Beauty gurus - please help me colour-match my foundation!
February 3, 2014 8:31 PM   Subscribe

I use MAC Studio Fix. I want to switch to Nars Sheer Glow. I would much prefer to buy online (not at a makeup counter), but colour-matching is a problem. Any advice?

I asked a question about choosing a new foundation, months back, and got some extremely helpful responses. I've finally run out of my current foundation, which is MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF15 in NW25. Based on your recommendations, I want to replace it with Nars Sheer Glow. However, I don't know which Nars shade to purchase.

I have tried three different makeup-matching websites. Based on my current MAC foundation (which really is a perfect colour match with my skin), they returned the following suggestions:

- - Nars Sheer Glow Foundation Medium 2 Santa Fe
- - Nars Sheer Glow Foundation Medium 1 Punjab
- - no result :(

Since I have always thought I had pinkish (rather than golden) undertones to my skin, I'm a bit surprised by the Punjab recommendation ('medium, with golden, peachy undertones'). I'm inclined to go with the Santa Fe, but I don't want to make an expensive mistake.

Are there any makeup experts on here that can weight in? Any suggestions for other matching sites? (Please assume for the purposes of this question that I live in darkest Siberia and cannot go to a makeup counter to get matched ;) - thanks.)
posted by Salamander to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Urgh, matching foundation is hard at the best of times. I can't help with a definitive answer but...

Can you get to a drug store? My suggestion is to try a few cheap testers to have a wider search criteria on Findation. You don't have to buy, and you can pretty much do it yourself and not be bothered by anyone. This could help refine the search that little bit more.
posted by Youremyworld at 8:57 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Order from Nordstrom, and return as you need to.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:13 PM on February 3, 2014

Should have noted: I'm in Australia. :) Shipping can be slow and expensive, which is why I'm trying to avoid returns.

There is only one place in my city that stocks Nars. I don't find their staff vey helpful, and their prices are waaaay higher than shopping online.
posted by Salamander at 9:19 PM on February 3, 2014

Oh...and I've just discovered Nordstrom doesn't ship cosmetics to Australia, anyway. :(
posted by Salamander at 9:22 PM on February 3, 2014

Tricky, but it can be done! I'd search for as many swatches for your foundation as possible to compare online and photos.

The folks at are super helpful; you might want to post a few photos of yourself in various lighting and ask them their opinion. They're also used to basing foundation matches off of the MAC system. Just make sure that you let them know that you've looked on the different foundation matching sites and highlight your hesitations about your undertone.

Good luck!
posted by sums at 9:28 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Whenever I have beauty swatch questions, I usually hit up and search in the forums there; I found some good "help me match my foundation" threads for Sheer Glow:

"I'm about NW25 now and wear Fiji (though I can also wear Santa Fe, I have neutral undertones). Like you, I get much darker in the summer (prob NW30/NC35), I'm thinking Punjab would be a better summer option for both of us."

(I would still go for the match, though! I LOVE my Sheer Glow but needed the match to really sell me on it...)
posted by littlemisslaika at 9:39 PM on February 3, 2014


You can get your non-crazily priced Nars from this US based place for reasonable shipping.


Lemon out.
posted by mooza at 10:22 PM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

If your skin has pink undertones and NW25 is a perfect match I don't think you should go with the Fiji shade (yellow undertones).

Anecdotally, I think that the findation calculator is sort of off. I just tried it and it came up with a shade that I know would be wrong for me. I put NW20 (the studio fix shade that matches my skin best) into the matchfinder and it gave me Deuville (light with mix of undertones). I've never used Nars but I'm almost certain that's wrong. In every foundation I've ever used, I *always* match the pink end of the spectrum best. I'm almost certain that my actual shade would be the "light with pink undertones" one, not Deuville.

Maybe it would be better if you had more brands for input, but just using MAC doesn't seem to work very well, since the pink shades in MAC seem to map to the mixed/neutral shades in Nars.
posted by treese at 10:39 PM on February 3, 2014

Sorry, I misread, your match was Punjab, not Fiji. But I still think that sounds like more yellow than pink ("golden, peachy undertone") and more on the yellow side of the spectrum than NW25 is.
posted by treese at 10:45 PM on February 3, 2014

There is only one place in my city that stocks Nars. I don't find their staff vey helpful, and their prices are waaaay higher than shopping online.

If the staff are ignorant or rude, ignore that. All they need to do is bring you things. Arm yourself with recommendations from mua and test them in this store. Then, actually buy your picks online.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:48 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding that you should post this question in the cosmetics forum at makeupalley (free signup req'd)-- there will absolutely be someone there who's tried both of these and could give you some insight. Also, makeupalley folk actually quite frequently post comparison photos showing multiple different brands of foundation streaked side-by-side on the same arm or neck-- the key search term there would be "swatch" or "swatches".
posted by Bardolph at 7:17 AM on February 4, 2014

You want the foundation matrix. I use it all the time and it's fairly accurate.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 8:25 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oops. Just saw that you've already tried Temptalia. Another option is to Google your current foundation's name and the hit "images." It wil generally show you some blogger who is testing several brands at once.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 9:01 AM on February 4, 2014

Ugh, this sort of thing is always difficult. However, perhaps it would help to understand how MAC codes and foundations work. NW stands for "neutral/warm". It's recommended by MAC artists for people with slightly pink tones in order to neutralize the pink by adding a bit of golden/yellow. So two things may be going on: you put it on and it looks good because it has neutralized the pink tones in your skin, or it actually matches your skin tone, which means you aren't actually pink/cool toned, but more golden/yellow (which can also be cool. I have yellow and pink in my skin, and blue veins. Annoying). Here's some more info on how MAC's system works. At any rate, the foundation matchers should be matching to the actual color of the shade in question, regardless of what your skin tone is.

Hopefully that is helpful in some way. I tend to google for swatch pics as suggested above, but the easiest thing to do is steel yourself to deal with the Nars salespeople and 1) ask for take home samples, 2) see what they think. Then you can purchase online.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:44 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Turns out I am actually Punjab. In the end I went to not one, but two of the local stockists (Mecca Cosmetica) and had them colour-match me. Both assistants were extremely helpful, non-pushy, and both matched me with Punjab.

The site recommended by mooza was temporarily out of Punjab, so I purchased from for a similar price.

(FWIW, I bought other stuff from Mecca, so I don't feel too guilty...)

Thanks to everyone who contributed - I learned a lot! :)
posted by Salamander at 10:00 PM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

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