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beauty lessons:

Foundation
for fair
complexions

The Violet Files presents our foolproof guide to finding foundation for skin tones on the fair side of the spectrum.
Written By Jayme Cyk

The key to a glowing, even complexion? Pinpointing the foundation that flatters your face. A unique challenge facing the fair-complected among us is skin’s tendency to look weighted down if our makeup is even the slightest bit off or if we apply just a touch too much of it. 

For advice on avoiding such pitfalls in favor of looking luminous, we turned to the experts. Chanel celebrity makeup artist Rachel Goodwin, who tends to the porcelain visage of Emma Stone, and Georgie Eisdell, a favorite of fair British beauty Sophie Turner, explain that the secret to finding the appropriate shade is understanding your undertone. Below, Goodwin and Eisdell explain how to find yours—and in turn, compile a flawless foundation arsenal.

SOPHIE TURNER (LEFT) / PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRAZER HARRISON / GETTY IMAGES
EMMA STONE (RIGHT) / PHOTOGRAPHY BY JON KOPALOFFF / FILM MAGIC

Undertone refers to the color that lies beneath the skin (essentially it’s the color of your veins). When you select foundation with your undertone in mind, the makeup will emulate your skin versus acting as a secondary layer. (When improperly matched, makeup may appear too orange or too copper, too pink or too rosy.) And while your complexion can change in response to environmental elements (a rigorous boot camp session, an afternoon at the beach), the undertone never does.

“I typically suggest looking at the underside of the wrist to find your undertone,” says Goodwin. “It’s the best place to test for foundation because you can get a perfect representation of the original skin tone that hasn’t been affected by the sun. I am always careful to make sure the foundation has a nice balance of warm and cool tones because too much yellow on a fair-skinned girl can look sallow, and too much pink can appear rosy.”  

When testing face makeup, Eisdell recommends applying it on your nose to help find your shade. “So many people put foundation on their jawline to find the perfect match, and that’s totally fine, but you should put it on your nose,” she notes. “Because it’s in the center of your face, you’ll get the best sense of whether it disappears when blended out—if it does, that’s the right one.”

COOL UNDERTONE
If the base tone of your skin is pink, red, or blue and the veins on the inside of your wrist appear blue...You have cool undertones.

NEUTRAL UNDERTONE
If you have a mix of cool and warm undertones and it’s difficult to tell whether the veins on your inner wrist are blue or green...You have neutral undertones.  

WARM UNDERTONE
If the base tone of your skin is yellow or gold and the veins on the inside of your wrist look green...You have warm undertones.

What next? Read on for our fair skin-friendly foundation picks for every undertone. 

Eisdell recommends stocking your vanity with different shades for different seasons, as most of us tend to be one or two shades darker in the summer. “The only change I would make in the summer is to make sure you have more of a matte formula containing sunscreen, like Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet Sunscreen Makeup SPF 15, which offers better protection from the sun,” says Goodwin. 

for fair  
skintones

A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE FORMULAS

1

/

5

This neutral-toned fair shade wears like a sheer tinted moisturizer, but builds like foundation.

2

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5

The perfect pale shade with a subtle yellow base, which is ideal for canceling out redness. 

3

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5

Heralded for its very pale hue consisting of cool to neutral undertones. 

4

/

5

Your ideal foundation when the lightest shade isn’t light enough. 

5

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5

Known for its post-facial–like glow and healthy finish, this foundation befits cool undertones. 

meet
RACHEL GOODWIN

The makeup artist on her beauty essentials, her love of ice cream, and working with Hollywood icons.