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How to Choose the Best Foundation For Your Skin Tone

I Was Wearing the Wrong Liquid Foundation Tone For Years, and You Might Be, Too

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There are some beauty products that many of us have been using for years, and others that may never make their way into our daily routine — what even is BB cream? Liquid foundation is one of those necessity makeup items — in my book, anyway — and one that I've been using since I discovered its blemish-covering magic. However, it was just recently that I realized I had been making a fundamental mistake when choosing a liquid foundation.

I'm not a professional makeup artist, but I know my way around an eye shadow palette and would challenge anyone to a liquid eyeliner wing competition. So I was slightly embarrassed when I realized how off the tone of my liquid foundation had been for years, even though the color was fine. Let me teach you the error of my ways so that you don't wind up in the same troublesome boat I was in.

"Tone is the most important thing when choosing a foundation," Jorge Monroy, a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist, told POPSUGAR. "It'll help you narrow down your choices and find a color that best matches your undertones."

It was nearly five years ago that I was introduced to L'Oreal True Match liquid foundation ($11) by a family friend. She gave me a bottle of cold-toned foundation after she realized she bought the wrong color. I gave it a try and liked how light it was on my skin and how well it covered up blemishes. I eventually ran out of that bottle and went to the store to grab more. But by the time I got there, I had forgotten the corresponding letter and number indicating the tone and color. But I really didn't think it mattered that much. Over the next few years, I bounced around buying refills of cold and warm tones — basically whatever bottle I thought looked good next to my skin that day.

"Most importantly, knowing your undertone will always help you find the correct shade of foundation since it will always stay the same regardless of the season," Monroy said. The color of your foundation may change throughout the seasons, depending on how much sun tans your skin, but your tone doesn't change.

If I'm being honest, I never worried that much about the tone of my foundation. It didn't seem like it was as big of a deal as the color — but, as Monroy pointed out, it's even more important. He offered insight on how to find the right color for your skin tone, and now I'm wondering why I didn't turn to him sooner.

"If your veins look blue, you have a cool skin tone. If they look green, you have a warm skin tone."

"To figure out your undertone, take a look at the veins on your wrist," Monroy said. "If your veins look blue, you have a cool skin tone. If they look green, you have a warm skin tone. If you can't figure out if your veins are either blue or green, you most likely have a neutral skin tone. Once you have figured out your undertones, you can move into deciding what is the best foundation color for you."

After you know your undertone, that information will help you find the best color. Monroy recommends that cool skin tones go for pink and red hues and warm skin tones go for yellow and peachy hues. Fall into the neutral range? An olive foundation tends to contain both cool and warm tones. Try going into the natural sunlight with a bare face. Apply a little foundation to your jawline — Monroy said it's a good spot to see if blends in with your face and neck. Again, why didn't I talked to him sooner?

If you're wondering how my whole liquid foundation tone saga wrapped up, it came to a happy ending. While using my foundation one morning, a light switch flipped, calling my attention to how the warm tone wasn't blending all that well. A trip to the drugstore had me back in front of that L'Oreal product wall where I opted for a bottle in the neutral category. Once I tried that, it seamlessly blended and it clicked. I wasn't a warm or a cool all along: I'm a neutral. Go figure.

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