How To Tweak The Shade Of Your Foundation

Got a tan? Mix your way to perfectly matched foundation with this simple tutorial!
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Got a tan? Mix your way to perfectly matched foundation with this simple tutorial!

After the wintery hell that was the Polar Vortex, I’ve been spending every second that I can soaking up the sunshine. And even though I’m really intense about always wearing SPF, I still end up getting a little browner than I am in the colder months. 

Left: tan top of my forearm. Right: skim milk-colored underside of my arm.

Left: tan top of my forearm. Right: skim milk-colored underside of my arm.

For me, this is maybe two shades difference at the most--not exactly a massive change for someone as pale as yours truly. But what’s a girl to do when even this minor difference means that one’s foundation no longer matches one’s skin tone? Are we doomed to repurchase everything that we love in a slightly darker shade? Must our credit cards groan under the weight of a second complete makeup set that we only use three months out of the year?

Fear not, gentle readers. I have a solution, and like all the best things, it’s SO simple.

Here’s What You Need:

Glittery hearts optional but encouraged.

Glittery hearts optional but encouraged.

- Your existing BB cream or foundation. Mine is by Smashbox and it's the best ever.

- A lightweight concealer one or two shades darker than you’d normally buy. I wear NC15 in MAC’s range of products; the concealer pictured above is an NW25.

- Something to mix on. The circular palette in the photo is the beautyblender surf.face pro, which I have NO idea how I ever lived without.

Technique: 

The idea here is to use a small amount of the concealer to make your foundation slightly darker. So you only have to buy one relatively cheap thing, rather than a whole new bottle of foundation (which is way more expensive). 

A lightweight concealer won’t mess with the consistency of your foundation or BB at all. MAC’s Select Moisturecover Concealer is the very best for this.

All you have to do is take a blob of your foundation and a smaller blob of your concealer and mix them together. Add the concealer in a little at a time and mix well until you have your desired shade.

Mixing!

Mixing!

Until a month ago, I used the back of my hand for mixing. It was fine, but there were a couple of problems: a) I was forever (accidentally) matching my custom foundation to my hands and arms rather than my face and b) I was wasting a lot of product. I am not about that mismatched face and neck look, and I’m ESPECIALLY not stoked on washing quality BB down the drain. I spend good money on that!

Too dark for my face.

Too dark for my face.

That’s where the sur.face pro has been a total godsend. The palette is transparent, so you can hold it up to your face as you mix to check the progress of your custom formula.

Tah dah!

Tah dah!

Do you need more color? Did you get a bit too enthusiastic with the concealer and need to dilute it a little? How much easier could it be to check?

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And say I accidentally make too much of my custom shade. If I’d used the back of my hand as a palette, I’d be washing all my hard work (and many dollars) down the sink. But with the sur.face, I can scrape it off with the little spatula (it’s made of silicone, so it won’t scratch) and save it in one of the individual wells. Now I can use it tomorrow!

It also comes with a film you can stick over the top and write on so that you remember which product is in which well. Better and better!

It also comes with a film you can stick over the top and write on so that you remember which product is in which well. Better and better!

This same mixing technique applies for mixing concealer colors, although you do need to be a little more mindful of the consistencies involved. Mixing a liquid into a semi-solid concealer won’t just change the color, it’ll make the entire formula a little less heavy. Different consistencies can also separate out after mixing, which is gross.

Liquid and solid concealers in different shades. Mixing these together will give a very weird result.

Liquid and solid concealers in different shades. Mixing these together will give a very weird result.

To avoid this, mix similar formulas together: liquid with liquid, solid with solid, etc. Or, if the difference between your summer skin tone and your concealer is very minor, why not apply it UNDER your custom-mixed foundation instead? That way, any very minor color difference won’t be noticeable.

CONCEALER GENIUS.

CONCEALER GENIUS.

And finally, powder. You could, in theory, mix a bunch of loose powder shades together to get one that matches. But that would be super-messy and involve buying a lot of stuff. Skip that entirely and get your hands on a transparent powder that will match ANY skin tone instead!

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How do you handle seasonal skin tone changes? Do you have multiple foundations? Different colored powders (a few people I spoke to do this, which blew my mind)? Or do you just ignore it until the cold weather returns? 

TELL ME EVERYTHING!