Finding your ideal makeup colors can be easier said than done, especially when you find a product that looks to be the right shade but skews orange or washes you out. The key to resolving this dilemma is figuring out your undertones—the hints of warm, cool, and neutral colors within your natural skin tone that play a major role in determining what products might look best on you. If you're looking to determine your undertones once and for all, you've come to the right place—keep reading for the ultimate undertone test, plus eight products we've determined to work well on almost anyone.
The Three Main Types of Undertones
Undertones may sound complicated, but there's actually only three main types: cool (pink, red, or bluish undertones), warm (yellow or golden undertones), and neutral (a mix of warm and cool undertones). All of these are possible no matter where your skin tone sits within the range from dark to light, so you'll need to take a closer look to figure out which one best describes you. If you aren't sure where to start, we've got you—below are the top five hacks for figuring out your undertone once and for all.
How to Figure Out Your Undertones
Test with White Fabric
One easy way to figure out your undertones is to find what kinds of white fabric look best on you: warm undertones usually look better in pure white, cool undertones can look washed out in pure white but better in off-white, and those with neutral undertones may feel they can equally pull off both. To test this, start by taking off your makeup to ensure you can see your true complexion, then pull your hair back into a ponytail or braid. In natural lighting, hold a pure white and off-white piece of clothing up to your face one at a time, making note of how each complements your skin and its undertones. If you're having trouble deciding, ask a trusted friend for a second opinion.
Compare Clothing Colors
The next step is to get out some clothing items in earth tones, jewel tones, and neutrals—or think about which you gravitate towards, as it's likely to relate to your undertones whether you're conscious of it or not. If clothing in earth tones, like yellow, orange, yellow-green, brown, ivory, and orangey-red, look particularly good on you, you likely have a warm undertone. On the other hand, if you love the way you look in jewel tones, like purple, blue, green, blue-green, and true red, along with pink and black, you most likely have a cool undertone. If you find that no particular color palette stands out on you, then your undertone leans neutral.
Note How Your Skin Reacts to Sun Exposure
While the fact remains that sunscreen is important no matter your undertones, you can learn a lot from thinking about whenever time in the sun has had an effect on your skin: Many people who tan easily and rarely burn have warm undertones, while you may have a cool undertone if you burn easily and don't tend to tan much. If you don't feel particularly strong either way, this might mean your undertones skew neutral.
Consider Your Jewelry Preferences
Another way to figure out your undertones is by gathering your gold and silver-toned jewelry pieces and thinking about how each looks against your skin. If you think you look best in gold accessories, you may have a warm undertone. If you find you prefer silver, your undertones are likely cool. If you think both gold and silver look good on you, then you might have neutral undertones.
Gold and silver jewelry tend to cycle in and out of trends, so make sure you're thinking about which pieces you think suit you best. You may want to try a second method to figuring out your undertones if you're having a hard time deciding.
Check the Color of Your Veins
If you look at the veins on your wrists in natural light, the color you see can tell you a lot about your undertone. If they look slightly green, you probably have warm undertones, but if they skew more blue or purple, your undertones are likely cool. If you can't decide and your veins look blue-green or somewhere else in the middle, you may have neutral undertones.
How to Choose Makeup for Your Undertones
Once you've figured out your undertones, you'll want to look into which shades of makeup products are similar to what you've discovered looks best on you. We've broken down a few of the basics by product to make it easier.
- Foundation/base: Since you want foundation, concealer, and other base products to match your skin tone as much as possible, look for shades that mimic your undertones. For example, those with warm undertones will want a product that looks more golden or peach, cool undertones look best with foundations that have a hint of rosy pink, and those with neutral undertones will want something in between. Many complexion products explicitly label which undertones they're best for, which takes out some of the guesswork—especially if you can't get into a store to try the shades yourself.
