Have you ever wondered why you look better in certain colors? For instance, I tend to look washed out if I wear something that has an orange hue to it, including camel shades. Most of the time, you think it’s because of your complexion — light, medium, and dark — which is partially true.
In reality, it’s not just about how light or dark your skin is in its natural state; your skin’s undertone matters too. You might be thinking undertone, what exactly is that? Undertones, which are classified broadly into cool, warm and neutral, refer to the colors that are underneath your skin aside from your overall skin complexion or shade. Unlike your complexion, your undertones don’t change.
Cool undertone: Your skin has a blueish or pinkish appearance
Warm undertone: Your skin has a peachy or golden/tanned appearance
Neutral undertone: Your skin has both cool and warm undertones
Note that light complexion doesn’t necessarily mean you have a cool undertone and vice versa. You might have a dark complexion but a cool undertone.
So how do you figure out your undertone?
The vein test
The number one way that you can tell what your skin undertone is by looking at your veins. The general rule is that either your vein will appear green or blue.
Green = warm
Blue = cool
Green and blue = neutral
For instance, I have both green and blue veins.
The white/ off-white paper test
Do you look better in white or off-white? A quick way to test this out is to take a white paper and bring it up to your face.
Does your face brighten up? Then you’re most likely cool.
Does your face look sallow? Then you’re most likely warm.
Can’t tell a huge difference? Then you’re most likely neutral.
In this case, I look better in white.
Gold or silver
Another “do you look better in…” test with jewelry.
Gold = warm
Silver = cool
Gold and silver = neutral
I tend to gravitate toward silver naturally, but I’m okay with gold jewelry as long as it’s not too golden.
Tan or burn
Generally speaking, if you burn easily, then you have a cool undertone. If you get a nice golden tan, you got it. You’re warm. If you’re somewhere in between — let’s say, you burn and then tan (such is my case) — then you’re neutral.
Okay, great! Now I know my undertone so what does that mean?
Cool undertone: goes best with jewel-toned shades such as blue (sapphire), green, pink, purple, and cool red
Warm undertone: works well with earthy shades of yellow, orange, brown, off-white (cream), and warm red
Neutral undertone: lucky you, you may be able to get away with most colors! But from my experience, I think you still skew toward either cool or warm, so it really depends.
You can check out this color chart as a visual guide.
So next time when you’re out shopping, try mixing and matching the recommended colors based on your undertone. Who knows, you might have to upgrade your wardrobe, which is never a bad thing!