How to determine your skin undertone

How to determine your skin undertone

Knowing your skin undertone is quite important, as it helps you to buy the right foundation and products suited for your complexion. I have made this mistake by borrowing a friend’s foundation and making the assumption that because we both have similar skin tones her foundation will be ok for me. Wrong! The foundation just looked off on me, and I couldn’t understand why. Well, now I know. It was because of undertones, people within the same race can have different undertones. There are some darker skin women who have blue undertones, while others can have more red undertones.

It annoys me when beauty companies release one or two foundation shades for women of colour, making a sweeping generalisation that black women or women with medium to dark skin tones all have the same skin undertone! Such nonsense!


What is an undertone?

You probably are familiar with the MAC foundation shades, such as ‘NC’…which stands for Neutral-Cool undertones, and ‘NW’…for Neutral- Warm undertones. I bet some of you guys didn’t know what NC/NW stood for! There is no shame in this game because I didn’t until recently! The ‘NC/NW’ is MAC’s way of identifying roughly what skin undertone the person has. Other brands have different ways of identifying the undertones. There are three main undertones in general:

Cool (pink, red or bluish undertones)
Warm (yellow or golden undertones)
Neutral (a mix of warm and cool undertones)

Your skin undertone is the more subtle muted colour that lies underneath your skin and it stays pretty consistent regardless of if the surface colour of your skin changes i.e. hyperpigmentation, sun exposure.


Why does this matter?

People say that it is best to use your undertone to help you when choosing your foundation. It is likely that when you try on a foundation that looks off, it is because it is the wrong undertone for you.

The best way to test foundation is on your jawline in natural light so you can really see if it matches your skin undertone. This is why it is so important to get a sample of the foundation you are interested in before buying a full sized bottle. Foundation can look very different on your skin versus in the bottle. It is important to identify your skin undertone and find the foundation that matches it. That is how you get the perfect foundation that looks ‘like skin’, rather than foundation that looks like a mask.


How can I figure out what my skin undertone is?

Test 1: The Jewellery test:
Do you look best in gold jewellery or silver jewellery?

If gold is more flattering, you have a warm undertone. If silver is more flattering you have cool undertones. If both suit you, you might have neutral undertones.


2.The Vein Test:

Take a look at your wrist.

What colour do your veins predominantly appear? More blue, more green or it is difficult to tell?

If your veins appear more blue, then you are likely to have a cool undertone. If your veins appear more green, then you have warm undertones. If it is hard to tell whether they are green or blue, you have neutral undertones


3. The Cloth test:

Grab a pure white piece of cloth and an off-white piece of cloth. Hold it against your face one at a time

Does your skin look good against the pure white cloth? Or does it make you look washed out? Does the off-white cloth suit you better? Or do both pieces of cloth look equally good against your skin?

If your skin looks good against the pure white cloth, then you have warm undertones. If the off-white cloth suits you more, then you have cool undertones. If both pieces of cloth suit you, then you have a neutral undertone. 

What is your skin undertone? I have warm undertones.



  1. Tosin
    July 11, 2016 / 11:26 am

    Ok, this has to be my best post till date. I used to wonder what people meant when this undertone conversation came up. From this post, it means I have a cool undertone.

    Thanks a mill

    • thatredl
      July 12, 2016 / 12:23 pm

      Thanks alot hun. Im glad it was informative for you 🙂

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