Find Your Undertone

“Find Your Undertone”

I hope I find you well!

Find Your Undertone

Before we get into determining your undertone, one must first understand skin tone as well as undertone; and the difference between them.

What is Undertone?

Oxford Dictionaries defines undertone as follows: “a subdued or muted tone of sound or color”.

Regarding skin and base products, undertone refers to the hue that exists within or under, (whichever you believe), the skin’s shade or tint. To the untrained eye, one’s undertone could potentially be quite difficult to determine.

Different types of undertone

To my knowledge there are three different undertones – “cool”, “warm” and “neutral”.

Colors often associated with cool undertone-d skin are blue, pink, red and lavender.

Colors often associated with warm undertone-d skin are yellow, orange, golden and peach.

A neutral undertone is essentially a mix of both cool and warm undertones.

What is Skin Tone?

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, skin tone is defined as “the color of the surface of someone’s skin”. The way I like to personally describe skin tone is the overall appearance of one’s skin. Skin tone has the ability to change when an external factor is in effect. Your skin tone can be tinted, (made lighter), or shaded, (made darker), depending on the external factor involved. Say the amount of direct sunlight one experiences.

I’ve noticed that descriptions of skin tone tend to describe how dark or light one’s skin appears. For instance, some frequently used terms found are “fair”, “light”, “tan”, “dark”, and “deep”, (listed from least most saturated in pigment).

The Difference

The difference between skin tone and undertone? Your skin tone may change; your undertone will not.

Olive Skin

The idea I’d like to introduce is that Olive, or green, is not strictly an undertone, but somewhere in the middle of undertone and skin tone. I say this because there is one property an Olive hue has in common with undertone – it does not change. But upon further thought, I’ve realized that both skin tone and undertone apply to Olive separately, but in different ways. Skin tone is independent to Olive hued skin. Your Olive hued skin can both get lighter and darker. While I think Olive may be a result of undertone, a specific undertone – cool. Though, this is just a theory. I can’t say this too confidently because it seems the level of cool undertone may vary.

Find Your Undertone|Ardently Ana
I don’t know if the camera quite captures it. With a white shirt on, I really notice the olive hue within my skin.

Some Olive hued individuals find that they are warmer in undertone than others. I can only guess this is attributed to undertone being entirely independent from an Olive hue. Meaning the undertone may not in fact be cool, but warm. Though of course, this particular line of thinking is debunked by the fact that blue, (often considered a cool tone when relating to skin and base products), is needed to create green. Perhaps the differentiation comes from whether the particular blue in your skin is warm or cool? Perhaps affected by the amount of yellow interacting with the blue? (This thought stemming from the fact that yellow and blue mix to make green.)

Whichever the case, from hence forth, when describing Olive hued skin, I will be using the term “sub tone”. Because I can neither categorize it as a skin tone, nor undertone.

Why Find Your Undertone?

There are two main reasons. One, to help you determine your correct foundation shade. This in turn helps your makeup application look more natural; as well as prevent “harsh lines”. That of which may appear when your foundation color does not match your body’s coloring.

The other, to help you select colors in everyday life that compliment your skin’s coloring. For this, you need to also understand how your undertone interacts with others, but also know your self and preferences and be surefooted in them. The obvious example for being color cosmetics. Your undertone may explain why certain colors of blush, eyeshadow and lipstick don’t please your eye when worn. Another important area of your life affected by your undertone is your wardrobe. You might incorporate colors that enhance your skin’s coloring, thus enhancing your personal style. (Read more on why your personal style is important here.) Knowing your undertone and how it interacts may even come in handy if you’re doing some interior work. Perhaps you’d like a color that compliments you and makes you seemingly glow.

Though remember, your undertone is just a guide, a suggestion. If you enjoy certain color combinations that go against the color theory of color interaction, then disregard it. Do what makes you happy!

How to Find Your Undertone

There are a few ways to determine your undertone. The first I’ll mention is the “Vein Test”. Look at the veins near your wrist, best done in natural lighting. If your veins appear purple or blue, it is safe to assume you are cool toned. If they appear green, you may be warm toned.Though if you see a mix of both, you may be neutral, or even olive. When looking at my veins, I see a mix of both.

A test many like to conduct is the “Jewelry Test”. If you find yourself preferring silver to gold or vice versa, this could well be chalked up to your undertone. Is it widely accepted that if you are warm toned, gold jewelry will best flatter your complexion. And if cool toned, silver jewelry is the ticket. Though if you are neutral or olive, you may find you can use either jewelry type with no objection from the trained eye. I myself am olive, and find that I can use gold comfortably, though silver jewelry best compliments my hue.

Another common determiner of undertone is the “Paper Test”. Take a regular piece of printer paper and go into natural lighting. Then, hold the piece of paper next to your face, (if trying to determine your undertone to best match your makeup foundation). If you appear to be yellow, “gold” or orange, warm toned it is! If you appear to lean pink or lavender, cool toned is your winner! Though if you can’t pinpoint a certain color to your skin when up against white, you may very well be neutral. It has also been suggested to put on a stark white shirt as opposed to using a piece of paper.

Olive and Neutral

Olive can be hard to separate from neutral, and indeed neutral labeled shades of foundation can be the best alternative for an Olive based foundation. This, I think is down to the fact that neutral is, as aforementioned, a mix of warm and cool tones that does not lean toward any which way. And as color theory dictates, blue, a cool associated color, and yellow, a warm associated color, mixed together, create green. Due to this mixing of hues and colors, one can conclude that neutral and olive are similar and can appear as such.

Before I discovered I’m olive, I always thought myself to be very yellow when looking at my reflection in the mirror. Though when looking at my skin directly, noticed that my skin is lavender and rosy. Needless to say, the world made much more sense when I came to my olive-revelation.

I am not a licensed or trained professional in any way, shape or form. So, if you’re having a difficult time determining what is what, you may want to consult a trained professional to find your undertone.

I’d love your weigh in on your personal undertone and whether or not your personal tastes subscribe to the widely accepted complimentary colors for your complexion!



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