Love, Shelbey: How to Choose Your Bare Minerals Foundation Shade

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Choose Your Bare Minerals Foundation Shade

TGIF! I've been struggling with "bloggers block" this week unfortunately. It appears that all of the "end of the semester" fast food mania and late night web design sessions have gotten to me. I seriously went to bed no later than 10:30 every night this week! Which, for me is a miracle! The norm is around 12am-2am due to pre-planning posts for the blog and responding to YouTube comments.

Anyways, I knew there was a post I've been requested to do numerous times but haven't gotten around to it. So many of my viewers on YouTube and readers on the blog have requested that I do a "how to choose your foundation shade" in Bare Minerals. I think this is a great idea for the women who don't live near a retailer!

I hope you enjoy this and find it beneficial in some way. Please keep in mind that I have been working at a Bare Escentuals store for nearly 3 years now and some of the advice given is from personal experience with myself and customers :) I also don't know every single shade in Bare Minerals Foundations but I will list the majority of colors with descriptions! Enjoy!

Determining Your Undertone & Shade Family
3 Undertones:
  • Warm (Yellow/Golden)
  • Cool (Pink)
  • Neutral (In Between Golden and Pink - "beige" - like undertone)
Most women find it easy to figure out which undertone they need. However, many don't understand the concept of neutral, warm, and cool undertones.

The best way I can help you decide which undertone would suit you best would be to first start out with the "Cool" undertone. If you have more pinker undertones, go with a cool foundation. On the other hand, if you have actual REDNESS in your skin, stray from the cool undertone. The pink hues will only enhance the red. You'll want to go with a neutral or warm foundation.

The easiest undertone to figure out, in my opinion, is the warm undertone. Women with a warmer complexion tend to have more of a golden finish to their skin. 

If you have a neutral undertone you've lucked out, you can pretty much get away with any of the undertones. Neutral skin tones tend to be more on the olive or beige side. If you can't really detect any pink or warmth to the  skin, you're probably a neutral. Neutral foundations also work fabulously to counteract redness, I've found that a lot of women who suffer from rosacea tend to look best in a neutral shade.

What's Your Color Family?
Fair-Fairly Light Complexions: For the fairest of all complexions most women will go for either "Fair C10", "Golden Fair W10", or "Fairly Light N10". As you can probably already tell, each of these colors has a different undertone. This is where determining your undertone comes into play. If you feel that you may be in the same color range as me, I do wear "Fairly Light N10", which is the most popular shade in the lighter color family.

Light-Fairly Medium Complexions: Moving past the Fairly Light stage, we move into the "Light W15" shade along with "Fairly Medium C20". These are both very versatile shades. "Light W15" will work a lot of times on women who are in the Medium skin tone range. Because it naturally has that warmth, it generally appears darker than what you would expect a "light" foundation to look like. Because of this, I generally recommend this shade to women who are right on the brink of the Medium color family but not quite that dark yet. 

"Fairly Medium C20" is probably one of the least popular shades (for the store I work at anyways). Like "Light", Fairly Medium isn't yet into the Medium family range. As a matter of fact, I personally think it is very similar to "Fairly Light" only with a cool undertone. If you're in the lighter color family range and enjoy the cooler undertones, go for Fairly Medium! 

Medium Complexions: In the medium color family you can choose from "Medium Beige N20", "Golden Medium W20", or "Medium C25". The numbers and names can be misleading with all three of these foundations so listen up ;) Medium and Medium BEIGE are commonly mixed up. "Medium C25" contains a pinker undertone and is considered to be "darker" than "Medium Beige N20". If you want my personal opinion, I don't believe "Medium" is darker than "Medium Beige". I think the cooler undertone really hinders the darkness of the foundation, allowing the neutral undertone in  Medium Beige to come through slightly darker.

Medium Beige is by far the best selling foundation shade for BM. If you know you're in the Medium color family and aren't exactly sure which foundation to choose, I always recommend going with Medium Beige. Again, because the neutral undertone tends to match more people.

Lastly, for the warm undertones out there, "Golden Medium W20" is equivalent to Medium Beige, only possessing a yellow/golden undertone.

Tan Complexions: For the tan ladies out there, you can go for "Medium Tan C30", "Golden Tan W30", or "Tan N30. I think it's safe to say that you've probably concluded to find your undertone and go with the corresponding shade ;)

Deep/ Dark Complexions: For the deep and dark complexions, I personally think it's more about finding your shade rather than undertone. The undertones are harder to detect once the foundations get darker. In this case, you just have to find a good shade range match. Luckily, Bare Minerals has SEVERAL to choose from!

Just for old times sake, I thought I'd share a photo of when I first started wearing Bare Minerals! It has helped my skin in ways that I can't believe. I'm now more comfortable with not wearing as much makeup and even at times, skip out on it! 
I honestly can't get coverage with any other makeup brand like I can with Bare Minerals. The natural luminosity of the Original Foundations is incomparable with anything I've ever used and I highly encourage everyone to give it a shot!

