Whether you’re lost in the makeup aisle trying to color-match foundation, or you just can’t seem to pick the right shades that complement your skin, what I’m presenting is going to simplify everything for you. I want to help you understand, once and for all, how to determine your skin’s undertone and choose makeup that enhances your natural beauty. Are you ready to tackle this colorful topic and never be confused again? Let’s go!

How to Easily Understand and Analyze Undertones
smiling woman with cool undertone

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Understanding your skin’s undertone is essential for making smarter makeup choices.
  • That whether you have a cool, warm, or neutral undertone doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
  • Embracing the magic of undertones opens up a world of color coordination in makeup, and as a result, experimentation as well!


click here to read the transcript!


Episode 61: Show notes

smiling woman with cool undertone

Unlocking the Secrets of Skin Undertones: A Makeup Mastery Guide

Unraveling the Undertone Mystery

When it comes to makeup, the term ‘undertone’ can often leave even the most conscientious of us perplexed.
The thing is that the concept is simpler than it seems, and can serve as a foundational element for selecting colors that complement your skin.

Understanding your undertone — be it cool, warm, or neutral — can really help your makeup routine and enhance your overall appearance. With ease!

Defining Undertones: The First Step to Makeup Mastery

So, what exactly is an undertone?

It’s the subtle, underlying color beneath your skin’s surface.

Your undertone remains constant, regardless of any changes in your skin tone due to sun exposure or health variations.

And knowing the distinction between skin tone and undertone is crucial, as it’s commonplace to confuse the two. While skin tone can fluctuate, your undertone is your lifelong companion in the journey of color selection and self expression, too.

Simple Techniques for Identifying Your Undertone

Determining your undertone might be easier than anticipated, thanks to everyday items like jewelry and clothes.

Silver jewelry typically suggests a cool undertone, while gold indicates a warm one. Moreover, neutrals can carry off both with ease.

Another way to discover your undertone is by observing the color shifts in your skin when placed against a white backdrop—pink or blueish hints point to cool undertones, whereas peachy or olive shades lean towards warm.

And finally, the color of your veins can provide you with clues; blue or purple veins often mean a cool undertone, while greenish veins suggest a warm one.

Remember, these are general pointers and not definitive rules.

Applying Your Undertone to Makeup Choices

Once your undertone is something you feel comfortable you have defined and understood, your makeup choices can become a more straightforward process.

If you have a cool undertone, explore lipsticks and cheek products with similar cool hues.

If you have warm undertones you may find that golden, peachy, or even brown makeup shades will suit you magnificently.

And for those some might say lucky neutral undertoned among us? The world is your oyster, with a vast spectrum of colors at your disposal, and you can venture into either cool or warm shades of makeup with ease.

Makeup Labels and Your Undertone

Fortunately, many makeup brands provide helpful hints in their product labeling.

A title like ‘NC’ in a product’s name could indicate a Neutral-Cool undertone, guiding you towards choices that resonate with your skin’s natural palette.

Use these notations to navigate the overwhelming array of makeup shades and textures available today.

Breaking the Undertone Rules — The Fun of Experimentation

While it’s beneficial to understand undertones and corresponding colors, makeup is ultimately an art of expression.

Don’t shy away from experimenting. Sometimes, breaking away from the ‘rules’ can lead to the most stunningly unique looks.

Embrace the opportunity to experiment and express yourself!

Your Personal Palette

Undertones don’t need to be intimidating; knowing yours can allow you to use it as a tool to enhance your natural beauty.

Whether you’re a makeup novice or a seasoned artist, recognizing and applying your undertone knowledge is an empowering step towards makeup mastery.

So dive in, explore, and let your undertone guide you to your perfect palette.

Click here to listen to this episode!


Episode Transcript

[00:00:02]: Undertone. It seems to be that mystery word that we still don’t really know what it means. So I wanted to clear a few things up and simplify the definition of the word because I’m here to tell you it’s really not as hard as it seems.

Now, having said that, whether you just want a better grasp of your own makeup and the choices you make at home, or because you struggle with color matching or even coordinating lip, cheek, eye and so many more color options when you’re making up others, there are a few simple rules of thumb that will help you get a grasp of undertone once and for all.

Inside this episode. I’ll define skin undertone for you so that you get it, and it makes sense and you’ll never be confused again. I’ll help you work out your own skin undertone and we’ll go over some of the tried and true methods that can help you identify makeup shades that work for your undertone. And we’ll finish up by addressing some of the most common misconceptions about skin undertone.

