Stuck at the makeup counter clueless as to which foundation shade to go for? This is the article for you. Today we will learn our skin’s undertone.

Photo of a woman showing a tattoo on her arm. She has lots of skin on show.
A heart-shaped tattoo on a woman’s wrist
Photo by Coline Haslé on Unsplash

Traditionally, there are 3 types of skin undertone: warm, cool, and neutral. Warm undertones tends to be golden, peachy and yellow; while cool undertones lean more towards pink and blueish hues.

Skin undertones shouldn’t be confused with skin tone which denotes the shade of our skin. For example porcelain, olive, medium, dark etc. Skin tone can change from things like sun exposure. However, skin undertones remain the same.

Skin undertones are the natural colors underneath our skin’s surface, meaning some makeup shades will compliment them, while others may achieve the opposite. For this reason, understanding our skin’s undertone is really important, especially if it will help us make better informed makeup decisions.

Does the Sun Affect Your Skin?

Photo of a woman squeezing sunscreen onto her hand, to rub into her skin
The sun can help determine your skin undertone
Photo by BATCH by Wisconsin Hemp Scientificon Unsplash

If you have a cool undertone, you’re likely to sunburn easily and perhaps apply sunscreen more often. If you tan but seem to never get burned, then you may have warm undertones.

Kristeen Cherney, medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb

We all should by applying sunscreen to our skin when exposed to the sun, but it’s good to know it can be this easy to discover our skin undertone. Warm and neutral undertones tend to build a tan in the sun, whereas cool undertones need to be just that little bit more careful! Who knew it could be that easy?

Take a Look at Your Inner Arm

Photo of a person holding out their inner arm. We can use this part of our skin to determine our undertone
Check your veins to determine your skin undertone
Photo by Jude Beckon Unsplash

This one I learned from Paula’s Choice, my absolute go-to for any unanswered, skin-related questions. She says to start out by looking at the inside of your arm. Due to this area of skin being less exposed to sun, it is naturally less damaged and discolored.

What’s more, your veins can tell you what your undertone is. Yes, that’s right! If your veins are purple/blueish in color, you’re probably a cool undertone. If they appear greenish, you’re likely to be warm-toned. If you’re neutral, you’ll struggle to distinguish one stand-out color.

If you have a neutral undertone, this means that your undertones are roughly the same color as your actual skin tone.

Kristeen Cherney, medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb

Who knew looking at our veins could be so educational? I find this fascinating–our bodies are so clever.

Get Your Jewelry On

Photo of a woman holding out her hand full of jewelry. We can use it determine our skin undertone.
Jewelry is another way to determine our skin undertone
Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

We all have our personal preferences when it comes to jewelry. Personally, I have always been a silver girl. Recently, however, I’ve been dabbling with gold a lot more.

Forget your preferences for now. Which color do you naturally look better in? Traditionally, if you’ve got cool undertones, silver/platinum will compliment you best. Those with warm undertones tend to rock gold-toned jewelry.

Should you think both look good, you’re probably neutral. Yet again, this is another awesome and easy way to discover your skin undertones.


So there you have it, three easy steps to determine your skin’s undertone. Hopefully it will help you make decisions next time you’re at the makeup counter or when deciding what color sweater to order online.