By Caitlin Brown
If you’ve ever been that person who nods knowingly in conversation with the salesperson at the beauty counter but is completely lost, this is for you. When it comes to skin undertones, particularly your own, most of us have no idea, and often — in my experience, at least — neither do the salespeople.
While skin tones range from very dark to very fair in color, undertone refers to the shade that is within that color. Your skin tone may change throughout the year (a shade or two deeper in the summer or maybe fairer or lighter in the winter months), but your undertone never changes.
Why is knowing your undertone so important? Well, if you’ve ever struggled with finding your foundation shade, not knowing your undertone is probably the reason why.
There are three types of undertones: cool, warm, and neutral, but there are categories under those, for instance, warm: peach, yellow and golden; cool: pink, reddish or blueish undertones, and neutral: a mixture of warm and cool. Finding which one fits the bill for your skin can be tricky.
But fear not, here are a few tried-and-true tests to help you figure out where you fall in the mix to get it down once and for all.
Some hacks to pinpoint your true colors
Throw on a white T-shirt or hold up something white next to your face in front of a mirror. If your skin looks pink or rosy by comparison, you’re cool-toned. If your face looks more yellow, your undertone is warm. If you feel you look better in off-white or more creamy hues, this is a big indicator you are a warm. If you can wear both stark white and creamy white without feeling washed out in either, you are likely a neutral.
How does your skin react to the sun?
Your skin’s reaction to the sun is very telling when it comes to your specific undertone. If you burn easily, you’re a cool undertone, and if you tan easily, you’re a warm. If you burn and then tan, you’re a neutral.
Checking the color of your veins
This is a great way to determine your undertones. Focus on the veins around your face and neck to best identify. If your veins appear blue, you’re probably a cool; if your veins appear green (olive) on the skin, you’re a warm, and neutral is a mixture of both warm and cool undertones.
Eye and hair color
A general rule of thumb is that deeper skin tones and deeper eye colors tend to have warmer undertones, while very fair skin and lighter eyes tend to have neutral or cool undertones.
Throw on some jewelry
Comparing how gold versus silver jewelry looks against your skin can be a helpful way to figure out your undertone. Gold tends to be most flattering on warmer skin tones, while silver is flattering on cool ones.
Once you’ve identified where that mug falls on the spectrum, here are some tips to get the palette right to compliment them.
Finding the Best Palette for Your Undertone
Tends to be neutral or cool undertones. Cooler-toned shades — taupe, beige, and soft pinks — complement you.
Lends itself best to cooler shades that are soft and neutral: grays and deeper beiges.
Does well with both warmer and cooler tones.
Works with both warmer and cooler shades, and best with vivid (pop) colors, which olive skin can handle.
Warmer shades like bronze and tones like orange.
Medium to Dark
Lends itself to warm and cool colors.
This skin tone can go both cool and warm in color. Going more vivid with color can really pop beautifully against it.
Whatever undertone you are naturally blessed with, enjoy this little experiment at home and have fun with it. Maybe do a little spring cleaning and weed out was doesn’t work or treat yourself to something shiny and new that does. Whatever you do, get that mug out there and enjoy brighter days.