Beauty

Here’s How to Actually Pick the Right Shade of Foundation

Finding the perfect foundation, BB cream, CC cream, lipstick, and every beauty product in between can be tricky. It all comes down to color. What’s your skin tone, but more importantly, what’s your undertone?

“Undertone is the shade within your skin color,” explains Robert Sesnek, a celebrity makeup artist for Catrice Cosmetics who works with Lucy Hale, Hailey Bieber, and Adriana Lima. Sesnek and Dr. Craig A. Kraffert, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Amarte Skin Care, broke down everything to know about skin undertones and how to find yours. The perfect foundation shade awaits.

What’s a skin undertone?

Undertones are essentially the shade within the color. Think of it this way: When you look in the mirror you see your skin tone—fair, olive, or dark—which are all examples of your skin tone. The undertone is the shade that is within that color.

“Complexions are, by definition, complex,” Kraffert adds. “Undertones are independent of skin pigmentation level and represent colors deep in the skin’s surface.”

What are the different skin undertones?

Kraffert notes that skin tones can be classified along a spectrum ranging from cool to neutral to warm. There are three undertones within all shades of skin:

Cool Undertones

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Big Celeste Wright Energy

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If the base tone of your skin is pink, red, or blue, you have cool undertones. Other celebrities with cool undertones include Mindy Kaling, Lupita Nyong’o, Cara Delevingne, and Lucy Liu.

Ask yourself these questions and if you answer YES to most, you probably have cool undertones.

  • Do you burn easily?
  • Does your skin have a bit of pink in it?
  • Are the veins on the inside of your wrist a blue color?
  • Does silver jewelry look better on you over gold?

    Warm Undertones

    beyonce

    If you have warm undertones, you and Beyoncé have one thing in common. Feel free to tell everyone.

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    If you can look a bit yellow or gold, then you have warm undertones. Other celebrities with warm undertones include Jessica Alba, Freida Pinto, Viola Davis, and Claire Danes.

    Ask yourself these questions and if you answer YES to most, you probably have warm undertones.

    • Do you tan easily?
    • Does your skin look more yellow or olive?
    • Are the veins on the inside of your wrist a green color?
    • Does gold jewelry look better on you over silver?

      If you can’t figure out whether you’re warm or cool, then chances are you’re probably neutral.

      Neutral Undertones

      selena gomez

      Watch her neutral undertones go.

      Getty Images

      If you have both warm and cool hues, you have a neutral undertone. Other celebrities with neutral undertones include Drew Barrymore, Victoria Beckham, Natalie Portman, Kerry Washington.

      Ask yourself these questions and if you answer YES to most, you probably have neutral undertones.

      • Is your skin both pink and yellow?
      • Can you both burn and tan?
      • Do the veins on the inside of your wrist look both green and blue?
      • Can you wear both silver and gold jewelry and look amazing?

        If you’re still confused about what color undertone you have, Sesnek broke down the best tests that align with the questions above to try and find your skin undertone.

        The White or Off-White Test

        Hold up a pure white and off-white piece of clothing to your face and see which color is more flattering. If you look better in pure white, you probably have warm undertones.

        If you look better in the off-white, you more likely to have cool undertones. If you look good in both you are probably neutral-toned.

        The Sun Exposure Test

        Sun exposure is also very telling. If you tend to tan easily and rarely burn, you probably are a warm skin tone. If you burn very easily and tan minimally, you probably are cool-toned. If you both tan and burn, you have a neutral tone.

        The Gold Vs. Silver Jewelry Test

        Gold jewelry tends to be the most flattering on warmer skin tones. Silver is mostly flattering on cool tones. If they’re both flattering, you’re most likely neutral.

        The Veins Test

        The veins in your wrists can also help you tell which undertones you have. Greener-toned veins usually indicate you are warm and blue or purple tinted veins usually mean cool tones. Blue and green usually means neutral.

        Foundation packaging also commonly includes undertone letters—C, W, and N—alongside the shade number. Here are a few brands that will help you get started on your undertone journey.

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