What Is My Undertone and Why Does It Matter?By Emily Chiang | May 18, 2021
When curating your beauty bag, there’s one important thing that you should take into account: your skin’s undertone.
Perhaps you’ve heard that term before when you were getting your makeup done, or maybe it’s new to you. Whatever the case may be, we’re here to help you on your journey towards total undertone enlightenment.
Whether you’re an experienced makeup user or just getting started, focusing on choosing colors and shades that work with your skin is essential. Your undertone truly is the key to unlocking that greater understanding of what will work and what might not.
Today, we’ll help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of what an undertone is, and even help you figure out what yours is.
What is an Undertone?
First, let’s work out a definition for “undertone” that we can use moving forward. When we say undertone, we’re referring to the color underneath your skin. This is different and totally separate from your skin tone. This color impacts the overall hue of your skin.
Here’s one important thing to remember about your undertone: it never changes, not even when you get a tan outside during the summer, and not during the darkest days of winter. Your undertone is permanent.
That’s one of the reasons that getting it figured out is so important. Once you do, you’ll never have to again, because it stays the same.
What Are the 3 Main Undertones?
There are three main undertones. Again, we want to remind you that this is very different from skin tone! Undertone is an underlying coloration; skin tone is not. In addition, it’s possible to have the same undertone as someone, but still, have a different skin tone than they do.
People with cool undertones generally have notes of pink, red, or blue in their faces. If this is the case for you, we’d describe you as having a cool undertone. (Yes, we know it can be hard to decipher if there are notes of blue in your face, but sit tight! We have some handy tips and tricks that will help you figure it out).
Up next are warm undertones. This is an umbrella term for people who have golden, yellow, or peachy shades to their skin. If you’ve heard your complexion itself called “warm” before, that likely is in reference to your undertone.
Last but certainly not least is neutral undertones. People with neutral undertones generally have a mixture of warm and cool hues. If you suspect you have a neutral undertone, it might take a little extra sleuthing to decipher, but we promise, it’ll be worth it.
How Can I Figure Out My Undertone?
Now, the moment we know you’ve been waiting for: let’s talk about exactly how you can figure out your own undertone. It doesn’t require a trip to the makeup counter to try on different shades or anything fancy. In fact, you can figure out your undertone right at home by using a few things you already have at your disposal.
Look at Your Veins
The first way to figure out which undertone you have is to take a look at your veins. If you want to get the best read, try to look in the mirror at any veins you may have near your face or neck. What are you seeing?
If the color appears mainly blue, that suggests a cool undertone. On the contrary, green implies you have a warm undertone. If you have a neutral undertone, you might be unsure or see a mixture of the two.
Think About Your Jewelry
Once you’ve checked out your veins, it’s time to open your jewelry box. Do you have more gold or silver jewelry? Which do you gravitate towards? If the reason you prefer one over the other is that you think it looks better on your skin tone, then your jewelry is an excellent way to gauge your undertone.
Gold jewelry is generally more flattering for people who have those warm undertones, whereas silver suits cool undertones beautifully.
Got -- and look great in -- both? You’re neutral!
Look at Your Closet
Now, it’s time to take a look at the clothes you have in your closet! Do you think you look better in earthy tones such as yellows, oranges, and olive greens? If so, then your undertone is likely warm.
What about luxurious emerald greens, purples, and blues? If that’s your jam, then you have a cool undertone.
If you’re able to rock both, your undertone is neutral.
Ask Whether You Tan or Burn
Finally, let’s take a moment to visualize the most recent beach day you had. By the end of it, were you burnt, or tan? If you were burnt, you probably have a cool undertone. Tanned? You’re warm. What about if you burn and then tan? That suggests a neutral undertone.
Why is Undertone Important?
Figuring out your undertone is a super quick and easy way to get a read on what makeup might suit you best.
If you’ve ever absolutely adored an eyeshadow and then tried it on only to be unsure why it didn’t quite fit your face, you’ve probably tried on a product better suited for someone with a different undertone.
That being said, don’t worry! There are so many gorgeous products out there for people of all undertones.
In addition to this, shopping for a foundation is going to be so much easier once you’ve decoded your undertone. Once you’ve figured out your undertone, you’ve solved half the battle of finding the perfect foundation.
What Should Each Undertone Look for in a Foundation?
If you have a cool undertone to your skin, you’re going to want to look for a foundation that is very slightly pink. Emphasis on the very slight part -- after all, foundation is a base coat, and it should be matched to your skin as much as possible. You don’t want anyone to notice a line of where your foundation starts and stops.
In contrast, if you have a warm undertone to your skin, you should look for a foundation that has a very slight golden or even yellow tone to it. That will help bring out the natural warmth in your skin.
Finally, people with neutral undertones can begin by experimenting with a foundation that has a very light golden look to it.
Ultimately, what matters more than how a foundation looks in the bottle is how it feels on your skin -- do you feel beautiful? Do you feel it matches your skin? If so, it’s a yes from us.
Does Undertone Affect My Lipstick?
In a word, yes. Your undertone absolutely impacts the lipstick, mainly in regards to which color you should pick that will accentuate your natural beauty. Of course, you should always rock what you want, but this is a helpful place to start figuring out which lipstick will flatter you.
People with cool undertones usually gravitate to lipsticks with purple or even blue hues, whereas those with cool undertones find that bright oranges and reds work best. Finally, neutral undertones will stun in a wide spectrum of colors -- so experiment away!
Which Eyeshadow Colors Compliment My Undertone?
Last, let’s talk about eyeshadows and which complement you based on your undertone. Your eyeshadow can really elevate a look, so it’s important to pick the right color to do so.
We want to note that when you’re choosing your eyeshadow color, you should also take your hair and eye color into account. While your undertone is really important for selecting complexion products like foundation, eyeshadow is much more subjective and open for interpretation.
There you have it! Now, you’re totally in the know about all things undertone-related. We promise you that once you figure out yours, you’ll have a much easier time picking out products that flatter you!