A shade of the dramatic, where different is all there is.

How to tell if you are warm or cool toned

If you have ever ventured very far into the world of cosmetics, you have definitely heard the terms warm toned or cool toned.  The big question is, how can you tell if you are warm toned or cool toned?  Many people think that it has to do with hair colour and whether or not you have fair skin.  But it really doesn’t.  It has to do with the actual undertones of your skin.

The easiest way to tell is to hold up your arm and look at the inside of your wrist.  If your veins are blue then you are cool toned and if they appear more greenish you are warm toned.

If you have a warm skin tone it means that you have more yellowish tones in your skin, opposed to pink.  And gold jewellery will look nicer on you than silver.  Vice versa for someone cool toned.  Silver will be more flattering and your undertones are more pinkish than yellow.

Knowing the undertones of your skin can make a big difference when selecting the right shades of makeup.  By this, I am referring to foundation, eyeshadows, blushes and lip products.

Warm Tones

  • Your foundations should be yellow based
  • You will look best in lipsticks with a yellow base rather than a blue base (more on the peachy side if you are dealing with pinks and more of an orange-red instead of a deep dark vampy red)
  • Eyeshadows with a yellow or golden undertone will look best.  Greens for example that have a tinge of yellow will be more flattering – such as limes or citrus shades of green.
  • Coral or peachy blushes will be the most complimenting on warm skin tones
  • Here is a colour chart to help you visualize:
  • Some warm toned examples that might look familiar: 

Cool Tones

  • Your foundations should be more pink based
  • You will look best in lipsticks with a purple or blue base  (more berry like shades, rose pinks, dark vampy reds)
  • Eyeshadows with a bluish tinge to them will help make you glow.  Using the green example from above  for comparison, you would want ones that are closer to blue, or a teal.  Browns with a matte rose undertone should be selected over golden yellowish brown hues.
  • Blushes with true pink pigments will look best (fuschias) on people with cool skin tones
  • Here is a colour chart to help you visualize:
  • Some cool toned examples you might recognize:                                 

What happens if you just wear whatever?

Playing around with makeup  is generally just something I like to do – just have fun and experiment, I’m not always trying to make myself up perfect.  But there is no denying it, some colours are more flattering than others.  My Bright Sunshine and Lime look is a perfect example of someone with Cool Tones using Warm Tone makeup.  Although it wasn’t horrendous,  you can see that it wasn’t overly complimenting to my skin.  It could even be argued that it washed me out a bit or makes me look tired.

Lemon Lime Makeup

For someone like myself, being cool toned, purples in my eyeshadow are something I can’t go wrong with.  Blue undertones in my makeup look natural, healthy and compliment my colourings.  When paired with a berry lip gloss, it is a winning combination for a cool toned look.

What tone are you?  Do you keep it in mind when purchasing makeup?

Thanks for reading!



11 responses

  1. All the pictures are Caucasian so I can’t tell D: haha but seeing as how I’m Asian, I would venture to say I’m probably warm-toned. Although purples are supposed to look great on Asian skin tone too!

    March 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    • What colour are the veins in your wrist? That is what will tell you. The pictures were just for fun! 😛

      March 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      • Huh. They look kinda purple. I think I’m doing something wrong LOL But really, how do you tell between blue and blue-green? Subtle differences 😦

        March 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm

  2. Oh my, I have the same problem. I can never tell because my veins are purple. We must be some sort of hybrid lol

    March 30, 2012 at 12:18 am

    • You might actually be “neutral” toned, meaning everything looks good on you and you don’t have to worry!

      March 30, 2012 at 6:30 am

  3. I’m pretty sure I’m warm-toned, which is why I have yet found a taupe/blue that works for me! But OK, I have a lot of fun wearing gold and bronze, so I’m not going to complain. I certainly keep this in mind when I purchase cosmetics. I really enjoy this post because I think everybody can save some money and avoid disappointment if they just figure this out! xx

    March 31, 2012 at 5:27 am

    • I’m glad you liked it Sunny. I know when I learned about this that it changed the way I thought about makeup and what I was going to put on my face. It doesn’t mean I won’t use the other colours, it just means I won’t expect them to look amazing on! I still plan to experiment with all sorts of warm and cool colours, but at least now, if something is a little “off” or I’m not glowing, I understand why! 🙂

      March 31, 2012 at 7:07 am

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  5. Candice

    Purple based shadows tend to look good on anyone… And who the heck could pull off lime green? Not me and I’m warm toned

    November 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    • Hi Candice. Purple is a fairly universal colour, you are right, purple compliments any eye colour and the majority of people can get away with wearing it. But the point wasn’t what colours look “good”, its what colours look “best”. There will always be exceptions but I feel like these colour charts give people a place to start. In regards to lime green, its not the most commonly worn colour, you are right about that, but when I take a look at google, I see a number of beautiful ladies pulling it off and rocking it. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, I always appreciate feedback! 🙂

      November 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm

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