Have you ever tried on a top or a shade of lipstick that makes your skin tones, eyes, and face come alive, only to test out another that’s almost exactly the same shade but makes you look tired, washed-out, and just generally blah? The first color probably matched your skin’s surface tone and undertone perfectly, while the second shade may have a totally wrong undertone.
If you are not a makeup artist who learned to quickly detect someone’s undertone, you probably struggle to find a difference between your surface tone and undertone.
The first step in grasping the concept? Understanding that our skin’s surface tone is the color you’d describe yourself as having (ivory, light, medium, tan, dark, etc.) Your skin’s undertone is the color underneath the surface. You can have the same skin color as someone, but a different undertone, which is broken down into three classifications:
- Cool (pink, red or bluish undertones)
- Warm (yellow, peachy, golden undertones)
- Neutral (a mix of warm and cool undertones)
1. Check Your Veins
Push your sleeves up right now and look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. Are they blue or green? If they look more blue, you likely have cool undertones. If the veins look greenish, you’re warm. It’s worth noting, warm girls, that you’re veins aren’t actually green—they look it because you’re seeing them through the yellow-toned skin (yellow + blue = green.) If you have trouble telling, you probably lean neutral.
2. The Old Jewelry Trick.
Think about whether you look better in silver or gold jewelry (Not which you like more, but which actually makes you look more radiant, glowing, and awake.) Typically, girls with cool undertones look better in silver and platinum metals, and warm-toned women look better in gold.
3. The Neutral Test.
Think about what neutral shades flatter you best. Does your skin, eyes, and face look better in bright white and black hues, or ivory, off-whites, and brown/tan shades? The former means you’re probably cool-toned, and the latter, warm.
4. Eye and Hair Color.
Your natural eye and hair colors can help figure out your coloring. Customarily, cool people have eyes that are blue, gray, or green and have blond, brown, or black hair with blue, silver, violet and ash undertones. Conversely, warm-toned women usually have brown, amber, or hazel eyes with strawberry blond, red, brown, or black hair. Their hair tends to have gold, red, orange, or yellow undertones.
5. The Sun’s Effects
When you’re out in the sun, does your skin turn a golden-brown, or does it burn and turn pink first? If you fit into the former category, you’re warm-toned, while cool tones tend to burn (fair-skinned cool girls will simply burn, while medium-skinned cool-toned girls will burn then tan.)
6. Identify with a Celeb
A few celebs who have cool undertones:
Martha Hunt, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, Cara Delevingne.
Celebs who have warm undertones:
Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Alba, Rachel Bilson, Jennifer Aniston, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian.
7. Find Which Colors Look Best on You
There’s no denying that certain colors will make you look better regardless of your skin’s undertone. Warm-toned girls should lean toward yellows, oranges, browns, yellow-greens, ivories, and warm reds, while cool-toned girls should wear blues, greens, pinks, purples, blue-greens, magentas, and true “blue-based” reds.
If you get different results for each one, then you probably have a neutral undertone.
How does this help you exactly? Knowing your undertone can make all the difference in finding your perfect red lipstick, eyeshadow, foundation, clothes you wear… So you need to find colors that have your undertone in them. If you have a warm undertone, then a warmer shade of(coral, orangey) red will suit you better then the one with a blue-pink undertone.
It seems confusing at the beginning, but once you get a grasp on it, you will always look you best!