Best Colours to Wear With Your Skin Undertone

nicole kidman skin under tone fashion style
Credit: Nicole Kidman, Net-A-Porter

One of the easiest ways to build a wardrobe that gives you on-point looks every time is to determine your skin’s undertone and wear colours that match it best. In this article, we’ll look at how to identify each of the three undertones, how to find yours at home, the colours that suit your undertones and celebrity style inspiration of colour schemes and outfits. We’ll also touch on make-up so you can find your perfect foundation and understand more about the colours that make up red lipstick to find the shade that suits you.

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What Are Skin Undertones?

As the name suggests, your skin’s undertones are the colours that ‘glow’ under your skin and fall into three categories: warm undertones, cool undertones and neutral undertones.

  • Warm undertones are typically made up of oranges, golden yellows and yellowy, earthy greens
  • Cool undertones are typically made up of pinks, blues and purples
  • Neutral undertones fall somewhere in the middle, which means they have a mix of colours, but typically, those with neutral undertones pull more towards warm or cool colours.

cool skin under tone winona ryder styleneutral skin under tone victoria beckham stylewarm skin under tone nicole kidman style
Credit: From left to right, Winona Ryder (Cool Undertone), Victoria Beckham (Neutral Undertone), Nicole Kidman (Warm Undertone), Net-A-Porter

What Is the Difference Between Skin Tone and Undertone?

While undertones are subtle and glow ‘under’ your skin, your skin tone is the actual colour of your skin, which will range from somewhere between a light, medium, tan or deep colour. The same applies for your eyes and hair colour.

However, it is possible to have the same hair, eye and skin colour as someone else but to have different undertones. Because of this, you can have the same ‘true tones’ as someone else (such as pale skin, brown hair and green eyes) but look good in different colour shades, because the colours of your undertones are clashing (or blending) with your outfit or makeup.

Why Do Skin Undertones Matter?

Ok, so we know that everyone falls into either warm, cool or neutral undertones, but why does it matter? Knowing your skin’s undertones can help you find what looks best on you more quickly, narrowing down by colour (particularly useful when shopping through countless foundation colours). Finding the right colour will make your skin glow and flatter you, whilst wearing the wrong colour clothing or make-up can make you look washed out, overpower your skin or bring out elements you’d rather hide, such as redness or blotches.

How To Find Your Skin’s Undertone?

Do you have warm undertones, cool undertones or neutral undertones? Here are some simple tests you can do at home to determine which category you fall into. These questions will focus mainly on ascertaining if you have warm or cool undertones, but remember, skin undertones are not an exact science and, if you’re struggling to see a clear cut answer, or you find you go between the two, you may be lucky enough to have neutral undertones, which means you may look good in colours suited to both warm and neutral undertones.

The Wrist Check Undertone Test

Look at the inside of your wrist. What colour do your veins appear? If they look more blue, you likely have cool undertones. If they appear more green, you have warm undertones. If you’re somewhere in the middle, you are likely to have neutral undertones.

wrist check skin undertone test
From left to right: Paiget Possession 18-karat rose gold malachite cuff and Jaeger-LeCoultre Rose gold diamond watch. See more watches and bracelets.

The White Paper Undertone Test

Take a piece of paper and hold it next to your cheek in front of a mirror. How does it make your skin look? If it appears pink, rosy or blue then you have cool undertones. If the paper brings out a yellow, green or light brown tint in your skin, then you likely have warm undertones. If your skin looks grey or ashen, you have neutral tones. (NB: for best results, try this test sans make-up. If you are more tanned than normal, try the paper against the crease behind your ear instead and get a friend to help).

The True Complexion Undertone Test

Whilst you’re still in front of the mirror (in natural light, if you can) take a look at the colours you can see in your face, as if you were going to paint yourself with a rainbow, what colours would you need? Are they mostly yellows, oranges and greens? If so, you likely have warm undertones. If you can see blues, pinks and purples, you have a cool undertone. If you can see a mix of both, you’ve probably got neutral undertones.

