Are You A Warm or Cool SkinTone??

Foundation Colour Theory

Hey my lovelies, so not long ago I did a piece on choosing the correct Foundation 4 U, I briefly touched on WARM and COOL undertones so today I wanted to go a bit more in-depth into Foundation Undertones.

What Are Warm and Cool Colours?

Firstly, what do makeup artists mean when they talk about a skin undertone? Well a skin undertone is the underlying colour beneath an individual’s skin; your skin-colour and your skin-undertone are not the same, two individuals of the same skin-colour can have different skin-undertones.


So what are the Cool and Warm Colours? Well this is where it can get confusing, because depending on who you speak too, and the foundation brand you’re choosing, it can vary immensely. This is the general rule for Warm and Cool Undertones using the standard colour wheel theory:

  • Warm Undertones are usually RED, ORANGE and YELLOW, just imagine the colours within a fire, now this doesn’t mean you have Red or Orange skin. It just means you have subtle red/orange pigments underneath the skin, now with Mac foundations PINK is considered as the WARM colour  – don’t worry I will explain this a bit later.
  •  Cool Undertones include BLUE, OLIVE and PINK (YELLOW with Mac foundations). Do you see what I mean about it varying across the ball.

Another point I wanted to mention is with regards to YELLOW, this colour tends to cause much confusion as yellow can be considered warm or cool = Neutral).

  • Remember what I said with regards to warm and cool colours varying depending on the makeup brand, 2 good examples of this would be MAC and Bobbi Brown Foundations:

–          MAC classes its COOL FOUNDATIONS/NC as YELLOW based, while its WARM FOUNDATIONS /NW as PINK based, the complete opposite to what is usually considered warm and cool when using the colour wheel theory. As MAC’s foundation labelling system is probably the most well-known (due to their large range of colours for all skin colours), it is very easy to become confused with regards to Warm and Cool foundations.

–          Next let us take a look at Bobbi Brown foundations. Well Bobbi Brown foundations are all YELLOW based (no Pink based foundations,, WHAT?), just varying degrees of Yellow Undertone. Yep, Bobbi Brown foundations are based on the fact that we all have varying degrees of Yellow Undertones, which is true. But some people have more YELLOW, while others have more PINK.

Confused yet,, don’t worry ,it will all come together soon just bare with me 😉

  • What about individuals with an equal mixture of BOTH YELLOW and PINK Undertones. Well they are considered to be Neutral, and can get away with warm and cool foundations – for example a warm liquid foundation set with a cool powder.

Am I Warm or Cool??

Right so let us get to that important question. Do I have Warm or Cool Undertones? Honestly, if you’re using the standard colour wheel theory, Pink undertones are Cool, whereas Yellow undertones are Warm. However, if you’re you want to work out you Undertone with relation to a foundation, as I’ve just mentioned it can vary depending on how that particular Makeup Brand Class their foundations.

So for example:

I have PINK undertones which using the colour wheel theory is COOL.


If I was choosing a MAC foundation I would be WARM [NW] in THEIR FOUNDATIONS.

Confusing, I know but there is a better way.

FORGET about WARM and COOL, and think about


Most of the foundations you will purchase will either be:

  1.  Pink Based
  2.  Yellow Based
  3.  Neutral
  4.  Olive Based (A base tone which is not as easy to find, tends to be very high-end brands, but it does exist)


As long as you know whether you have more PINK UNDERTONES in your skin, or more YELLOW UNDERTONES you can then easily pick the corresponding/CORRECT foundation.

There are a few ways to work out if you’ve PINK or YELLOW Undertones:

  1. The best way to determine whether you have PINK or YELLOW Undertones is to test a pink and yellow based foundation on your face. The easiest way to do this is through your local department store, as you also have trained beauty advisors who can assist you.

–          Pick a foundation as close to your skin complexion as possible, then pick foundations from each tone = 1 Pink based and 1 Yellow based. Do swatches of each along the jaw line next to each other.

–          Let it rest for 2 -3 minutes, and you’ll see the foundation which matches you will melt into the skin, whilst the one which does not will stand out.

This method is the most accurate way in determining whether you have a Pink, Yellow or a Neutral undertone, because you’re actually seeing the foundations on and can get assistance if required. But always remember no one knows your skin better than you, so if you’re not 100% sure about a foundation recommended, think about it for a while. Don’t forget NATURAL LIGHT is your friend, go outside and see how it looks.

  1. Another method commonly used is the vein test. Now this test is grand if you can see your vein colour but not everyone’s is easy to see. If you do choose to use this method you want to look at the veins on your inner wrists. If the veins are BLUE you are considered to have Pink Undertones whilst individuals with GREEN veins are considered to have Yellow Undertones. This method is not 100% full proof because it may not be easy to tell, and if you have a mixture of blue and green veins you may be Neutral.
  2. T-Shirt Method – With this method you will need a white and a cream t-shirt. If you look better in the White t-shirt (it complements you more) you have Pink undertones, and if you look better in the Cream t-shirt you have Yellow Undertones (again if you look good in both you may be Neutral). This is very similar to the Gold and Silver Test; if Gold complements you more you’re considered a Warm (Yellow) whereas if Silver complements you better you’re considered a Cool (Pink).

How To Pick The Right Undertone Foundation?

So remember, the best way to find the correct foundation with regards to undertones is to forget about warm and cool for one second, as this varies within different makeup brands AND consider most foundations are sold in 3 categories:

Pink based (sometimes a red appearance) – complements Predominately Pink Undertones.

Yellow based – complements Predominately Yellow or Golden Undertones.

Neutral – Mixture of Pink and Yellow Undertones.

One key element to always remember is your facial undertone is NOT 1 complete colour, it is a mixture of colours so sometimes you may have to mix a pink-based foundation with a yellow-based foundation if one is too yellow, or one is too pink in order to create the correct undertone.

Let me explain why:

MAC for me is a good example to explain why even if I picked the correct undertone foundation, I can still end up looking TOO PINK (red in appearance on my face).

–          See I have like everybody else a mixture of Pink and Yellow undertones within my skin. However, I have more pink than yellow, so when choosing a foundation I would look for a Pink based foundation to MATCH my skin-undertone (if I went for a Yellow based foundation it would make me look Dull and Ashy). It goes both ways, if you have predominately more yellow undertones, you will want to pick a yellow undertone foundation; as it would match you better.


Different foundation brands will use varying amounts of Pink or Yellow Undertones within their foundations, which can make it too yellow or too pink for you. I only have slight Pink Undertones, and I find that the amount of Pink incorporated into most MAC [NW] Foundations is TOO HIGH compared to the PINK within my skin – MAKING ME LOOK RED in the face. = So with MAC foundation’s I would need to mix a NW with and NC as an NW on its own is too pink.

So hopefully after this slightly longer than planned post 😉 , you can easily identify if you have more Yellow or Pink undertones (or a mixture of both) and correctly find foundations which will match your predominate undertone. I hope I ‘ve managed to clear up some of the confusion surrounding undertones and being warm and cool. I didn’t plan on it being quite this long 🙂 , but I wanted to make sure I clarified as much as possible, while giving a brief guide for anyone who wasn’t too sure about undertones. If you have any questions or want me explain certain areas in more depth please feel free to let me know.

Hope it was hopeful, until next time my lovelies, xx


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