Have you ever tried a lip colour or foundation shade that just doesn’t look right on you, but you can’t quite put your hands on? Why doesn’t the colour work on your skin if it works on your friend with similar shades? Well, this is where knowing undertones can come in super handy, especially when you’re debating between two shades.
While two slightly different coloured foundations may work for your skin, finding the foundation that matches your undertone will make your makeup look more natural and flawless.
What’s an undertone?
Before we talk about anything else, let’s go over what the term means.
An undertone is the colour from underneath the surface of your skin that affects your overall hue. There are three types:
A cool undertone is generally associated with skin that has hints of blue, pink or ruddy red complexion. A warm undertone is more peachy, golden or yellow. Neutral is a mixture (or neither) of the two.
Malaysians in general has warm undertone, which is also the reason why NR Cosmetics goes so well with our complexion. However, a lot of people have mistaken the fact that just because their skin is slightly reddish or pinkish, it means they have cool undertone. Before looking at your face, you need to consider your neck and arm as well.
Here are a few tricks to help you understand your undertone better.
#1 Test: Vein Colour
This is the most popular way of knowing your undertone. Look at your veins. Are they a blue or purple hue? Or are they greenish in colour? A blue or purple hue means you likely have a cool undertone while green leans towards warm. If you find your veins are neither or in-between the two, you might be neutral.
#2 Test: White or Off-white
Hold on a piece of white fabric and an off-white fabric (you can get a shirt or dress to do this test) next to your face. Which do you look better wearing? If you look better in white, you have a warm undertone, whereas if you look better in off-white, you have a cool undertone. If both look good on you, congratulations! You’re the lucky feel who are neutral.
#3 Test: Silver or Gold
Similar to #2, this time you’ll be using gold and silver earrings or a necklace. Does silver bring out your complexion or do you look more glamorous in gold? Cool toned individuals look best in silver while warm toned look best in gold.
#4 Test: Burn vs Tan
Another popular way to determine your undertone is by thinking about how you tan up while you are on a beach vacation. If you burn quickly before getting tan, you’re probably cool. If your skin turns bronzy and tan after the sun, you’re most likely warm. But if you don’t burn very often, you’re most likely neutral.
Of course, I’m not asking you to run out into the sun without wearing any sunscreen for the sake of this test. Especially in our climate, it is important to put on a minimum of SPF 30 sunblock before stepping out of your house daily.
#5 Test: True Complexion
This test works best with foreigners whereby your undertone is determined by your hair and eye colour. If you have brown, black or blonde hair with blue, grey or green eyes, you likely have a cool undertone. If you have red, brown, black or strawberry blonde hair with brown or hazel eyes, you probably have a warm undertone.
Choosing the right product
Most international brands you see at Sasa or Sephora have over 30 shades of foundation for you to choose from. Check the colour coding on the product. Most would have indications like C (for cool undertone) or W (for warm undertone) to help you navigate their brands better.
When in doubt, ask! Go up to the makeup consultants and ask them for help. It is best to go cosmetic shopping without any makeup on. Remember, all liquid foundation will oxidise once they are exposed to air, your skin and temperature. In most cases, they will turn slightly darker. Try the product on your face and let it set on it for at least 30 minutes before deciding on it. You do not want to go home with something that does not suit you.
One quick way to speed up the oxidation process is to use a face mist. It helps with the blending and your makeup will last longer.
Complexion products – like foundation, bronzer, highlighter, and concealer – should have a very slight dash of pink for cool tones, and a pinch of yellow or golden for warm tones. For blush, try rosy pink hues if you have a cool undertone. For warm undertones, go for peachy pinks.