Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to determine your skin undertone

I’ve recently become interested in this subject whilst on my quest to find the right foundation for my pale, hard to match skin. All of them have been either to pink or too yellow! I recently discovered that i am neutral with very light undertones of pink, yellow, peach and beige.

So why is this important?

With the correct colors (in cosmetics and clothing):

Your skin tone will appear radiant and glowing
Your eyes will appear brighter and clearer
Your hair will reflect highlights
You will hear compliments - such as "You look great"!

With the wrong colors (in cosmetics and clothing) :

Your skin tone will appear tired and drained
Your eyes may appear shadowed, dark circles
Even your teeth can appear with a slight yellow hue
You will hear comments - such as "You look tired” "Do you feel OK?"

What are skin undertones?

Skin undertones are the colours that lie beneath the skin. Undertones are the colours that are cast like a shadow beneath your skin colour. The shadow has a distinct colour which never changes. While the tone of your skin colour can change very easily your undertone never changes.

We all fall into a group and the group consists of cool, neutral, warm and olive. Let me explain what each group means


If you have a cool undertone you will have a pink, red or you may even have a bluish undertone to your skin

Examples of celebrities with a cool undertone are Alek Wek, Scarlett Johansson, Michelle Trachtenberg, Keira Knightley

Side note: I made the mistake of thinking I was cool toned because I have pink overtones which are on the surface of the skin and not to be confused with undertones which are beneath the skin.


If you have a warm undertone you will have a yellow or golden undertone to your skin.

Examples of celebrities with a warm undertone are: Nicole Kidman, Chelsea Clinton, Gillian Anderson, Leona Lewis


This is where it gets a bit complicated! If you are a neutral this means you either have a mix of cool and warm undertones or no distinguishable undertones at all.

Examples of celebrities with a neutral undertone: Dita Von Teese, Alyssa Milano, Kelly Clarkson, Victoria Beckham


Now this is an undertone that doesn't seem to be widely spoken or written about. Its usually just the 3 most common undertones that we are all aware of. I couldn't find much information on it and am personally not that familiar with it. I did however stumble across an extremely well written and informative blog post explaining  olive undertones and also how to determine your skin undertone if you are asian, which from what i have read can be a bit more tricky than if you are caucasian. So i will hand you over to Of Faces and Fingers who has very kindly allowed me to include her post here. Thank you very much! Undertones for Asians: How to tell if your skintone is Cool, Warm, Neutral or Olive

So how do you figure out which category you fall into? Below I will list some tips and tricks I have picked up along the way to help you figure it out.

Vein test – In a natural light look at the inside of your wrist if the veins appear blue you have a cool undertone, if they appear more green you have a warm undertone. If you can’t really tell or you think you see a mixture of both then you may be neutral

Pony tail test – pull all your hair back away from your face in a pony tail or headband and thoroughly cleanse your face. Place a white towel or cloth around your shoulders. If your face looks more yellow this would indicate a warm undertone, whereas a bluish reflection would mean a cool undertone.

Silver/gold test – if you think you think gold is more flattering against your skin this may indicate a warm undertone. People with a cool undertone usually look better in silver. If, however you think bronze looks more flattering against your skin then you may be neutral.

Genetic natural colour of eyes and hair - As a rule, normally people with blue, green or grey eyes with blonde, black or brown hair have a cool skin tone. Additionally, cool skin tones will have a pink or rosy undertone. Those people with brown, black, or hazel eyes and have black, brown, blond, red, or strawberry blond hair are usually have a warm skin tone and have a golden or apricot undertone. However, there are always exceptions to the rule when trying to determine your skin tone by the colour of your hair and eyes.

If after doing the above tests you are still unable to determine your skin undertone, you may fall into the neutral category.  If you're totally confuzzled and dont know what the heck you might be!, i  would suggest going along to a make up counter where someone will be able to assist you

So to summarise, if you have a cool undertone you should go for a pink based foundation. If you have a warm undertone you would choose a more yellow based foundation. Neutral people are the luckiest and could opt for either a cool or warm foundation and pair it with the opposing powder or you could go for a foundation that has more balanced undertones.

More and more companies today are bringing out foundations for different undertones. Some examples are:

Sassy Minerals
Meow Cosmetics
Estee Lauder
Lily Lolo
Mac Cosmetics

I hope this post has been helpful to some of you and its not too confusing! lol

Lydia :)


Pretty helpful, except that warm does not always equal yellow - I'm more peach and sometimes warm foundations are too yellow.

Also, if you have redness on your face, you might think you're a cool when you're not, so check out your neck and chest too.

Yep, I'm a neutral.
I've got a pink overtone which makes a lot of MUAs assume I'm cool. I've got creamy undertones with a bit of beige, a bit of peach, and a bit of yellow. Matching me to cool makes me look weird/sick. Matching me too warm makes me look odd, too.

I got confused by my pink overtones and thought i was cool until i met Jen @ Meow Cosmetics. I look much better in warm foundations than cool.

Hi Kira,
You won a blog award.

which stores are the best so far for this? maybeline? not too sure, looking for cheap stuff but if expensive is what's best then that's fine :)

Very interesting Mac foundation is completely different cool is olive with golden yellow undertones and warm is pink hmm....

I love this! Most people don’t even know what skin tone they are… they just assume they are warm in they’re tan and cool if they’re pale, but that’s not true. I actually wrote a blog article that has some great tricks and tips. Check it out and let me know what you think!
xoxo, WearToStandOut

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