I hope this post helped you in some way! Feel free to leave me questions if you're still unsure about choosing your shade.

Thanks for reading!
Until next time...


  1. Great post Shelbey and extremely helpful. Thank you so much for all your time and effort you put into all of your posts! I truly enjoy your blog and videos. Lots of love from London :) P.S we just had a brand new BM Boutique open up right where I live, yay!! xxx

    1. Enjoy the daily temptation of having a store close to you ;)

  2. You are absolutely stunning! This post was truly very helpful :) I'm a new follower and is looking forward to reading more of your posts ♥

  3. Thanks SO very much for this post. I only just yesterday found you on You Tube and came to your blog from there. I have had a Bare Minerals kit for over a year and was so frustrated with how to apply it and get it to last longer on my face. Well, your videos answered all my questions and concerns!! I stayed up way too late last night experimenting with the kit I have and I put Bare Minerals on this morning again. So far, I'm loving it! I'm so grateful I looked on You Tube and found you before I gave my kit away in my big downsizing project. Hugs!

    1. I am so glad to hear this! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and watch my videos :)

  4. I just started browsing your blog and can't believe you've written a post on the one thing I've been struggling over when it comes to BM foundations. I wore it many moons ago, but wasn't matched well, so I'm starting from scratch. I could not be more thankful for this blog post! :)

  5. Shelbey, this is so helpful. Thank you so much for your effort in helping me understand how to best use this product. I do have a question, what do you use to remove makup? Any recommendations? Thank you again!

  6. Hi, I recently bought a Bare Minerals Original Foundation from Ebay. I know that there are a lot of fakes circulating on Ebay so I just wanted to know if all BM Original Foundations have a number stamped at the bottom of the jar? I want to make sure the one I got isn't fake.

  7. Hi there,

    This is just my personal advice and theory from experience... absolutely NO high end cosmetic on eBay is real. I have bought several knock offs from eBay before learning my lesson. Also, working at a Bare Minerals store myself, a lot of customers bring in foundations they've purchased from ebay complaining that the color doesn't match or that it turns their face white. From what I can tell, the containers are identical. I think this is because they now have rubber inserts on the bottom which you can pop off and easily refill with cheap powders. One customer was unable to pop the bottom off of hers which was a dead sign that it was fake. The powder also contained shimmer particles.

    Read this article and I think you can decide whether it is real or not:

    hope this helps. My best advice is to take advantage of sales and never order from eBay or Amazon.

  8. Hello Shelbey. Great info. Thank you. I have been using c25 medium ready foundation and cannot locate this shade in the new colours by bare minerals. Would you let me know which matches as closely as possible. I have cool-pinky undertones. Thanks

  9. What do you recommend for neutral undertones when Fairly Light is too light and Medium Beige is too dark??

  10. I know this post is a year old but I just have to let you know it was so helpful! I'm looking to pick up a BM foundation but was torn on whether to get fairly light or light. I googled and this was the first answer it gave me and the perfect one! Great post Shelbey!


  11. do you always wear bare minerals? im looking for a good foundation that stays on all day and i cant decide if i watn to get bare minerals or urban decay. maybe you can give some advice

  12. Hi! I came across your channel on YouTube while I was searching for flawless BareMineral routines and quite honestly, your's was the best! I'm a legal assistant for the Public Defenders office and I'm in court almost all day so I needed a look that was natural, elegant and lasted all day. BareMinerals has been the best so far and I love your style (not too much but totally elegant)

    So...I've said all that to ask "what shade are you wearing in the picture on the bottom of your post?" lol I love it and I'm pretty sure that's my shade...sorry for the rant:)

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  14. I usually wear the medium beige but it dosnt seem dark enough now that i have a summer tan any thoughts on what would be a shade darker. I have neutral undertone. Thanks

  15. Thank you! This was so helpful!

  16. So bare minerals came out with some new colors; I was using the color Light, but I wonder is Golden Ivory darker than Light

  17. Hi, great guide, thank you. But I have a question. usualy I am a Fairly Medium (C20). I just came home from a vacation and have a tan. I went by a store that sells Bareminerals to ask for help and they said that I should use Tan (N30), but if I'm not mistaken that is in the neutral family?! Shouldn't I use something in the c-family like Medium tan (C30). What is the difference between these two?

  18. Hi, I usually use Light 2N (fairly light neutral) from Everyday minerals. I would love to try BareMinerals, but I don't know which shade is similar to this .... Can you help me, please?

  19. Hi. I've used Fairly Light for years but now I'm finding it too pale (especially in summer Wynn I don't mind showing my slight tan but still want some light coverage. What would you recommend? I'd really appreciate your advice. Thanks!