Why do makeup brands intentionally swatch unmatched foundation shades on models?

You know the ones I mean. 3 models arms of varied skintones and the same 5 shades swatched on each one.

The ones where the foundation shades don’t match any of the models. Why would they plan promotional images like these?


What customers want is to have a realistic idea of what the foundations will look like on real skin

…aaaaand this is what we get. Real skin, yes, but zero matches to the 3 skintones of the models. Unblended swatches are no help to anyone.

What’s worse is that some brands don’t even use multiple skintones but use one white model and tan her up!

Those shade names…
IF the shades matched anyone, surely they’d all be NUDE shades?

Illamasqua – they’ve got a decent shade range but these swatches barely look real and don’t match the models anyway… why?


You wanted swatches, we gave them to you, what more do you want?

Nudestix swatches on a single model… why oh why? Especially when you’ve actually shot images that do get it right (see below)

Customers can’t assess if a foundation will match them by looking at unblended foundation on random skintones. What customers need is to see blended swatches on similar skintones to their own.


This is how to do it

Here are some much better examples of how to help consumers (especially in a global pandemic, when we can’t try shades in-stores).

Here is Nudestix getting it right… so why bother with the random image of one model with multiple unblended shades above? Just use these ones!

Tarte medium foundation shades blended on women of different skintones for comparison
Tarte have a chart like this for each of their foundations and covering every shade.

But my favourite broad range foundation chart has to be MAC. More inclusive all round.


None of the swatch charts will be perfect as variations will exist due to lighting. These full face comparisons however give a much easier comparison of the consumers skin to the models. so we have a much higher chance of choosing the right shade. Please, foundation brands, watch and learn… follow the leaders.