How To Find Your Perfect Complexion Match When Shopping Online


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Shopping for makeup online is arguably one of the best ways to spend your time. The entire world is literally at your fingertips, and you can have just about anything your beauty-loving heart desires shipped right to your doorstep. There’s one drawback, though: finding the perfect complexion match.

Unless you’ve tested the product in person or are re-buying an old fave, making sure the foundation, concealer, skin tint, and alphabet cream (and beyond) matches your skin tone is a bit tricky. While the struggle is real, there are some tips and tricks you can whip out that’ll ensure you don’t have any returns on your hand.

1. Determine Your Preferred Coverage Level

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Finding the perfect shade of foundation or concealer is one factor, but you also want to feel comfortable while wearing the product. “I recommend clients understand what level of coverage they want first. Either full coverage that is a bit heavier, or if they prefer to see their skin through the product I recommend a tinted moisturizer,” notes Brittany Lo, a professional makeup artist and founder of Beia Beauty. “After determining that, they can look into different products with that coverage level to find the perfect shade.”

2. Consider Your Skin Type & Finish Preference

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Along with your preferred coverage level, it’s important to know what your skin type is and purchase products that’ll do what you need. For example, if you have oily skin and want to zap excess oil throughout the day, a matte formula is your best bet. If you have acne-prone skin, a medicated option (like something with salicylic acid) may be helpful to conceal and treat at the same time. Those with normal or dry skin should stick to hydrating formulas.

3. Figure Out Your Complexion Undertones

You probably have a pretty good idea of where you fall on the fair to rich spectrum in terms of your complexion, but make sure you also understand your complexion undertones. “Understanding your undertones is imperative to finding products that will match your complexion,” says celebrity makeup artist Bryan Cantor. “For example, if you know you have pink undertones you can automatically eliminate any shades with descriptions like golden, yellow, orange or peach.”

Lo agrees. She offered a few pro tips for determining which undertone you have:

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Look at Your Wrists: “Greenish veins mean warm undertone and blue/purple mean more of a cooler undertone,” she says. “If there is a mix of green and blue/purple that indicates a neutral undertone.”

White Cloth Test: Standing in natural light, hold a white cloth to your face. If your skin appears rosy next to the white, you’re cool-toned. If it looks more goldeny, then your undertone is warm.

Need more help? Read through our ultimate huda beauty complexion shade matching guide.

4. Read the Reviews

You know how many clothing reviews will help you make an informed decision about whether a garment is true to size or which body types it might flatter most? You can learn details about makeup products by reading reviews, too. And obvi, reviews can give you some insight on overall quality.

“Read as many reviews as possible to find out how a product performs before you make any purchases,” Cantor insists. “Also read reviews to determine if anyone had adverse reactions to the product in question that may apply to your skin type.”

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Also make sure to look at the product’s swatches, which is usually included in the online listing. You may be able to find independent reviewers who’ve provided on-arm swatches, as well. Long story short: Read the reviews like there’s a big test.

5. Utilize the Brand’s Quiz/Try-On Features

We’re living in the digital age, babe, so take advantage of it. Lots of brands offer quick quizzes that’ll help you determine which shades are the best match for your skin tone. At the very least, they’ll help you narrow down your selection so you can make a more informed decision. Some brands even provide digital try-on features. If you do use the latter, make sure you’re “trying the product on” in natural light so you can get a nice match.

6. Choose the Lighter Concealer

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If you’re debating between a few shades of concealer, always choose the one that leans a bit lighter. If you choose a concealer a shade deeper than your skin tone, it just won’t work, but if it’s the same or one or two shades lighter, it’s perfect for concealing darker areas (like under your eyes) and can even double as a highlighter.

7. Make Sure Returns are Easy

A flexible return policy is a must just in case you do purchase a product that isn’t quite a fit for your complexion. To stay competitive, many retailers offer simple returns even if the product has been opened, including Ulta and Sephora.

“You never know what your skin may react to, how a product will feel throughout the day after applying, and how it will last throughout the day, too,” notes Lo. She makes a good point by adding, “These are all important factors that you cannot determine too easily even by trying a small sample at a store.”

Shopping for foundations online? These new era full-coverage foundations are changing the game!