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How To Find Your Skin's Undertone

6 mins

Evelyn Carter

Struggling to find a foundation that matches your skin? Learn how to identify your skin’s undertone and which colors complement you best.

Finding the right foundation match for your skin can be one of the trickiest parts of doing makeup. You go to the store, browse the different options, maybe do some swatching, and then settle on the one that looks the most like your skin tone. Simple, right? Wrong.

When you get home and apply a full face of your foundation, something looks… off. You were sure that the color of your foundation matched the color of your skin tone, so what went wrong? The truth is, you probably did find a foundation that pairs nicely with your skin tone. What you failed to consider, however, was your skin's undertone.

Your skin has both a tone and undertone and both play a major role in determining what colors of makeup and clothing match and complement your appearance. Today, we at WOW Skin Science will explain the difference between skin tone and undertone and how you can easily identify yours.

Table of contents:

  • How Do Skin Tone and Skin Undertone Differ?
  • What is My Undertone?
  • How Should I Do My Makeup Based on My Undertone?
  • What Are Some Tips for Applying Foundation?
  • Pore Coverage
  • Less Is More
  • SPF
  • How Can I Keep My Skin Healthy?

How Do Skin Tone and Skin Undertone Differ?

Your skin tone is your skin color, the one you see when you look at yourself in the mirror in natural daylight. 

Your skin undertone is the hidden color in your skin that you do not necessarily see at first sight. It is what makes your skin appear cooler or warmer. 

One element of the undertone that is simpler than skin tone is that it is unchanging. Your skin tone can change throughout the year based on the seasons. For example, your skin tone may be darker during the summer than in winter. However, your skin's undertone will be the same during both periods.

skin tone and undertone

Knowing your undertone is most important for styling purposes. Wearing colors that flatter your skin can boost your overall appearance. Wearing non-complementary colors, on the other hand, can make you appear tired and exacerbate the appearance of blemishes and bags under your eyes. 

Knowing your undertone is also essential for finding the right foundation and concealer shade. Matching your makeup to your skin tone is not always enough. Some makeup brands even offer multiple versions of the same concealer shade with variations based on the undertone so that you can find your true match. This is, of course, only possible if you know what your skin undertone is.

What is My Undertone?

Though there is room for variations, the three traditional undertones are cool, neutral, and warm. Cool undertones include blue and pink hues, while warm undertones include peach, yellow, and golden. Neutral undertones are generally regarded as a match to your skin tone or as a combination of cool and warm undertones. For example, your undertone may contain both pink and yellow hues.

To learn your undertone, you can visit a makeup counter and have a beautician determine it. However, you can identify your skin undertone by yourself in the comfort of your home.

The most popular practice for figuring out your skin's undertone is based on the color of your veins. Look at your wrist or any other area where your veins are most exposed in natural daylight. The color of your veins will determine what type of undertones you have.

how to determine skin undertone, what is really my skin tone

If your veins look blue or purple, you probably have cool undertones. If your veins look green, you probably have warm undertones. If the color of your veins is difficult to discern because they so closely match the coloring of the surface of your skin, you probably have neutral undertones.

For further confirmation of your skin undertones, there are additional methods that you can employ. If multiple tests give you the same results, you can be confident in the assessment of your own skin undertone.

For example, another way people assess their undertones is to figure out which type of jewelry looks best on them, gold or silver. In this instance, the shade that most closely matches your undertone is the shade that complements you best. 

People with warm undertones typically look their best when wearing classic gold jewelry, while silver and platinum jewelry most flatters people with cool undertones. Therefore, if you look better in gold, you likely have warm undertones, and if you look better in silver, you likely have cool undertones. 

woman with gold jewelry

You probably have neutral undertones if you generally look equally good in both. Remember, this is not to say that you look bad in silver or gold jewelry based on your skin undertone, but rather that one is even more complimentary than the other. For someone with a neutral undertone, there would not be a clear winner between the two types of jewelry.

A third way to help identify your skin undertones is to analyze your other natural features. This method does not work for everybody, but it is common for people with brown or hazel eyes to have warm or neutral undertones. If you have blue, gray, or green eyes, you are more likely to have cool undertones, though this is not set in stone.

How Should I Do My Makeup Based on My Undertone?

If your skin has a cool undertone, the right foundation for your skin will typically have a pink hue. It is most important that you do not use a yellow foundation. This can make you appear sallow. 

