Of all the makeup techniques to master, matching your skin tone is one of the hardest, yet most important. After all, who wants to be the girl with the orange face or racoon-like concealer?

Makeup artists travel with a palette full of foundation shades, so they don’t have the pressure we do to purchase one exact shade; palettes allow you to mix multiple shades together at any time to get the color just right. In the age of self-tanner and ever-changing skin tones, it’s not a bad idea to invest in one. Here are a few safe bets:

Celebrity makeup artist Eve Pearl has a nifty 3-shade HD foundation palette that fits in any makeup bag:

Eve Pearl Foundation Trio, $52

And her HD Pro Palette contains an entire makeup collection in one kit (12 foundations, 6 concealers, 3 cream blush shades, plus a mattifier, illuminater, and lip treatment) which is a great way to streamline your bathroom counter:

Eve Pearl HD Pro Palette

And Cinema Secrets, a brand created by an Academy Award-winning makeup artist, makes a great little 5-shade foundation palette in many shade variations:

Cinema Secrets Ultimate Foundation Palette, $24

Now, once you invest in a palette, it’s time to get started on matching your skin tone. Here’s exactly what to do: Test at least 3-4 shades on either your jaw line or inner arm. Use a clean finger, brush, or sponge and swipe a line of each shade, leaving a little space between each:

Best places to test: Inside of arm or jawline.

The one that is the least visible to your eye is your best match. In the image above, it’s the one all the way to the left. If you don’t have an exact match, use a makeup sponge to mix several shades together until you get it just right.

Always start with a moisturizer to smooth away rough patches on skin, and follow with a primer to fill in fine lines and give your foundation a smooth surface to sit on. If your foundation formula is pretty thick and concentrated, use a foundation brush or sponge to lightly feather the product over areas that need coverage. You can also mix it with a little with your favorite moisturizer to help make it blend easier.

Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to head to a Sephora or department store counter and experiment. The girls and guys at the counter will be happy to help you!