When I started wearing makeup, I couldn’t figure out my undertone. I am caucasian and have light skin (somewhere in the vicinity of MAC N15 without a tan), dark hair, and dark eyes. I tan easily and rarely burn; I feel like silver and gold are equally flattering; I’m not sure if true white or off white looks better on me – my preference is for black; and the veins on the underside of my wrist don’t look particularly blue or green. Long story short, I realized that I have olive undertones that are sort of a cool yellow/green – I was confused because I have surface redness and if I am tan, golden overtones.
I purchased all products featured in this post. All referral and affiliate links are individually marked; unmarked links are not affiliate.
I actually figured out that I have olive undertones by finding foundation matches. In 2013, I bought Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation in the shade 213 (at that time called OC-1) from Hautelook, and it turned out to be my best foundation match; I later realized that it’s one of the the most olive foundations for my skin depth that is easily available. I didn’t wear sunscreen regularly at the time of my initial purchase so the foundation was either a good match or a touch light depending on the time of year. Now that I do wear sunscreen daily, it can be a little dark for me, but I just add in a little white foundation mixer and I’m good. I’m on my 4th bottle!
Later, I bought a bottle of MAC Face & Body in C1, which is fairly yellow (MAC’s “C” foundations are a bit warmer / more yellow than their “NC” foundations), and it really wasn’t the right color for me. I am not sure exactly how I got the idea to add a blue corrector, but I think I was trying to make it a bit greener just to color correct the redness in my face. I didn’t have any type of actual mixer at that time, so I mixed it with a blue lip paint and suddenly it was a perfect match.
The lip paint was annoying to use, so I eventually purchased several of Make Up For Ever’s Chromatic Mix foundation mixers. I now adjust almost all of my foundations and concealers to get a better match. I use the blue most frequently by far; white comes in second (including for the Koh Gen Do). I rarely use the yellow – it’s easier to get a good match by starting with a more yellow foundation and adding blue.
Here’s a swatch of MAC Face & Body in C1 blended with the MUFE Chromatic Mix in blue; the left side of the swatch is the MAC alone, and it has gradually more blue added as you move to the right. As you can see, the best match for my arm is about 2/3 of the way to the right.
The MUFE mixers come in two formulas – water based [affiliate link], for mixing with water based foundations, and oil based [affiliate link], for mixing with oil or silicone based foundations. Each bottle is .43oz / 13ml and is $14; the bottles are small, but a little goes a long way. Each formula comes in six shades – white, yellow, blue, red, brown, and black. See the end of this post for ingredients. The more pigmented the base product is, the more mixer you need – a single drop may more than be enough for a face’s worth of sheer foundation, but 2-3 drops might be needed for the same amount of pigmented concealer. You can add the mixer directly to the bottle, mix up fresh each time, or (as I prefer to do), decant a little foundation or concealer into a small jar and mix up a week or a month’s worth at a time. I like to do it that way because it’s kind of a pain to mix it up every time, but I don’t want to risk overdoing it and making my foundation unusable.
I initially bought the oil based blue because it was in stock and the water based blue was not. After using it for a while, I bought the oil based yellow and white as well. The oil based mixers have blended easily and with every product I’ve tried except for MUFE’s now-discontinued Face & Body Foundation and its replacement, Water Blend. The mixers don’t emulsify in those two foundations so instead of a smooth mix, you get drops of mixer throughout the foundation. Since I love the formula of MUFE F&B but didn’t have a color match, I bought the water based blue mixer to try. Unfortunately the water based one didn’t emulsify either, which is odd since both products are from the same brand – but that really only affected the product in the jar or my hand. Once applied to the face, the blue spreads out smoothly and the products blend together. I’ve now replaced my bottle of MUFE F&B with the new(ish) Water Blend; neither the oil nor water based mixer emulsify in that either, but it’s a pretty good match even without any correction, and again the non-emulsified mix spreads out smoothly on the face so it’s not a problem in application.
Here are swatches of the four Chromatic Mix mixers I own alone, and of the the three oil based ones blended into Revlon Colorstay foundation in 150 Buff.
I couldn’t find the ingredients to the mixers online and was curious, so I emailed Make Up For Ever and they sent the following – you can see from the date that this was a while back!
Whew. That was longer than I intended, but I hope this is helpful to someone! Let me know if you have any questions about olive undertones, foundation mixers, or any of the products I mentioned and I’ll do my best to answer.