Finding the Right Colors to Match Your Skin

Health Writer

When it comes to finding colors that look best on you, most people will tell you "it depends on your skin tone." And they would be right, however, it is your undertone that matters, not your surface tone. Your surface tone is the one you are most familiar with. You might describe your surface tone as "ivory," "light," "medium," "tan" or "dark." This is the color of your skin, but it isn't the same as your undertone.

While there are many different surface skin tones, there are only two undertones: warm and cool. It is also possible to be neutral, which is a mix of both types of undertones. Once you know your undertone, you can determine which colors look best on your skin.

Step One

Look at the inside of your wrist. You should see some veins. If these veins are blue or purple, you have cool undertones. If your veins are green, you have warm undertones.

Step Two

If you aren't quite sure what color your veins are, the following chart shows hair and eye color based on skin undertones.

Cool Undertones

Warm Undertones

Hair

Blond

Strawberry blond

Brown

Red

Black

Brown

Black

Eyes

Blue

Brown

Gray

Hazel

Green

Amber

Hair color alone can't always tell you whether you have cool or warm undertones, for example people with brown hair could have either type of undertone.  Using your vein, hair and eye color together should give you a good idea of whether you have warm or cool undertones.

Step Three

If you still aren't sure, here are some differences between the two:

People with cool tones usually look better in silver or platinum jewelry while those with warm tones usually look better in gold jewelry.

People with cool tones usually turn pink or burn in the sun (fair skinned cool tones usually do not tan while medium cool tones usually burn first and then tan). People with warm tones often don't burn, instead they "easily tan."   Remember, tanning can be harmful and it is important to protect your skin in the sun, don't go out without protection to find out what happens to your skin.

Choosing Colors

You should now be able to identify when you have cool or warm undertones or a combination of both. You can now work on which colors look best with your skin tone. Use the following chart to help you choose colors for your skin tone.

Cool Skin Tones

Warm Skin Tones

White

Cream or Ivory

Black

Yellow

Royal or Navy Blue

Brown

Gray

Dark Green

Red

Burnt or Orangey Red

Silver

Orange

Gold

Brown

Camel

You might find that you gravitate to certain colors, such as usually wearing orange, tan or ivory. The following section helps you add splashes of color that will work well with your skin tone as well as your favorite color.

Finding Complementary Colors

No matter what skin tone you have, you probably want to add variety to your wardrobe, bringing in different colors for accents. The color wheel is a good way to find colors that will complement each other.

Find the color on the wheel that you are wearing or that you tend to wear as a staple. Go directly across from that color to find one that complements it and is good to use as an accent. Remember, your "best" colors should be worn around your face, such as your shirt, necklace and earrings. Accent colors can add splashes, such as shoes or purse, to brighten your look.

You can also find colors that work well together by choosing a color directly to the right or left of what you are wearing. These colors coordinate well with one another and you stay close to the colors that work best with your skin.