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How to Make Foundation Darker or Lighter

The Perfect Shade for Your Unique Skin Tone

Imagine this: you're standing in the makeup aisle, squinting intensely at the dozens of foundation shades, all lined up. You hold them up to your wrist, one by one — maybe even open a few, just to get a better look. Then when you think you've finally found the perfect shade to match your skin tone, what happens? You bring it home only to find that you were horribly wrong.

 

Sound familiar? It happens to the best of us, but picking out the wrong shade doesn't have to mean a trip back to the store. There are actually plenty of easy ways to make your foundation darker or lighter.

Liquid Foundation with Shade Adjuster Color DropsLiquid Foundation with Shade Adjuster Color Drops

How to Make Foundation Darker

Maybe you purchased the wrong shade at the drugstore, or maybe you've got a glowing summer tan that doesn't work with your winter foundation. Here are some great tips for how to darken foundation that's too light.

Mineral Wear Loose Powder in Light, Dark, and Tan ShadesMineral Wear Loose Powder in Light, Dark, and Tan Shades

1. Blend or Layer it With a Loose Face Powder

If you are looking for an at-home foundation adjuster, an easy fix is right in front of you. Try blending some darker loose powder into your too-light foundation. The pigmentation will help to alter the shade and create a foundation that is darker and closer to your own skin tone. Alternatively, you can wear the foundation as normal, and simply layer a dark powder on top.

Light and Dark Foundation Shade Adjuster Color Drops in Box DisplayLight and Dark Foundation Shade Adjuster Color Drops in Box Display

2. Add in Our Signature Foundation Shade Adjuster

Physicians Formula’s Foundation Shade Adjuster is a set of two liquid color drops made specifically to help transform your foundation into the perfect shade to match your unique skin tone. Enriched with a Vitamin C & E brightening antioxidant blend, these color adjusters darken foundation while staying true to its natural depth. Just add a few drops to pump up your foundation to a darker shade, without changing the finish.

Murumuru Butter Bronzer in Open CompactMurumuru Butter Bronzer in Open Compact

3. Mix Your Foundation With Bronzer

If your skin tone is deep and warm or tan and golden, bronzer might be the perfect fix for foundation that's too light. Bronzers are meant to add a warm sun-kissed tone to your skin, so adding bronzer to your foundation is a great way to darken up the shade while adding natural warmth and sometimes a bit of shimmer for a dewy, glowing complexion.

Liquid concealer in light and dark shadesLiquid concealer in light and dark shades

4. Blend Foundation with Concealer

If you have a face concealer on hand that matches your skin tone, try adding a few drops to your foundation. Be sure to add just a little bit at a time until you reach the desired color. This method will use up your concealer fast, so use it in a pinch, then switch to more pigmented foundation color drops when you have a chance to get to the drugstore.

Healthy Foundation in Dark Shade Displayed next to makeup brushHealthy Foundation in Dark Shade Displayed next to makeup brush

5. Blend With a Darker Shade of Foundation

Have another foundation that's a touch too dark? Try blending some of it with the too-light foundation to create your own custom foundation shade. Mix the light & dark foundation shades on the back of your palm until you've created a custom foundation shade that perfectly matches both your face and neck. 

How to Make Foundation Lighter

When it's the heart of January and your summer glow has faded, it's all too common to be left with a big tube of foundation that's too dark. Well, instead of letting perfectly good product go to waste, easily lighten foundation with these simple methods.

Natural Defense Makeup Collection with finising powder and cream blush sticksNatural Defense Makeup Collection with finising powder and cream blush sticks

1. Layer Foundation With a Finishing Powder

Try applying a finishing powder over your too-dark foundation. Since finishing powder is often lighter in color, it can help to lighten the foundation and get you closer to your natural skin tone.

