I thought it might be helpful to provide a few tips to do with determining your skin tone and how to shop for foundations. Hopefully this will be useful to a couple of people :-)
What is skin tone?
There are three types of skin tone. By skin tone, I mean the underlying tone in your skin, not whether somebody is white, asian or black. Despite their shade, people are cool, warm, or neutral toned.
Neutral skin tone is a balance of pigment, but neutral foundations can be harder to come by. Many brands don't put enough research into tone and their foundations sometimes sway too yellow or pink throughout the whole line as a result. A neutral foundation is a great choice if you're really not sure what tone you are, or if pink based foundations and yellow based foundations alike just don't work on you.
Neutral foundation is also an option if you want to balance an abundance of either pink or yellow in your skin, because the foundation has yellow and pink pigments running through it and will act as a happy medium.
Are there ways to spot what skin tone I have?
If you use fake tan regularly, then you will probably want to a buy a foundation that matches your tanned skin colour. From my experience, 9/10 fake tanned people will automatically be changing their skin tone to warm, which means yellow toned. (Some could also wear a neutral toned foundation if they are very pink naturally and fake tanning on top)
To make a sweeping generalisation, knowing your skin tone can be deduced to whether you tan naturally in the sun, or if you burn.
If you burn, like myself, you are more than likely pink (cool) this often means you may be pale, freckly or naturally fair in hair colour (arm hairs, lashes and eyebrows can be included in this!)
Those that will automatically tan in the sun, are warm toned, with more yellow pigment in their skin, you may have been called 'olive' in the past if this is you, you might be naturally dark haired, with dark features such as brown or hazel eyes in comparison to cool toned people who often have blue/grey/green eyes.
However this is a generalisation and not everyone will fit in to one category unfortunately. If only it was that easy!
Take a look at the veins on your wrists and arms. In natural light, do they look more blue or do they look more green? If they look blue then you probably have a pink undertone and are therefore classed as 'cool', if they are green, you're probably more yellow therefore 'warm'. That is how your skin will be considered in makeup terms- warm or cool.
Tips and advice on shopping for a foundation.
Don't forget the bigger picture when shopping for a foundation. While it is important to match the colour of your face, you have to take a step back and look at the colour of your neck, chest and even hands. The most visible parts of your body.
Example: Some people have very pale necks but high colour on their face. In this case, it may be best to foundation match to their neck so that the foundation evens out the high colour on their face, so that they look more uniform. i.e. one colour all over.
Think of how many times throughout the day we lift our hands to our face, if we have a super tanned face and pale little hands we will look crazy. Think of the bigger picture and try and match the correct foundation accordingly.
There are advisors at beauty counters to help you with stuff like foundation matches. The only advice I can offer is take a bit of time to research before you hit the shops. It makes both yours and the advisors life easier if you can be clear on what it is you want. Look on the brands website, what factors are most important to you? Shade range? Long wearing? Matte or dewy finish? Full coverage or a BB cream? And do they sell a foundation that seems like it includes the qualities you're after? I can't tell you how many times I had customers approach me, who thought they wanted a particular product but when asked about their skin type, their wants and needs from a foundation, needed the total opposite.
Don't buy DoubleWear Maximum Cover if you love your freckles and want a fresh faced finish. Don't buy a tinted moisturiser if you want a matte, long lasting finish, etc.
I am going to be very general again, but look at the girl on the counter. Do you like how they have done their own makeup? As they are likely to follow the same rules when putting makeup on you. Do they have foundation lines, an orange face and pale neck? Then don't ask them for a foundation match. Ask the girl who's face skin matches the rest of her body. If you are super pale, try and shop with the super pale beauty advisor, because they will understand what it is like and are more likely to match you to the right colour as well as offer the best advice for complementary colours for blusher and lipstick etc if you want it.
I know this is a long post, but stuff like skin deserves a lot of attention! Shopping for something as important as a good foundation can be a baffling, confusing or stressful experience, so it helps to have as much knowledge as you can before putting yourself out there as it is an expensive mistake to keep making.
Thanks for reading,