Undertones are often related to the true tones of your hair and eye colour, too. Look at your eyes. In general, those with cool undertones tend to have blue, grey or green eyes, whilst those with warm tones have brown, hazel or amber tones.

Now, look at your hair. Those with blue, grey or green eyes combined with blonde, black or brown hair tend to have cool undertones. Those with brown or hazel eyes and brown, black or strawberry blonde hair tend to have warm undertones. If you’re somewhere in the middle, or a mix of the two combinations, you’re likely to have neutral undertones.

The Gold or Silver Jewellery Undertone Test

Which colour jewellery looks better on your skin? Gold tends to look better on warm-toned skin, whilst silver flatters cool-toned skin. If you can wear both, then, you guessed it, you likely have neutral-toned skin.

gold silver jewellery skin undertone test
From left to right: Magda Butrym Curtains gold-plated earrings and Charlotte Valkeniers Ripple Earrings. See more gold and silver earrings.

The Holiday Skin Undertone Test

How does your skin react in the sun? If you burn easily or go red, you have cool undertones. If you tan easily, you have warm undertones.

What Are The Best Colours For Your Skin’s Undertone?

Now that you know what category you fall into, you can start to put together outfits that go well with your skin’s undertones.

skin under tone warm cool colour wheel
Credit: Colour Wheel, Nuji

Colour wheels are a great way to visualise the colours that will suit you best and how to build an outfit of matching colours. However, it is worth noting that no matter if you have warm, cool or neutral undertones, it’s not about making any particular colour ‘off limits’, it’s much more about looking for the shade of colour and what you style it with that determines whether or not it will match your own undertones.

Best Colours, Style and Makeup to Wear With Warm Undertones

gwyneth paltrow warm skin under tone fashion style
Credit: Gwyneth Paltrow in a Madewell playsuit, Net-a-Porter

Colours to Wear With Warm Undertones

Those with warm undertones look better in ‘earthy’ shades, such as brown, orange, yellow, and green, otherwise known as “Springs and Autumns” colours.

Style Tips for Warm Undertones

Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams and Julianne Moore all have warm undertones. Here are some of their best style examples to give you inspiration for how best to make you glow.

nicole kidman style warm undertonenicole kidman style tips for warm undertones
Credit: Nicole Kidman, Pinterest

Nicole Kidman channels Grace Kelly in this look, her warm undertones flattered by this true-white cut out swimsuit, accented with gold jewellery and navy blazer (also accented with gold buttons to add warmth to the piece).

Nicole Kidman reflects the earthy tones of the Australian outback in this shoot for Vogue Australia, pairing an off-white midi-shift dress with caramel and animal-print ankle boots, high cut to meet the dress at the hem. Finally, she layers a lightweight suede trench over the top.

amy adams style tips for warm undertonesamy adams style warm undertone
Credit: Amy Adams, Pinterest

For this shoot, Nicole Kidman’s hair was dyed a strawberry blonde. She is styled in a red silk shirt flatter her warm undertones.

Black is a colour that can be warm by anyone, no matter what your undertones. Amy Adams is styled simply here, in a black blazer and dress with a soft orange lip, but black can also be styled with solid jewellery colours such as gold or silver, depending on your undertones.

Makeup For Warm Undertones

With your foundation, look for warm bases of yellow or green and use a blusher and contour in rustic, golden shades to highlight your own natural warm undertones. When it comes to bold shades such as a red lipstick, look for ones with orange undertones to enhance your natural glow.

Best Colours, Style and Makeup to Wear With Cool Undertones

winona ryder cool skin under tone fashion style
Credit: Winona Ryder in a Miu Miu dress, Net-a-Porter

Colours to Wear With Cool undertones

Those with cool tones tend to look better in solid, bright colours such as electric blue, fuschia pink and mint green, otherwise known as “Summers and Winters”.

