How to Choose Makeup Based on Your Skin Tone
and Undertone

In Australia we are quite behind when it comes to makeup and skincare releases. It is great that Instagram keeps us up to date. However; because of this we are now more and more likely to make skincare and makeup purchases online. There are various tools to help you pick the right skincare and makeup online. One of the most difficult things to choose is foundation. Our skin changes in different seasons and some people tan in summer. What is the right process for buying foundation online? First you should find your skin tone and undertone. Read on for a step by step guide on how to choose makeup based on your skin tone and undertone! 

Understanding the Real Colour of Your Skin

Understanding the Real Colour of Your Skin

I buy makeup and skincare online most of the time. I buy more skincare because I find buying skincare easier. However my makeup online shopping has become more regular since I am now a beauty blogger. I posted on Instagram that beauty blogging has good points and bad points. Finding the latest products and being in the know so you can advise your readers is awesome. I also love the beauty blogger community. It's so supportive. I find it a lot more supportive than the fashion blogger community. (Not to say that the FB community is bad or anything)... However, a big draw back is the money I spend. I am obsessed with skincare and makeup and I love buying stuff to review and post. It is a double edged sword. I miss getting free product, but I don't want too much free product. I spend too much money, yet I want to be impartial. I only want to post things that I really love. Being honest is my thing. Writing about different and helpful subjects that draw on my experience is my niche.

Understanding the Real Colour of Your Skin

Discovering your skin’s undertone is the key to buying the right foundation shade. It will help you feel more confident instore and online.

Your Skin's Undertone

Your skin's undertone has little to do with colour. People of all skin colours (light or dark) can have cool, warm or neutral undertones. You may have heard these terms bandied about when shopping for makeup before?

Cool: Hints of bluish, pink, or a ruddy complexion.
Warm: Skin skews yellow, sallow, peachy, or golden.
Neutral: Has no obvious overtones of pink or sallow skin, but rather the skin’s natural colour is more evident.

So how do you Work out what your Undertone is?


It's best to pick a part of your body that isn't exposed to the sun very much and has veins close to the surface. The underlying colour of the inside of your arm near the elbow or wrist works well usually. However if you are someone who works outside a lot. This may not work for you.

Choosing Makeup Based on Your Skin Tone and Undertone: Check Your Veins

Choosing Makeup Based on Your Skin Tone and Undertone: Check Your Veins

1. Check Your Veins

First on the checklist is looking at the colour of your veins. You can do this on the inside of your elbow or on the inside of your wrist. Do they look blue or green? If they look more blue, you probably have cool undertones. If your veins look greenish, you are warm. However this warmness is because you are seeing your veins through yellow-toned skin. Simple colour math. As you can see from the above photo I have blue/purple veins.

Choosing Makeup Based on Your Skin Tone and Undertone: Do You Look Better in Silver or Gold Jewellery?

Choosing Makeup Based on Your Skin Tone and Undertone: Do You Look Better in Silver or Gold Jewellery?

2. Do you look better in Silver or Gold?

Second on the checklist is the jewellery trick. Do you look better in silver or platinum or gold? I know I have a cooler undertone; therefore I look better in silver, white gold or platinum. Those of you with warm undertones will look better in gold-toned jewellery and neutral skin tones will look good in both. I think it is pretty obvious from my jewellery stack above that I look better in silver, white gold and platinum.

3. What Neutrals Flatter You the Best?

Do you look better in bright white and black? Then you are probably cool-toned. Or do you look good in ivory, off-whites, and brown/tan? Then you've got a warm undertone. I look better in bright white and black. You can see this in the first close up shot with my signature red lipstick on! So it is looking very much like I have a cool undertone.

4. What Colour are Your Eyes and Hair Naturally?

Cool people usually have eyes that are blue, grey or green and have blonde, brown, or black hair with blue, silver, violet and ash undertones. Warm toned ladies usually have brown, amber, or hazel eyes with strawberry blond, red, brown, or black hair. Warm tones people tend to have gold, red, orange, or yellow undertones to their hair. Again you can see from the first photo my eyes are blue. I have dark brown red hair naturally however I have dyed my hair black for over 20 years. It suits me so much people think I am naturally black.

