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Fenty Beauty taught us that it’s not our fault for not fitting into the three or five foundation shades beauty brands offered. In 2017, Fenty Beauty dropped 40 shades in their foundation range, setting the bar for inclusivity in beauty products. Jumping on the bandwagon, it seems like every new foundation range launched in the past few months, came in at least 30 shades, aiming to give everyone their perfect shade match.

While these brands offer a large spectrum of shades, there’s one thing we’re curious about: are they just different hues of beige or do they actually work for our complex skin tones?

Daily Vanity invited three readers with different skin tones to test out foundations from four beauty brands that have recently launched foundation lines with a huge offering of shades: Shu Uemura, Kat Von D, Tarte and Hourglass. Let’s find out how inclusive their robust range of shades really are.

Before we start the test, let’s take a closer look at each of the foundation ranges and what they promise to do.

1. Tarte Rainforest Of The Sea Water Foundation

772 Water Foundation Spf 15 Ros Social 7 Alt

Tarte expanded their highly-raved water-based foundation to include 30 shades in all, providing weightless and natural medium coverage that you can build up according to preference. Besides dropping new shades, they’ve also improved the packaging with a dropper so that you get more control with the amount of product picked up!

Tarte Rainforest Of The Sea Water Foundation retails at SGD64 in Sephora.

2. Hourglass Vanish Seamless Liquid Foundation

Foundation Match Hourglass Vanish Foundation

Hourglass says that this highly concentrated foundation only requires half a pump to give full, flawless coverage and super long lasting results. In 32 shades, it is a foundation that’s waterproof, smudge-proof, and transfer-proof.

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Liquid Foundation retails at SGD93 in Sephora.

3. Kat Von D Lock-It Liquid Foundation

Kat Von D Lock It Foundation

With an extensive range of 42 shades, Kat Von D Lock-It Liquid Foundation is another product with a waterproof and transfer-proof formula. Similar to the Hourglass foundation, this is also a full-coverage and long wear foundation that has a matte finish. Be it sweat or tears, your makeup is going stay.

Kat Von D Lock-It Liquid Foundation retails at SGD56 in Sephora.

4. Shu Uemura Unlimited Foundation

Shu Uemura Unlimited

If you loved Shu Uemura Petal foundation, you’re probably also going to love the new Unlimited foundation. Keeping the same lightweight, natural and dewy finish that Asian consumers love, the Unlimited foundation promises to have a shade for every Asian woman.

Shu Uemura Unlimited Foundation retails at SGD72 in Sephora.

Shannon: Fair, neutral skin tone

Our first reader, Shannon, has fair and neutral skin tone with a little redness. She managed to find perfect matches with three out of four brands she tried.

Shu Uemura: 764 and 664
Tarte: Light neutral
Kat Von D: Light neutral 45

Foundation Match Shannon Shu Uemura

Shannon’s observation: I tried on three shades from the Shu Uemura Unlimited Foundation and found two shades (764 and 664) that gave me the best match – 764 was a natural colour with a warmer hue, while 664 gave a brighter finish. I like how I had two choices to choose from, depending on the type of finish I am going for.

Foundation Match Shannon

It was a pity Hourglass only had yellow or pink tone shades. Having a neutral skin tone made it a struggle to find a match. While I managed to find matches from Tarte and Kat Von D, I felt that Tarte’s match was a little too pink which made the redness of my skin more obvious.

Shannon’s verdict: Shu Uemura is my best match. It gave the most natural finish and even made my skin glow. The Kat Von D one matched well too, but perhaps the colour changed after I applied it on my full face, I find it a little too pale, as compared to the Shu Uemura one.

Liying: Warm, medium skin tone

Liying has a warm, medium skin tone and found matching shades from three brands.

Shu Uemura: 664 and 564
Tarte: Light neutral
Hourglass: Buff

Foundation Match Liying Shuuemura

Liying’s observation: I also found two matches from Shu Uemura’s Unlimited Foundation range, one gave a radiant glow and the other was a natural finish.

Foundation Match Liying

I couldn’t really find a true match from Kat Von D’s foundation. Although I tried on shade 47 and it did match my warm undertones, I find it too fair for my liking; I’ll have to blend more product into my neck otherwise there’ll be an obvious colour difference.

Liying’s verdict: The three matches I got were all spot on, but I were to choose a favourite, it’ll be the Tarte one because of its formula. I absolutely love how light weight it is!

Abby: Warm, tanned skin tone

Abby is tanned with yellow undertones and uneven skin tone. Three brands made the cut for her foundation match.

Shu Uemura: 644
Kat Von D: Medium warm 57

Foundation Match Abby Shu Uemura
Abby’s observation: I tried on three shades form Shu Uemura but only managed to find one shade match, unlike the other girls who found two matches.

Foundation Match Abby

I was excited for Tarte, seeing how the other girls all found their matches. However, I couldn’t find any shade that actually matched my undertones. They were either too fair, too dark or too orangey.

(With regret, the lighting was not conducive for photography, but in person, we could definitely tell how the Tarte foundation was way too orange for Abby.)

Since I have discolouration and uneven skin tone, it got a little tricky to find a perfect match. The shades I went with Kat Von D and Hourglass were a little lighter than my original skin tone, but they helped to make my overall complexion more even. Unfortunately, they still had slight colour differences between my face and neck.

Abby’s verdict: Shu Uemura had the truest match and even gave my complexion more radiance – definitely a plus here! The Kat Von D and Hourglass ones matched about the same. They’re okay and helped even out my skin tone, but they give an obvious colour difference between my neck and face, which will require me to apply more foundation on my neck to blend everything in seamlesssly.

Our conclusion and tips

We crown Shu Uemura Unlimited Foundation as the winner of this test of shade inclusivity! All three of our readers found their perfect match (two of them even found two matches!), we concluded that it truly offers a range of shades that caters to a broad spectrum of Asian skin tones as they promise.

The other brands had some hits and misses with our readers, and was trickier to match for certain types of skin tones. However, because of the wide range of colours they have added to their stables, it is definitely still easier to find the perfect match from them, compared to ranges with few options.

You might be tempted going out to hunt for that perfect foundation match after reading this, but before you do so, we have some tips to ensure your match will be foolproof.

Foundation-matching tips

Lighting is important

This is the obvious tip but we can’t stress enough how important this is. The lights in makeup stores are sometimes too bright for accuracy. Check out your swatches under fluorescent lights, warm lights, and sunlight – places you’re likely to hang out at normally – instead.

Swatch along your jawline

Most people swatch foundation at the back of their hands but it’s not the most ideal because they have a different tone compared to their faces. To get the most accurate swatch, try it on your jawline; you can also see if the shade can be blended into your neck colour as well.

Let it settle

Don’t buy immediately after the swatch, thinking it’s the best match. Blend it out, leave it on for awhile to see if the colour changes. Some formula oxidise after a while, making the shade look one or two shades darker. Especially if you’re investing on a pricey bottle of foundation, be sure to leave on and check how it matches after settling.

Don’t forget how it feels matter too

Do you like a fool-proof foundation that can last you for the entire day, or you prefer something weightless and breathable? Remember the formula matters too when you’re shopping for foundation.

Think about whether your skin tone changes

Just came back from a beach vacation? You might want to push back your foundation match to another time. Don’t forget that your skin colour will eventually lighten back, so only do the matching when your skin colour is at its usual condition.