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How to find your perfect foundation shade

Some on counter staff are better than others, but if you can, it’s better to try and match your self. You know better than anyone what colour your skin is and what you look for in a foundation. Now you may have heard many tips and tricks over the years, however this is the perfect guide to getting your perfect match!

You know how you can often look better in the warm glow of candles or the yellow-y lights in a restaurant bathroom? That is yellow light blessing you with warm golden tones that will complement your skin tone. There are probably only 5 in every 100 women who are so pale they need a pink toned foundation. Everyone else if you see any foundation with the name ‘rose’ or ‘blush’ in the colour name- avoid it like the plague unless you want to look embalmed. Keep pink to cheeks, lips and nails where it belongs. 

Sometimes your forehead is a different colour to the rest of your face, as that’s where the sun hits your face first. This is especially true for women of colour. Either buy and wear two foundations, or if the contrast isn’t too severe, try to find a shade that’s in the middle

Don’t be tempted to go up and down shades to ‘correct’ what you perceive to be faults. Foundation is there to be the same colour as your skin. It is not there to ‘warm it up’ that is what bronzer is for; and it is not there to ‘cool it down’ that is what highlight is for. It is simply there to match perfectly.

Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can occur in foundation. Just like apples and other fruit will turn brown when exposed to the oxygen in the air, foundation can turn a shade or two darker (or more orange) on your skin over the course of the day. Oxidation is a weird, commonly despised, yet not fully understood problem in the beauty world, because it seems to wholly depend on a person’s skin type, the foundation they’re using, and their skincare routine. Some cosmetic chemists say that it’s caused by solvents in the foundation evaporating on your skin, causing the pigments to look a darker color on your face, while others disagree, citing your skin oils or skincare oil to be the real culprit: “The oils on your face and the oxygen in the air…mix with the oils in your foundation and cause the oxidative process” It seems to be a combination of the two is most likely true. Oxidation definitely does happen, but I find that it’s almost always because of an SPF or a primer that doesn’t mix well with your skin or your foundation. If you fall victim of oxidation, then you need to trial and error some different SPF’s, skincare and foundation till you find what works well for you. Take full advantage of samples during this time!!

Lastly, You may need to adjust your colour depending on the time of year. Most women have darker skin in the summer. You can also get liquid bronzers you can mix with your foundation to help when you have a tan. See an earlier blog for more detail.

So here is what you do:

  • Look at the spectrum of colours and pick 4 similar shades, (avoiding the pinks unless you are alabaster-white), that in your opinion are most likely to match.
  • Using a cotton bud, (most counter staff will give you these), create 4 stripes on your lower cheek and don’t blend. Repeat this on your forehead. Top tip: As you put each pot down, leave them in the same order as you applied them so you can remember which colour is which!
  • Now as painfully embarrassing as you may find this go outside and look in a mirror. A hand mirror or a mirror borrowed from counter staff will do. Don’t use your phone or look in it’s camera as it won’t be an accurate representation of colour. Then tah-dah- The one that is the hardest to see is your foundation colour.
  • Don’t be tempted to go up and down shades to ‘correct’ what you perceive to be faults. Sometimes oxidation is just a result of wearing a foundation too dark for your skin. Go with your true colour and the rest of your makeup will always look better!! Trust me! 
  • My last tip is that if you have never used that foundation before, always ask for a sample and try it out first. You’ll never truly know if its a good match in colour and formula till you’ve worn it for a whole day.

Let us know in the comments any colour matching dilemmas you have and we will help!! 


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Teenage Advice

My teenage years were difficult to say the least. “Finding yourself”, hormones, boyfriends, exams and group dynamics; are a few of the world ending catastrophes that trouble many teens. (Don’t get me started on friendship groups of three!!) And those are all things I can’t help with I’m afraid! However, hair, make-up, beauty, and general appearance, happen to be my forte!

 Although my teenage years aren’t far behind me, (I am 24) things have already changed massively since I was younger. I think I am part of the last generation that went through the blue sparkly eye shadow phase? However, that might not be such a bad thing! Lots of teenage girls are contouring from the age of 14 and could create a cut crease in their sleep! I have 3 sisters, two of which are teenagers and roughly the same age. Sister A, is like me- a total makeup addict and every time I see her, her face is painted like she is ready for a night out and she is really, really good! Sister B, is slightly older and reaches for a touch of concealer and mascara on a daily basis. They are both completely different teenagers, completely different people, going through completely different things, but… both interested in changing their appearance.

