How to Make a Foundation Work When it Doesn’t: Part 1- it’s the wrong shade

Hi everyone, apologies for the wordy title I couldn’t think of a way to paraphrase. From my blog so far you may have realised I like foundation…a lot, but in my quest for the perfect foundation for every occasion I’ve found a lot of duds on the way. The returns policy in the UK is pretty lame so if it turns out that I don’t like a foundation I’m still stuck with it forever. So I’ve had to find ways to make the foundation work – I can’t make them perfect HG material but at least I can make them wearable. I do hate to waste them. So I thought I’d share a few tips that might help you salvage a lousy foundation.


The foundation looked fine in the shop but now you’ve realised it’s too dark: you have a ‘tide mark’ around your jaw and your face doesn’t match the rest of your body. What can you do?

The Quick Fix: blend blend blend! A lot of foundations pride themselves on being long-wearing, so sometimes blending them in can be difficult. Try using a wet sponge to blur the edges of the foundation and dab it downwards so it eventually blends into your neck naturally. It won’t look completely fool-proof because your face still won’t match your chest/neck, but you may just look like you’ve caught a bit of sun. Remember: check the areas around your hairline: while you don’t want to put foundation in your hair, it’s very important to make sure everything is blended around the hairline so the colour looks vaguely natural.

from fail blog

The Long-term Solution: invest in a white foundation. These can be mixed together with the foundation that’s too dark to make one that’s exactly your shade. It takes a little trial and error to get the ratios right but it makes the foundation usable.

What are some white foundations?

★ Manic Panic Dreamtone Flawless Foundation & Color Corrector in White – this is one of the cheaper white foundations I’ve found. It comes with a spatula that’s good for mixing the foundations together. Some people say it settles into pores when used on its own so be sure to use as little as possible when mixing – you just want the colour of your foundation changed, not its finish. In addition, its ingredients can be comedogenic so buy with caution.

★ MAC Face & Body in White – this foundation is available as part of MAC’s pro line but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a pro to get it. Anyone can buy from pro stores, and if you don’t have one near by you can call MAC pro and order it by phone. While Face & Body is pricier than Manic Panic the bottle is huge and should last forever! Remember to shake the bottle before you use it: many report that the foundation can separate in the bottle. An advantage to this foundation is that you can try a sample of one of the other shades of Face & Body to see if it breaks you out before you fork out the money for the Pro shade.

★ Face Atelier Ultra Foundation in Zero Minus – this foundation is specifically meant to lighten foundation colours. It’s pricier than the others but the foundation formula itself has got rave reviews: people say it smoothes skin texture, is long-lasting and doesn’t feel heavy. Because of that, I would say this foundation is better if you think you need a LOT of white to lighten your foundation: the product is so nice that having a higher dose of lightener in your foundation isn’t such a tragedy.


It looked fine when you applied it but now you’ve stepped into natural light and caught your face in a mirror – the geisha look was not what you were going for.

The Quick Fix: The blending mentioned above could apply here too but in my opinion it’s harder to get away with when it’s this way round. Some advise using a lot of bronzer to counteract the paleness of a foundation but that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen: many bronzers have shimmer in them and can end up making your face look like a disco ball if you cover yourself with them. Also there are so many bronzers with orange tones and that’s fine for just a little dusting on your cheeks but when used on your entire face it can give you the oompa loompa look. I’d say a safer option is using a darker face powder on top of the foundation instead.

Ok well this oompa loompa is quite cool

The Long-term Solution: For a foundation that’s too light, I would advise using it in conjunction with other foundations (I assume everyone has a bunch…because it makes me feel better about all mine!). In fact, many makeup artists favour using two different foundation shades on their clients’ faces because the face is not just one uniform colour. Apply the lighter foundation in the middle of your face, starting on the bridge of the nose. Blend outwards and bring the lighter foundation along the top of your cheekbones (but not directly under your eyes – reverse panda eyes are not good) to make a natural highlight.

Here’s the effect seen on Hayden Panettiere and Halle Berry: the bridges of their noses look lighter as do their chins. Hayden’s forehead is also a little lighter in the centre. I’m not saying these are pictures of them wearing two foundations – I have no idea what they’re wearing here – but this highlight effect is what you’re after.

[N.B.  If your foundation is too dark you can try to achieve the reverse effect: using the darker foundation to contour around the hollows of the cheeks and sides of the nose. But in my opinion this is risky: when contouring your cheekbones you should blend the darker colour upwards to get the right effect. So, if you’re using a darker foundation to contour and you’re not a total master of contouring, your application can just look like a ‘tide mark’ again, and we’re back to square one. Many people do use a darker foundation to contour with great results, but with my rubbish contouring skills I’ll be steering away from that idea.]

You can also mix the light foundation with a darker one to create the right shade.

★ Face Atelier Ultra Foundation in Zero Plus – This mixes with your foundation to darken it. Like I said about Zero Minus the formula is pretty good so it’s not such a big deal if you use more of this Zero Plus than the original foundation.

I hope that helped, look out for part 2  to find out what to do when your foundation is too heavy!

What do you guys do when you’ve bought a mismatched foundation?

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