How to Determine Your Skin Tone and Undertone

How to Determine Your Skin Tone and Undertone

It’s something you’re born with, but often your skin tone is something you might not even know how to describe accurately yourself. If you wear any kind of face makeup at all, it’s crucial you understand your skin tone to be able to find the correct shade of foundation and concealer. Plus, learning your skin tone can help you to choose flattering shades for clothing, lipstick, hair color, and more. Unlike yesteryears when the categories of “light”, “medium”, and “dark” were enough to find a decent match, today’s wide assortment of face products and foundation lines with more targeted shade ranges warrants a better understanding of our skin’s unique hue.


Figuring out your exact skin tone doesn’t have to be a confusing affair though. You’ve just got to learn a few new terms first.


Skin Tones 101

First of all, you’re going to want to become familiar with two concepts: surface color and undertone.

Think of surface color as how you’d describe your skin to someone else, i.e, “light”, “tan”, “dark”, etc.

To make it easier for you, there are already four (broad) categories of color that your skin might fall into, which are: 

Fair - The lightest range of skin tones. You likely burn easy, and have light or red hair.
Light - Generally those with skin considered “light” have warmer undertones (we’ll get to that in a second) than those with fair skin. You likely are able to tan in the summer.
Medium - You have a tan skin tone with warm golden or olive undertones.
Dark - The deepest range of skin tones.


You likely already have a good general idea of your surface color, but if you’re struggling to differentiate between, for example, fair and light, there are a couple things you can do to help. 


Certain external factors can have an effect on your overall skin tone. Tanning is one of the most common examples, however, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, dark spots, acne, and general redness can all have an effect on how you perceive your surface color.


How to tell your surface color? There are a few tried and true steps you can take.


1. Ask a friend

Probably the simplest way to determine your surface color is to ask a friend or family member. Especially if you’re on the fence between two color categories, having a second opinion can be helpful.


2. Look at your jawline

Oftentimes, your jawline is the best place to see your “pure”, unobstructed surface color. Because the jawline tends to be unaffected by typical skin conditions, it can be a great area to get a sense of your true color.


3. Get a test done at your local beauty store

Ah, technology! In the past few years, many beauty stores have started offering skin tone/foundation matching tests that you can have done in less than 10 minutes. If you won’t settle for anything less than a professional opinion, this is the method for you.



Determining Your Skin Undertone

Onto undertone, often one of the most misunderstood (or ignored) elements of skin tone. Basically, undertone is exactly what it sounds like; the color tone underneath the surface color of your skin. Unlike surface color, which can change with a tan or certain brightening products, your undertone remains constant.

The three undertones are:
Cool - Characterized by a bluish undertone to the skin.
Warm - A golden or peach-colored undertone.
Neutral - A neutral undertone is neither cool nor warm. For darker skin tones, a neutral undertone would have an olive tint.


Determining your undertone requires a little more work than your overtone. It’s unfortunately more of a guessing game than with your surface color, but we’ve got several accurate methods you can use. Our recommendation? Try all of them and use the average of your results to confirm your undertone.


1. Look at your jawline

What’s your favorite color of jewelry to wear? If you tend to favor silver earrings and necklaces, chances are you’re cool-toned. If you like gold jewelry, you’re probably warm-toned. Think both look stellar on you? If you can pull off both, you’re likely a true neutral.


2. Check your veins

Grab your wrists and check the veins under them. Those with warm undertones have green colored veins, while blue veins are a sign of a cool undertone. If your veins look bluish-green, you may have a neutral undertone.


3. Use your eyes

While your eye color doesn’t have the final say, typically speaking, green and brown eyes signal a warm undertone, while blue or grey eyes belong to cooler undertones.


4. Use a piece of paper

Grab a piece of bright white paper and hold it up against your bare face. If your skin looks yellowish against the sheet, you’re warm toned. Looking pink? Cool toned. If you look more green or grey, you could be neutral toned.


Have a better idea of your undertone now? The good news is, most foundation ranges now carry a shade range inclusive to most skin tones and undertones.



Which Mineral Air Four-in-One Foundation Shade is Right for You?

Our Complexion Starter Kit comes in 11 versatile shades:


Porcelain - Fair to light skin with cool undertones
Light - Light skin with warm undertones
Bisque - Light to medium skin, neutral undertones
Medium - Medium skin with warm undertones
Medium Tan - Medium to tan skin with warm undertones
Sienna - Tan to deep skin, cool undertones
Amber - Tan to deep skin, warm undertones
Tan - Tan to deep skin with warm undertones
Deep - Deep skin with neutral undertones
Mocha - Deep skin with cool undertones
Espresso - Dark skin, neutral undertones



Mineral Air Four-in-One Foundations can be worn alone or mixed for a perfect color match. For a glowing, satin finish that is light as air and has 10 hour staying power, with our skin loving ingredients is the perfect foundation for your beauty routine.


If you’re having a hard time determining your correct skin tone, have no fear. It takes time, patience, and sometimes a bit of trial and error before you find the perfect products to match your hue. We hope this explainer helped!


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