- Blush, bronzer, and highlighter: Just like with your base product, you'll want to match the final touches of your complexion makeup to your skin's natural undertones. By skewing towards golden/peachy shades for warm undertones and shades with pink, blue, and silver in them for cooler undertones, you'll find more versatility in your makeup options than ever.
- Lip products: For neutral and pink lipsticks, find options that match to your skin's undertones, as detailed above. For bolder shades, take a closer look at each shade to figure out where it leans. Red-orange usually works well on warmer undertones, while a more blue shade of red skews cooler.
- Eyeshadow: Eye makeup is a fun place to experiment with color, so think about the colors you feel most confident wearing and play off those. Those with warm undertones may want to try golden or earthy palettes, while those with cool undertones are likely to have fun with jewel tones. If your undertones are neutral or you just want to experiment, you may want to also let your eye color be a deciding factor.
The Best Makeup Products for All Undertones
While figuring out your undertone can tell you a lot about which makeup products to try, we understand if you still find it a little confusing or would rather try shades that tend to work well on most people. The good news is that team Byrdie is constantly on the hunt for products just like this, and when we find a product with major versatility, we don't keep secrets. Ahead, check out seven makeup products that can work for any undertone.
RMS BeautyLiving Luminizer Highlighter$40.00
This luminizing highlighter is not only organic and suitable for various undertones, but it’s also a widespread favorite among editors, Byrdie readers, and even Meghan Markle. While the pictured satin-pearl finish is the most versatile, the product also has rose gold and neutral pink options for those who prefer a bit more color.
Mac CosmeticsRetro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo$22.00
Ruby Woo is one of the most iconic shades of Mac lipstick, and that's for good reason—it’s the perfect blue-red matte that looks amazing regardless of whether your undertones are more warm, cool, or neutral.
Fenty BeautyStunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Unbutton$28.00
When I asked Team Byrdie for the products they think work well regardless of your undertones, former associate general manager Lindsey Metrus immediately suggested this favorite from Fenty Beauty. Nudes can often be tricky, but unsurprisingly, Rihanna nailed it with this pretty and subtly shimmering hue.
Charlotte TilburyMatte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk$35.00
As with Ruby Woo, when beauty lovers discuss famous shades of lipstick, this epic shade from Charlotte Tilbury is a repeat favorite. While it was a direct suggestion from former editorial director Faith Xue, our whole team agrees that the product helps achieve the ultimate end goal: your lips, but better.
NarsBlush in Orgasm$32.00
Not too peachy, not too pink, and with just the right amount of shimmer, this is perhaps one of the most timeless shades (and makeup products). No matter your undertone, the apples of your cheeks will be stunning.
Sisley ParisPhyto-Eye Twist in Black Rose$58.00
Don’t believe such an intense hue could look mesmerizing on every skin tone?Just see what happened when three of our editorsput this creamy eye tint to the test.
Pat McGrath LabsSkin Fetish Highlighter & Balm Duo$50.00
In all honesty, we’d argue the versatility of just about anything from makeup mother Pat McGrath’s namesake brand. This highlighter-and-balm duo has our heart—all three hues look stunning on everyone we've seen them on, but former editor Maya Allen favors the multitasker in Bronze.
