How to Determine Your Skin Tone

Portrait of three women with diverse ethnicities

I think everyone getting into makeup has, at some point, experienced struggling with skin tone. Determining your skin tone is an important step in choosing perfect makeup shades, but it can be a bit tricky. I’ve seen a lot of women wearing foundation that doesn’t match their skin tone, and it’s not flattering. It defeats the purpose of wearing makeup to look more beautiful.

Skin tone isn’t about how light or dark you are. If you’ve been reading beauty articles for some time now, you’ve probably come across the terms “warm skin tone” and “cool skin tone.” These refer to how much blue or yellow you have in your skin color. Those with warm skin tone have more yellow in them, while those with cool skin tone are more bluish.

I put together a short guide on how to determine your skin tone. There are other techniques, but these are the ones I found to be very helpful when I was figuring out my own skin tone.

How to Determine Your Skin Tone

  • Observe how your skin reacts to sun exposure. For me, this is the most effective technique as skin tone is based on how much melanin your skin has. Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its color. It serves as protection against the sun, but it also decides what makeup shades work best for you. Those who tan easily under the sun most likely have a warm skin tone, since they have more melanin in their skin. On the other hand, those who turn red when exposed to sunlight probably have a cool skin tone.
  • Look at your veins. The veins in the underside of your wrists can also help you determine what skin tone you have. If you see blue-purple veins, you probably have a cool skin tone. If they’re blue-green, you most likely belong to the warm skin tone category.
  • Experiment with colors. Another effective trick is to wear a pink shirt, then try out an orange one. Compare which shirt makes your skin glow better. If it’s the pink shirt, you have a cool skin tone, but if it’s the orange shirt, you have a warm skin tone. You can also try this trick with lipstick.

I have used these techniques on myself and on some friends I do makeup with but the results aren’t always conclusive. There are some lucky people who are in the neutral range, which means they look good in almost all colors. If you’re not happy with the results you get from these techniques, you can do trial and error using cheap products, and then buy more expensive ones when you figure out what works for you.

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