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8 Steps To Determine Your Skin Tone

8 Steps To Determine Your Skin Tone

Do you know your undertone? Your skin tone, aka undertone, is different from your complexion, which is the depth of your skin (light, medium, dark). Your undertone will remain the same no matter how much sun you get, even if you’re pale in the winter and tan in the summer. There are three different undertones – cool, warm, and neutral. Determining your skin tone can be helpful in many ways–it can help you choose the best blush or lipstick color, help you know which hair color is most flattering, and even which color clothes you should wear to really look like a million bucks!

Cool vs. Warm

Before I help you determine your skin tone, let’s cover some basic color theory about cool and warm colors.

Alright, now that we have those basics covered are you ready to determine your skin tone is once and for all? Follow these steps:

1. Wash your face

Start with bare skin. Your skin should be clean and free of makeup and lotion. Make sure you wait about 15 minutes, as your skin may appear pink from scrubbing and make it difficult to see your true undertone.

How to determine your undertone

2. Find natural light

Different lightbulbs can change the way your skin looks. They are usually warm or cool and they may cast different colors on your skin, and interfere with the appearance of your skin tone. Choosing a spot by a window to look for your undertone will prevent you from misjudging what you see.

3. What color are your veins?

Look at the color of the veins on the inside of your wrist. This is a quick way to determine your undertones-if your veins are visible. Hold up your arm in the natural light and determine the predominant color.

If your veins appear green, you likely have a warm skin tone.

If your veins appear blue or purple, you likely have a cool skin tone.

And if you can’t tell if your veins are green or blue, or you see both colors-you may have a neutral skin tone. If you have an olive complexion, you likely fall into this category.

How to determine your undertone

4. How does your skin normally react to the sun?


Do you tan easily? Do you burn or get freckles? The amount of melanin in your skin determines how it reacts to sun exposure and can help you determine your skin tone.

If you tan easily and rarely burn, you have more melanin and you likely have a warm or neutral skin tone.

If your skin burns and doesn’t tan, you have less melanin and therefore a cooler skin tone.

Some women with very dark, ebony skin may not burn easily but still have a cool skin tone. So keep in mind that you may have to try a few more steps to determine your undertone.

5. Hold a white piece of paper up to your face

Looking in a mirror, look at how your skin looks against the white paper. It may have a yellow cast, a blue-red or rosy cast, or it may not appear to be either, but be ashy or look like a gray color instead.

  • If your skin appears yellowish or sallow beside the white paper, you have a warm skin tone.
  • If your skin appears pink, rosy, or blueish-red, then you have a cool skin tone.
  • If your skin appears gray, your skin probably has an olive complexion with a neutral undertone. The green from your complexion and the yellowish undertone combine to create this effect. You can experiment with neutral and warm tones, since you fall somewhere in between.
  • If you can’t determine any cast of yellow, olive, or pink, you likely have a neutral skin tone. Neutral tones can look good in foundations and colors on both ends of the cool/warm spectrum.

6. Do you look best in silver or gold jewelry?

Aren’t sure? Hold a sheet of gold foil in front of your face so that it reflects light back on your skin. Note whether it makes your face look grayish or washed out, or if it enhances your skin. Then try with a sheet of silver foil.

  • If the gold foil looks best, you have a warm skin tone.
  • If the reflection from the silver foil makes your skin glow, you have a cool skin tone.
  • If you don’t notice a difference (both silver and gold are flattering), then you likely have a neutral skin tone.
  • If you don’t have gold or silver foil, try laying gold and silver jewelry on your wrist to see which one is more flattering.

7. Look behind your ear and inner wrist

 If you have acne, rosacea, melasma, or another condition that might mask your skin tone, have someone look at the the skin directly behind the shell of your ear or backside of your neck, as this area is less likely to be affected. You can even look at your inner wrists.

Have them look at the skin right in the little crease behind your ear.

  • If your skin is yellowish, then your skin tone is warm.
  • If your skin is pink or rosy, then your skin tone is cool.
  • If they have difficulty determining, they can hold a white piece of paper near the skin. That should help them see if it appears yellow or pink.
Your Eye Color can help determine your skin tone

8. Look at your eyes

Your eye color can be a key to determining your undertones. Lighter eyes like blue and pale brown usually mean you have cool undertones, while gold flecks usually indicate warm undertones.

  • For example, ice blue eyes usually means you have cool skin, while honey brown eyes usually mean you have warm skin.
How to determine your undertone

Let me ask you again…do you know your skin tone? After going through each step above, I hope that it finally answered this question once and for all!!




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