By Kathryn Walsh

Maybe the color that looks spot-on in the store's lighting is a shade too dark in the sunlight, or the foundation that's a perfect match for your bronzed summer skin looks wrong come winter. Foundation's not cheap, so doctor it up with a lightening product rather than tossing it. It's a quick and easy fix to make, and mixing up a batch of customized foundation has the added bonus of making you feel like a really glam scientist.

Beautiful young woman applying makeup in bathroom
credit: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/GettyImages
How to Lighten Foundation Color

Mingle With Moisturizer

It's hard not to feel virtuous while mixing moisturizer into foundation, like you're slipping pureed vegetables into something decadent. After all, it's better for skin than foundation, and it's often cheaper. And because moisturizer is (usually) white, it's a perfect lightener.

Use the back of your clean, nondominant hand as a palette, and start small with two parts foundation to one part moisturizer. Mix them thoroughly with a clean finger or a cotton swab and swipe a small amount of the mixture on the jawbone. Check the color in natural lighting to see how well it matches the skin.

If it's not a good match, wipe the foundation off the jaw and add more moisturizer to the mixture (or add more foundation, if the mixture is too light). Keep experimenting until nailing the perfect ratio of foundation to moisturizer. Figuring that out makes it easy to mix up the next time.

Mix and Match Foundations

Hey, you've already paid for one mismatched foundation – why not double down and buy a second? It sounds counterintuitive, but buying a too-light foundation might be the perfect solution. Mix them together to create a shade that falls right in the middle, hopefully creating a perfect match for your skin.

Make sure to choose a foundation from the same line as the original, darker shade. Two foundations made using different formulations and with different consistencies won't blend seamlessly. The lighter foundation should be just as many shades removed from your skin tone as the dark one is. So if the first product is two shades too dark, pick a second foundation that's two shades too light.

Create a customized mix each day, or simplify life by making a big batch of foundation upfront. Combine the two colors in a small, clean plastic mixing bowl. Start with just half of each foundation and gradually mix in more of one or the other as necessary until it's the perfect shade. Store the finished product in a refillable cosmetic pump bottle.

Try Foundation Lightener

There's a product for everything these days, so yes – there's a product for this. Several makeup brands sell foundation lighteners. Mix one of these liquids into the foundation to change its shade. The downside is that lighteners are often packaged in kits with darkeners.

The effect is generally pretty similar to what you'd get by mixing a lighter shade or moisturizer into the dark foundation. Using one of these lighteners may still be the best choice, if the foundation is both too dark and the wrong tone. Some companies sell lighteners that are designed to neutralize specific hues. That's ideal if the foundation in question is both too dark and, say, too yellow for your skin.