When it comes to makeup, most of us know the importance of taking the time to find the right colour for our foundation. We test, blend and compare multiple colours, with only the most minor degrees of difference between them (after all, we would like our face to match our neck!) before we settle on ‘the one’. And yet, when it comes to clothing, we rarely take the time to think about the best colours to wear for our skin tone – or even – what skin tone we are: Spring, summer, autumn or winter. Confused? Let’s break it down.
TWO TYPES OF SKIN TONE
Before we get to the seasonal stuff, it’s important to note that our skin has two types of tone: surface tone and undertone. Ever tried on a shade of red lipstick, only to find it completely washes out your face while the other red one right next to it makes your eyes whiter and skin brighter? The second probably worked with both your surface tone AND undertone, while the first one may have had a totally different undertone!
Surface tone – The skin colour you would descibe yourself as having, like ‘tan’, ‘dark’ or ‘ivory’, for example.
Undertone – The colour underneath the surface. For example, you could have the same surface tone as someone else with a completely different undertone. This is the one that most dictates which colours suit you (and is the one that tends to be the hardest to work out!).
Undertones are then further broken down by ‘Cool’, ‘Warm’ and ‘Neutral’ tones:
Cool tones – Pink, red or bluish undertones
Warm tones – Yellow, peachy or golden undertones
Neutral tones – A mix warm of and cool undertones, olive tones
One major misconception? That pale girls can’t have warm tones and dark skin ladies can’t have cool tones. Blake Lively is a good example of fair skin with a warm undertone while Lupita Nyongo’o has dark skin with a cool undertone.
HOW TO WORK OUT YOUR UNDERTONE
You probably know your surface tone right away, so the next step to working out which season you are is identifying your undertone. There are a few tricks you can use to work out whether you are cool, warm or neutral:
- Your veins – Roll up your sleeves and have a look at your veins. Are they green or blue? If they appear greenish, you are likely to be a warm undertone and if they veer towards the blue side, you’re most likely to be on the cool side.
- Eye and hair colour – Generally speaking, cool people have green, blue or grey eyes and blond, brown or black hair with ashy undertones. Meanwhile, warm tones tend to have brown, amber or hazel peepers with red, strawberry blonde, brown or black hair with golden, red, orange or yellow undertones.
- Your jewellery – Silver or gold: Which one brings your skin to life? Cool tones tend to glow with silver and platinum while warm tones sparkle with gold.
- The sun – When you’re in the sun, do you tend to go golden-brown or blush like a tomato? Warm tones usually take on a golden tan while cool tones tend to burn. Fair-skinned cool tones will usually burn without any kind of a tan, while medium-cool or neutral tones tend to burn and form a tan afterwards.
NOW LET’S TALK SEASONS…
Every skin tone has a season and theory is that your type depends on two factors:
- The undertone of your skin, hair and eyes (warm, cool, neutral)
- How light or deep your surface tone is
Style writer Anuschka Rees describes the seasons as representative of the four possible variations of these two variables:
“If your natural hair colour is lighter than medium brown, you would be typed as either a Spring or a Summer; if it’s darker you are a Winter or an Autumn. If your skin tone and hair have a warm undertone, or you are a natural red-head, you would be classed as either a Spring or an Autumn; if your skin has a blue-ish, cool undertone and your hair is more ashy and has no golden or red highlights, you are either a Summer or a Winter.”
WHICH SEASON ARE YOU?
Worked out your undertone? Now you’re ready to suss out your season! Rees breaks down the seasons as follows:
Your hair colour will play a big part in which season you fall into, especially if you’re a neutral undertone, so don’t despair if you can’t work which season you fall into right away. You might be in-between! If you’d like to learn more about which season you are, head over to Ree’s blog for an even deeper breakdown into the season colour types.
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Main image credit: Balmain via Vogue Runway
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