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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beauty Q & A: How Do I Figure Out What Undertones I Have? Warm? Cool? Yellow? Pink? HELP!

Dear Unnatural Beauty,

I am constantly trying to find a foundation that matches my skin tone and usually I choose something too dark or too light or not the right undertone. I am so confused as to what that even means when someone says they have a neutral or yellow undertone to their skin. Can you tell me the difference between "cools and warms and neutrals" and make sense out of this whole "undertones" thing when choosing foundation?

This is definitely a question that most of us have when we make that leap from drugstore cosmetics to dabbling in some of the more high-end products and foundations. I don't recall having been too concerned about yellows and pink undertones when I was in college or high school. I just grabbed what I thought I was, and I was probably wrong. Here are some tips to follow in attempt to break things down for you:

Warm VS Cool Tones: Which Am I?

1. First, anyone working at a cosmetic counter is usually more than willing to color match you. But get a second (or maybe third) opinion because sometimes these women are in a rush and sometimes they guess without even testing a shade on your skin. 

2. Take a look at your veins. If you see that they are green in color, you most likely have a warm skin tone. If you see blue, you are on the cool side. This is your starting point, you aren't done yet.

3. If you look terrible in yellow, you most likely have yellow undertones. But I wouldn't take this as scientific advice, take it with a grain of salt and read on.

4. I have heard that if you appear pinkish or your skin has the tendency to look a bit blotchy or red, and/or you burn easily in the sun, you are cool-toned. 

5. I don't know how true this one is but I've read that if you look better in gold jewelry then you are warm-toned and if you look best in silver, you are most likely cool-toned. 

6. Warm girls most likely have yellow undertones while cool toned girls have pinky undertones. A mixture of both would put you in the neutral category. 

7. Think about what colors you look best in according to clothing. Do you look good in jewel tones or do you look better in those earthy tones? Earth=Warm, Jewel=Cool.

MAC Shade Matching Confusion:

And if you are buying MAC foundations, you will be thoroughly confused if you've been listening to tips from above. Because MAC kind of does it backwards. Their NW shades are actually cool-toned and their NC shades are warm. This is due to the fact that MAC bases their shade selection on the color wheel. NC shades are meant for warmer tones to neutralize them and vice versa for NW shades. So does that mean if you are an NC in foundation, then you are NW in concealer? Nope. Really confused now? If you are an NC in foundation, you will need an NW concealer to neutralize.


  1. Thanks for the info. That was very useful. I want to try out mac, so that helps a lot! I seem to to have weird skin. They never Colorado match me correctly. Its been a hassell trying to find the right Color. So, well see! Thanks a bunch!

  2. Does it do that font automatically for you?

    1. I am not sure, I changed it because it was hard to read! I need to go back to all of my older posts like this one and make sure the font looks normal, thanks for reading!

  3. I am confused by this "So does that mean if you are an NC in foundation, then you are NW in concealer? Nope. Really confused now? If you are an NC in foundation, you will need an NW concealer to neutralize." It seems like u say no u won't need the nw concealer but then say u will need it to neutralize. Am I missing something?

    1. Hi! MAC has an unusual system that is opposite of what we think it should be. If you are cool toned, you go with NW foundation and concealer and if warm toned you go with NC in both foundation and concealer. There is a typo in what I said.. sorry about that!!