It’s a problem as old as the makeup itself. Is your skin tone more light golden, medium golden, or light honey? Or maybe it’s a medium rose, dark brown, or porcelain? With so many foundation shades out there, you’d think that every woman on the planet would be able to find her perfect match. But make no mistake: even if there are 30 different shades for your complexion, none of them might suit you perfectly.
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Instead of resigning yourself to never having foundation that matches your skin tone exactly (which can lead to anything from an unnatural-looking complexion to an increased risk of breakouts), why not take matters into your own hands? By learning how to mix foundation at home, you’ll be able to customize a shade that fits you like a glove—and maybe even save money in the process.
Know your skin undertones.
You should know your skin undertones. This is not to be confused with the color of your skin, which can be any shade from pale pink to deep brown. Your skin’s natural color is determined by the amount of melanin produced in your body, but it’s not necessarily visible on the surface of your skin. It only becomes visible when light hits the surface of your face (which is why lighter-skinned people can get away with not wearing sunscreen). Undertones are what show up when someone has a tan or is wearing makeup—and they’re also important if you want to mix foundation colors yourself!
Because there are so many variations in shades and undertones, it helps if we have a way to describe them. In this guide we use “warm” and “cool” as shorthand for describing these variations; these terms come from art history and are still used today by artists and makeup artists alike. Warm colors include those with yellowish tones like gold or peach; cool colors include blueish tones such as royal blue or purple-based pinks like lavender pink (orchid).
Choose your base foundation.
For maximum versatility, choose a foundation that is lighter than your skin. If you’re using a powder foundation, choose a liquid foundation that is lighter than your skin; if you’re using a liquid foundation, choose a powder foundation that is lighter than your skin.
Start with a single mixer color.
When it comes to mixing your own foundation, the first step is choosing a mixer color. A mixer color is what you will use to adjust the shade of your base foundation, which should match your skin tone. There are four types of mixer colors:
Skin Undertones – The coolness or warmth of your skin undertones determines how much yellow or pink is in your complexion. You can determine if you have warm or cool undertones by looking at the veins on either side of your wrist (where blood flows closest to the surface). If they look blueish, then you have cool undertones and vice versa.
Foundation Formula – Your choice here depends on whether you want full coverage or sheer coverage application. A full-coverage foundation will make it easier for blending different shades together while sheer-coverage foundations tend not to be as opaque as their full-coverage counterparts so they may require more layering before reaching an ideal shade match with other products such as concealers and powders.
Set aside your mixture.
Next, set it aside. It will settle as it sits and you want to make sure that the pigments have had time to do their thing—at least 15 minutes is best. If it’s not cool enough or too warm in your room, this can affect how well your mixture blends together and results in a less than ideal color match.
When the time comes, give the mixture a little stir with a clean spoon or paintbrush (don’t stick your fingers into it!). If you see clumps of undissolved pigment floating around, add more foundation and mix again until everything is smooth.
Mix your shade into the base foundation formula.
When you’re ready to add color, start by adding a small amount of product and working it into the base formula until you achieve your desired shade. This will help prevent discoloration or browning over time because you’ve added too much pigment to your mixture. If this happens, make up a new batch of foundation and add more white pigment to lighten it up!
Increase the amount of your mixture if you need to adjust color.
- If you need to adjust the color, add more of your mixer color.
- If you want a darker color, add more of your mixer color.
- If you want a lighter color, add more base foundation.
- If you want a more neutral color, add more base foundation