How to Choose a Lipstick Based on Your Skin Tone, According to Makeup Artists
Cream Test: Grab two articles of clothing, one white and the other off-white. While wearing no makeup, decide which color complements your skin tone best. If it's the pure-white shade, your undertones are warm. If the cream color suits you more, you have cool undertones.How do I know what undertones I need for makeup? ›
Flip over your arm and take a look at the inside of your wrist. If your veins appear to have a blue or deep purple tint, you likely have cool skin undertones. If they look more greenish, you likely have warm or olive undertones. If you can't tell one way or the other, you may have neutral undertones.How do I choose my makeup color based on my skin tone? ›
If your skin color is olive, brown and copper blushers are good for you. If you have medium skin color, you should use peachy color. For people with fair and blonde skin color, pink or rose colors are suitable. If you are blond and your skin tone is warm, use beige colors.How can I guess my undertones? ›
Grab a pure white piece of clothing or even just a piece of white paper. In bright, natural light, hold the item up to your face. If your skin looks pink or rosy by comparison, you're cool toned. If your face looks more yellow, your undertone is warm.How do I know my foundation shade and undertone? ›
Take a good look at the veins on your wrist under natural light for an easy way to determine your undertone. If your veins look green, it is likely you have warm undertones; if they are blue/purple, you have cool undertones. If they appear blue/green or match your skin colour, you most likely have neutral undertones.How do I know if my foundation is warm or cool undertones? ›
The easiest way to determine your undertone is by opting for a closer inspection of the insides of your wrists. If they appear green, your undertone is warm while blue veins signify cooler undertones. If you can see a mix of both, you likely have neutral undertones.Should makeup be lighter or darker than skin tone? ›
Blend The Foundation Lighter Than You
When in doubt, always pick a shade that is slightly lighter than your complexion rather than darker. This can prevent your complexion from looking darker than the rest of your body. It is the safest way to go when unsure about two shades that may look too light or too dark.
Just three, only three, and always three. What we're talking about here is a color's hue, saturation, and value. That's it.How do I know if my foundation is pink or yellow undertones? ›
Look at the colour of the veins in your wrist. As a general rule of thumb if they are blue then you are pink toned. If they are green then you are yellow toned. If you burn easily your skin tone is probably Pink.How do you identify the undertones of a color? ›
Identifying an Undertone
The quickest way to determine undertone is to compare it to a color that you know to be a true color in the same masstone. If you are trying to find the undertone for a red, then compare it next to a true red. This will give you an idea of whether your red has a more yellow or violet undertone.
Vein test: Look at the color of your wrist veins under natural light. Greenish-looking veins suggest a warm undertone, blue or purplish-looking veins indicate a cool undertone, and if your veins match your skin color, you most likely have a neutral undertone.What foundation is best for cool undertones? ›
How To Choose The Best Foundation for Cool Undertones? Beige, shell, or tan shades or foundation with red or pink undertones are ideal for cool skin tones. Also, foundations for cool undertones are marked C as the liquid may have subtle nuances of pink to complement your cool tones.Should concealer be lighter or darker than foundation? ›
The general rule of thumb is that you should always opt for a shade lighter than foundation when choosing your concealer colour. Doing so helps to mask darker discolouration, but be careful not to over-correct! Knowing how to pick the right concealer is essential to ensuring that your look does not appear ghostly.How do you know which makeup looks good on you? ›
- Identify Your Skin Tone By Brand. ...
- Determine Your Undertone. ...
- Patch Test Foundation On Your Best Spot. ...
- Match Your Concealer By Brand. ...
- Opt For Translucent Powder Over Pigmented Pressed Powders.
'Beige' and 'Sand' foundation shades have warm tones.What goes on first foundation or concealer? ›
Applying foundation first creates an even base to reduce overall redness, discoloration and minor blemishes. If you apply your concealer first, you may end up wiping some off when you apply foundation or using a lot more product than necessary, which can create a heavy, cakey look.Should makeup match face or neck? ›
“Your foundation should match your neck. If the neck is darker than the face you can compensate with a bronzer.” “It is important to match the undertone of the foundation to the undertone of the skin so that the skin looks most natural.Should you put foundation on your neck? ›
All of the artists agreed that you should be blending your foundation down your neck on a day-to-day basis. "For everyday, I'd recommend blending your foundation down your jawline and buffing it down slightly, that way you avoid any color differences," says Bedrossian.What is the 3 color rule style? ›
The underlying premise of the three colour rule is to not combine more than three colours in your outfit at any one time. The exception being black and white, which are technically not 'colours' but tones, and can be intermixed as a fourth colour in your outfit.What is the 3 color rule combination? ›
- Yellow, red, and blue.
