You’ve probably heard the phrase “skin undertone” before. You may have even smiled and nodded without quite knowing what it means. Skin tone is one thing, but knowing how to find your skin undertone can seem complicated.
Here’s the thing: it’s actually rather straightforward if you know the right method to use. Read through this guide to find out exactly what an undertone is, why it matters, and how to find yours.
What Is Skin Undertone?
You likely already know what your skin tone is. Skin tone is the shade you see in the mirror. It’s the surface color of your skin, from ivory to ebony and everything in between.
Skin undertone is different. Undertones are the colors underneath the surface of your skin. It is possible to have the same skin color (or skin tone) as someone else and have a completely different undertone. There are three undertone colors: warm, cool, and neutral.
- Warm: the base of your skin has a yellow, gold, or peach tint
- Cool: you have a blue, pink, or red hue
- Neutral: you have a mixture of warm and cool tones or you’re right in the middle1
Any skin tone can have any of the three undertones. For example, someone with dark skin might have a blueish (cool) undertone or they might have a peachy (warm) undertone.
Why Is It Important?
Now that you understand what undertone is, why should you care? Simply put, knowing your undertone will help you pick out colors that flatter you. Some colors look great hanging in the store, and a little bit…off when you try them on. If you’ve ever experienced this, you likely ran into a color that doesn’t flatter your undertone.
Understanding your undertone is crucial for picking out makeup in shades that look best on you, like foundation, blush, and lipstick. Mistakenly choosing a cool undertone when you have a warm skin tone can wash you out. Applying a warm tone to cool-toned skin can clash with your skin.
Wearing the wrong undertone might make you look:
- Washed out
How To Find Your Own Skin Undertone
In order to find the colors that will look the best on you, first you need to determine your skin tone and undertone. Here are four methods to help you find out which one you are.
- Look At Your Veins. Hold out your wrist in natural light and examine your veins. If you see blue or purple veins, your undertones are cool. If your veins look slightly green, you have warm undertones. If you see a mix, you may have neutral undertones.
- White Vs. Off-White. Grab a piece of white paper or a pure white article of clothing. Step into natural light and hold the item up to your face. If your skin looks pink or rosy by comparison, you have cool undertones. If your face looks yellow in comparison, you may have warm undertones.4
- Look At Your Natural Hair Color. Figuring out the undertones in your hair may point you in the right direction. Cool tones may have ash or silver undertones in their hair. Warm tones will have red, orange, or yellow undertones. If you have black hair, a blue tint means cool and a red tint means warm.
- Look At Your Skin Color. This one seems like a no-brainer, right? The key is to look past the shade of your skin tone and try to pick up on the underlying colors. Cool skin tones will have hints of pink, red, or blue. Warm undertones will have a yellow, peach, gold, or olive tint.5
Still can’t figure it out? These additional methods might help.
- Tan or Burn? How does your skin react to sun exposure? If you burn easily and rarely tan, you may have cool undertones. If you tan easily, you likely have warm undertones. The shade of your skin also plays a factor here, so this may not work for everyone.
- Gold Vs. Silver. People who have warm undertones tend to gravitate toward gold jewelry and accessories. If you think silver is more flattering on you, you may have cool undertones. If you could easily go between the two, you may have neutral tones.
What Colors Go With Each Undertone?
People with warm tones look great in warm colors. People with cool tones look great in cool colors. If you have a neutral tone, you can go with either group of colors (lucky you).
Colors For Warm Skin Tones
If you have a warm skin tone, you’ll look great in warm colors like:
- Warm red
- Warm gray
You may want to avoid cool colors like icy blues and jewel tones. These colors can make your skin look gray instead of its natural healthy peachy tone.
Love cool colors and hate to give them up? Here’s a fun tip: you can make any color work for you if you pick a warm shade of that color. To do that, start with a cool color (like blue) and find a shade that has a warm hue, like yellow or red.
Here are some warm shades of cool colors:
- Olive Green (green with gold tones)
- Blue-Green (blue with a yellow tone)
- Orchid (purple with a pink tone)
- Violet-Red (purple with a red tone)6
Colors For Cool Skin Tones
If you have a cool skin tone, you may want to gravitate toward colors like:
- Cool red
- Bright blue
- Deep purple
- Emerald green
- Icy blue
- Gray pink
- Cool gray
- Bright white
You can still make warm colors look great by picking a cool shade of that color. Start with a warm color (like yellow) and find a shade with a cool hue, like blue, green, or cool gray.
Here are some cool shades of warm colors:
- Dusty Rose (pink with purple tones)
- Green-Blue (yellow with a blue tone)
- Lemon yellow (yellow with a light green tone)
- Mustard (yellow with a darker green tone)7
Colors For Neutral Skin Tones
Your neutral coloring makes it easy for you to look great in anything on the color wheel. To best compliment your skin tone, you may want to stick with soft colors instead of neon or bright colors. Super bright colors can reflect off of your skin and may overwhelm your
Go Forth And Select Your Colors
Technically, of course, you can wear any color you want. You do you. One exception that most beauty experts would agree with is to match the undertone of your foundation with your proper skin tone. If you go to a makeup counter, an expert will likely be able to help you. (And now that you can figure out your skin’s undertone, this process should be easier).
Dressing according to your skin undertone will make the biggest impact on items that you wear around your face or upper body. If there’s a shade you love that doesn’t particularly look good on you, you can always rock it as a belt, handbag, pants, or pair of shoes.