In an effort to make your beauty routine as easy as possible, we’re constantly offering up advice on the best beauty looks for every skin tone. Looking for the most complimentary red lipstick for your complexion? We got you. Same goes for nude nail polish, hair color, and blush. As far as determining the best base itself, though, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Tone vs. Undertone

“Skin tone is the surface skin color,” says makeup artist Lauren Gott, who works with Kiernan Shipka. Generally speaking, it’s whether you’re fair, medium, or deep (simple, right?). Undertone, on the other hand, is the subtle hue underneath the surface, Gott explains. Undertones can be cool, warm, or neutral. Moreover, there are limitless skin tones/undertone combinations, Gott notes, which is why finding the perfect foundation match is not as simple as choosing a fair, medium, or deep shade.

There are three kinds of undertones.

According to Gott, there are three undertone categories: warm, cool, and neutral. If your skin veers pink, red, or blueish, you have cool undertones. If your skin has a yellow, peachy, or golden tinge, you have warm undertones. If you have a mix of both, your undertone is neutral. Still unsure? Take a gander at these tips to determine once and for all:

Look at your wrists in natural light. Are your veins more blue or green? People with veins that appear blue or purple have cool skin tones, while those with warm tones have veins that look green, Gott explains.

What color do you see when you hold a blank piece of white paper next to your face? If your skin appears more yellow, than you’re probably warm. If your skin looks pink, then you’re likely on the cool side. Also, it helps to always test this, as well as actual foundation swatches, in natural light to see the most accurate color reading.

Do you think you look better in gold or silver? This concept is a bit more outdated and subjective than it is telling, and many people’s jewelry collections probably contain a fair mix of both. But if you’re game to try it, the adage goes that gold better complements warm undertones and silver will complement cool undertones, following in the rule that the warm tones in gold jewelry bring out the warmth in like-undertones and the cool reflective properties of silver draw flattering light to cool undertones. (Honestly, you could replicate this test with warm vs. cool-toned highlighters on your face.)

Seasons change, but undertones remain the same.

It’s not uncommon to have a foundation shade for winter and foundation shade for summer that both work for you. “Skin tones can change with the season due to sun exposure,” says Gott, “yet undertones generally remain the same.” So next time you’re swatching a million shades at Sephora or buying a foundation online, remember that the shade itself can go one or two hues lighter or darker depending on season, whereas your undertone should remain the same, regardless of season. Gott loves the Allure Best of Beauty-winning Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation for it’s “spectacular range.” For more shade-spanning foundation lines, check out this list of brands with wide foundation ranges.


More Foundation Facts:


Allure‘s 2017 picks for Best Bases:



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