Is Knowing Your Skin’s Undertone Really Important?

Victoria Moorhouse
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skin undertone

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There are some beauty questions that you could answer in about 2 seconds: your preference for powder or liquid, your hair type, if you get a lot of zits. Others are a lot more difficult to answer. Namely, your skin undertone. There’s a ton of tests out there that will teach you how to figure it out, but once you know…. what good does it do for your beauty routine?

If you know that you’re pale does knowing your undertone change what foundation you wear?

Actually, it’s kind of a big deal—because it’s not just as simple as being pale. And undertones don’t just apply to your skin, believe it or not. We went to a few experts to find out if what exactly you need to know about your undertone and what knowing that little fact really does for you.

There’s a difference between your complexion and your undertone.
You already know whether you have a pale, medium, or deep skin tone—you can see it easily. That is what makeup artist and founder of Rouge New York Rebecca Perkins says is your “complexion.” But how light or dark your skin is is completely separate from your undertone. You may be able to find a foundation that matches the relative lightness or darness of your skin, but if the formula doesn’t have the right undertone, it will never be a perfect match. Perkins says that this is something that a lot of her customers struggle with.

Another difference between the two terms? Your complexion can change. “Your complexion might change—with a tan or freckles, for example–but your undertone will not,” she says. No matter how much sun you get (or avoid), you will always have that same undertone.

hair tone

Photo: ImaxTree

There are many different types of undertones.
Heard of warm and cool undertones? Of course you have—but there are more undertones than even that. According Perkins, there’s also neutral undertones like beige, as well as red/orange and olive. These tones, combined with your complexion, make up your unique skin color!

So how do you tell what you are? Check our your veins. “If the veins under your skin are blue, then you likely lean towards the cooler end of the spectrum,” says Perkins. “If they look green, you are more likely to be warm toned. In between? Then you might be in the neutral family.”

Why does it matter?
The most obvious reason is that it will help you find the perfect shade of foundation and concealer—the one that truly looks identical to your skin. It can also help you experiment with makeup. Perkins says that if you want something natural and fresh, keep the makeup tones within your tone family. This means, for example, cooler tones of pink blush for a cool-toned complexion.

However, if you want it to pop in a dramatic way, choose products for the opposing color family. For example, a woman with warm undertones would pick a blue-red lipstick for an extremely bold look. It’s the perfect way to maintain harmony in your beauty routine!

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