Last January, I did this blog post “I’m a Woman of Color, I Can’t Find my Right Tone.”  This post spoke about women of color (Hispanic, African American, Indian, and Asian) who have mostly yellow undertones or hues; however, some of these women do have reddish undertones.  I know it can be confusing, and a pain in the butt trying to find the right color for your skintone, and the product that works well for you, especially since you’re probably spending a lot of money on these products.  In this post, I’m going to list a few of the ways to make it easier for you to choose the right colors for your skintone.

Let’s start with what the N, C and W means that you usually see on most MAC foundations.
If you’re lucky, some cosmetics companies started to create comparison charts to make it easier for you to match.
N = Neutral – best for Beige skin
C = Cool – best for Yellow-Golden or “olive” skin
W = Warm – best for Pinkish skin
NC = Neutral Cool – Golden beige skin
NW = Neutral Warm – Pink Beige skin

What do the numbers mean?
The numbers usually mean the depth of the color.  For instance, the lowest number is for people who have paler skintones, while the highest number is for people with darker skintones. 

It seems cheaper to use drugstore brands, but at the end of the day it isn’t when you’re constantly spending money on the wrong shades! It’s always best to go to a makeup counter or store & have a professional help you.  I know you’re probably thinking, “Well, sometimes even they don’t pick the right shade for me.”  That’s why it’s good to be an educated consumer.  It won’t hurt you to speak up for yourself, and state what you do know about foundations, and what you know doesn’t already work for you. 

Make sure you test three (3) different shades within the same color range for your complexion, from lightest to darkest, and test them out next to each other on your jawline to find the best possible match.

No one has perfectly even skin.  You may find yourself using more than one color.  Most people are lighter in the center of their face & darker on the outer parts.

For reference purposes these are the colors I use in different foundations:
MAC – Studio Finish NC45/NC50-   Face & Body C7 
Graftobian HD Creme Foundation – Midnight Marigold & Diva
Make Up For Ever – #127 (center of face)  & #128 Mixed w/ 127) HD, Face & Body Caramel #18

Face Atelier Ultra Pro – #10 & 11



I hope this was helpful.  Next post will be on choosing the right concealer/corrector.
This article can also be found here

Makeup by Kim Porter

16 Comments on Choosing the right color foundation – I’m between NC45 & NC50

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I wear 4-5 different shades in MAC. It depends on what type of foundation & if I'm tanning or not. It drives me nutts. I spend a lot of money on foundation each year. I haven't tried their concealer yet..not sure what shade. I need to go up to MAC though. I am looking forward to your next post, keep them coming Kim. Thanks again!! – <3 Melissa

  2. Great Post! I want to try the Make Up 4 Ever HD foundation. I have their Pro discount but have yet to try their foundations..Do you like their foundation? I don’t like the MAC foundations either because they are way to heavy.

  3. I like the MUFE HD & the Face & body – FB is great for the summer. I have MUFE’s pro discount too. I haven’t used it yet though. Gratobian’s HD Creme is good too, and it’s affordable.

  4. thanks for breaking this down. i wear mac concealer, mac foundation (in evening; i wear mary kay during the day) and mac powder and i never knew what the letters meant.

  5. Thanks! have you ever tried Make up Forevers Concealer? Make Up Forevers HD Foundation is so light and applies great on my skin so, I want you to buy it and test it out on me.

  6. You’re welcome! Thank you for checking my blog.

    @gsno1grl I Do use the full coverage concealer. I want to try the HD concealer though.

  7. great article 🙂 I’m not really a WOC (I have light to light medium skin, NW25) but thought I comment anyway:

    It took me years to finally find the perfect foundation for me. and my undertones are pretty neutrals. Nars Sheer Glow in Fiji (light 5) and MUFE HD in 118 have been my best matches. I use MAC sff in NW25 in occasion as well.

  8. Great blog and it was refreshing for me to see that Im not the only person who does NOT like wearing MAC. I live in the south and used to wear Prescriptives until they went out of business. Now I wear a mineral makeup line for WOC called Mineral Indulgence. My shade is Cocoa (Gabrielle Union shade) and I love it. It doesnt even feel like you have makeup on. My mom wears the liquid and the powder but I just wear the powder. It lasts all day without touchups which was important for me because I dont have a way to carry a makeup bag around with the type of job I have. I needed a mineral makeup (no chemicals ) because i have sensitive skin that is easy to break out with acne. I use their concealor on the dark spots only when I am going out but for the most part, their natural finish powder foundation covers up pretty well. Most of the ladies in my book club wear it now. Their eyeshadow, lip glaze and foundation primer is really good too if anybody wants to check them out. Good dupe for MAC. Kim Im following your blog too. Am I supposed to put their website here?

  9. I find myself just like you between, NC 45 & 50. I'm looking to try Makeup Forever because of all the raves. What you have listed, does that mean you mix the #117 HD and the Face & Body Caramel #18? Currently, the HD is very very light, I'm not sure if the numbers were the same when you created this post.

    • Thank you for catching my mistake. I meant to put 127. I must have hit the number 1 more than once. I use 127 in the center of my face where it's lighter, and I mix it with 128 to use on the rest of my face.

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