How To Find Your Skin's Undertone, According To Makeup Artists

This will take your makeup to the next level.

by Miki Hayes and Annie Blay
Originally Published: 
Warm or cool skin tone: These 5 questions will help you determine your skin's undertone.
Getty Images/Peathegee Inc

Choosing the best foundation match, hair dye, or even red lipstick can be daunting. Beauty brands are offering more and more color options so that people can have the closest and best possible matches. With all of the choices available though comes more of a chance to get it wrong, which is why knowing if you have a cool or warm skin tone can help.

According to makeup artist Ashley Victoria, your undertone is the hue underneath your skin that affects your overall appearance, and it helps you properly match your complexion to shades of cosmetics. Regardless of how good your products are or how precise your application technique is, if the undertone is off, your finished makeup look can leave you with an uneven skin tone and a dull or flat appearance.

Generally, there are three classifications for skin undertones: warm, cool, and neutral. If you have warm undertones, your skin will lean peachy, yellow, or golden. If you have cool undertones, your skin will lean pink, red, or blue. And if you have neutral undertones, your skin will have some mixture of these colors. You could also have olive undertones, which can vary. Makeup artist Damone Roberts tells Bustle olive complexions typically fall between neutral and warm undertones.

Of course since these are undertones, they are much harder to detect than the general color of your skin. You (usually) can't simply look at yourself and just know that you have a medium skin tone with red undertones or a deep skin tone with yellow undertones. So how do you figure out what your undertones are? There are some sneaky clues hidden on your body and in your fashion choices to help out. Here are five of them.

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1. What Color Are Your Veins?

According to Monika Blunder, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Monika Blunder Beauty, the veins on the inside of your wrist can indicate your undertone. She explains that purple or blue-looking veins usually indicate a cool undertone, and warm undertones often have a more greenish tint to them. Neutral undertones usually have a mixture of both. Green veins can also indicate an olive undertone, adds Victoria. That said, not everyone has visible veins. If that's the case, you can look at your jewelry.

2. Gold Or Silver Jewelry?

Don your favorite pieces of jewelry. Do you look better in golds or silvers? “If you look best in gold jewelry, you’re usually warm-toned," Blunder tells Bustle. "Silver looks best on cool tones, and if both suit you, you’re most likely neutral." Olive undertones also pair well with gold and silver, says Victoria, since they have both browns and greens in their skin.

3. What Colors Do You Look Best In?

Are there certain colors you find you look better in? If you look best rocking jewel-tones such as blues, purples, and emerald-greens, you're probably cool-toned. If you favor earth-tones such as reds, oranges, yellows, and olive-greens, you're likely warm toned. And for you lucky gals who can get away with all the colors, chances are you have neutral undertones.

4. Do You Burn Or Tan?

How about when you spend some bonding time with Mr. Sun? According to Victoria, how your skin responds to the sun can tell you what your undertone is. If you tan easily, she notes this usually indicates you fall under the olive category. "If you are someone who burns first, then your burn turns into a tan, that typically means you're neutral," says Blunder. “If you always tan without much burning, that means you're warm. Or, if you always burn, you're usually cool."

5. What Are Your Eye & Hair Colors?

If you have blue, grey, or green eyes with blonde, brown, or black hair that has platinum tones, you are most likely cool-toned. If you have brown, amber, or hazel eyes with strawberry blonde, auburn, or black hair that has gold tones, you are most likely warm-toned. (If the gold/silver test was inconclusive with your skin, try it with your hair.) Though makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran adds that "deeper skin tones with darker hair can be both warm or cool, and redheads can also tend to be on either side." So if that's the case with you, try the other undertone tests to be sure.

Tip: If you dye your hair, and the name of your color has the word ash or platinum, it's a cool-toned color. If the name has the word golden or mahogany, it's a warm-toned color.

Now that you’ve got your undertone nailed down, keep scrolling to shop foundations for your makeup bag.

For Breakout-Prone Skin

If your skin tends to get pimples from the products you slather on, this formula’s for you. Spiked with a trio of acne-fighting ingredients — salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and witch hazel — this foundation provides coverage without wreaking havoc on your pores.

For Easy Application

Don’t own any makeup brushes? No prob. A few swipes of this creamy, buildable foundation stick will cover up dark spots, discoloration, texture, and pimples — all you need to do is blend it in with your fingertips.

For A Matte Finish

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty foundations have become industry favorites for a reason: Not only do they come in a minimum of 40 shades each (this one comes in 50, BTW), but they truly give you flawless coverage. The Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear formula feels light but has a shine-free finish that lasts.

For A Subtle Glow

For those who prefer a dewier finish from their foundation, this one by Estelle & Third provides subtle coverage and gives you the added benefit of nourishing your skin: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and aloe vera keep your face hydrated as you’re wearing it.

For Medium Coverage

Sure, you may know Anastasia Beverly Hills for its cult-fave brow products — but the Luminous Foundation is an under-the-radar MVP. It’s good for all skin types, and the liquid formula covers everything you might want to hide without feeling heavy on your skin. Plus, it’s water-resistant, so it’ll stay put.

Bustle Shop brings you the editor-approved buys we can’t get enough of and think you’ll adore, too. Best of all, you can shop all of the products above directly on this page without visiting multiple retailers. Simply click on an item to learn more, choose your size or favorite color (if applicable), and then hit “add to cart.” When you’re done, you can click over to your cart in the top right corner of your screen to purchase all your stellar selects at once. How easy is that?

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