For all the beginners out there, the “undertone” term is quite common in the world of beauty and you should start doing your homework. We’re always ready to help you and we sat down with two beauty gurus and skin care experts that are able to clear things out when it comes to undertones and all the makeup applications related to it.
First thing first, let’s get back to the basics and get a better understanding on the whole undertone problem.
Tiffany Torrence, who isn’t just a licensed aesthetician, but also a makeup artist and founder of the Skin and Body Kinic, tried to explain the undertone to us and why the term is different from the skin tone.”Skin tone and undertone are not the same thing,” she told to Essence and she continued with farther explaining: “Skin tone can change over time for a variety of reasons, but undertones remain constant (yes, even when you tan). Understanding your undertone is the difference between a flawless makeup application and looking too made-up.”
Sure enough, the explanation from Kourtney Willis, an experienced aesthetician from Downtown Dermatology in Columbus, Ohio is going to help you get the better understanding of the concept: “undertones [as the name suggests] are the colors underneath the surface of your skin.”
Long story short, it’s not impossible to have the same skin tone as your best friend, but you may also have completely different undertones.
Willis and Torrence agree, just like many specialists out there, that there are three undertone colors: warm, cool and neutral.
Here’s a thing or two about each of them:
When your base tone is gold or yellow, you definitely have warm undertones.
The second you identify some hues of blue, pink or red, it’s all clear: you have cool undertones.
Sometimes, the skin presents a combination of both cool and warm tones. It’s also possible for your undertone to be the same color as your actual skin too. This can only mean one thing: you have a neutral undertone for your skin.
The world of beauty is full of misconceptions and one of the most common ones out there is that fair-skin cannot have warm undertones. Additionally, there is also the misbelief that dark-skinned women of color cannot have cool tones. This is far from reality though.
For instance, the superstar model Alek Wek is quite an example of how darker skin may come with bluish and cool undertones. On the other hand, Beyoncé is the first name that comes to mind when thinking of someone with warm undertone.
Now that you got through everything, you may be left again with a big question: do you have warm, cool or neutral undertone? It’s not as difficult as you may think, especially if you’re taking a look at Torrence’s tips. You should look carefully “through your skin” at the inner part of your arm, while checking the veins on the inside of your wrist too. The color of your veins is going to be the best help for knowing exactly which undertone you have.
Willis points out that: “If your veins appear to be green, it’s safe to say that you have more warm undertones”. She also added that “If they are bluish and purple in color, then you have more cool undertones.”
You may run your very own test to see if you’re neutral or not by taking a good look at your skin and face in bright white and black shades, or look for subtler shades like ivories, tans or browns. When you look the best in black or neutral white, chances are you’re sitting on the cooler end of the spectrum. When a neutral tone like brown compliments you more, you are on the warm side of undertones.
Willis and Torrence also tell us about the jewelry test for identifying your skin tone. Torrence recommend to put on a piece of gold jewelry up against your skin. If you like the way it looks on you, you’re on the warm undertone side. On the other hand, if a silver jewelry looks better on you, your undertone is a cool one.
If you’re still wondering why knowing the undertone of your skin is important, read what Willis has to say on the topic: “Figuring out your undertone will help you find the best foundation color, lipstick, eyeshadow and any other cosmetic product”.
Now that we talk about makeup too, you may have find yourself in a pickle when choosing the perfect shade of foundation. However, Torrence doesn’t hesitate to make it all easier for us and leaves us with one big tips when shopping:”Pick one shade that matches your skin tone from both the warm and cool undertones.” Still not clear enough for you? Well, keep in mind that “The shade that disappears in the skin is a match. Just remember to test your foundation color on your lower neck and chest area.”
One last tip for the road? No matter what your veins are “telling” you, don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith and try the makeup shades that you like the most as feeling best in your skin is the key to pure beauty.
Originally published on Essence.com.