It's not as hard as it sounds.

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Believe it or not, we've been in a pandemic-ruled world for over a year now. I don't know about you, but much of my lockdown has been spent on beauty TikTok, which in turn has caused my beauty wish list to grow rapidly. (I only have my boyfriend to show off my new purchases to, but still.)

Unfortunately, the beauty world was not immune to the effects of the pandemic. With many beauty counters halting their in-store consultations and any form of product-swatching being totally off-limits, I've had to resort to guesswork to find the best concealer for my puffy morning eyes. To make matters worse, I hadn't worn a concealer in years prior to the pandemic, which made finding my shade match online that much more difficult.

This led me to think there must be an easier way to color-match. To find out, I enlisted the help of a few makeup artists for some insider tips and tricks for shade shopping virtually.

Understand your undertone

When shopping for foundation or concealer, your undertone plays a major role in choosing the foundation or concealer shade that is right for you. But first, a clarification: Skin tone is the color we see on the surface of our skin, but the undertone is the hue under the surface. "Every color that you choose will either complement or contrast the undertones of your skin," says makeup artist Amanda Bell. "So first you have to ask yourself: Is your skin undertone warm, neutral, or cool?"

Generally speaking, you're either fair, medium, or deep when it comes to skin tone (simple, right?). However, your undertone requires a bit more investigation. If you're not sure, checking the color of your veins is a quick way to find out. Take a look at the veins in and around your face and neck. If you see blue veins, you have cool undertones. If your veins appear green on the skin (olive), you're warm. Neutral is a mixture of both warm and cool undertones.

You can also consider your skin's reaction to sun exposure. Those who tan easily have a medium or dark skin tone, while those who burn easily likely have a very fair skin tone.

Start with inclusive shade brands

Now that you know your undertone, it's time to pick a foundation. Unfortunately, not all foundation lines are guaranteed to have your exact skin tone. When it comes to the perfect match, celebrity makeup artist Nikki DeRoest, who has painted the faces of stars like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Addison Rae, suggests going for inclusive beauty brands that already offer a diverse range of shades on their website. "Some of the most notable brands that always get inclusivity right include Fenty Beauty, Bobbi Brown, and Estee Lauder," she says. "Picking a brand that really takes your skin tone and undertones into consideration is so important because it means you aren't limited to shades (or have to resort to mixing two different colors)."

Use online beauty tools

Whether you're a newbie or pro on foundation and concealer, there are tons of innovative ways for you to get color matched online. In fact, thanks to the development of virtual beauty, personalized color matching has never been more accessible. Many brands, like Charlotte Tilbury and Huda Beauty, offer virtual consultations where you can chat one-on-one with beauty experts to help you find your flawless shade match, along with any of your other beauty concerns. 

Other brands like IL Makiage have scarily accurate foundation quizzes with positive reviews from hundreds of thousands of people. The quiz aims to shade match you to one of its 50-shade Woke Up Like This Flawless Base Foundations. You're asked a series of questions, including identifying your undertone (remember how to do that?) from a lineup of photos to picking your desired foundation coverage. They even offer a 60-day money-back guarantee for any product purchased through the shade-matching quiz that isn't the right match. You can find similar shade quizzes at big beauty brands like Maybelline and Ulta Beauty, so it's always a good idea to scope the site you're shopping for virtual assistants.

Lastly, and perhaps most helpful, you can try Findation, a website that provides you with shade matches across 1,577 global brands and 68,000 makeup shades. As one of the world's best databases for matching foundation and concealer shades online, the website uses an advanced proprietary algorithm to match shades between different brands. In other words, if you know your foundation shade from Maybelline, you can track your perfect match at Laura Mercier.

"Findation has seen an increase in traffic since the start of the pandemic, and we only see this growing as more retailers upgrade their online capability," says Kate Morris, co-founder of Findation. "Data is always evolving, and we're continuously working with brands to improve the quality of our data so we can provide more and more matches."