Best foundations for warm and cool skin tones

What foundations should we be looking for as women of colour? International make-up artist and founder of Wow Beauty, Denise Rabor points you in right direction

Celebrity skin tones…

What is skin undertone?

Undertone is the colour that sits beneath the skin and determines the skin’s overall tone.

What are the main undertones for black skin?

Cool, warm or neutral are the general undertones for all skin types. Yellow (warm) and red (cool) are the two main undertones in dark and black skin. How should you test your undertone? The best time to do this is in daylight as it provides pure, true light. The simplest way is to look at the skin on the inside part of your arm because that’s one of the few places that doesn’t benefit from sunlight. If you prefer, in daylight look in a mirror, get someone to take a photo of you from the front and the side, or of course you can do a couple of selfies. Tip: do this with just a bra or camisole on so that you will be able to see the difference between your face, your neck and your chest.

Why is it important for women of colour to be aware of their undertone?

We’ve all seen evidence of when a woman’s foundation has not taken account of her undertones: it can look ashy, or it can just look plain wrong. Foundation is not designed to look like a mask, when you’re wearing the best foundation for you and it’s applied well, it should enhance your skin, making it look flawless.

When matching foundation, what’s the best place to test the shade on your skin?

I always say that its worth testing a potential foundation on more than one part of the body; try it on your neck and on your face, especially if there is a big difference in colour between your upper chest and your face. Also, always try to do a foundation test in daylight, and again, take a picture so that you can really see what it’s doing. Foundation can be an investment and an ally so I always advise women to take a few little sample pots with them when make-up shopping so that you can really try a product out at home, in your own time, under different lighting conditions before you commit.

Warm undertones are generally more common than cool tones and most modern foundations are balanced to provide neutral coverage that compliments most skin tones. Very dark skins should avoid using overly yellow foundations and opt for a more neutral option.
Can you mix foundation to get the best shade?

The simple answer is yes you can, but you have to know what you are mixing. Make sure that you mix from the same range, mix gradually and keep testing the mix to ensure it’s balanced. It’s worth noting that many modern formulas are serum based or contain ingredients that help them to adapt to your skin tone, and this works really well when you’ve chosen the correct undertone.

Black women often have areas of hyperpigmentation around their mouth, eyes etc. Should you use a lighter foundation around these areas?

Generally, using a foundation a shade lighter can help with areas of hyperpigmentation. If you go for a medium to full coverage formula this will give you the ability to control how you apply it. You’ll be able to build it up with more cover in the pigmented areas while having less coverage on the rest of your face. The other option is to use a good concealer to cover hyperpigmented areas and this should be lighter than the skin.

Should you go for a lighter foundation if your face is darker than the rest of your body?

Black women, as well as other women often have differing skin tones on their face and décolletage. The idea is to try and find a shade that can help to unify these contrasting tones.

When you tan in the summer, does your undertone stay the same?

Yes, it does, nothing can change the skin’s undertone, although sometimes women get confused because when our skin darkens in the sun it’s not always easy to see the undertone.

✖It simply won’t look right. It can look like a mask or like you’re wearing someone else’s make-up.
✖ Don’t forget to think about your skin type and the finish that you’d like. Having oily skin and using a cream foundation is never going to look great.
✖ As with sunblocks, stay away from any foundation that contains zinc oxide as it can make black skin look ashy and grey.

Foundations to try…




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