About our shade range

The LEMONS foundation shaderange is designed based on a mathematical model with data sources from Statista, US Census Bureau and Cocoon.

Our shaderange was created from data. Big data, just like everything else we do. The choice of shades is based on a mathematical model that takes into account many sources of data, color theory, and decades of expertise in formulation.  

Looking at external data to build the range

For several years now we’ve been correlating patterns from over 40,000 women with problematic skin here in the US. This technology is called Cocoon. But this was just the beginning.

After looking into the Cocoon data we studied the US Census Bureau data on ethnic distribution. While this data does not represent the exact melanin levels or hues of the audience, it gave us another dataset to compare our data with. 


A lot of times in the industry we see shades designed per ethnicity, which isn’t ideal for people who have biracial or ‘blended’ ethnicities. Whilst browsing through available data sources, we found a projection from Statista (2021) that by year 2060, all other ethnic groups besides the Non-Hispanic White group would grow. We had to take this into consideration in order to formulate a shaderange that best represents the current and projected population data.
This also meant that we didn’t want to go down the route of designing “black shades” or “white shades.” We wanted to formulate shades that are independent of race, because even within a single race, there are so many variations and subtleties between individuals’ skin tones. These subtleties between skin tones within a single race and across different races, as well as how personal preference affects one’s idea of a “perfect shade match” were valuable lessons we learned from our research.

Shaderange distribution base on undertones and the Fitzpatrick scale

Skin tone is one thing, but undertones can be the deal breaker. These colours emanating from beneath the skin layer have more influence than they’re credited for and they play an essential role in our color palette.

Your undertone is different to your skin tone. It describes the colors underneath your skin’s surface. These never change, even when you tan. There are three undertone categories: warm (yellowy gold), cool (hints of blue, pink or red) and neutral (a mix of the two). You can determine yours a number of different ways. We recommend looking at the colors of the veins on your wrist and knowing which color jewelry suits you best. You can filter down our shaderange based on undertone here. 

How to choose an undertone

When we set out to design our shade range we wanted to have our range suit as many people as possible, the prominent undertones we worked with are well known in the industry but their distribution is tricky.

Another parameter we set for ourselves was the distribution of shades on the Fitzpatrick scale. American dermatologist Thomas Fitzpatrick identified six skin categories according to how much melanin is present and, therefore, how each type responds to ultraviolet light. The scale, also known as the Fitzpatrick skin phototype, ranges from type I (always burns, never tans) to type VI (never burns, deeply pigmented dark brown to darkest brown). You can browse our shaderange based on Fitzpatrick here.  

Picking texture and pigments that work for acne

We knew that even if we picked the evenest distribution of and the most inclusive shades they would not come to life if the foundation itself wouldn’t enhance it. So we set out to formulate for a “rough terrain.” It meant designing a texture of the foundation, choosing the pigments that would look good on the “rough terrain”. And the shades had to dry perfectly to the desired shade. We also had to take into account that the shades would look different depending on skin barrier health, whether the foundation is wet or dry, and on interactions with other products.

We briefed our colorist with all this data which gave her a great starting point. She has dedicated her career to the formulation of foundation shades and her unrivaled eye, and knowledge of working across multiple products and skin types has given us a unique perspective on color mixing. The process begins with the basic understanding that all human skin has an orange hue, the depth of which varies from person to person. She has then devised a complementary Chroma – a range of colours like beige and brown – that align to different skin tones. Each skin tone has three or four shade options depending on the depth of the orange hue and whether the Chroma level is low or high. 

If you ask us why we chose the shade we did this is the long answer. A lot went into it. Of course, it’s not perfect but it is also not an afterthought. If you want to give us feedback on our range we are more than happy to hear from you! Just DM us on social or email us.