How To Identify Your Skin Tone

How To Identify Your Skin Tone

You may have suffered the last time you went to purchase foundation due to one nagging problem- determining your skin tone. Or maybe you can't decide which BB, CC cream, eye shadow, blush, or lipsticks to buy. 

If you have hyperpigmentation or discoloration, the dilemma is even worse. 

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?

It gets even more complex. Manufacturers are creating more shades to help match a wider variety of skin tones as closely as possible. 

Knowing your skin tone benefits your appearance, even when it comes to choosing clothes that agree with your pigment.

Surface Color

Determining your skin tone comes in two parts:

  1. The surface color of your skin
  2. Your undertones

The surface color is what you see at a glance in the mirror. This can be either light, medium, or dark. Pigmentation is what determines this.

  • Fair – Skin is quite fair and burns easily.
  • Light – Generally light-colored skin, but it has more beige/ yellow undertones than fair skin.
  • Medium – Skin is medium color, with olive undertones.
  • Dark – Deep complexion

The surface color varies depending on several factors. For instance, fair skin usually tans in summer and lightens in the winter. Surface color can also be affected by redness, dryness, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and dullness. 


Determine Your Surface Color

This can be tricky if your skin changes often. Try this:

LOOK AT YOUR JAWLINE

The jawline usually stays unaffected by skin color changes in comparison to the rest of your face. Look at the skin here and try to determine if it's fair, light, medium, or dark.

HOW DO PEOPLE DESCRIBE YOU?

If they describe you as very “fair,” that’s probably the skin tone. If you get lots of comments on how tan you look, you're likely medium. If your skin gets pale in the winter but tans in summer, you may be light.

What are Undertones?

“Undertone” describes that subtle color that lies underneath the top layer of the skin. It stays the same, unlike surface color.

WHERE DOES MY UNDERTONE COME IN HANDY?

Since undertones don't change, you should use them to understand your skin tone. Most beauty gurus recommend using undertone, rather than surface color, when picking foundation. Foundations and eye shadows that don’t match your undertone will often look “off”—either too orange, pink, red, or ashen.  

Note: The surface color of your skin may appear reddish, while your undertone may be golden/yellow.

There are three undertone categories:

  1. Warm – peach, yellow, and gold
  2. Cool – pink, red, and blue
  3. Neutral – olive or a mix of the above

There are several ways to figure out your undertone. It's best if you try each one, and get an average. 

10 Ways to Determine Your Skin Tone

1. CHECK YOUR VEINS.

This is the most common method. Look at your wrists. Bluish-purple veins indicate you’re on the cool side. Green means a warm tone. If the veins are bluish-green, you're neutral.

2. DO YOU TAN OR BURN?

If you tan in the sun, you're warm-toned, whereas if you turn red instead your tone is cool. African-Americans, for example, are often warm-toned.

3. DO YOU BLUSH EASILY?

If so, you’re cool-toned.

4. WHAT COLORS LOOK GOOD ON YOU?

Warm-toned skin glows in earth tones like red, yellow, orange, and olive-green. Cool tones are flattered by deep colors, such as blue, purple, and emerald-green. If both types of shades look good on you, you have neutral undertones. 

5. TRY THE WHITE TEST.

Hold a plain piece of white paper beside your face, without makeup. Is your complexion dull, or bright? If it's the former, you’re warm. If it's “good,” you’re cool. If there isn't much difference, you’re neutral. Besides, if your skin appears yellowish, you’re warm. Pink or rosy: cool. Gray means a neutral undertone.

6. DO YOU LIKE GOLD OR SILVER JEWELRY?

Place a gold and silver chain next to each other on your hand. Cool tones look best in silver, while warms tones look fabulous in gold.

7. WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR EYES?

Most times, people with golden brown, green, hazel with gold flecks, and blue eyes are warm-toned. If your eyes are grey, black or deep brown, steel blue, hazel with gray or blue dots, your tone is cool.

8. LOOK BEHIND YOUR EARS.

Look at the skin behind your ear using two mirrors. Yellowish color means warm, pink means cool, and if it's not clear, you're likely to be neutral.

9. THINK BASIC:

Compare your skin against basic colors like black and white, and tan and brown. Stark black and white make cool shades look good, while warm tones benefit from off-whites. Also, warms will prefer softer tans while cools will like deep brown colors.

10. WHO DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH?

Look at celebrities. Jennifer Hudson, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, and Lucy Liu have cool undertones. Beyoncé, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, and Jessica Alba have warm undertones.

General Observations about Undertones

Still not sure that you’ve mastered your skin colors? Consider the general categories below:

  • Fair skin often has freckles, may suffer some redness, and burn easily. You may have sensitive skin, with cool/ warm undertones.
  • Light types may experience some spots of redness, (e.g., on the cheeks only), may tan when they burn in the sun, and their skin may be slightly sensitive. They may have either cool or warm undertones.
  • Medium types aren't prone to burning much. They often have warm undertones. “Olive” skin with a neutral or warm undertone appears to have a tan year-round even without sun exposure.
  • Dark types usually have warm undertones and rarely burn. African-Americans and women of Indian descent fall into this category.
  • Very dark types are “ebony” or “deep” in color and can have either warm or cool undertones.

Finally ready to try out foundations? Remember:

  • Warm shades- labeled as beige, golden, tan, caramel, and chestnut.
  • Cool shades- labeled porcelain, rose, sable, cocoa.
  • Neutral shades are often labeled praline, buff, nude, and ivory.

If you don’t get your correct shade the first time, remember that the fun is in experimenting! 

 
With love,

The Sole Toscana Skincare Team