[00:01:10]: So much to cover. So let’s get into it.

[00:01:47]: What is undertone? Now, undertone is defined as the subtle underlying color beneath the surface of your skin. I thank you, Bobbie brown, for that wonderful, succinct definition. So how can you work out your skin’s undertone? There are some simple steps that you can follow to determine your undertone. If you have no idea, or even if this scares you off a bit, and trust me, I promise you it will get easier.

And the good news is that you have so many clues going on to help you work it out already, you might not even know it yet. The jewellery that you wear do you wear mostly silver jewellery? Then it’s highly likely you have a cool undertone. Or perhaps you wear gold. If you do, the chances are that your undertone is probably going to be warm.

[00:02:43]: Now, if you wear both silver and gold jewelry successfully, then chances are you probably have a neutral undertone. Next, you can pop on a white t-shirt or stand next to a white wall, or hold a white cloth up next to your face. Now, notice how your skin looks if it appears more pinkish or even with a cool bluish tone to it. Now, note that I’m not saying you have blue skin because that’s just silly, but if this is you, you probably have a cool undertone. Now, if your face appears more on the peachy or olive side, you have a warm undertone, because your skin’s undertone is how it appears. Now, while some may disagree with this method, it is one of the most commonly quoted and talked about methods and it can give you a little hint to a certain degree as well.

And that is your veins. I know it’s a big point of contention, but I mention them anyway. So take a look at your veins in your arms, in your legs, in your throat, neck and chest. Do your veins appear to be generally more purple or blue? Then it may be likely that you have a cool undertone.

And if your veins appear to be more green, then you may have a warm undertone. But this is not set in stone. And like I mentioned, there are some people that disagree quite strongly about that it. Because it can help inform your decision and give you a little guidance if you’re still undecided. So let’s take a quick pause and look at the three basic groups that undertones are usually categorized into.

[00:04:32]: We have touched on them very briefly already, so we’ll start with. Let’s go alphabetically. I’ll start with cool. Now, a cool undertone is generally one that can be identified by pinkish or bluish tones. And I suspect this may be one of the realms within undertone that can throw people off and that can confuse you, because in general colour terms, when you think of pink, you think of red, right?

Well, in terms of undertone, pink is definitely in the cool realm, I’m afraid. And I know it might feel counterintuitive, but yes, pink and cool tones are your cool undertone shades to identify. So pink and blue is in the cool undertone category. And for warm undertone shades, the appearance of your skin will be golden or peachy or even red tones within the skin.

[00:05:32]: And our third category for skin undertones is neutral. And now that’s going to be somewhere in between cool and warm, isn’t it? And some might say if you have a neutral skin undertone, you very fortunate, because this means you have a greater freedom of choice with colour coordinating, probably with your clothes and hair color as well as your makeup.

Have you ever tried on a jumper or sweater for my us friends? And the color just looks hideous on you. It looks like for me, when I put on a jumper, it looks like I’m sick or about to be sick. And for me, the first color that comes to mind is mustard yellow. It’s just no good on me, and it never will be. I’ve come to be quite okay with that. I will never wear mustard.

[00:06:24]: Well, you can look at makeup the same way by knowing your skin’s undertone. You can know, alongside with your color theory principles, which colours will work harmoniously on skin that has a certain undertone. So knowing the importance of undertone can help you make far more effective color choices with makeup, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. And one more thing before we get into makeup is that it’s important to know that skin tone and undertone are not the same thing.

I’m going to say that again because it’s that important. Your skin tone and your skin’s undertone are not the same. Your skin tone can change over time and at various times in your life, depending on your exposure to the elements like sun and wind, and also your general state of health and wellbeing. However, your skin’s undertone will always remain the same, even if you get a tan or when your tan fades.

Okay, that’s great, Kerrin. Thanks for that. Now I’m completely confused.

Okay, well, let’s go back. Let’s walk away from all that color theory, and let’s talk about how to pick makeup based on your skin’s undertone. So, aside from actually physically going into a store and adopting what can be a time-consuming method of trial and error, most makeup brands nowadays already give you clues in their labeling system of their complexion products. For example, a product as in, let’s just say, a MAC product. Let’s look at the NC7.

