Foundation Undertones Uncovered


If natural light is split into 7 colours (think of the rainbow) then why should we limit ourselves to think that the spectrum in choosing foundation colours consists of the following three, light medium or dark shades only?

There is more to the naked eye when we talk about natural light which has a spectrum broken into the colours of the rainbow. These colours have a profound impact on the whole universe of makeup artistry. Skin tone is a fundamental factor in how your foundation will finish post application.

 Your Skin tone comprises of two layers

  1. Surface tone – the colours you can visibly see on the surface i.e. light, medium, dark skin.
  2. Undertone – this is where the colour rests underneath the skin.

colour wheel

Colours from ‘Y’ yellow to ‘RV’ red-violet are considered as WARM colours i.e. golden, yellow, reds and pinks. Opposite colours are classed as COLD colours i.e. your blues, purple and greens.

Looking at the diagram below you can easily identify the skin surface tones light, medium & dark but when it comes to undertones for instance, the two faces in the bottom right hand side are both dark skinned women but with completely different undertones.

1undertonesThe lady labelled EARTH 4-5 has a RED UNDERTONE whereas lady EARTH 6-7 has a BLUE undertone. An example of a light skinned WARM undertone lady would be SAND 4-5 whereas a dark skinned WARM undertone would be EARTH 2-3.

Once you are able to undercover your undertone it then makes the perfect foundation fit process a step easier this is much better than guessing off the swatch of foundation on the back of your hand. This is a common mistake made by women of colour and can at times be disastrous as black skin stones tends to be darker across the forehead and lighter around the middle part of the face. You also have to take into consideration that if you are prone to oily skin, this can turn your foundation darker.


An amazing must-have corrective powder for oily skins is the Ben Nye powder in ‘Banana’ for medium to darker complexions. This is great for adding warmth to the skin and for oil control and highlighting. This is not usually stocked in UK department stores you will find this on Ebay and Amazon prices do vary between £15.99 and upwards.

How do I choose the correct texture of foundation for my skin? I hear you chant. Since we are on the subject of oily skin I will recommend that a woman with oily skin should firstly indulge in a lightweight facial moisturiser. Skincare is so vital in achieving the ideal makeup look which is fresh flawless and youthful.

For oily skin, try:





For dry skin, try:



For normal or combination skin, try:

Consider using Bobbi Brown Skin foundation £30 available in 15 shades OR Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touché Eclat foundation £29.

Words: Mary Oyewudira