5. Do You Tan or Burn?

Although I don't advocate hanging out in the sun and burning; people do have a fair idea of how their skin reacts to the sun. If you go out in the sun, does your skin turn a golden-brown, or does it burn and turn pink first? If you have less problem in the sun you'll be warm toned. Cool tones tend to burn (fair-skinned cool girls will simply burn, while medium-skinned cool-toned girls will burn then tan). I burn then tan due to my Ukrainian heritage. So again this learn towards cool.

6. Wild Card - Olive Skin!!

Does your skin look somewhat ashen or gray? Olive skin is a combination of the natural neutral, slightly yellow undertone everyone has plus the greenish ashen hue that’s unique to olive skin. Olive skin tone is very specific, but is not neutral, as some tend to call it.

So in summary: If your veins are mostly blue or purple, you have cool undertones; if they're more of a greenish yellow, you have warm undertones; and if your veins look like a mix of green, blue, yellow, and purple, your undertones are neutral.

What About your Skin Tone?

Now you need to decide which of the skin colour bands you fall into - fair, medium, olive or dark. Be warned though - people with the same skin colour don't always have the same undertone. You could be fair skinned & cool toned or fair skinned & warm toned. This often depends largely on your ethnicity and genetics. A lot of people people are between bands too. I am fair because I can see the veins close to the surface of my skin on my face.

Choosing Foundation for Your Skin Tone and Undertone

Choose a cool colour foundation with blue or pink undertones if you have a cool undertone. Select yellow-toned foundations for a warm undertone. You may have noticed that foundations are either yellow-based or blue-based. Be sure to always test your foundation on the skin between your lower cheek and jawbone. In terms of choosing a foundation and colour matching, you should always try to match the colour of your foundation  to your neck. This is so your face matches your neck when you apply makeup. Often our face is darker because it is always exposed to the elements.

Choosing Foundation for Your Skin Tone: Test Your Foundation Between Your Lower Cheek and Your Jawbone

Choosing Foundation for Your Skin Tone: Test Your Foundation Between Your Lower Cheek and Your Jawbone

So How Do I buy Foundation Online Then?

First you should ask yourself what you want out of a new foundation. Do you want something lightweight, medium or full coverage? Also consider whether your skin is dry, oily, acne-prone and so on. Do you want it to be long-lasting? Hydrating? Matte or Dewy?

After Buying Online, Test the Foundation on Your Skin so That You Can Return it if You Need to

After Buying Online, Test the Foundation on Your Skin so That You Can Return it if You Need to

NEVER go to an online store without doing some research on brands and foundations first. Go to a good impartial review site like makeupalley.com and search for something you have found or heard of before buying anything. Consider what other people have said. Is the foundation right for your dry or oily skin? 

After Buying Online, Test the Foundation on Your Skin so That You Can Return it if You Need to

After Buying Online, Test the Foundation on Your Skin so That You Can Return it if You Need to

You could use on online tool like Temptalia or you could ask for samples on brand websites.

If all else fails; make sure you check the returns policy before committing to buying online!

What if I can't find the Right Shade in a Formula I like? 

Quite a few people have been interested in this post subject when I talk to them because they say they can't find the right foundation shade for their skin. Your skin changes depending on your age, your hormones and the time of year. You'll need a few choices, one for winter and summer for example.

If you have trouble finding the right shade in a brand/formula you like you can mix them together!! Buy a lighter and a darker shade and mix together in different proportions until you are able to find a match. There are products overseas that can be mixed up for you to get your perfect match. Lancôme has a perfect match foundation service which will hopefully come to Australia soon. I am desperate to try it.

What are your favourite brands of foundation? How do you go about choosing them to match your skin? Any tips that you would add to this post? Comment at the end of the post!

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