If you’ve perused a makeup blog or flipped through a beauty magazine, you’ve no doubt heard a thing or two about “warm versus cool undertones.” That’s because knowing which one you have can help you choose everything from the best foundation for your skin to your most complementary hair shade.
You may have heard that warmer skin tones look most radiant with equally warm shades, like reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and browns (i.e., earth tones). Skin with cool undertones look fab in deep pinks, blues, purples and jewel tones. This kind of color theory is so powerful that some personal stylists design their entire approach around skin tone in order to make sure their clients always look amazing—whether they’re in an evening gown or casual T-shirt.
So how do you figure out whether you have warm or cool undertone?
Have no fear—we’ve compiled the best tips and tricks to help you get to the bottom of it. (And remember—these are only guidelines. At the end of the day you should always wear whatever you want and what makes you feel your best—warm or cool tones be damned.)
1 Vein check
Turn over your forearm and look at your veins. If they appear greenish, you likely run warm. If they seem blue, your undertone is probably cool.
2 Find your metallics
Do you look better in gold or silver? If your skin looks best in gold, you likely have yellow, or warm, undertones. If you look better in silver, your skin probably has pink or cool undertones. If you look equally great in both, you have a neutral skin tone!
3The handkerchief test
Hold a white cloth next to your bare face and stand in front of a mirror. Does your skin look yellow or gold in comparison? Or pink or blue? If the result is mixed, you may be neutral.
4 Always use natural light
When determining your skin tone, do so in natural light. Lightbulbs have their own tones, so standing under a yellow light or a bluish light will affect the way your skin looks.
5 Don’t confuse skin tone with skin color
Remember that skin tone is not the same as skin color. You can have darker skin and a cool skin tone, or light skin and a warm skin tone.
And always remember: Never let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t wear. Embrace color, have fun, be creative, be playful, and be you.