[00:08:09]: Now, immediately, I know that this is neutral, cool, and the number seven within their color range system. So I know this is a neutral tone shade with a cool undertone. So if I have a cool undertone in my own skin, then I’m on the right track. And then it’ll just be a case of picking the level of shade that matches my skin tone at that time.

Now, this may be fine for foundations and other complexion products, but when it comes to eye makeup, cheek products and lipsticks as well, lip liners, a whole range, basically all your other makeup products, it’s like the makeup heavens have opened up and showered you with every color, shade, texture choice under the sun. And it can be completely overwhelming to even know where to start in choosing the right color for your skin’s undertone. So take a breath, take a step back, and I say, go with what you know. At least in the beginning.

[00:09:12]: If it’s all entirely overwhelming, go with what you know.

So hopefully, now that you know your skin’s undertone, a safe bet is to stick with shades that are harmonious with your undertone. And as I mentioned, your clothing and hair can act as the perfect support systems and guides, pointing you in the right direction. If you have a cool undertone, maybe you want to try and stick with cool-toned lipsticks and cheek tones. And if you have more of a golden or peachy undertone, go ahead and try warmer reds, oranges. Even brown toned reds and oranges will probably look great on you. No problem. And if you’re a neutral undertone, try experimenting a bit and you may even make some new makeup discoveries.

[00:10:01]: The same goes for eyeshadows as well. And your eye color can come into play too, and help you make choices as to whether you want to make your eyes pop with some contrasting shades on your eyelids or go for something softer and more complementary.

And there I go again. I can’t help but slide back into color theory talk. It just goes hand in hand with makeup all the time. I make no apologies. There, it’s done. But it does.

[00:10:30]: And so if that’s something else that bogs you down, I have some news for you. I’ll help you out at the end of the episode. But as we wrap up, I wanted to address a couple of common misconceptions about skin undertone as well. One being the notion that fair-skinned people automatically have a cool undertone, and that dark skin-toned people have a warm undertone. And to put it simply, this is just not true.

Anyone can have any undertone, regardless of the shade of their skin or the time of year that it is. And another thing, lighting is going to influence the appearance of your skin. So how it may look inside under your funky, golden Edison bulbs will be different to how it looks outside in full sunlight.

[00:11:18]: Determining your true skin undertone should be done in even slightly overcast daylight for a true determination. Now, trial and error is probably the most thorough approach to land on makeup shades that are right for your skin’s undertone and your own personal tastes.

Now, I may have presented you with a slew of information and steps to follow about acknowledging and understanding your own and others skin undertones, but the personal choices you make are entirely up to you. And sometimes it’s fun to break the rules, isn’t it? I like to think of it as learning the rules before you know how to break the rules with makeup. So don’t be afraid to experiment and to try different things from time to time. What’s life for if you can’t take some chances once in a while and express yourself in a new or different way? Right? And if you’re still entirely baffled by all of this, I might have just the guide for you now.

I’ve decided to share this for the very first time, and this is a comprehensive guide that I’ve pinched from my upcoming makeup course, The 40+ Face, which is inspired by you, my friend. If you’re in your forties and like me, learning that makeup is just different on your skin now, and that your skin is different too, well, stay tuned because I’ve been working at this a long time now, and while things are coming along, it’s certainly a process.

[00:12:55]: And in the meantime, I can share with you this very special guide for the very first time. It’s called the Color-matching guide. And inside, I give you some of the things that we’ve covered in this deep dive episode and a whole heap more of troubleshooting techniques.

What to do in store if you’re totally overwhelmed about foundation and how mainstream makeup brands color systems work to help inform you about your own skin tone and your skin’s undertone. Now you can find this guide at https://themakeuprefinery.com/color-match-guide and it’s yours for free.

But I won’t be keeping this available for long because it is part of the course. So if you need this, be sure to grab it soon. I’ll probably take it down at the end of April, and this is 2024, so that gives you a few weeks to grab it from now.

[00:13:48]: Okay, that was a big episode. I hope it cleared up the concept of undertone for you a bit. Any questions, please DM me @themakeuprefinery on Instagram, and I wish you all the best in discovering some new makeup or discovering it from scratch because you’ve always been overwhelmed by the undertone, and it’s always, always thrown you.

It’s really simple when you start paying attention to the clues that are around you.

Okay, my friend, thank you for joining me. I’ll see you next time. Bye.

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