Makeup Colors Skin Tone Importance of Knowing your Undertones

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Knowing your Undertones

Did you know you have more than one color on your face? You can be a rainbow of colors just on your skin alone. Then your features; eyes and hair also have their color palette. Knowing your undertones helps.

When you go for a makeover in a department store the makeup artist examines your complexion. She is taking note of all your colors. So what am I talking about? The colors that are your skin tone and undertones.  

 This website is for informational purposes and not for diagnosis. More details.

The Difference between Skin Tone and Undertones

Skin tone and undertone are not the same. Your skin tone can change through time because of weather, sun damage, skin disorders and age.

Your undertone however, remains the same all your life even if the sun makes you tan or darker. It is not actually your skin color on the surface but it peeks out from beneath. The good news, you only have to figure it out once and I’ve given you all kinds of steps to take to do so.

What does knowing your Undertones help with?

I myself have struggled finding a foundation shade. It can be a bit intimidating. Having rosacea I look for a product that will have coverage over this area and even out my tone. There just is no in between, wishing for something just a bit lighter or darker.

Knowing your undertones helps you with applying the appropriate foundation and concealer this provides harmony and balance with your skin tone. Finding that right shade is easier matching your face down to center of your neck being most accurate because you take in any redness you want to conceal.

Undertones can be Found in More Areas

You may have a variety of undertones there could be a warmer appearance on your forehead with cool, purplish tints around your eyes. To use only one shade here can make the finish look flat and caked on.

By nature you have more than one tone on your face. So you want to use more than one color. This way you bring back depth and definition. It’s important to target all your undertones for a natural finish and full face.

All your makeup from highlighter to shadow can either enhance or clash with your skin. Using certain shades and colors on the wrong undertones can give you a rather dull and lackluster look. So you see how knowing your undertones is important.

For example; your lipstick if you are naturally warm a blue-based red lip might look dreadful. Not that you can’t choose red (red has so many varieties) but go for orangey-red instead.

This will compliment (this is what you are trying to achieve) your skin’s undertones and get attention, the best kind.

Knowing your Undertones
makeup palette photo by Suzy Hazelwood from pexels

Knowing your Undertones

Undertone types are warm, cool or neutral.

Warm undertones have a base of yellow, gold or peach. If you have warm undertones you are prone to look somewhat sallow having a yellowish tint.

So for warm you don’t want foundations with yellow undertones. This is how knowing your undertones helps.

If you have warm undertones in your eye area you may want a slightly peach concealer to take care of that sallowness.

Those who are warm toned would have a color palette of gold, bronze, brown, coral and peach.

Cool undertones consist of pink, blue or red tints. If you are naturally cooler you may go for those blue-based reds. You’ll want a foundation to match these tones that isn’t too pink.

Those who are cool toned would have a color palette of blue, pink, frosted purples and blue-greens.

Neutral undertones consist of both yellow and pink tints. It is a mixture of warm and cool. If you have neutral undertones the world is your oyster! A number of color palettes and tones will look good on you.

So knowing your undertones comes in handy.

How to Determine your Undertone

Figuring out your undertone may not be easy peasy. It may in fact be somewhat confusing. If you have rosacea or eczema that redness doesn’t indicate you have pink hues underneath.

Cool colors give you the experience of feeling cool as warm you can experience warmth. For example: take the ocean a vast span of blue, blue is cool. You can feel the coolness even before you are in contact with the water.

This also works with fire with its flames of orange, this is warm. You can feel the heat without being near its flames.

Use a wider spectrum of colors and draw on your imagination to feel whether they are more warmth or more coolness. Like mauve leans more to the cool “ocean” feel than the “fire” feel.

Mauve is also closer to blue than it is to orange. So mauve is considered a cool color. You can see that pink is close to mauve so it too is a cool color.

Yellow leans more to the warm fire. It is also closer to orange than blue. So yellow is a warm color. See how fun knowing your undertones can be.

However, finding makeup products that work for you may be a bit of a challenge. This is because you use many makeup neutrals to create illusions (like magic) on your face. It’s harder to divide these into cool or warm. Products are not labeled with our undertones in mind they are aimed more to the skin tones.

Preparing for the Color Test

  • You need one pink and one orange lipstick
  • As well as one pink and one orange sheet or paper

For the test you will compare orange and pink. It is important that the colors you are using are the same intensity or your judgment will be inaccurate.

Cleanse your face and lips of all makeup. All uneven patches, blotches or red veins that you may have should be visible. You in all your glory!

To prevent your hair from interfering with your face pull and tie it back completely so it is not a distraction.

Make sure your face is evenly lit by natural light. Preferably standing near a window but avoid bright or direct sunlight. Use a mirror that allows you to see your entire face. This includes your neck and shoulders.

Your shoulders should be bare. You don’t want to be influenced by your clothes affecting your testing colors.

If you don’t trust your own judgment ask a couple friends (you can each take a turn) that will be honest and objective. You are looking for the color that suits you not the color your friends like.

Steps for Undertone Color Test

  1. Hold the pink paper below your chin. Look into your mirror at your face with only the pink paper next to it, paying attention to your face and not the pink paper. Observe how the pink color looks with any unevenness in skin tone, blotches, blemishes or red veins. Do these imperfections pop out more or seem to fade?
  2. Switch the sheets of paper and now hold the orange sheet below your chin. Follow the same process. How does the orange interact with your skin now and note the appearance of imperfections.
  3. For this step and the next you will use your lipstick. First, apply the pink lipstick and again hold the pink paper under your chin. How does this affect your appearance?
  4. Use a good makeup remover to take off all the pink lipstick from your lips. Then apply the orange lipstick and hold the orange paper under your chin.

If both colors have the same results and look just as good you are probably a neutral.

Knowing your Undertones
makeup artist working on client at her station photo by Maria Gloss from pexels

A Few Other Tricks knowing your Undertones

If the color test above didn’t help or you want to throw all your eggs in the basket and have something more to go by in determining your undertone look here.

Your past sun exposure (because I don’t want you to have sun damage) actually is very helpful in figuring out your skin undertone. If you burn easily, you’re a cool undertone. Likewise, If you tan easily, you’re a warm undertone. When you burn and then tan you are neutral undertone.

Silver or gold. Comparing which type of jewelry looks better against your skin can be helpful. Gold is usually flattering on warmer undertones. Silver is the opposite being more flattering on cool undertones. You are neutral of course if you can get away wearing either.

Your vein color. Looking at the veins in and around your face and neck is a great way to figure out your undertones. If your skin has blue veins you are cool. If your veins look green on your skin (olive) you’re warm. And neutral is a mixture of warm and cool undertones.

Looking at other features. Is this making sense yet? You can also look at your eye and hair colors. Typically, a deeper skin tone with darker eye color tends to be warm undertones. A fair complexion with lighter eye color tends to be neutral or cool undertones.

A little trivia: celebs with warm undertones are Beyoncé, Lucy Lu and JLo. Neutral undertones Kerry Washington and Sandra Bullock. Cool Alex Wek, Anne Hathaway and Adele.

Wrapping it up

Undertones differ from skin tones because they are beneath your skin surface and you have more than one. It can be fun to experiment with makeup colors and take notes. Knowing your undertones can help with matching shades of makeup that truly compliments your skin.

And you want to compliment your skin. The right color will give your skin a radiant glow and creates a natural look with blemishes that are less noticeable. Not to mention how it makes you feel and look fantastic!

You can also look at your wardrobe. What colors look best on you? Are they warm or cool?

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Header Photo makeup artist applying eyeshadow on client by Maria Gloss from pexels

Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fourteen years.
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