Would it surprise you to learn that medium skin tones are among the hardest to match? Thanks to in-between shades often looking too ashy or too pink, finding foundation for warm medium skin tones can be quite the feat. And, when there is a lack of mid-tone foundations on the market, that has also meant a lack of medium skin tones in campaigns. Take it from Alisha Taneja, the blogger behind Saffron on Rose with over 560,000 followers on social media. Growing up in Mountain View, California, she never saw models with similar complexions to her Indian skin tone, leading her to believe she wouldn’t fare well in the beauty or fashion industries. “In the past, I never thought I could do what I do now; it felt like I just wasn’t good enough,” she tells Brit + Co. “Now when I see girls that are my skin tone all over social media and getting opportunities in campaigns and commercials, I feel empowered, happy, and grateful that the world is finally recognizing us.” Drawing inspiration from public figures like actress Priyanka Chopra, Taneja now aspires to be a role model for girls with similar complexions. To do so, she regularly shares her favorite products on her blog and now, she’s taken it upon herself to chat with us about her top inclusive beauty hacks for girls with hard-to-match medium skin tones. Read her tips below.

Image of smeared foundation on white background.

1. Choose a brand of SPF that will not appear ashy on medium skin tones. Taneja, who lives in Los Angeles, is all about preventative skincare — i.e., sunscreen — and lots of it. She warns that ashy-looking SPFs deter some medium-toned girls from wearing protection altogether. “I apply [SPF] before I even go outside and re-apply it throughout the day. Some drugstore brands leave a gray overcast on darker skin. Neutrogena Hydroboost Gel Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion ($11) and Supergoop Super Power Mousse with SPF 50 ($34) don’t,” she says. “Supergoop is [also] great because they have every type of product.” (Photo via Studio 504/ Getty)

2. DIY your perfect shade of foundation. You can always get professionally matched with a single shade, but Taneja has found that the best fit actually comes from blending her own combination. “If your skin tone is in the middle, you are pretty much ignored,” she explains. “Even my makeup artist uses multiple products from different lines to create the shade she uses on me.”

3. Look out for cakiness. Blending your own coverage from multiple products comes with the risk of it appearing too heavy on the skin. “It’s hard when you’re doing makeup yourself — there’s hyper-pigmentation and dark circles to cover,” she begins. “I use products from multiple lines, like Make Up For Ever, Erborian, MAC, and Laura Mercier. It’s a special challenge not to look cakey.”

4. Shop from beauty lines with extended shade ranges. Certain brands offer extended shade ranges (anywhere from 20 to 30 shades is ideal) that can provide you with a closer match. Taneja uses Dior Backstage Airflash Foundation ($62) in 400, Becca Ultimate Coverage 24-Hour Foundation ($44) in Olive, and Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($42) in 7.5. “Fenty Beauty’s line of foundation is also great, as is Flesh Beauty,” Taneja says.

5. Research, research, research. Taneja stands by the idea that inclusivity in beauty should not be limited to luxury brands that not everyone can afford. As a result, she is passionate about researching and promoting diversity-friendly product options that are also cost efficient. “Neutrogena is affordable, high quality, and has done a great job of having diverse girls in their campaigns,” she says. “L’Oréal Paris is also super-inclusive.” Drugstore foundation picks with a beauty influencer’s seal of approval? Yes, please.

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