Skin Tone: Colour Basics for the Perfect Makeup


If major confusion sets in at the makeup counter, maybe it’s because you don’t know where to start. Some basic colour theory can set you up with the tools to make your next shopping trip a little less overwhelming.

What is skin tone?

Skin tone refers to the pigment below the surface of our skin, not the colour or lightness or darkness of it. Tone is the essence that shines through. Some of us glow without even realizing it, and understanding the natural tone or tones of our skin is the first step in a successful makeup approach.

5 Steps to Find Your Skin Tone

1. Veins

In natural light, take a look at the veins in your wrists. If your veins are blue, you have a cool skin tone. If they appear to be more green, you have a warm skin tone. If they are neither or both, you may have a neutral skin tone.

2. Towel Test

With a clean face free from any makeup and all of your hair pulled back, hold a clean white towel next to your skin and notice what it does. If your skin looks more yellow, you are on the warm side and if it appears more blue, you are cool.

3. Burn or Tan?

Do you burn first? You have a cool skin tone. Do you tan first? Warm.

4.  Gold or Silver?

Hold up some silver jewellery, does it look great and light up your face? If so, you have a cool skin tone. How about gold? Does it have an illuminating effect? If so, you have a warm skin tone.

5. There’s an App for That!


I came across this free app that I like called BeautifulMe. There are a multitude of apps out there along the lines of makeup and skin tone, so feel free to explore. This might be something to consider if you really don’t trust your judgement, have trouble with your eyesight or, like me, are just curious with some time on your hands! Also, it can be noted in this tip that you can always ask your nearest makeup counter, but there might be a sales pitch attached to it. NOTE: MAC sees colour a little differently, so be sure to chat with the makeup artist assisting you about how they do it if you are shopping there ( but they are no longer on the cruelty-free list so keep that in mind).

Olive and Neutral Beauties

A gorgeous and unique skin tone, olive skin has an evident cast of green and is usually in the neutral category, but can lean warm or cool.

Neutral skin can really have it all, with hints of warmth and coolness to the skin.

Colour Charts

So, here are a few charts to show you the colours that best suit the warms and the cools. Feel free to reference them while shopping.




So now that we have a firm idea of our skin tone, we can start to talk about makeup. I will be breaking it down on this blog piece by piece. If there are any specific topics you’d like me to tackle, please comment below!




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