What Are Skin Undertones?

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  • Written By: T. Alaine
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2018
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Skin undertones are the underlying tint to the skin that influence whether a person has a “warm” or “cool” complexion. Generally, people with yellow undertones have warm skin while people with blue undertones have cool skin. Assessing the color of these undertones can be useful in selecting hair dye, makeup, jewelry, and clothing in flattering colors and shades. The actual color of the skin itself, called skin tone, should not be confused with the less obvious undertones.

It can be difficult to tell if a person has blue or yellow undertones just by looking at their skin. Looking at their veins, however, can help reveal the underlying colors. Veins that appear blue generally indicate blue undertones. In many cases, blue undertones are found in people who are very fair and do not tan easily or in darker skin tones that appear slightly reddish.

Veins that appear to have a slightly greenish tint indicate the presence of yellow undertones. Yellow undertones are often found in fair people who tan easily, Asian skin types, and warmer dark skin tones. As the name indicates, yellow undertones are usually present in people who have a warm, almost golden hue to their skin.


People with blue undertones are generally considered to have cool skin. The colors that look best on cool skin are also cool, oceanic shades, like cool purples, blues, greens, silver, gray, pure white, and black. Selecting clothing and cosmetics in these colors is usually a good way to predict which outfits or makeup looks will be the most flattering. As for hair color, people with cool skin are usually most flattered by champagne or platinum blondes, chestnut or ashy browns, and true black.

Warm skins that boast yellow undertones usually look their best in rich, earthy colors. Some examples are bold reds, oranges, golden yellows and greens, bronze, cream, and warm browns. Gold jewelry is particularly complimentary to skin with yellow undertones, whereas blue undertones look best in silver. The most flattering hair colors for people with warm skin undertones will probably be golden or reddish browns, honey blonde, strawberry blonde, or auburn.

One tricky aspect in assessing skin undertones is that it is possible to have warm eyes paired with cool skin, or the reverse. As a result, choosing colors based on having yellow or blue undertones is not a foolproof guarantee of flattery. Some are subtle enough that most colors can be worn without issue. While assessing these undertones is a good start for people trying to determine what colors flatter them, experimenting is the best way to find out for sure.


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Post 6

@shell4life-- You're lucky. It's great that all shades look good on you. I love cool colors-- gray, green and blue are my favorites. But they don't look too great on me because I have a yellow skin undertone. Red and brown look good on me but I don't like those colors too much.

It sounds like you have the best of both worlds!

Post 5

Figuring out skin undertones is so difficult. It took me a while to figure out what mine is. I couldn't tell from my veins at all. It was only when my friend told me to do the skin undertone jewelry test that I could really tell.

The jewelry test is when you put on silver and gold toned jewelry and see which looks better. If the silver toned looks better, it means you have a cool undertone. If the gold looks better, you have a warm undertone. If they both look good, then you have a neutral undertone. And yes, it's possible to have a neutral undertone.

I did this test and silver jewelry definitely looks best on me. So I have a cool undertone. I guess I should have guessed from the fact that red makeup and red hair color looks horrible on me.

Post 4

@Kristee – It's amazing how much skin undertone affects how a person will look with a certain hair color. I have extremely cool skin undertones, and knowing this helps me stay away from unflattering shades.

My mother has the same undertones as I do, and her hair is now completely silver. It really looks good with her face. It looks better than the salt and pepper shades that most people get, because it just seems so natural.

I once dyed my hair a brassy blonde by accident, and I looked terrible! I had to have a stylist cover it up with another color so that I could be seen in public again.

Post 3

I think that people with red undertones in their skin should stay away from reddish hair dye. Even blondes or browns with red tints can be too much.

I know a lady with an extremely ruddy complexion who dyes her hair strawberry blonde. This makes her look even more flushed, and she appears to be either angry or sunburned all the time, even though she isn't.

I really wish that she would try out an ashy brown and stay away from red clothing. I think it could do wonders for her appearance.

Post 2

I suppose that I am on the border between the two. I look good in colors for either warm or cool skin undertones.

I can get a slight golden hue to my skin in the summer, after I have been hanging out in the pool for a few weeks. However, I'm pretty pale in winter.

So, I tend to wear the oranges and browns in the summer and more of the blues and silvers in the winter. In autumn, I can get away with either classification.

Post 1

I guess that yellow undertones in skin make a person's veins look green because yellow plus blue equals green. The veins would otherwise appear blue.

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