Skin Undertone 101: What Is It & Why Does It Matter

By Katarina V.| Last updated on January 11, 2024
two girls with contrasting skin undertones
⏱️ 5 min read

When it comes to color theory and choosing the palette that will best suit your complexion and features, the concept of skin undertone should be in the spotlight.

You may have heard that phrase in makeup stores or on social media, but what exactly is it and why does it matter?

We’re about to explore the basics of skin undertone, how it is different from skin tone, and reveal the significance of skin undertones in makeup, especially permanent makeup.

So, if you want to make your makeup shopping easier, let’s start!

The Difference Between Skin Undertone & Skin Tone

Before we dig a bit deeper into the concept of skin undertone, it’s important to know how it differs from skin tone.

Skin tone is the color of your skin surface. Essentially, it’s your body’s color, everything you see at first glance. It’s determined by the amount of melanin present in the upper layer of the skin.

There are four main types of skin tones:

  • Light
  • Fair
  • Medium
  • Deep (Dark)

What Is Skin Undertone?

Skin undertone is the subtle hue that you can see under the first layer of the skin. People with the same skin tones can have different undertones, which include the following:

  • Warm
  • Cool
  • Neutral
  • Olive (some consider it to be the same as neutral)

different skin tonesImage source: Freepik

Why Is It Important to Know Your Skin Undertone?

Knowing your skin’s undertone is beneficial for many reasons, but mainly because it determines how your complexion interacts with different colors.

Although you probably never thought about it, it greatly affects your outfit and beauty choices.


If you ever struggled to find the correct foundation shade, it’s probably because you don’t know much about your undertone.

By determining it, you will be able to always pick the right shade of foundation and concealer, even in the summer when you get a tan! Who doesn’t want a flawless complexion with a natural finish?

Not only you will have a gorgeous foundation routine, but you will also be able to pick the right shades of lipsticks and eyeshadows. These colorful parts of the beautifying process make the biggest difference!


Your undertone determines which colors look the best on you. So, by understanding your undertone, you can create the best wardrobe ever and discover a palette that actually suits your complexion.

This will build up your confidence and make you a star of the show!

Another big part of the picture is jewelry choice. Knowing whether you should wear gold, silver, or both is important for enhancing your natural beauty and outfits.


If you want to change your hair color, the most important thing you need to know is your skin undertone. It can guide you in choosing the right hair dye that will compliment your skin so you look more balanced and harmonious.

How To Determine Your Skin Undertone

If you’re still confused about determining your skin undertone after all this talk about different colors and choices, don’t worry. There are a few convenient ways to discover your undertone:

Check Your Veins

This is the easiest way to check your undertone at home.

You simply have to take a look at the veins in your wrist. If they appear to be blue or purple, you have a cool undertone.

If they are greenish, you have a warm undertone. If it’s challenging to put your veins into any of these two categories, then you probably have a neutral or olive undertone.

Check Your Jewelry Choice

This one is pretty straightforward. Those with cooler undertones tend to navigate toward silver jewelry, while those with warmer undertones opt for gold.

If you tend to mix and match both of these, you likely have a neutral undertone.

Wear Something White

If you’re still not sure and the other two methods didn’t work, then it’s time to wear a white shirt!

Stand in front of bright light and compare your skin to the whiteness of the shirt – if your skin looks rosy, then you have a cool undertone. You have a warm skin undertone if there’s a golden glow.

Those with warmer tones usually enjoy more off-white or creamy white clothing. If you think you can wear both of these, you’re neutral or olive-toned.

Sun Reaction

A great way to determine your skin’s undertone is to observe how your skin reacts to the sun.

If you burn easily and feel like you are as red as a lobster after hanging out in the sun all day, then it’s safe to say you’re cool-toned. If you tan easily, you are warm-toned.

You have a neutral or olive undertone if you first burn and then get a tan.

Of course, this doesn’t mean skipping on your daily SPF just to determine your skin undertone! Learn how often to apply your SPF and check out our product recommendations here.

Celebrity Representatives of Each Skin Undertone

If you’re more of a visual learner, a great way of determining your skin undertone is to compare it to a celebrity’s!

Cool Undertone

Nicole Kidman is the perfect example of a cool undertone. She has a pinkish undertone but red and blue hues also fall under this category.

cool undertone nicole kidmanImage source: Instagram @nicolekidman

Warm Undertone

If you have a warm undertone, then you will probably relate to the queen herself, Beyoncé. Her complexion almost looks golden, which is usual for this type of undertone.

warm undertone beyonceImage source: Instagram @beyonce

Neutral Undertone

Selena Gomez has a neutral undertone and she’s rocking that red lipstick proudly! If this looks like your skin undertone, then you’re probably neutral or olive-toned.

neutral undertone selena gomezImage source: Instagram @selenagomez

Now you can say that you have something else in common with your favorite celebrity: skin undertone. Whether you’re warm, cool, or neutral, a nice hack is to copy their makeup and wardrobe choices to get a professional look on a budget!

@chiditiffany Replying to @yazzie_0108 3 Ways to Figure Out Your Skin’s Undertone #undertones #undertonecheck #skinundertone #howtofindyourundertone ♬ original sound - Chidi

Permanent Makeup & Skin Undertone

If you’re considering getting lip blush or a brow tattoo, and have been wondering how your undertone affects PMU, there’s no need to worry.

In the hands of a skilled professional, who knows the science behind skin tones and undertones, you can relax knowing you’re in safe hands.

Permanent makeup and microblading are affected by melanin production so artists need to be familiar with this concept.

After all, you will be walking around with your lip blush tattoo or even permanent eyeliner for quite some time, so the colors need to match your complexion.

If you’re a PMU or microblading artist who is struggling to find the correct pigment shade to use on their client, we have just the right tool for you!

The Biotek Phototypes Skin Tone Wheel serves as a visual aid that helps professionals accurately pinpoint whether the client’s undertone has hints of red, green, or yellow.

Bottom Line

As you can see, knowing your skin’s undertone is not that complicated and it’s very useful for making better makeup, outfit, and even PMU choices!

So whether you decide to experiment with jewelry, wear a white shirt, check the colors of your veins, or even use a tool like the Biotek Phototypes Skin Tone Wheel, we’re confident you’ll be able to finally put your skin undertone questions to rest!

Cover image source: Freepik



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