Know Your Skin’s Undertone

When I studied graphic design as well as makeup, I had to study colours and this really helped me when it comes to picking the right colours for clothes and make up for myself as well as for clients. Hence, knowing your skin’s undertone helps you pick suitable clothes, makeup and even hair colour!

So what is your skin’s undertone? We often see the overtone or surface tone, which is often described as light, medium, tan or dark. Your skin’s undertone is the colour underneath that. Thus, you may be described as tanned, similar to your friend, but both of you may have different undertones.

Classifications of undertones

There are 3 categories when it comes to describing skin’s undertone:

Warm – golden, yellow or peachy undertones

Cool – pink, blue or red undertones

Neutral – mix of warm and cool undertones

How do you determine your undertone?

Firstly, put your hand out and check it under natural light. Look at your veins and observe what you see.


If you see green veins, then you have a warm undertone. If you have a darker skin tone, look for yellowish veins to determine that you have a warm undertone.


If you see blue or purplish veins, then you have a cool undertone. For those who are dark-skinned, you should see more blue veins.


If you see a mix of green and blue veins, then you have a neutral undertone. This goes for those who are darker-skinned.

Do note that your surface skin tone may change due to sun exposure (or lack thereof) but your undertone will remain the same.

Still can’t figure it out?

Another way to determine your undertone is to do what I like to call the “White Test”. Stand in natural lighting without any makeup or skincare products. Drape a white towel around your face.


If your face appears slightly yellowish, then you have a warm undertone. If you appear non-yellow or bluish, then you have a cool undertone.

However, this may be a little difficult for Asians who have been stereotyped to have a yellow undertone. This may be true for a large percentage but there are Asians with cool or neutral undertones. Thus, the next test would be the “Jewellery Test”.

If gold compliments your skin better, then you have a warm undertone. If silver compliments better, then you have a cool undertone. If you’re able to wear both, then you have a neutral undertone.

Absolute last resort

If you’re still unable to tell your undertone, then take a photo of yourself without any makeup  and place it in the middle of your computer screen next to red on one side and blue on the other. While there are many shades of red and blue, please stick to the primary shades.

Then look at each colour next to your face and determine which colour suits you better, which colour does not make you seem ashy or is more flattering? If you’re still confused, then get a friend to give you their opinions for the veins, the “White Test” or even the “Jewellery Test”.

Dispelling some myths

Even if you’re fair-skinned or pale does not mean that you have a cool undertone and it goes the same for those who are tanned or darker-skinned. As mentioned earlier, not all Asians have warm undertones simply because of the slightly yellowish skin. Try out the tests above and find out what your undertone is and we will cover in our next post about how you can choose a whole spectrum of colours for your wardrobe, makeup and hair once you’ve determined your skin’s undertone!


This article was contributed by Suzanne Lin who is an interior designer as well as a freelance make up artist. You can visit her blog at

Photo credits: Suzanne Lin and Pixabay



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