Determine your undertone

  • You skin has a colour which is obvious and very easy to describe. Your ‘undertone’ is rather more difficult to pin down. It is the colour which shines through from below the skin’s surface. Undertones are classified into three types: cool, warm, or neutral (which is a mixture of both). This is not at all dependent on your skin colour. Any skin colour can have cool, warm, or neutral undertones. So you may have yellow skin, but a cool undertone.

Why it matters

There is a good reason why you need to take skin tone and undertone into account. When you apply normal makeup, it’s put on top, so it simply disguises the colour of the skin underneath. But semi-permanent make-up, is inserted under the skin (in the upper layers of the dermis). So, the colour you will see when you look at your newly coloured eyebrows is the pigment colour filtered through the underlying colour and tone  of the skin itself. So the pigment must be adjusted to take account of how the tone of the skin will change its visible colour.

The different undertones

This is how they are often described:

  • Cool – The underlying colour you can detect is in the blue or pink range.
  • Warm – The colours coming through from beneath the skin appear yellow, peachy or gold. (Some people – presumably people with cool or neutral undertones – also add ‘sallow’ to that list.)
  • Neutral – Nothing from below the surface seems to be much influencing the natural top colour of the skin

Determining your undertone is very important for deciding what eyebrow colour will look best on you (and which ones you should definitely steer clear of). Undertones are not at all obvious and it may take some effort to work out if yours is cool, warm, or neutral. Even what they exactly look like is not entirely clear-cut.

How to test for your personal undertone

These are rather vague hints. So how do you look for these undertones and decide which one you have? There are suggested tests. None of the tests is conclusive on its own, but if you do them and a pattern clearly emerges, then you should have discovered your personal undertone.

You must do the physical comparison test in daylight because artificial lights add colour of their own which will distort the appearance of you skin.

Look at your veins

This is one of the most useful methods of determining your undertone. Look at the colour of the veins on the inside of your wrist. If your veins look bluish or deep purple in colour, your undertone is most likely cool .

On the other hand, if your veins look green, then you have a warm undertone. (Green!? you are thinking. It’s because your undertone is warm, so your overall skin colour is in the yellow part of the spectrum. And if you remember mixing water colour paint as a child, you’ll remember blue + yellow = green.

But if you can’t tell easily whether your veins look green or blue, then you fall in the neutral category.

How does your skin react when exposed to the sun?

If you like to sit under a shade with a book when you go on holiday to somewhere hot because your skin burns easily, that’s a sign you are cool-toned.

But if you can lie out in the sun straight from the airport, and your skin goes nicely brown and doesn’t burn, then you have a warm undertone.

If you don’t tan much, but you don’t particularly either, that’s an indication your tone is probably neutral

What colours flatter you best?

You already know from experience what colours you like to wear, and which ones you automatically stay well away from. That is down to your unconscious awareness of your undertone, which makes one colour look good on you and another look bad.

If you like clothes or jewellery in earth tones such as yellow, brown, orange and red, then most likely, you have a warm undertone.

If you look best in purples or blues, then you’re probably a cool-toned person.

If you are one of the lucky people who can get away with any colour, then you have a neutral undertone.

Does gold or silver jewellery suit you best?

If gold jewellery looks better on you than silver, you have a cool skin tone. If it’s gold, then you have a warm skin tone. If either works for you, then you are likely to have a neutral skin tone

Check your hair and eye colour

Look in the mirror at the natural colour of your hair and eyes for a moment. Take all makeup, toner or cleanser off first, but give your face about  15 minutes to recover before doing the test.

Warm-toned people tend to have hazel, brown or amber eyes, with black, brown, red or strawberry blonde hair.

Cool-toned people, on the other hand, often have green, blue or grey eyes, with black, brown or blond hair.

The white paper test

Hold a piece of white paper up against your face – without makeup on – and look at yourself in the mirror to see what cast your seems to take on.

Your skin will have a yellowish tint if you are warm toned; blue or pink tint if you are cool toned. If you can’t detect either, you are neutral toned.

Blushing

Being able to blush easily is a sign of a cool toned person.