There’s a very high possibility that you’ve previously been asked what your skin undertones are and your response was to simply nod and hope for the best. We’ve all been there. Just when you think you’ve figured out your exact skin tone (and know precisely what foundation shade you need from 10+ brands), you get thrown in the deep end of the beauty pool and you realise you’ve never been given undertone armbands.

So, what are undertones and why do we need to know what they are? Well, differing from your actual skin tone, undertones are what determine which colours will suit your skin tone best. This can go for coloured makeup products like eyeshadows and lipsticks as well as colours of clothing.

It might sound intimidating, but understanding your undertones are actually pretty easy. Once you get to grips with it, you’ll be able to answer that previously dreaded question quicker than what your shoe size is. When it comes to skin tones, there are hundreds to choose from – just look at the range of foundation shades there are. You can have light, fair, medium or olive, just to name a few, but when it comes to undertones there are only three main types. These are:

Cool – pinky, red or blueish undertones.

Warm – yellow or golden undertones.

Neutral – neither one or the other, more of a mix of both cool and warm undertones.

So how do you know which colour your undertone is, if it’s not blatantly obvious? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you find out:

What colour clothes suit you best?

If you imagine, or better, put on an orange t-shirt. Does it look good? If you love it, you have a warm undertone, and if you hate it and would much prefer something from the bluer spectrum, then you have a cool undertone. If you’re really not fussed about which colour looks best (they probably both suit you), then you have a neutral undertone.

Image: StyleCaster

Does white wash your skin out or brighten it up?

Again, picture, or try on a white top. Does the colour brighten up your eyes and skin? Or does it make your face look dull and washed out? If you relate to the former, you have cool undertones and the latter means you have warm undertones. If both look great (lucky you!), then your skin is on the neutral side.

Do you tan in the sun?

Now if you’re not sure about this one, please don’t go out and deliberately let yourself burn. We all know how important SPF is. However, if you don’t tend to burn and tan easily, you’ve got warmer undertones. If your skin burns far more than it manages to tan, then you have cooler undertones. Perhaps you burn a little then end up tanned? In that case, you’ve got a neutral undertone.

What colour jewellery suits you best?

Look at your jewellery collection, rings and earrings in particular. Do you have more gold jewellery because it looks better on you than silver? Or vice versa? If you’re into your gold, you have cooler undertones and if you prefer your silver, you have warm undertones. Once again, if you suit both, not only are you just very lucky, but you’ve also got neutral undertones.

What colour veins show through on your wrists?

When you turn your wrists over, what colour veins show through? If they’re without a doubt blue, you’ve got cool undertones, and if they’re very much green then you have warm undertones. If you can’t tell whether they’re blue or green then you’ve got neutral undertones.

So, there we have it. Hopefully, next time you’re shopping for a new foundation and get asked what skin undertones you have, you’ll be able to answer without a second thought. You’ll now also be able to tailor your wardrobe and jewellery box to suit you properly, and you’ll know why that bright blue eyeshadow didn’t quite look as good as you’d hoped (should have gone for a warm orange).

Let us know your tips for knowing your undertones and figuring out your makeup shades in the comments, we love to know your thoughts!

Feature image: About Her