How to Tell If You Have Cool or Warm Skin Undertones

Jessica Alba
Photo: Getty Images

Have you ever tried on a top or a shade of lipstick that makes your skin tones, eyes, and face come alive, only to test out another that’s almost exactly the same shade but makes you look tired, washed-out, and just generally blah? There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with the surface, as well as the cool and warm undertones, of your skin. Maybe you sort-of understand, but don’t really know the difference between the two. Join the club.

When it comes to fashion and beauty, there are few buzzwords as prevalent as “cool colors” and “warm colors.” In fact, we’re always hearing that identifying which category we fall into is integral to our overall attractiveness, but finding my undertone continues to be shrouded in confusion. The first step in grasping the concept is understanding that our skin’s surface tone is the color you’d describe yourself as having (ivory, light, medium, tan, dark, etc.) Your skin’s undertone is the color underneath the surface. You can have the same skin color as someone, but a different undertone, which is broken down like this:

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

For instance, one common misconception is that pale girls can’t be warm-toned when in fact, many of them (Nicole Kidman is one of them!) do, while dark-skinned women (like supermodel Alek Wek)can also have cool tones. With that being said, here’s exactly how you can find out which category you fall into.

Skin Undertones Chart—How to tell which colors look best on your skin tone. Not sure if you have cool or warm undertones? Click through and we'll tell you how!

1. Check Your Veins
Push your sleeves up right now and look at the veins on the inside of your wrist.  Are they blue or green? If they look bluer, you likely have cool undertones. If the veins look greenish, you’re warm. It’s worth noting, warm girls, that you’re veins aren’t actually green—they look it because you’re seeing them through yellow-toned skin (yellow + blue = green.)

2. The Old Jewelry Trick
Think about whether you look better in silver or gold jewelry (Not which you like more, but which actually makes you look more radiant, glowing, and awake.) Typically, girls with cool undertones look better in silver and platinum metals, and warm-toned women look better in gold.

3. The Neutral Test
Think about what neutral shades flatter you best. Do your skin, eyes, and face look better in bright white and black hues, or ivory, off-whites, and brown/tan shades? The former means you’re probably cool-toned, and the latter, warm.

4. Eye and Hair Color
Your natural eye and hair colors can help figure out your coloring. Customarily, cool people have eyes that are blue, gray, or green and have blond, brown, or black hair with blue, silver, violet and ash undertones. Conversely, warm-toned women usually have brown, amber, or hazel eyes with strawberry blond, red, brown, or black hair. Their hair tends to have gold, red, orange, or yellow undertones.

5. The Sun’s Effects
When you’re out in the sun, does your skin turn a golden-brown, or does it burn and turn pink first? If you fit into the former category, you’re warm-toned, while cool tones tend to burn (fair-skinned cool girls will simply burn, while medium-skinned cool-toned girls will burn then tan.)

Martha Hunt

Getty

6. Identify with a Celeb
A few celebs who have cool undertones: Martha Hunt, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, Cara Delevingne. Celebs who have warm undertones: Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Alba, Rachel Bilson, Jennifer Aniston, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian.

7. Find Which Colors Look Best on You
There’s no denying that certain colors will make you look better regardless of your skin’s undertone. Warm-toned girls should lean toward yellows, oranges, browns, yellow-greens, ivories, and warm reds, while cool-toned girls should wear blues, greens, pinks, purples, blue-greens, magentas, and true “blue-based” reds.

Check out the above color chart for an in-depth look!

Skin Undertones Chart—How to tell which colors look best on your skin tone. Not sure if you have cool or warm undertones? There are a few easy tests to figure it out—like checking the color of your veins or the sun's effect on your skin. Click through and we'll show you how to easily determine your undertone! @stylecaster
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