Read This Before You Buy Makeup - Knowing Your Undertone Using Color Theory
Posted on May 16 2019
If you are baffled by your undertones, you are not alone. Many of us don’t know or guess wrong. But knowing your undertone is essential in finding the right foundation.
Warm has yellow, gold, peach, olive, and orange tints
Cool has blue, purple, ashy tints (Note: Red is not a cool color).
Neutral doesn’t exist as a stand-alone.
After reading a few online blog articles about undertones, I realized people were paraphrasing false information. Here are the biggest undertone myths that contribute to confusion.
Myth 1: Red is an indicator of cool undertones
I left out red for a reason. Too many times someone believes they have cool undertones because red is associated with cool tones. Yes and no.
First, red on a color wheel is considered a warm color. True red is a misnomer. In the artistic world theory, there is no such thing.
Second, everyone has red blood, so all skin tones will be tinged with red. It’s how you determine what shade of red that matters. That’s why cool skin will look more purple and warm skin will look more orange. You’re asking the general public, the majority of whom do not have an artistically trained eye to decipher whether the red in their face is warm or cool.
Third, inflammation and acne are not an indicator of red in the skin. Acne usually stops at the jawline, so look at the neck for a true match.
What About Pink?
Pink is white + red. It’s a light tint of red. Depending on whether it’s mixed with blue or yellow will determine if pink is a salmon or coral (warm) or a hot pink or fuchsia (cool). If pink has blue, it’s cool toned. If your perfect pink has a hint of yellow, it’s warm toned. Most blushes are pink, so finding the right pink hue is a must for getting the right blush color.
Myth 2: Your hair and eye color will naturally match your undertones.
Truth: Your hair and eye color do NOT have to match your undertones.
I contribute this myth to people believing they have neutral undertone. There are very few people who have 100% neutral undertones. Most will have neutral with a leaning toward cool or neutral that leans towards warm. When a person has hair or eyes that don’t match the undertone, they typically see themselves as neutral.
Another example that misleads people is the assumption that your eye color determines undertone. Not so! Your eye color does not determine your undertones. Think about it. Most of the world has brown eyes. Does that mean most of the world has warm undertones? No. Again, when we find ourselves looking at warm brown eyes and cool undertones, we may accidently think we have neutral undertones.
I have naturally ash brown hair, which is a cool color. I am often told by “professionals” that I have neutral undertones. I don’t. I have warm undertones and have spent most of my life dying my hair a warm brown. This way it matches seamlessly. Interestingly, when my hair is dyed warm brown, professionals think I have warm undertones.
Myth 3: The color of your skin determines your undertones
Your undertones and skin color are two separate things. You can have light, medium or dark skin with either cool or warm undertones. Skin color does not determine an undertone.
Here are some examples of cool undertones:
Here are some examples of warm undertones:
Myth 4: My Undertone changes when I tan
False. That’s another myth that contributes to the neutral zone.
Are you neutral in the winter and warm when you tan? Then you aren’t a true neutral. You are warm. Are you cool in the winter and neutral with a light tan? Then you aren’t a true neutral. You are cool.
Your undertone does not change with a tan.
Skin Undertone Tests
How do you know what your skin tone is?
White versus Creme T-Shirt Test
Take a plain white t-shirt and put it on. Do your look all sparkles and life? Then you are cool. Do you look sallow and shadowy? Then you are warm. If you can’t tell or think you look good either way, you are either not good with color or overly confident. You are not a neutral just because you can’t tell.
You can try this with a creme colored t-shirt too.
If you are still having trouble, try looking in your closet. Do you have more off-white clothing or white clothing? Chances are your subconscious decided you looked good in one or the other.
The Gold or Silver Jewelry Test
This is the fun test. Do you look better in gold or silver jewelry? If you look fantastic in silver jewelry, you have cool undertones. If you look good in gold, you have warm undertones. If you look good in both, you aren’t neutral, but very self-assured.
I think this is the best test for determining undertones. Even on a subconscious level, it’s easy for us to choose jewelry based on what looks the best.
The Vein Test
The oldest undertone test is looking at your veins, but I find this very difficult for most people. Your veins are naturally blue, so trying to determine whether they are truly blue or green is difficult!
If your veins look even remotely green, then you are warm. If they look blue, then you are cool. Can’t tell? Try looking at the veins in your hands or look at your arm at an angle. Try looking at it in broad daylight. If you see any green even if you think it’s bluish-green, you are warm.
If you can’t tell, you probably aren’t neutral. You most likely are not good at color theory.