What are your teenage years for, if not questioning who you want to be, what you want to look like and how you want other people to see you? I fully support ‘the tiny bit of mascara look’ and ‘the full face look’ in equal measures. It’s experimentation, it’s an art and it’s self-expression. I have been through so many different styles over the years, (including a short-lived Goth phase), that have all lead up to who I am now. I encourage all parents, friends and carers to allow teenagers to go through that right of passage; we all deserve the freedom to explore. Your teenage years are already filled with to many ‘don’ts’, if they are trying something new just let them! That being said, still be there for them with some great advice. It’s up to them if they want to listen to you or find out their own way.

Here’s a quick guide to some teenage advice you can have on hand, if your opinion is welcome!

  • Hygiene: I’m talking taking a shower everyday, always have clean hair, clean body, clean clothes, clean teeth. If you do nothing else with your appearance, please let this, at the very least, be your beauty regime. Clean hair will also help prevent a spotty face!
  • Don’t pluck your eyebrows!: Take it from me and probably every female adult you know, that it’s not a fashion statement you’ll want to sport forever. Luckily, we seem to be living in the age of the brows and not too many young girls are over-plucking. If you feel like you need some shape go to a professional eyebrow threader. It’s more delicate on the skin than waxing and more accurate. Try to always go somewhere that has good reviews or, get someone who you admire the look of their brows, to personally recommended somebody.
  • Hair Down There: Times are changing and so is the opinion of pubic hair. Boys and girls are trimming it, getting rid of it, styling it and shaping it. My personal opinion is to do whatever you want with it, it’s your body. My advice is to use a shaver responsibly and when the time comes that you want to try waxing, (if that day comes), make sure you see a professional beautician. First time waxing should never be tried at home!!
  • Limit your use of foundation: You have your whole life to wear foundation and your skin will never look as young as it does now. Save foundation for special occasions and focus on good skin care and a touch of concealer should you need to cover a break out. 
  • Don’t wear celebrity endorsed perfume or cheap body sprays: They are too sweet, overpowering and smell like a school locker room. Not to mention whichever celebrity is on the bottle will have had little to no involvement in developing the product. Invest in a lovely perfume that makes you feel gorgeous inside and out when you wear it.
  • IMPORTANT: CLEANSE: The most important thing you can do for your skin. Especially when you have teenage hormones messing around with the balance of oils and sebum in your skin. Cleanse, (clean!) your skin twice a day and NEVER sleep in makeup. Like EVER. You’ve been warned. 
  • Protect your skin: Sunscreen probably doesn’t feel that important to your right now, especially if you like to have a tan, but most sun damage occurs before your 21st birthday. It may seem like a boring chore that you don’t ever see yourself doing but believe me, you’ll save yourself hundreds of pounds in anti-ageing creams when you are older. Prevention is better than cure. To delve into the topic a bit more see my previous blog post 
  • Don’t go on a sunbed: Don’t be tempted. Sunbeds inflict TWELVE times the level of UVA (the skin-ageing rays) on your skin. It surprises me, in this day and age, that they are still legal. *Blog post about fake tan coming soon!*
  • Don’t use too much heat on your hair: Curlers and straighteners are great for styling but everyday use can create split ends and dehydrated hair. On days where you haven’t got much on, opt for plaits or let it dry naturally! 
  • Don’t Bleach your Hair: Changing your appearance will be at the top of your priorities but so should keeping your hair healthy. Whilst you are young, try not to use harsh chemicals on your hair as this will damage it, making it thinner, easily snapped and dehydrated- all of which isn’t easy to work your way back from.
  • Hair Extensions: Clip in hair extensions are a great way to change up your look but don’t wear them everyday. Trust me. Between the ages of 15 and 18 I wore them everyday and it thinned out my hair so much. I’m 24 now and my hair is still fairly thin and falls out a lot. Same goes for glue in hair extensions, bonds and weaves. Anything heavier than your natural locks will take its toll!!
  • Be kind to your skin: It’s your body’s largest organ and certainly the most attractive! Value it, look after it, respect it. Keep it hydrated, don’t scrub too hard, and please don’t start smoking! You only need to look at the difference between two people the same age, one smoker and one non-smoker to know why. 
  • Don’t get a tattooyet. I love tattoos, I have four. I love three of them. The ones I spent a long time thinking about, the ones I planned out, the ones I drew in different ways, the ones I got when I was older, are the ones I love. The one I got in a rage after an argument with my mum, only a few days after my 18th birthday, that one is embarrassing. Don’t ever do it in a rush or when you are angry. Wait till you meet the right artist, you have the money to pay for a professional and you are 100% sure that’s what you want on your body forever!
  • Experiment: Before the constraints of adult life start to make you feel self-conscious about your appearance, (I truly hope they never do) try whatever you fancy and get creative!

