How To Determine Your Skin Tone And Skin Undertone
As if finding a foundation that's long lasting, not cakey, and looks natural isn’t already hard enough, there’s also the feat of choosing the right color. How often have you seen someone with foundation that isn’t quite the same color as their neck? (And how often has that person been you?) That’s all the proof you need to see that matching your makeup to your skin isn’t exactly what you’d call easy. It’s never as simple as determining that you’re pale and then reaching for the lightest shade in a foundation range. That’s because not only do you need to find face makeup that’s a match for your skin tone but you’ll also need to take your skin’s undertone into consideration. If you don’t, you risk ending up with foundation that looks orange. Hoping to avoid a carrot-like appearance but not sure how you’d characterize your skin tone and undertone? Ahead, we’re sharing our best tips and tricks to determine your skin tone and skin undertone.
How to Determine Your Skin Tone
Your skin tone refers to the natural color of your complexion, which can range from fair to deep. If you have a mirror on hand, you should be able to sleuth out the answer to where you fall within that range. Take a look at your face and use the following guidelines to help ascertain whether your skin tone is fair, light, medium, or deep:
If you have a fair skin tone…your skin is very light, and chances are it burns easily.
If you have a light skin tone…your skin is generally light-colored, but has a bit more color to it than that of your fair-skinned friends.
If you have a medium skin tone…you can’t describe your skin as super-light or super dark—you’re caught in the middle.
If you have a deep skin tone…your complexion is dark.
Editor’s note: When attempting to determine your skin tone, don’t look at the center of your face. Rather, focus on your jaw to get a true idea of what your skin tone is. The reason being, the skin along your jawline is typically impacted the least by skin color changes.
How to Determine Your Skin’s Undertone
Learning your undertone isn’t nearly as easy as determining your skin tone. While your skin tone is the shade of your skin, undertones are the colors that come through your skin and affect the overall hue. The three main undertones that are present in the skin are: cool, warm, and neutral. Cool undertones appear in your complexion with hints of blue or pink, while warm undertones appear more yellow or peachy. If your undertones are neutral, you’re not too ruddy or too sallow.
Finding your undertone requires more than eyeballing your skin, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Try the following 10 tricks to determine which undertone you have:
1. Check the Inside of Your Arm
We’re starting with the most popular and oft-recommended route of determining your undertone: taking a look at your veins. Go ahead and flip your arm over, looking at the veins that mark your wrist. If they appear blue or purple, it’s a sign your skin is cool-toned, while green veins indicate warm-toned skin. If you aren’t sure which yours look like, your undertone may be neutral.
2. Put Paper Up to Your Face
Since you can surely get your hands on a piece of white paper, this little trick is extremely convenient. Place a piece of white paper against your face, and it should help solve the mystery of your undertone. The white will create a cast of color on your skin. If your face suddenly appears pink or blue, you’re cool. If you look yellow, you’re warm. If your skin appears gray, you’re neutral.
3. Look Behind Your Ear
It goes without saying that you should determine your undertone when your face is makeup-free, otherwise you won’t know what’s the result of the makeup and what’s your real undertone. Even with a clean complexion, certain skin conditions (like acne for instance) can mask your true tone. If you think that may be the case for you, have a friend take a peek behind your ear. The skin there is less likely to be affected. If the skin has a yellowish hue, your tone is warm. If it’s pink, you have a cool tone.
4. Consider Your Jewelry Preferences
Believe it or not, being partial to gold or silver jewelry could say something about your undertone. If you think gold complements your skin tone the best, your undertone is likely warm, whereas, looking good in silver indicates a cool undertone. Notice no difference? That’s a sign that your undertone is neutral.
5. Keep Your Eye and Hair Color in Mind
Your eye and hair color can play a part in determining your undertone. While it may not always hold true, typically people with cool undertones have eyes that are blue, gray, greenish-blue, or deep brown and hair that has blue, silver, and ash undertones. Those with warm undertones often have eyes that are green, hazel, amber, or warm brown and hair with gold, red, orange, or yellow undertones.
6. Think About the Sun’s Effects
As you know, not everyone reacts the same to the sun. If you’re warm-toned, chances are you count yourself lucky for your ability to tan without burning. Your skin turns a golden brown in the sun, while people with a cool tone often will burn when exposed to the sun. Either way, you should be slathering your skin with Broad Spectrum SPF 15 or higher every day, and reapplying at least every two hours.
7. Review Your Neutral Clothing
Head to your closet, pronto. If you open your wardrobe and are met with an array of stark blacks and whites—intermixed with your colors, of course—it’s probable that you’re cool-toned. On the other hand, if your basic clothing pieces are mostly brown or off-white, chances are you’re warm.
8. Assess Whether You’re Prone to Blushing
Do your cheeks develop a pink flush at the first sign of embarrassment? Do you get red in the face after a hard workout? If you’re answering in the affirmative, it’s indicative of having a cool undertone.
9. Find the Colors That Suit Your Skin
Not everyone is meant to rock the same colors. The bright pink lip color that looks to die for on your best friend may not work for you, while your favorite blue sweater may not flatter your friend. And it’s all because of your different undertones. If you have a warm undertone, wearing warm colors like yellows and oranges is always a good idea. If you have a cool undertone, you’ll want to wear—you guessed it—cool-toned clothing and makeup. Blues, pinks, and purples are all safe choices.
10. Locate a Celebrity Doppelganger
Much to our dismay, not everyone has a celebrity out there that looks exactly like them. Thankfully, however—even if you aren’t mistaken for a starlet on the regular—you can use a celebrity to help determine your undertone. Find a celebrity that you think has similar skin to yours—in both tone and undertone—then pop their name and the word “undertone” into the search engine of your choosing.