Foundation matching is a struggle that even experienced makeup professionals can struggle with. You'd think it'd be pretty straight forward, just find the color that matches your skin the best but unfortunately it's not as easy as all that. The right shade can still technically be wrong if it has the wrong undertones. So before trying to find your shade, you should figure out what undertone your skin has.


What Are Undertones?

So what exactly are undertones? It's pretty much what it sounds like: it's the color underneath your skin that will affect your overall hue. Think of it this way: let's say you have two lights, one with a blue lightbulb and one with a yellow bulb. If you shine both lights at a white wall, the wall's color will seem to skew slightly yellow or slightly blue depending on which lightbulb you're using. Even though the shade of the wall never actually changes, its tone will look different because of the lighting that's being used. And that effect would happen no matter if the wall was white, brown, pink, or any other color. So that's basically how your undertone works. Regardless of what your shade is, your undertone will skew it one way or another.


Warm vs. Cool

When speaking of undertones though, you speak in terms of warm vs. cool. Cool undertones have a pink, red, or blue tinge in the skin. Warm undertones have a yellow, peach, or golden tinge. And if you're neutral, then your skin has a mixture of both warm and cool tones.


The Vein Test

To truly figure out your undertone, there's three common ways you can do it. The first is the vein test. Don't worry, it's not an invasive test. You just look at the veins on your wrist under natural light and determine your undertone based on what color they are. If the veins are blue or purple, then you have a cool undertone. A warm undertone will have green veins. And if they seem to be blue-green then you're probably neutral-toned.


The Jewelry Test

Now if you're darker skinned, then it may not be easy to tell either way what color your veins are so you can try the jewelry test instead. Try on silver and gold jewelry separately. If the silver jewelry looks better on you, then you have  cool undertones. If gold jewelry flatters your skin more, then you have warm undertones. If both colors look just as good, then you're likely neutral.


The White Background Test

It's possible that your personal tastes could throw off your answer if you tend to prefer one color over the other but no worries. We got a third test for you try. All you need to do is stand in front of a white background and determine what colors stand out in the skin. You can also compare yourself in all-white background and an off-white background such as ivory. If you look better in the all-white background, then you're likely cool-toned. If the ivory background compliments your skin more, then you're probably warm-toned. And if you look good in either one, then you probably have neutral undertones.


Finding Your Shade

While it can be tricky to figure out your undertone, once you've gotten your answer you'll be set for life because unlike your shade which can change throughout the year, your undertones never change. And knowing your undertone can make it easier to find the right shade for you for complexion products like foundation and concealer. Cool undertones will want to find shades that have a slight tinge of pink while warm undertones would need a tinge of yellow or gold in their makeup.

Here's an example of how the undertone can affect the match of a shade. While both foundations are close to her shade, the right one seems like a better match because it has a yellow tinge to it which matches her undertone more closely.

Check out the full video for more examples of different undertones:


If this feels like a lot to take in, we gotchu! Check out this chart for a quick reference so that you can find your undertone once and for all.