If I had to choose the most difficult step in any beauty routine, I might be temped to say winged liner, or perhaps getting that second brow to match a perfect first one. However, I know that in many instances, the real obstacle is nailing the foundation. This is because the entire process is complicated from start to finish: selecting a brand, choosing the right formula for your skin type, determining a shade match, picking to apply with a brush, sponge, or fingers, and of course, ensuring your hard work lasts. Out of all of these stages, though, nailing that perfect color match is often the trickiest for so many people, which is why I sought a few tips and hacks for matching foundation from Mario Dedivanovic, makeup artist extraordinare and creator of The Master Class. Dedivanovic has built an iconic career out of educating others with all his beauty wisdom, and if there's anyone who knows how to make finding the right foundation shade a breeze, it's him.
I've never seen one of Dedivanovic's clients hit a red carpet or event without a perfectly blended foundation match. It's almost like he has a sixth sense for getting foundation justright. But according to him, his skills are the result of gathering up the best industry secrets over time in the biz. Fortunately, I got him to share the most important ones with me, and now I'm sharing them here with you, because the more well-blended, expertly matched complexions in this world, the better.
Find Your Light
Trying to find the right shade in the darkest corner of Sephora? Not gonna happen. "It’s so common for women to wear the wrong shade of foundation and then to not blend it correctly," says Dedivanovic, who has a trick for anyone wanting to ensure their color swatches are as on-point as possible. "I always suggest going near a window when testing foundation colors because store lighting can be deceiving. Shade matching is most accurate when you're in natural lighting."
Mix & Match
Say you do this and still can't find an exact perfect match? No biggie. "Another tip I share most often with my masterclass students is that your skin will never match just one foundation shade, so it is important to mix and customize," he explains.
For this, Dedivanovic really enjoys using drops to add a little bit of this and that and essentially DIY the perfect blend. That's why he's so thrilled about his latest partnership with UK beauty brand No7. "What I love about the No7 Match Made Foundation Drops ($15, Target) is that you can create your own custom color using these concentrated true skin tones to adjust your foundation shade."
There are 25 shades to choose from, ranging from light to deep, so you can use them to adjust the shade of a foundation you already love, add them to your moisturizer for a slight tint of color and coverage, or wear them on their own for a natural finish. "Once you’ve created your perfect shade," says Dedivanovic, "I suggest always blending into the neck and into the ears a little bit to make your foundation even across the whole face."
Know Your Undertones
Fair, light, medium, deep, deep dark... knowing the general range of your skin tone is not enough to know the the accompanying undertones. In other words, a cool-toned complexion looks completely different from a warm-toned one, and Dedivanovic says knowing your undertones is a major key to getting that spot-on foundation shade.
"The rule of thumb is, if your skin tone has any yellow or gold, you have warm undertones," he explains. "If you see hints of blue, pink, or red, then you have cool undertones."
OK, but what about those of use somewhere in between? "If you’re a mixture of both warm and cool or your undertone is the same color as your skin color, you would be considered a neutral," says Dedivanovic.
Some products, like the Tarte Cosmetics Face Tape Foundation ($39, Tarte Cosmetics) have undertones indicated within the shade names, which can make finding your perfect match that much easier. After the shade number, cool tones are indicated by the letter B, which stands for beige, while warm tones are indicated by H for honey, S for sand, or G for golden olive. Neutral shades are indicated with an N. For example, my warm yellow undertones make me shade 27S. Easy enough!
Find Your Favorites
Everyone is different, but of course, Dedivanovic has some favorites when it comes to all-around great foundations. And I wanted the details! "The No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum Foundation ($25, Target) is enriched with No7’s infamously hydrating Lift & Luminate Triple Action serum," says Dedivanovic. "This makes it the ideal foundation for both dry skin, but also for mature skin. Not only does it moisturize skin while providing gorgeous coverage but it also helps plump the skin and does not crease in lines and wrinkles."
Plus, it's a lot cheaper than some other high-end makeup artist faves, and I can totally snag it on my next Target run.
"Another foundation that is perfect for all skin types is the Laura Mercier Flawless Lumière Radiance Perfecting Foundation ($48, Laura Mercier)" says Dedivanovic, who is a Laura Mercier brand ambassador and regularly uses their products at his Master Class. "Because it is made with vitamin C, this foundation allows skin to look brighter in any light." BRB, buying both these recs ASAP.
If you follow all these tips closely, you should end up with a Mario-approved foundation shade:
Same here, Kim. Same here.