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How to choose the perfect foundation shade for Indian skin tones

How to choose the perfect foundation shade for Indian skin tones

Aparna Pandey
Aparna Pandey

Indian skin types are perhaps one of the most varied skin types in the world, with a wide range of skin tones. And this varied nature of Indian skin tone makes choosing the right foundation shade, a really important step while applying makeup; a difficult task.

Have you ever encountered issues like these after the makeup is done?

Why is the makeup looking like a whitewash?

Why does the color of the face and neck look so different from each other?

Why is this makeup giving such a dark look?

Why is the makeup looking so dull?

The reason for all these issues may be just one - choosing the wrong foundation.

With the variety that exists in Indian skin tones, there is no one size fits all approach that works for choosing the right foundation. Understanding one's skin type, skin tone, and undertone, and then deciding on the foundation shade is important. If you find choosing the right foundation shade daunting, then this article is for you. I will share some very useful tips that will help you choose the perfect foundation for an Indian skin type.

Getting the basics right - Skin tone, Undertone, and Skin Types


There’s more to the skin color than what meets the eye. While people consider skin tone while choosing a foundation, they often miss considering the undertone. Before we get into why understanding the undertone is important, let’s understand the difference between both these things.

Skin tone Vs Undertone - what’s the difference?

Skin tone is the natural skin color that you see on the surface, and that’s why most of the time the foundation is matched to the color of the skin tone. Undertone is the color of the skin that comes from its underneath. While there are many kinds of skin tones, undertones can be divided into three categories - cool, neutral, and warm. Some people also categorise undertones as - yellow, pinkish, and olive//green undertones.

Cool undertone - if your skin looks pinkish or reddish, or you turn red in sun then the undertone might be a cool one.

Warm undertone - if your skin has a yellowish, golden, or olive look, then the undertone might be warm. Skin with a warm undertone often tans easily.

Neutral undertone - as the name suggests, this is an undertone that lies somewhere between cool and warm undertones.

Most of the time the Indian skin has warm undertones, but not every time. So, instead of generalising, it is critical that we check what the undertone is and then choose a foundation accordingly.

As for skin tones, the categorisation is pretty simple - dark, medium, fair, and light.

Another critical factor to consider while choosing the right foundation will be the skin types. Skin types can be - oily, dry, normal, and combination. The choice between liquid or powder-based foundation largely depends on the skin type.

5 steps to choosing the perfect foundation for Indian skin tones

Now that we have understood what skin tone, undertone, and skin types are, let’s take a look at 5 easy steps to choosing the right foundation.

  1. Determine the undertone

The wrist test - If the colour of the veins is purple or blue, then the undertone is considered to be cool. If they are green or olive then the undertone is warm and if it is difficult to determine a colour easily then the undertone is neutral.

The skin test - If under the sun, the skin gets burnt or reddish easily, then the undertone is cool, and if you get tanned easily then the undertone is warm.

The white paper test - Before starting the makeup, hold a white paper in front of the face. If the skin appears to be yellow, the undertone is warm, if it appears rosy blush then the undertone is cool. If it is none of the two or difficult to figure then the undertone is neutral.

2. Determine the right skin tone

Determining the skin tone is fairly simpler than the undertone. Wash your face with water, and after 15 mins look at your face in natural light. You will instantly understand if the skin tone is - dark, medium, or light. Also, the right foundation will seamlessly blend with the colour of the skin.

3. Consider the skin type

Skin type plays a critical role in determining the type of foundation. E.g. in the case of oily skin matte-based foundation work, for dry skin type liquid or hydrating formulas work. For some people, the skin type changes basis the weather, so understanding the skin type is critical whenever you are doing the makeup.

4. The swatch test

The most common way people use to do the swatch test is applying it on the wrist, but this isn’t the correct way. Simply because the colour of the wrist is very different from the face. So even if the shade looks fine on the wrist it might not go well, when you apply it to the face. Another issue with doing a wrist swatch test is, it will not get the neck colour right. Manier times the colour of the foundation looks completely different on the neck and the face. The best way would be to do a swatch test on the cheek, neck, and jawline. The foundation that goes well with all three areas should be your best bet.

5. Understanding the coverage requirement

Not every makeup look requires a full coverage foundation. E.g. If the look requires just evening out the skin tone then a sheer or light coverage foundation will work best. Similarly to cover all spots, blemishes, hyperpigmentation, etc. full coverage foundations work best.

Wrapping up

Choosing the right skin tone might seem like a simple thing to do, but it’s really not. Neither it is simple, nor something to be taken casually. All the efforts put into creating an amazing look can spoil if the foundation isn’t right. This becomes even more complex when it comes to Indian skin tones, given the variety of the skin tones that are there. I hope this article will help you find the perfect foundation shade for Indian skin tones.

If you want to understand more about the art and science of makeup artistry, join Vah Vah’s professional MUA course, and learn from the best makeup artists, hairstylists, and nail artists in the industry. To know more book 1-1 consulting today.