- Green, orange, and purple.
- Teal, magenta, and gold.
The rule of 3 colors is simple: pick one primary color. Then, pick two other complementary colors. See the example below. We picked a main hue (a variation red), and complemented it with two different colors.What happens if you wear wrong undertone foundation? ›
If you've picked the wrong undertone:
If you are COOL and pick a WARM or NEUTRAL foundation, it will look yellow on you. If you are WARM and pick a COOL foundation, it will make your skin look pale and icy. If you pick a NEUTRAL foundation, it will look grey.
|Tone||Colors to go for|
|Warm- toned||Honey, Olive, Coral, Cream, Gold, Peacock blue, Oranges, Magenta,Reds and Amber.|
|Cool- toned||Royal Blue, Bright Blue, Lavender, Rose, Gray, Emerald, Amethyst, Deep purple, Ruby, Bright rose.|
|Neutral||Medium blue, Jade, Peach, Dusty Pink, White|
Warm shades are often labeled beige, golden, tan, caramel, and chestnut. Cool shades are often labeled porcelain, rose, sable, cocoa.Do I have beige or yellow undertones? ›
In a place with bright, natural light, hold up a piece of printer paper and look at how your skin reacts to it. If your skin looks pinkish against the paper, you probably have cooler undertones; if your skin looks yellow against the paper, you're probably a warm tone.Which undertones go together? ›
Narrow your paint choices by choosing the same undertone of a color of the space adjacent to the space you want to paint. If one room is beige with a subtle green undertone and you want to paint the room next to it a blue-gray, choose a blue-gray with a slight hint of green undertone.What undertone covers dark circles? ›
Look refreshed with yellow tones
To conceal dark circles, the same color wheel principle applies. People with fairer skin may opt for yellow, peach, or pink colored concealers. Darker skin may benefit more from an orange shade.
“You can't have a concealer that's too light,” she said, adding that women should choose concealer that's one to two shades lighter than the color of their foundation. “One to two shades … the right color blends itself. It makes a big difference." 3.Should concealer be darker than your skin tone? ›
While concealer for the general areas of your face should match your skin tone, under-eye concealer should be one or two shades lighter than your natural coloring. Using a lighter concealer for your eye area helps cover up under-eye circles and creates a brightening effect.What colors to avoid with cool undertones? ›
To avoid looking pale and washed out, stay away from black, orange and earth tones. Winter cools can go a little bit darker in their clothing colors, sporting shades of black, navy blue, red and bright pink. Go for true white instead of ivory, and stay away from earth tones, orange and gold.
If you're not sure, checking the color of your veins is a quick way to find out. Take a look at the veins in and around your face and neck. If you see blue veins, you have cool undertones. If your veins appear green on the skin (olive), you're warm.Can you guess my skin tone? ›
In natural light, check the appearance of your veins beneath your skin. If your veins appear blue or purple, you have a cool skin tone. If your veins look green or a greenish blue, you have a warm skin tone. If you can't tell whether or not your veins are green or blue, you probably have a neutral skin tone.Which skin tone is most attractive? ›
I wanted to test skin color separately to find out whether it's important to perceptions of beauty. I found that without regard to physical features, people prefer light brown skin over dark brown skin or pale skin,” said Frisby, associate professor of strategic communication at the School.How do you know what undertones and overtones your skin has? ›
The skin undertone is invisible. It is the subtle hue underneath the surface tone or the overtone. On the other hand, the overtone is your skin color – the color that you see when you look at your face in the mirror. The skin overtone may change (due to tanning or during winters), but the undertone never changes.What season is my undertone? ›
If your skin tone and hair have a warm undertone, or you are a natural red-head, you would be classed as either a Spring or an Autumn; if your skin has a blue-ish, cool undertone and your hair is more ashy and has no golden or red highlights, you are either a Summer or a Winter.