The Impact of Skin Tone and Undertone on Makeup

I have erroneously used these words interchangeably. However, they have very different meanings. 

Skin tone, also called overtone, refers to the color of your skin on the surface. Are you fair, medium, or deep? (see chart below)

Skin Tone Chart

Those with very fair skin tones generally have pale or porcelain complexions. Their skin is sensitive to the sun and burns easily. Fair skin tones are still pale and generally will burn and then tan. Olive skin is considered an “average tone” and usually tans easily in the sun. Light brown skin tones are slightly darker than olive tones and also easily tan. Darker skin tones  (dark brown and deep brown) tan very easily and are very brown. Celebrity examples of the various skin tones appear below. Whether fair, olive, light brown or dark brown, all of the women shown here are gorgeous!

Anne Hathaway has very fair skin
Gwyneth Paltrow has fair skin tone
Kim Kardashian West has an olive skin tone
Rihanna has a light brown skin tone
Tyra Banks has brown skin tone
Gabrielle Union has a dark brown skin tone
Viola Davis has a deep brown skin tone

The mistake that many women make is choosing make up based solely on their skin tone/overtone without considering their undertone. Your undertone is the color under the surface of your skin and is subtle but extremely important.  Undertones are considered cool, warm, or neutral. What is the base tone of your skin?

  • Cool – If you are pink, red or bluish
  • Warm – If you are yellow, peachy, or golden
  • Neutral – If you are a mix of cool and warm

A second way to determine your undertone is to look at your veins. The best place is the inside of your wrist. What color are your veins? If they’re bluish, you’re cool; if they’re greenish, you’re warm. Yet another way to determine undertone is to consider whether you look best in gold jewelry or silver jewelry. Remember, it’s not a matter of personal preference, but which makes you appear more alive! If you look better in silver and platinum, you’re cool. If you look better in gold, you’re warm. You may want to consider taking a picture of yourself in both types of jewelry and see for yourself.

It is quite possible for two people to have the same skin tone (overtone), but different undertones. This is why make up may look very different on women who appear to be the same complexion. So remember, there are two things you must consider with regard to your skin and make up choices: your skin tone or overtone, and your undertone.

Continue to live agelessly,

Avon Rep Raquel,