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You've probably been there, standing in the drugstore facing a wall of foundations and hundreds of skin-toned shades. Start reading and you see words such as: light, medium, warm, cool, pink-tones, ruddy, olive -- it's enough to make a girl give up the search entirely before she even gets started. Well, thank your lucky stars, cosmetics giant L'Oreal Paris finally realized what mere mortals were struggling with. L'Oreal chemists and makeup artists came up with a goof-proof way for even the most makeup-challenged miss to find her perfect shade of foundation.
Enlist a Professsional
L'Oreal Paris' go-to makeup artist, Collier Strong, is best known for showing up on the fashion-fanatic show, "Project Runway." Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can follow along with Strong as he teaches you the step-by-step way to pick your perfect foundation. L'Oreal's True Match system breaks down skin tones into warm, neutral and cool categories. Don't panic! You don't have to know your category to figure it out. You can visit L'Oreal's website or head to the drugstore and slide your wrist under their ingenious transparent shade-finder. The number that disappears is your shade.
Experiment With Lighting
Once you've chosen a shade, always examine it in several types of lighting. The shade that looks gorgeous under the fluorescents of the department store may be truly unflattering in bright sunlight or muddy in the ambient light of your home or favorite restaurant. Apply a bit of foundation at the jawline and walk to a window or into a bathroom to see how the shade changes with different lighting.
Return with Confidence
If the store your're purchasing from doesn't offer testers, know that you can nearly always return a color cosmetic product with a receipt. Most big-chain drugstores such as CVS, Rite-Aid or Walgreens and big-box stores such as Target and Wal-Mart will give you a refund or store credit for an exchange if you end up with a color that you don't love.
Change with the Seasons
Once you've done all the detective work and discovered your perfect L'Oreal foundation shade, you might heave a sigh of relief and be tempted to buy a case of the stuff. Before you do, just remember that most girls need to change their foundation shade in winter and summer. Unless you never get any sun exposure, your winter complexion will be at least one shade lighter with a cooler undertone. When summer arrives, you can choose a warmer tone and a darker shade to keep your match truly perfect.