Foundation: Are you cool, warm or neutral?

Foundation: Are you cool, warm or neutral?

I can’t take any credit for this tip, it comes from beauty columnist Laura Bermingham. Follow her on Instagram here.

It’s overwhelming to be faced with so many shade choices when buying foundation. I’ve made some expensive mistakes in the past and only recently discovered I should be looking for ‘cool’ toned foundation. 

This is Laura’s advice:

To find out if your skin base tone is cool, warm or neutral.

  • Turn your wrist over and look at the veins.
  • If they are mostly blue or purple, you have cool undertones.
  • If they are more a greenish-yellow, you have warm undertones.
  • If you are confused because they are a mix of blue, green, yellow and purple, you have neutral base tones – a mix of the two.

Foundation labelled as ‘Ivory’ or ‘Porcelain’ tend to have pink ie cool, based tones.

‘Beige’ and ‘Sand’ foundation shades have warm tones.

How simple is that? Get your foundation shade wrong – even celebrities and their make up artists aren’t immune to this error, and it can look like you’re wearing a mask. Sadly, I have first hand knowledge of this.

Languishing in my ‘expensive make up mistakes’ cupboard are a couple of Bobbi Brown Foundation sticks, bought before I knew of BB’s ‘return wrong shade’ policy. One is Sand and the other is Warm Sand… No wonder they both looked awful, but these solid foundation sticks are really fabulous especially for mature skin.

I even prepped a blog post to rave about them. Long-lasting, non creasing or cakey, great for touch ups, moisturising and best of all, incredibly convenient. I just might have to bite the bullet now I’m armed with this skin tone info and buy another shade in the cool toned bracket.

They cost £32.00 for 9 grams. But now when you order one, you can get a booklet (for free) that includes 6 shade samples in your skin tone range. If you’ve bought the wrong full size shade, you can send it back and get the best matching one instead.

Brands are definitely missing a trick here. If they charged a nominal amount for a decent array of samples – and I include Charlotte Tilbury and her lipstick cards in this, then sales would sky-rocket. By the way, you can get nearly three lipstick applications if you use a lip brush on the cards instead of pressing them straight onto your lips.

Bobbi Brown Foundation Sticks



All this skin base tone talk makes me think of bronzers, I’ve done a bit of research (ie I Googled it) and the advice seems to be :

Cool toned skin

  • Peachy/Rose Gold bronzer

Warm toned skin

  • Golden/Honey bronzer

Neutral toned skin

  • Something between the two – helpful!

Also, warm skin tones should wear gold jewellery.

Cool tones look better with silver jewellery. I’ve never worn silver jewellery, but I tested this theory out, tried on a silver necklace and it lit up my face. Who knew?

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