Style Tips for Cool Undertones

Grace Jones, Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone all have cool undertones. Here are some of their best style examples to give you inspiration for how best to make you glow.

emma stone style cool undertoneemma stone style tips for cool undertone
Credit: Emma Stone, Pinterest

Emma Stone, styled in a chunky wool blanket of purples, blues and greys that flatter against her cool undertones.

Black and white are classic colours that can be anyone and are timeless. Cool-toned Emma Stone has styled a black blazer and a crisp white shirt with pale blue striped cuffs, finishing the look with a classic red lip (choosing a colour with blue undertones that match her cool undertones).

lupita nyong o style tips for cool undertonescarlett johannson style cool undertone
Credit: Emma Stone, Pinterest

With her cool undertones, Lupita Nyong’o shows perfectly how vibrant greens and blues look fantastic on this undertone, especially when accessorised with silver earrings.

Scarlett styles her signature pillarbox red lipstick which, with its blue undertones, goes perfectly with her cool undertones. The green bralet and lingerie have cooler, bluey undertones which also match her undertones.

Makeup For Cool Undertones

With your foundation, look for bases of purples, pinks or blues and use a pinker blusher and softer contour to highlight your own natural cool undertones. When it comes to bold shades such as a red lip, look for ones with blue or purple undertones to stand out against your skin.

Best Colours, Style and Makeup to Wear With Neutral Undertones

victoria beckham neutral skin under tone fashion style
Credit: Victoria Beckham wearing a Victoria Beckham turtleneck, Net-a-Porter

Colours to Wear With Neutral undertones

Those with neutral undertones may be the luckiest of them all. Neutral undertones tend to be a mix of both cool and warm undertones which means you can look good in (almost) any colour you like.

Style Tips for Neutral Undertones

Typically, those with neutral undertones will pull towards either a warm or a cool undertone. Therefore, pay attention to which colours you look your very best in using the colour wheel above. If you look best in the bright, solid colours in the right, you may be pulling towards cool undertones. If you look better in the earthy shades on the left, you may be pulling towards warm undertones.

emma watson style neutral undertoneemma watson style tips for neutral undertone
Credit: Emma Watson, Pinterest

Emma Watson has neutral undertones, but she pulls a little towards the warm side. This white wrap dress looks fantastic against her skin.

In this editorial, Emma Watson is styled in colours that would suit someone with a cool undertone. She layers an electric blue sweater over a vibrant silk skater skirt and finishes the look with a silver necklace.

uma thurman style neutral undertonekate moss style neutral undertone
Credit: Uma Thurman and Kate Moss, Pinterest

Uma Thurman's neutral undertones swing to warm undertones and this look is suited to someone who also has warmer undertones. Gold hoop earrings are styled with an orange-bed red lipstick to bring out her bronzier tones.

Kate Moss also has neutral undertones but this hot pink top and heels would suit someone with warm undertones, styled with a yellow bikini.

Makeup For Neutral Undertones

If you have a neutral skin tone, you're lucky. You can pretty much wear any colour you want. You can switch between cool and warm makeup depending on what you decide to wear. At the end of the day, your skin tone and what colours you wear should be comfortable to you.

The Best Colours to Wear With Your Skin Undertone

  • Those with warm undertones have yellows, and oranges glowing under their skin and should wear colours in earthy tones of yellow, orange and green in makeup and clothes.
  • Those with cool undertones have blues and purples glowing under their skin and should wear bright, solid colours such as purple, pink, blue and green in makeup and clothes.
  • Those with neutral undertones will see both blues, pinks, oranges and yellows under their skin, but may find that they ‘pull’ more towards warm or cool undertones and should style themselves according to this.

On That Note

Remember, finding your skin undertones isn’t an exact science and there are no hard and fast rules. Lighting and time in the sun can affect how your undertones appear (and is the reason that some celebrities have been labelled as having both cool and warm undertones, depending on who you ask). Use your newfound undertones and their matching colour schemes as a starting point to find the colours that make your features pop and keep exploring.

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