As for clothing and other pigmented makeup products, any red, blue, or purple containing notes of pink will complement your skin tone. 

If your skin has a warm undertone, a good foundation match for your skin will be slightly yellow. 

how to find my skintone foundation

When styling yourself and picking out other makeup products, the most complimentary color palette is the one that most closely matches your skin. Peach, gold, and yellow hues all suit you well.

If your skin has a neutral undertone, you should try a combination of pink and yellow foundations. This typically falls in the region of peach-toned foundations. 

As for eyeshadow, lipstick, and articles of clothing, the obvious answer is to stick with neutral colors. While these may be the most complimentary for you, having a neutral undertone gives you the liberty to pull off cool and warm colors, too.

What Are Some Tips for Applying Foundation?

Now that you have finally found the right foundation for your skin type, skin tone, and skin undertone, the last thing you want to do is apply it incorrectly. After putting in the effort to find your perfect makeup match, you deserve to feel beautiful! 

While many people will mess up with their makeup before they have even begun by purchasing the incorrect products, many others struggle with the application portion of the process, as well. To help you avoid making mistakes, here are some easy and effective foundation hacks.

Pore Coverage

If you have large, visible pores, you may need to adjust how you apply your foundation to conceal them better. Use a soft but firm makeup applicator that gently but flawlessly applies your makeup onto your skin. Take a small amount of your foundation on the back of your hand, and then dip your applicator into it. 

how to cover pores

Next, determine which areas of pores are most problematic. Begin by swirling the brush around this identified area. This should allow the applicator to gently fill in your pores with your foundation, making them almost invisible once you have the rest of your foundation on.

Less Is More

After applying your foundation, you may notice that there is still visible redness, capillaries, or breakouts. You will probably feel tempted to grab a little more foundation to cover these areas better. If it doesn't work the first time, you will continue applying more. 

Unfortunately, most of the time, adding more foundation will not do much concealing but will leave you looking cakey. When maintaining a smooth complexion throughout the day, less is more. Instead of going through with your foundation to try and cover up the areas you are not satisfied with, use a liquid full-coverage cream concealer. 

finding foundation tone

Put some on the back of your hand, and then use a small blending brush to apply a very thin layer to touch up your problem spots. Then, go back in with the applicator you had originally applied your foundation with, whether a sponge or brush and press over the areas of the newly applied concealer.


When it comes to foundations with SPF in them, you ideally want to wear these throughout the day when the sun is actually out and you are exposed to its ultraviolet light because this is when the SPF will be useful. Your SPF foundation may no longer be helpful at night, especially when taking photos. In these circumstances, the SPF within your makeup can reflect the camera's light and flash, resulting in a white cast over your face and a ghostly appearance. 

How Can I Keep My Skin Healthy?

If you have gotten this far in the article, we can only assume that you wear or plan to wear makeup. While makeup is an incredible tool for enhancing your natural features, it can also harm them if you are not putting equally as much effort into maintaining your skin's health. It is possible to wear makeup without triggering breakouts or premature aging as long as you keep up with your skincare regimen.

While everyone's skincare is bound to look different based on your skin's unique needs, a few elements should be shared across the board. One of which is face wash. 

Cleansing your skin is important for removing unwanted debris gathered throughout the day or excess sebum and dead skin cells. It is even more important if you wear makeup. Even if you use a makeup remover, your skin may still have leftover makeup residue. The right face wash will ensure that your skin is clean and fresh every morning and every night.

fine the perfect face wash, face washing

Another important step that we implore you to take is moisturizing. A common misconception about moisturizing is that it is only necessary if your skin is dry — but this is not the case! 

Everyone can benefit from additional hydration to support their moisture barrier

You will especially benefit if you wear makeup daily or close to daily. Your skin will need additional moisture after being covered in products all day. A bonus is that if you moisturize daily and night with a high-quality face cream, your foundation may sit better on your smooth skin. 

Discovering your skin's undertone does not have to be tricky. Once you have tried out a few different methods, you should be able to confidently identify which foundation best matches your skin and which colors enhance your appearance. If you are still not 100% confident, you can always get a second opinion from a beautician when purchasing your foundation.

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Evelyn Carter

Evelyn was involved in the beauty industry as a makeup artist before she turned to full-time writing. Carter has reviewed numerous skincare, haircare and other beauty products. Her experience gives her keen insights into products, ingredients, and their reliability. Her articles are informational content pieces liked by readers and beauty brands alike.

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