with a red undertone.
Number of Shades: 23
Use this foundation and guess what will happen to your shadowy areas? Boom! Brightened. Your contours? Boom! Highlighted. This luminous foundation has zero opaque fillers, meaning your real skin will still shine through. Although each shade contains the word “beige” in its name, there are options for everybody.
Number of Shades: 20
This foundation firms, brightens, and hydrates your skin, while offering medium to full coverage. It’s also oil-free and comes with a broad spectrum SPF 25. And a bonus for those of us with real, busy lives (aka everyone): It’s long-wearing. Shades run from “Cool Bone” to “Sandalwood,” with shades like “Desert Beige” and “Cashew” in the mix.
Number of Shades: 21
If you’re looking for a non-oily foundation that offers matte, medium coverage, this is your formula. It claims to stay put for 16 hours, so you don’t have to worry about reapplying it after work before you go out with your girls.
Number of Shades: 16, from “Ivory” to “Ebony” with in-between options like “Peach” and “Mocha.”