How Can I Tell What My Skin’s Undertones Are?

Nars Sheer Matte Foundation
Cover FX
Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation

Some people might tell you to try on silver and gold jewelry to see which looks better, or even to think about whether you wear "warmer" or "cooler" colors normally, but the easiest way to find your undertones is just to look at the veins in your arm, because your undertones determine which color they seem to be. Are they blue-green? Then your undertones are warm! Keep in mind that most peoples' undertones are warm, so there's a high likelihood yours will be, in general. On the off chance, however, your veins are blue or purple-looking, congratulations—your undertones are cool.

Why is this important? It helps determine which makeup shades will be most flattering on you. If you have warm undertones, you'll want to select a foundation with more gold, olive, or peach pigments in it (Cover FX makes a whole line of products for specific undertones—their Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation is a longtime movie set staple, and their shade selection is excellent).

If you have cool undertones, you'll want a shade with more yellow-pink tones in it (typically, very fair and very deep skin tones are more likely to have cool undertones, and Nars Sheer Matte Foundation has very good options for people who are on both farther ends of the spectrum).

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  • Bells

    What happens if you have blue, green and purple? :(

    • Sarah

      My question too! :(

  • Madeline

    I have purple, but I'm definitely warm. Gold and warmer shades of clothing and hair always look best on me. Cool colors make my skin look lifeless and dull. Makeup counters always pair me to warm shades (MAC NC shades). I think the vein thing is an outdated test...

  • deb

    I think the tone of your facial skin is more important than the tone of your inner wrist!

  • pterodactyl

    You should search for lipsticks with blue or purplish undertones (if you have troubles recognizing it on your own, just follow the color descriptions given by the brand, hehe). Warmer red lipsticks have orange and yellow undertones (like brick, tomato, etc).

    • Eliza

      Thank you & Georgia A!

      I have one red lip crayon I love which is a very basic red--probably cherry, actually, now that I think of it--but I will use this to pick out an actual lipstick :)

  • Gigi R

    I am a BR10 in Vitalumiere Aqua which stands for "rose beige pastel" - bet you didn't know they make that colour, I didn't! Mum is a redhead so I inherited her pinker skin tone even though I'm blonde, basically I can wear anything except black/grey/silver and not look washed out. A lot of foundations are either too dark or too orange, so I generally stick to French brands, they somehow know how to do fair foundations the right way.

  • violet

    Neutral doesn't mean you can go either way. It means you are a mix of both. Too cool won't work and neither will just warm. I have found success with Nars tinted moisturizer in Terra Nueve.

  • Nadia

    I guess you have olive skin tone.