Buying foundation makeup online? Read these tips first to find your perfect shade.

As a busy mom, I buy pretty much everything online, and that includes foundation makeup. Sure, shopping for foundation online is fraught with disappointment, but with a few clever tricks, you can save yourself plenty of time and money. Here’s how:

1.Start with your old foundation

If you already have a foundation shade that is a perfect match for your skin, then you are halfway there! Use a foundation database to match your old shade to similar shades from different brands. Check out our highly popular foundation shade database here to find your corresponding shades.

2. Know your undertone

Are you cool or warm toned? If you have more pink tones in your skin, then you are cool-toned. If you have more yellow tones, then you are warm-toned. If you are neither, then you are neutral-toned.

Figuring out your skin tone will help narrow down your foundation shade choices. If you have no idea what your undertone is, here’s a good place to start.

3. Ignore the tiny shade swatch, use image search instead

Those tiny photos of foundation shades provided by online shopping websites are completely useless. It looks different on every computer screen and device, and tells you nothing useful about how the foundation actually looks like in person. Instead, do an image search for the foundation shade.

For e.g. if you want to know how L’Oréal True Match foundation in shade W2 actually looks like, go to Google and search for “l’oreal true match w2 swatch”. Click on image search and you’ll see swatches of the foundation shade on actual human faces and arms. This will give you a more accurate idea of how the shade looks.

4. Use reviews to determine the coverage and formulation, but beware of fake reviews

Online reviews are a useful resource, but you’ll have to watch out for fake and paid reviews. I tend to avoid reviews that are full of raving praise and lack useful information.

Look for reviews that tell you about the kind of coverage the foundation provides (light or full coverage), how well it wears on oily skin throughout the day, and whether the formula accentuates dry skin and wrinkles.

Other things to consider are added fragrance (especially if you have a sensitive nose), built in sun protection, and ingredients that may cause breakouts and allergic reactions.

5. Buy from websites that offer solid return policies

Take it from someone who’s been buying makeup online for years: don’t buy from a site that doesn’t offer a free return shipping policy. That’s because despite the best research, there’s a real chance that you could end up with a foundation that’s completely wrong for you.

Even if the shade is perfect, you may still have problems with the product formulation and experience skin sensitivity issues. So cover your bases and buy from websites that offer a solid return policy. Some of my favorite online merchants are Amazon, Sephora, Nordstrom and MAC Cosmetics.

Before you start shopping, check out the foundation shade database to find the shades that are right for you!

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