Confused about which foundation shade is right for you? What exactly is medium skin tone? How about beige skin tone? And what in the world is warm ivory skin tone?
We get lots of questions about skin tones and foundation shades, so we’ve put together a comprehensive shade guide to break down what it all means.
Read on to learn more about skin tones and how to find your foundation shade.
Table of contents
- Foundation matching basics
- Foundation matcher (with photos)
- Foundation Matcher (all brands)
- Foundation and concealer shade finders
Foundation matching basics
Why is it important to know your skin tone?
Knowing your skin tone is crucial if you want your foundation/concealer to look undetectable on your skin.
It’s also the first step to finding your foundation matches/equivalents.
Not knowing your skin tone could result in foundations looking too pink or orange on your face, or clashing badly with your neck.
Knowing your skin tone would also make shopping for makeup online easier, especially when you cannot test the product in person (thanks Covid!).
Skin tone depth
When we describe someone as “light-skinned” or “dark-skinned”, we are really describing their skin tone depth.
Therefore, someone with “medium skin tone” would fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
Once you’ve figured out your skin tone depth, it’s time to determine your undertone.
This part is crucial because the worst foundation mismatches tend to be shades that make one appear unusually orange or pink or grey.
Broadly speaking, skin undertones fall into 4 categories:
Warm skin tones look more yellow.
Cool skin tones look more pink.
Neutral skin tones are somewhere between yellow and pink.
Olive skin tones have green and grey hues.
MAC foundation shade system explained
Here at Redmond Mom, we use the MAC foundation shade system to classify brands and shade matches/equivalents because it’s more precise.
NC: has yellow, neutral and olive undertones
NW: has pink and neutral undertones
C: has yellow and olive undertones
For example, someone who is NC40 has medium skin with yellow, neutral or olive undertones.
While someone who is NW20 will have light skin with pink and/or neutral undertones.
Now that we’ve gone over skin tone depth and undertones, it’s time to view these skin tones visually.
We’ll begin with some of the most common skin tone questions.
Frequently asked questions about skin tone
Question: What does “warm ivory” skin tone look like?
Answer: Someone with “warm ivory” skin tone has light skin with warm (yellow or olive) undertones, ranging between MAC NC15 to NC20.
Question: What does “warm beige” skin tone look like?
Answer: Someone with “warm beige” skin tone has light to medium skin, and warm undertones, ranging from NC25 to NC35.
Question: What does “warm medium” skin tone look like?
Answer: Someone with “warm medium” skin tone has medium skin with warm undertones, ranging from MAC NC37 to NC42.
Foundation matcher (with photos)
Skin tone type 1: light skin tones
Light skin tones range from very light to light skin color. It’s usually described as “porcelain”, “fair” and “ivory” and “cream”.
Examples of light skin shades are MAC NC5, NW13, NC20 and NW20.
Skin tone type 2: light to medium skin tones
Light to medium skin tones fall somewhere between light and medium shades. Light-skinned people may also find themselves in this shade range as they get more sun in summer. It’s usually described as “beige skin color”, “light beige”, “rose beige”, “buff” and “nude”.
Examples of light to medium skin shades are MAC NC25, NW25, NC30, NC35.
|Light to Medium Warm |
|Light to Medium Cool |
|NC25 Foundation Matches/Equivalents||NW25 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
|NC30 Foundation Matches/Equivalents||NW25 to NW30 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
|NC35 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
Skin tone type 3: medium skin tones
Medium skin tones are some of the most common skin tones and are usually described as “tanned” or “caramel”.
Some examples of medium shades are MAC NW30, NC37, NC40 and NC42.
|Medium Warm |
|Medium Cool |
|NC37 Foundation Matches/Equivalents||NW25 to NW30 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
|NC40 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
|NC42 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
Skin tone type 4: medium dark skin tones
Medium dark skin tones fall somewhere between medium and dark shades. It’s usually described as “toffee” and “bronze”.
Some examples of medium dark shades are MAC NC44, NC45 and NW45.
|Medium Dark |
|Medium Dark |
|NC44 Foundation Matches/Equivalents||NW45 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
|NC45 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
Skin tone type 5: dark skin tones
Dark skin tones are the deepest shades and are usually described as “coffee”, “cocoa” and “deep bronze”.
Some examples of dark shades are MAC NW47, NC50, NW50 and NW60.
|Dark Warm |
|Dark Cool |
|NC50 Foundation Matches/Equivalents||NW47 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
|NW50 Foundation Matches/Equivalents|
Foundation Matcher (all brands)
Once you’ve figured out your skin tone depth and undertone, check out our extensive Foundation Matcher to find foundation and concealer shades that match your skin tone.
Foundation and concealer shade finders
If you are looking for your shade in a specific foundation or concealer, use our Shade Finders to find your perfect match.
Top rated foundation and concealer reviews
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Blush shade finders
Image credits: https://www.maccosmetics.com, www.amazon.com