Foundation Shade Adjusters in Light and Dark displayed with Healthy Foundation in tan shadeFoundation Shade Adjusters in Light and Dark displayed with Healthy Foundation in tan shade

2. Add in Shade-Adjusting Foundation Color Drops

Just like with too-light foundation, Physicians Formula Foundation Adjusters can also make your dark foundation lighter. To create a custom shade, apply foundation to the back of your hand, then add the Shade Adjuster one drop at a time until the dark foundation is eased down to a lighter shade, Enriched with a Vitamin C & E brightening antioxidant blend, these color adjusters lighten foundation while adding natural vibrance to your skin.

 

Foundation and face primer mixed on back of handFoundation and face primer mixed on back of hand

3. Dilute Foundation With a Face Moisturizer or Primer

By adding a light-colored moisturizer or face primer, you can easily lighten the pigmentation of the foundation, as well as add a unique finish when you apply it to your face. This will make your foundation a bit more sheer, so if you need full-coverage, opt for foundation color drops instead.

Healthy Foundation in Light Shade Displayed over MagazineHealthy Foundation in Light Shade Displayed over Magazine

4. Blend With a Lighter Shade of Foundation

If you have a shade of foundation that's a little too light, try blending it with your dark foundation. Add a little at a time to lighten the shade and create a custom color just for you.

Quick Fixes for the Perfect Foundation Undertone

If your foundation is coming out with too much gray in it, or if you're having trouble getting one of the above methods to work, it may be because you need to adjust the undertone of your foundation. This is a fairly easy fix, but first you need to figure out whether your undertone is cool, warm, or neutral.

Cool undertones look pink, red, or blue and are more common with fair skin. If the veins in your arms look purple or blue through your skin and you tend to sunburn easily, you have cool undertones. Warm undertones look yellow, gold, or olive. The veins in your arms look green and your skin tans easily. Neutral undertones are a mix of cool and warm. Your veins look green, blue, and purple and your skin tans slightly.

Two bronzer compacts in dark and fair shades over shimmery backgroundTwo bronzer compacts in dark and fair shades over shimmery background

1. Add Warmth with Bronzer

For those with neutral or warm dark skin, adding a bit more bronzer to your foundation can help to create a better undertone that makes your skin look beautiful and natural. If you prefer a matte foundation, just make sure you use a matte bronzer. For all over glow, try a shimmer bronzer, but ensure you use a light touch.

Murumuru butter blush compacts in light and rose blush shadesMurumuru butter blush compacts in light and rose blush shades

2. Create Cool Undertones with Blush

Those with cool, fair skin tones will want to try adding some blush to their foundation. This will help achieve some natural color that complements pink undertones. Use a silky, vitamin-rich formula like murumuru butter blush for a healthy, dewy finish.

Tumeric root displayed with tumeric powder and yellow flowersTumeric root displayed with tumeric powder and yellow flowers

3. Add Warmth with Tumeric

That's right - for this one you can turn away from the mirror and straight to your kitchen cabinet! Anyone with natural yellow undertones can add a small pinch of turmeric to their foundation. This will help to make the foundation look more natural on warm skin, but be sure to use just a little bit.

Alternate Uses for Foundation That's Too Light

Why not try some other makeup hacks? If the shade is off even after learning how to make foundation darker, there are plenty of other ways you can use a too-light foundation.

Woman applying light foundation as face highlighterWoman applying light foundation as face highlighter

1. Use Foundation as a Highlighter

There's no hard and fast rule about using makeup as intended. If your foundation is too light, it can actually make a really great highlighter. Apply it to your cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin for a bold contoured look.

Women wearing warm coat in winterWomen wearing warm coat in winter

2. Save it for the Winter

During the summer, we often spend so much time in the sun that our skin tone naturally darkens. The opposite is true for the winter, making it the perfect time to break out that too-light foundation. You may find the foundation shade that's giving you trouble is a perfect match for the winter months.

Murumuru butter bronzer, blush, and highligther in four shadesMurumuru butter bronzer, blush, and highligther in four shades

3. Use it to Lighten Up Too-Dark Makeup

Maybe you bought another product that was just a little too dark. Use your light foundation to lighten up any too-dark cosmetic you have. Mix powders with powders and liquid foundation with liquid products. Be sure to add just a little at a time to ensure you don't overdo it.

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