Skip to main content

Q: What Should I Do When My Face is Lighter Than My Neck?

Welcome to a little problem known as "The Eagle".

My goodness, it's been a while since we did a reader question around here. But after this week's Golden Globes coverage—and seeing how y'all were so delighted to engage in a bit of celebrity beauty schadenfreude (Stars! They're just like us!)—I thought it would be a perfect time to highlight a question from reader Kara.

It involves a little problem I like to call "the Eagle." And the best (meaning worst) example in recent memory was on the mug of the otherwise gorgeous Miss Emily Bluntat last year's Globes ceremonies.

Do you see it? We've talked about this issue before, but let's just do a quick refresher. You know what eagles look like, right?

Okay, now let's proceed. Kara writes:

Recently I've been all about the daily sunscreen and I worry that this has caused my face to be a slightly lighter shade than the rest of me. I realize it would be best to also use it on my neck and chest, but honestly, I can't be bothered to spend that much time putting on sunscreen everyday. It's winter so I shouldn't really have a tan anyway, but in recent pictures, my face does seem a bit lighter... I don't like this.

My foundation is a perfect match for my skin, so I don't know what the solution is! Any advice? I don't want to go darker and have an off shade (I've had slightly darker shades in the past and I prefer the perfect match I've now found), especially since I've never been one to paint my entire face with foundation.

I hear you, Kara—and you're definitely not alone with your mismatched face and neck, girl.

But I would be amiss here—not to mention highly irresponsible—if I did not insert a brief public service announcement to say that extending your sunscreen (and actually ALL of your skincare) down to your neck and also chest is a very, very good idea. Year round. Because if anything gives away your age, it's a wrinkly neck.

Check out Lisa Kudrow:

You can fix a lot of problems on your face with Botox and fillers, etc., but there ain't a whole heck of a lot you can do for your neck once the sun damage takes hold.

Okay! Now, on to the issue at hand: colour.

You've basically got two choices when your face is lighter than your neck:

The Skincare Edit Recommends


This one takes a bit of explaining, because the standard (and usually correct) advice is that you should strive to find a foundation that is an exact match to your skin tone. (Make sure to watch this vid if you need help with that, by the way.)

HOWEVER. When you're got the Eagle goin' on, things need a bit of adjusting—even if, like Kara, you believe you've already found your "perfect" foundation match.

Pretty much every makeup artist will tell you that if in doubt, it's better to err on the side of one shade darker, not lighter, with your foundation. And this is especially true if you need to somehow tone down the whiteness of your face so that it's less Eagle-like.

Seriously, don't be scared. Nobody's face is all one tone anyway, so you don't need to be QUITE so Type A about finding the exact match. Particularly if you're very fair-skinned, because according to CoverGirl makeup pro Greg Wencel, who I interviewed not too long ago, pale foundations "can start to look a bit strange and also make you look older... they tend to heighten imperfections."

My advice: Aim for a shade that's somewhere in between what your face is and your neck is, and you should be golden. Literally: Greg says a slightly darker colour "will brighten you up, add dimension and make your skin look more even and flawless." SOLD.

The other issue is warmth. See how Emily's skin is sort of pinkish, while her neck and chest are tan? A foundation in a darker AND warmer colour would've given her a more seamless look.


I'm not suggesting you go all early 2000s on me, but a touch of bronzer—either on its own or combined with your new darker and warmer foundation—can also help to tie things together. (For example, Kara doesn't want to change foundations, so I suggested adding bronzer to her routine in order to kill that Eagle.)

There are a few caveats, however:

First, you need to use a matte (not sparkly) bronzer that isn't too dark—again, you only want to go a fraction darker than your skin tone.

And second, you need to apply it right. Powder bronzer gives you the most control, and what I find the easiest is to draw a "3" on either side of my face. (Well, on one side it would be a reverse "3.")

How it's done: Using a big, fluffy brush, you want to start at the middle of your hairline, and then follow that line all the way to one side. Now go down, still following the hairline, until you get to the cheeks. Here you want to go into the centre, so you're adding colour underneath the cheekbones as you draw the middle line in the "3." Then go back out to the hairline again, and now down to the jaw, where you'll come back into the centre again underneath the jaw line. Repeat on the other side.

Easy peasy! And that, my friends, should make you matchy-matchy in a GOOD way.

Do you have The Eagle?

Do you think your foundation might be too pale, maybe?

Are you diligent about showing your neck some love with the sunscreen? (Confession: I'm not. Bad beauty editor!)

Read Next

What to Do When Your Face is Lighter Than Your Body

Got a white head atop a brown body? It happens to the best of us. (Even Jennifer Aniston.)

10 Things I Learned When Carmindy Did My Makeup

The 'What Not To Wear' star has tons of tips.

What to Do When Your Face is Darker Than Your Body

Whether it's your makeup, skincare regimen or just genetics, here's how to deal with a mismatch.

Best skincare and beauty products 2017

Editor’s Picks: The 100+ Best Skincare, Makeup and Hair Products I Loved in 2017

The most amazing beauty staples and new discoveries of the year.

The Best Makeup Tips For Red Hair

How to channel these natural (and not-so-natural) redheads.

Q: How Much Makeup is Too Much?

(A beauty editor is probably the wrong person to ask this question.)

How To Sweat-Proof Your Makeup Routine

Heat-beating makeup tips for your face, eyes and lips.

Skip Mascara, Look Years Younger

This little Prada trick is no joke.