If you’ve been buying the same foundation for years, you might think you know all there is to know about your skin tone. But there’s more to choosing makeup than what lies on the surface. Our skin has undertones that determine our overall coloring. Undertones are why some hues look radiant on us, and others look… a bit off.
Undertones can be placed into two general categories: warm and cool. Anyone can be a warm or cool tone, regardless of skin color or skin conditions. Take your temperature with these quick tests, then check out the best makeup for your undertones. Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules to makeup–comfort and confidence are the most important factors!
The Vein Test
Go under natural light and check out the veins in your wrist. If they appear green, chances are, your skin has warm undertones. If they look blue or purple, you have cool undertones.
The Bling Test
Which type of jewelry flatters you most? If your skin glows beside gold, you’re warm. If platinum and silver pieces suit you better, you’re cool.
The Paper Test
Hold up a sheet of plain white paper next to your face. If your skin appears yellowish in comparison, you’re warm. If your skin seems pinkish or even blueish-red, you’re cool. And if you’re looking a bit gray, you might have olive skin, which is generally considered a warm tone.
The Sun Test
Cool tones tend to flush, freckle and burn easily under the sun. Warm tones tan quickly, and rarely burn. (Note that this test is inconclusive. You can have dark skin that doesn’t burn in the sun and still have cool undertones.)
Okay, I’m warm!
Your skin has warm undertones like Beyoncé, Jennifer Aniston, and J.Lo. You look gorgeous in earthy neutrals, reds, and yellows. Now let’s talk makeup!
Your ideal foundation will look somewhat yellowy inside the container. If you can’t find a telltale “W” on the bottle, keep your eye out for warm words like…
Choose a highlighter with an orange or yellow base: champagne and peach for lighter warm tones, bronze for darker warm tones. Your contour shade–the color you use to create shadows that accentuate your bone structure–should have a hint of red to it. You can pull off blush in vibrant shades of orange and apricot, or if you have fairer skin, a baby pink blended with subtle copper.
Fair warm-toned skin: sandy neutral, coral, and sunny pink shades
Medium warm-toned skin: copper and brick red shades
Deep warm-toned skin: bright tangerine, burgundy, and bronze shades
Like Lucy Liu, Lupita Nyong’o, and Anne Hathaway, you’re a cool girl. Your cool undertones make you shine in jewel tones, crisp whites, and ocean blues. On to your face…
Many foundations will have a “C” on the label to indicate a cool tone. They look rosy in the container. Before you buy and apply a foundation, check for words like…
Illuminate your best angles with highlighters in opalescent pearly hues. Make your cheekbones stand out (in a natural-looking way) by choosing a contour color with a smidge of gray. As for blush, rose golds, pinky-purples, and berries are the way to go!
Fair cool-toned skin: raspberry, mauve, and bold purple-based red shades
Medium cool-toned skin: wine and berry shades
Deep cool-toned skin: plum, fuchsia, and ruby red shades
Help, I don’t fit either category!
Were you conflicted about your answers to the tests above? Never fear! Like Kerry Washington, Jessica Biel, and Victoria Beckham, you have neutral undertones. Consider yourself lucky–you can experiment with both warm and cool makeup shades without washing yourself out. Your foundation keywords are ivory, buff, and praline.