The Beauty Umbrella offers bespoke packages for teenage makeup parties and one-to-one lessons. We take age into consideration and focus on teen appropriate lessons such as finding the right shade of foundation and creating a skin regime that can help problem skin. This can be a great gift to inspire and educate teenagers in the world of beauty.

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Holiday Makeup

Knowing what makeup to bring with you on a sun holiday is always a struggle. Your normal beauty routine never successfully translates in a warmer climate. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are some make up tips and tricks that will have you feeling your best in every holiday snap.

It’s the end of another blissful day in the sun. You’ve showered the sand off and look in the mirror to find you’ve caught the sun. Your UK foundation is now two shades too light and your normal moisturizer is sliding off your face faster than you can put it on. Nightmare, right?! Well, not if you change things up!

Using an oil-free after sun or moisturizer will help take care of your skin after sun exposure without leaving you feeling oily. A personal favorite is an ultra-moisturising after-sun ‘Rescue Balm’ from Clinique, which contains aloe to help soothe sun-exposed skin. It also helps to reduce the look of peeling after sun exposure. It’s suitable for face and body, plus the balm is oil-free and non-acnegenic. Please don’t skip this step in a bid for a matte complexion, as your skin will need a drink after being out in the sun all day. There are several cooling, mattifying gels available to help reduce shine. These can be layered on top of an oil-free moisturizer or after sun. The best I’ve come across is Benefit’s Porefessional Matte Rescue.

That brings me onto the next ‘go to’ product that will make all the difference. Benefit’s Porefessional primer. This product is like poly-filler, making every fine line, pore or blemish instantly smoothed out. This is a great option for every skin type and will also look great when worn alone. It has no colour, so if you are someone who doesn’t wear a lot of foundation, (or none at all whilst on holiday), look no further than this product for your base.

If you are a foundation-lover, you need to make sure that your colour stays matched. This isn’t an easy job; especially when the light you find in hotel rooms is less than adequate. The quick fix for this is liquid foundation and liquid bronzer. Taking a liquid bronzer or a product equivalent will enable you to darken your foundation day by day as your tan deepens in colour. Benefit’s ‘Dew the Hoola’ does a wonderful job of illuminating your skin whilst deepening the colour. This can be mixed in with your foundation, added on top of foundation, or worn alone to give you an instant tan with sheer coverage. Using this with a large synthetic ‘buffing’ brush is the best way for even application.

When it comes to eye shadow, you should either go all-out with an eye shadow base that will lock that powder on or go for a cream shadow that will set and not crease. My recommendations for eye shadow bases are… Smashbox’s 24hr Primer for eye shadow beginners and P Louise Base for intermediate to advanced eye shadow artists. Below is an example of how this product helps your eye shadow application and staying powder.

For cream shadow, you want to make sure it isn’t going to separate and crease in the fold of your eye lid during wear. I don’t recommend using an eye lid primer with a cream eye shadow; they usually have this ‘built in’, which helps with faster application. The best ones I’ve come across are: Benefit’s Creaseless Cream Eye Shadow, (the shade ‘Birthday Suit’ is gorgeous on all skin!!) or Charlotte Tilbury’s Eyes to Mesmerise (The ‘Rose Gold’ shade is beautiful). These cream shadows can be applied quickly with your fourth finger and look effortlessly stunning.





A natural powder contour goes a long way on holiday and is a great way to accentuate your features and define your face shape. A dusting bronzer on the cheekbones, with a nice bright blush on the apples of the cheeks, will add dimension and a pop of colour whilst still not having a lot of makeup on. Personally, I love highlighter and would make myself shimmer as bright as a disco ball everyday if I could, but I know it’s not everyone’s thing! Optional: add some powder or liquid highlighter to your cheekbones, down your nose and on your cupids bow if you want some added sparkle!

My last couples of tips are that waterproof mascara goes without saying if you want to avoid smudging! Take a cooling spray or matte setting spray out with you in your bag in case you get a bit oily; it’s a great idea to cool yourself down. Urban Decay does the best setting sprays! (…and I’ve tried a lot of different setting sprays!) And finally, it wouldn’t hurt to match your lipstick to your outfit for a pop of holiday sass!