A makeup expert’s guide to finding out if your skin undertone is warm, cool or neutral

5 months ago 25
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If you’ve ever shopped for a lip colour or foundation in your life, you’ve likely heard chatter about undertones and the veto power they hold for deciding which colours work for you. While the skin tone is considered as the holy grail for discovering your perfect makeup match, undertones have a crucial role to play as well. What exactly are these mysterious undertones, and how do they wield so much power in deciding which colours work for you? Simply put, the undertone is the colour visible from underneath the surface of the skin that determines the overall hue. Skin undertones roughly fall under the three umbrellas of warm, cool and neutral, and knowing yours can help you make more precise decisions when shopping for makeup—particularly online. If you always have a hard time choosing between two colours, we got Navreet Josan, national makeup artist at M.A.C Cosmetics India, to explain how undertones can be used as the deciding factor.

What is a warm undertone?

A warm skin undertone implies that the underlying colours in your skin are peach and gold, explains Josan. She further adds, “Opt for foundations with a beige gold colour that works perfectly for warm undertones. For eye makeup, look to warmer colours on the eyeshadow palette, such as gold, bronze, deep blues, emerald green and deep purples. For lipstick, bronzer and highlighter, colours that offer more warmth and peachiness make for a good choice.”

What is a cool undertone?

A cool skin undertone is characterised by hints of red, pink and blue tones under the skin. Likewise, she recommends foundations with a little pink in them. “Colours that have more blue in them work best for this undertone, such as rosy pinks, cool blues, greens, purples and blue-based reds,” she advises.

What is a neutral undertone?

A mixture of both, warm and cool tones is categorised as a neutral skin undertone. According to Josan, this is the easiest undertone to work with. She advises, “Look for foundations with a hint of peach, neither too warm nor too yellow, that work well for this undertone. Specific shades of M.A.C Studio Fix Fluid in NC 41, NC 43.5 and NC 44.5 were specially made for India to complement our unique skin undertones.”

How to know if your undertones are warm, cool or neutral

This question has plagued beauty enthusiasts down the years, and we called upon Josan to demystify the phenomenon. If you’re on the hunt for the most flattering makeup colours for your skin, the process begins with determining your specific undertones with some easy, try-at-home measures:

What is the colour of your veins?

The easiest way to determine your undertone is by opting for a closer inspection of the insides of your wrists. If they appear green, your undertone is warm while blue veins signify cooler undertones. If you can see a mix of both, you likely have neutral undertones.

What colour of jewellery looks best against your skin?

Josan recommends, “Trying on jewellery is a simple way of finding out your undertone. If gold looks flattering on you, your undertone is warm. If you feel you look better in silver, you are a cool undertone. If both gold and silver look great on you, your undertone is neutral.”

How does your skin respond to sun exposure?

Another measure that experts use to determine undertones is to observe the skin’s reaction to the sun. If you tend to burn easily, your skin probably has lesser melanin which signals to a cool undertone. On the other hand, if your skin tans easily under the sun, the higher presence of melanin in the skin suggests a warmer undertone.

What is the colour of your eyes?

You can also find further clues about your skin’s undertones by taking note of the colour of your eyes. Blue, grey, green and deep brown eyes are characteristics of a cool undertone, while warm undertones are often expressed in green, amber or hazel eyes with golden flecks.

Also read:

34 of the world’s best beauty products, according to fashion’s favourite makeup artists

This Vogue writer took a full year to find her perfect foundation shade

25 makeup products Bollywood celebrity makeup artists buy in bulk

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