It’s easy to fall in love with a tube of lipstick or an eye shadow palette at the beauty counter, only to discover later on that it doesn’t really look right on you!
This common beauty dilemma has a lot to do with your skin’s undertone. Unlike your surface tone or visible skin color (fair, medium, morena), the undertone is a bit trickier to figure out, especially for the untrained eye. Traditionally, there are three general undertones:
People with warm undertones typically have yellowish, peachy or golden skin. Those with cool undertones, meanwhile, have pinkish, reddish or even bluish hues in their complexion. Lastly, those with neutral undertones have a mix of warm and cool undertones. (Their undertones are roughly the same color as their surface tones.) These tones greatly affect the range of colors that look good on you or flatter your complexion.
Fast beauty fact: Your surface tone is your visible skin tone, while your undertone is the more subtle, muted tone that lies beneath the surface of your skin.
So how do you figure out which category you fall under? You can either make a quick trip to the beauty counter, or try any of these tests that you can easily do at home!
It’s all in the veins
Check the color of the veins on your wrist under natural light. If it appears greenish, then you have warm undertones. Those with purple or bluish veins are usually cool-toned. If you’re neutral-toned, your veins may not be very visible.
The jewelry hack
Bring out those trinkets and hold them against your skin. People with warm tones usually look good with gold jewelry, while silver flatters those with cool tones more. If both suit you, then you’re most likely neutral-toned.
Try the neutral test
Which neutral shades look best on you? Cool-toned gals look better in bright whites and stark blacks. Off-whites, browns, and beiges, meanwhile, flatter warm-toned folks more. Lucky you if you look good in all. (You’re a neutral, BTW.)
Just in case you still don’t fall into any of the three categories, check if your skin appears ashen or gray. This might indicate that you have a natural olive tone. It’s not as common as the three, and is typically a combination of the undertones. The good news: You’ll probably find that a lot of shades suit you!
What does my undertone mean for my makeup choices?
Now that you've determined your undertone, it's time to apply your new knowledge in choosing the right products that suit your complexion best—starting with your foundation!
Cool-toned: Avoid yellowish foundations, and go for bases that look slightly pink in the bottle.
Warm-toned: Look for the words “golden” or “warm” in the label, and opt for yellowish shades instead of pinkish ones.
Neutral: A peachy foundation can work for you. Just don’t go for the ones that are too yellow or too pinkish.
When it comes to shopping for your lipsticks, blush, eye shadow, and other face products—and basically everything else like your clothes and accessories—here’s an easy color guide:
Cool-toned: You look good in cool pinks, blues, purples, and even teals.
Warm-toned: Bright and warm shades such as oranges, yellows, peaches, and greens suit you perfectly.
Neutral-toned: You can rock anything—both warm and cool hues—as well as neutral shades such as beiges, blacks, and whites.
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