Let’s start our post with a small task!
Do a fast brain-raking to check, have you ever tried on a top or a shade of lipstick that makes your look come alive, only to test out another that’s almost exactly the same color or shade but makes you look just generally ewwwwww? Perhaps, a few of such “blah” lipstick, dress or top is sitting still in your closet or mind as a bad investment?
But why does this happen at all? The first one probably matched your skin’s surface tone and undertone perfectly, while the second shade may have a totally wrong undertone.
Most of the people whom I say this, give a typical response, “Surface tone?! Well, somewhat understandable but.. Undertone?! and how does that affect our shopping outcome?”
When it comes to fashion and beauty, there are few catchwords as prevalent as “cool undertones” and “warm undertones” In fact, we’re always hearing that identifying which category we fall into is integral to our overall look, but discovering a sure process to find where we fall is still blanketed in confusion.
With a steadily increasing awareness, may be you, kind of, heard the terms, but don’t really know the difference between surface tone and undertone! Welcome to the club.
The first step in grasping the concept?
Understanding that our skin’s surface tone is the color you’d describe yourself as having (ivory, light, medium, tan, dark, etc.) Your skin’s undertone is the color underneath the surface. You can have the same skin color as someone, but a different undertone, which are broken down like this:
Cool (pink, red or bluish undertones) Warm (yellow, peachy, golden undertones) Neutral (a mix of warm and cool undertones)
Some include olive as a separate, fourth category, but most consider it neutral because it has a mix of warm and cool undertones.
One big myth: That pale girls can’t be warm-toned. In fact, many fair-skinned women have warm undertones (Did you know, Nicole Kidman is one of them!) and similarly dark-skinned women have cool tones.
So, how can you determine which category you fall into? Read on!
- Shortcut Test – Check Your Veins
Under natural light, look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. Are they blue or green? If they look more blue, you likely have cool undertones. If the veins look greenish, you’re warm. It’s worth noting, warm girls, that you’re veins aren’t actually green—they look it because you’re seeing them through yellow-toned skin (yellow + blue = green.)
- White Fabric Test
Pull your hair back away from your face (or cover it with a white towel) and drape a white towel or cloth around your neck and shoulders. Your face should be freshly cleansed. The white (make sure it’s ivory white) will reflect the true color. If your face looks more yellow, you’re warm. If your skin has a blue tone you’re cool. The result also depends on lighting since fluorescent lights can give skin a greenish tint. Test for undertones in natural or incandescent light.
- Find Which Colors Look Best on you
Certain colors will make you look better. Warm-toned girls generally lean toward yellows, oranges, browns, yellow-greens, ivories, and warm reds, while cool-toned girls look best in blues, greens, pinks, purples, blue-greens, magentas, and true “blue-based” reds.
- The Jewelry Trick.
Think about whether you look better in silver or gold jewelry (Remember: Not which you like more, but which actually makes you look more radiant, glowing, and awake.) Typically, girls with cool undertones look better in silver and platinum metals, and warm-toned women look better in gold.
- The Neutral Test.
Think about what neutral shades flatter you best. Does your skin, eyes, and face look better in bright white and black hues, or ivory, off-whites, and brown/tan shades? The former means you’re probably cool-toned, and the latter, warm.
- Eye and Hair Color.
Your natural eye and hair colors can help figure out your coloring. Customarily, cool people have eyes that are blue, gray, or green and have blond, brown, or black hair with blue, silver, violet and ash undertones. Conversely, warm-toined women usually have brown, amber, or hazel eyes with strawberry blond, red, brown, or black hair. Their hair tends to have gold, red, orange, or yellow undertones.
- The Sun’s Effects.
When you’re out in the sun, does your skin turn a golden-brown, or does it burn and turn pink first? If you fit into the former category, you’re warm-toned, while cool tones tend to burn.
Take “The Compliment Test”
If you’re still confused, make a note of every compliment you receive about the color of your clothing, and of course makeup. If you keep getting compliments about a certain look, you’ll know you’re on the right track and thus pick up the hint which tone you belong to.