How To Determine Your Skin Tone

by Catherine Nessa

Choosing the right foundation can be an exercise in frustration. All you need to do is take one look at the makeup aisle to become overwhelmed with choice—it seems like there are hundreds to choose from. Here, we give you a helpful guide to figuring out what kind of skin tone you have and how to choose a great foundation.

How to know your skin tone

First, is your skin tone  warm, cool or neutral?   While the skin’s surface can change from skin conditions or sun exposure, there is always an undertone and overtone present. Knowing your skin undertone is key to choosing the right foundation. Think of a time when you’ve seen a foundation line along someone’s jaw.  If you pick a color that is inappropriate for your undertone, it will look odd and fake once applied.

If you have a warm skin tone, you most likely tan easily and rarely burn.  You look good when you wear earth tones such as orange, red or yellow, and you look better in gold jewelry than you do in silver. Another very easy way to determine skin tone is “the vein test.” Look at the inside or your wrist. Do the veins look green in color or do they look more blue or purple? If they look green, you have warm skin tone.

In contrast, if you need to use sunscreen to avoid burning, you look better in jewel colors such as blues, purples and emerald green, then your skin tone is cool. Also, the veins on the inside of your wrist will appear blue or purple.

If none of these descriptions seem to fit you, you probably have a neutral skin tone. Warm skin tones have a yellow overtone, cool skin tones have a pink overtone, while neutral skin tones carry no obvious overtone at all.  People with neutral skin tone usually can find the right foundation with ease.

Choosing the Right Foundation

Most cosmetic companies offer several different foundation products which are nuanced to address different end results.  For women who prefer a natural, “all day” look, a BB crème may be a better fit than a traditional foundation which can look heavy during the day. On the flip side, a mattifying or creamy foundation is better suited for more formal nighttime looks.

If you are unsure about what your makeup “priorities” are, look for companies that offer  “shade finders” tools, which can help guide you through the process.  Your best choice would be to schedule an appointment with a makeup consultant who has been trained on skin tones and the best make up to use for each.

We hope you have found this helpful. Beautiful skin comes in many shades—once you find your fit your beauty will shine through!

Are you interested in a career in beauty, or perhaps taking your makeup skills to the next level? Empire Beauty School offers several Beauty Programs, including our Esthetics Program which will train you in all sorts of makeup artistry, facials, waxing, and more. Schedule a tour today and meet with a Career Planning Specialist to see if Empire is the perfect fit for you. Visit us at or call 1-800-964-3635.

June 3, 2015

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