Knowing Your Skin Undertone – Why is it Important?

So far, I have read a copious number of articles relating to skin undertone and tips on how to find yours. However, none of them seems to be explaining why it is important for you to know your undertone and in what ways it can be a real game changer.

The importance of knowing your undertone.

Have you ever bought a red lipstick that looks gorgeous on your friend only to find that it looks horrendous on you or bought a dress because of its colour only to put it aside after a few futile attempts at wearing it? You can’t quite place it, but some colours simply don’t suit you, you concluded. Well, not so fast. It’s not really the colour which is an issue. It is, more precisely, the shade, underlying hue or undertone of a colour which is to be taken into consideration. Knowing which shades of red, blue, green etc. suit you can be a life-changer. Once you have nailed the basics of colour theory, you can achieve a glowing-from-within look effortlessly and give free rein to your confidence!

I’m sure you are tired of hearing that your foundation should match your skin tone being rehashed over and over again, although it does contain a healthy dosage of good sense. Choosing a foundation which is too dark can give an orangutan kinda tinge and going too light can throw an ashy cast on the skin. However, it is just as crucial that your foundation matches your undertone.

The difference between skintone and undertone.

Skin tone refers to the skin’s shade at the surface, so from ivory to ebony and everything in between. Undertone refers to the underlying hue of someone’s skin. For example, you can be ebony with red undertones (cool) or golden undertones (warm). So, put simply, red/pink/blue are the undertones that will come through the skin of a cool-toned individual. On the other hand, yellow/peach/gold undertones peeking through the skin tantamount to having a warm undertone. It should be noted that one can also fall in the ‘neutral’ category – meaning that the skin is well colour-balanced and can, as a result, get away with wearing both cool shades and warm shades. Applying a neutral-toned foundation on a warm-toned person will usually result in the skin gracefully embracing the golden/yellow tones of the foundation but, at the same time, throwing off the red/blue/cool tones and looking slightly off-balanced.

Warm v/s Cool

If you are pale (but warm), it is recommended that you choose foundations which have very subtle peach (pinkish-yellow) tones and if you are cool (and pale), choosing foundations with slightly pink tones might be a better option. Usually, the darker the skin is, the deeper the warmth/coolness of your skin will be. So for a person of medium skin tone, they will either have yellow undertones (warm) or pink undertones (cool). A person of very deep, rich skin colour will have very yellow/golden undertones (warm) or red/blue undertones (cool)


When it comes to other forms of makeup, understanding the concept of undertones can be quite handy too. For example, if you are warm toned, a red lipstick with an orange hue might complement you better and if you are cool toned, a red lipstick with a blue base might be best suited.

While a cool toned nude with a very beigy-tone might look dead-dropping gorgeous on a cool-toned person, it gives me warm-toned) that corpse-look which I’m not really a fan of. If you are warm-toned, wearing a nude lipstick with a peachy hue can make a world of difference in my opinion!

Understanding of cool v/s warm can also be used to create contrasts! For example, if you have warm brown eyes, a cool green eyeshadow will really make the former stand out. Alternatively, you can still match your undertone using all warm/all cool colours but, by making sure that the two colours which you are choosing are from the opposite side of the colour wheel, you can create a contrasting effect! On the other hand, creating more harmonious looks by matching warm-toned eyes with warm-toned eyeshadows is the option that I prefer going for.

Knowing if your undertone is yellow/golden or pink/red is not as easy as one might think. You can read part two of this article for tips on detecting your undertone!

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