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How to Determine Your Skin Tone

Friday, August 03, 2012

Photo Credit: Mayo Clinic

We all love makeup shopping and trying out new trends and colors. What elfette doesn't?! But how do you know which colors will make you look the best and which you should pass on? First, you have to determine your skin tone. Easier said than done, we know. That's why we've put together this guide on how to find your true skin tone so you can choose makeup, clothes and accessories that will make you look even more fabulous!

Step 1: Warm or Cool?

Even before you think about what shade you are, you need to determine whether you have warm or cool undertones. There's a few easy tests you can perform to find out. 

The Vein Test: Take a walk outside so you have natural light and examine your wrists. If your veins are mostly blue you have cool undertones.  If they are green, you're probably a warm skin tone.  If they're a mix of blue and green, it means you're neutral and can go either way!

Gold v. Silver: Stand in front of a mirror near natural light. Hold a piece of silver next to your face. If you feel like your face lights up, you are cool toned. If the silver makes your face look ashen or sick, you're probably warm toned. Switch to the gold cloth and do the same thing. If gold makes you look fresh and glowy, you are warm toned. 

Pony tail test - Put all your hair back into a pony tail with a headband and wash your face. Place a white towel or cloth around your neck and shoulders so that only your face shows in the mirror. Look at your reflection. If your reflection is blue, you have cool tones, whereas if you look yellow in the mirror, you have warm tones.


Step 2: Clear or Muted?

Someone with clear skin usually has significant contrast between their hair skin and eyes, her skin may even look translucent. Think  Zooey Deschanel or Rihanna. Those with muted skin have softer colors and more ash tones in their skin, like Beyonce and Blake Lively. 


Step 3: Which Season?

Now that you've figured out if you are warm or cool, muted or clear, you can determine which season you are so you know what colors naturally work best for you. Let's start with summer. 


Women with summer skin tones have a cool, muted complexion. Natural blondes with light eyes that tan easily are the most common members of this crew. Those with ash blonde or brown hair and pale, pink skin are also part of this complexion season. If you are a summer, your skin has a low level of contrast between hair, skin and eye color.

  • Best Colors: Pastels, neutrals, and muted colors like lavender, rose, mauve, pale yellow and light blue
  • Watch Outs: Intense colors, like black or orange, may drown out your skin tone so use caution when wearing these
  • Celebrity look-a-like: Brittany Snow, Katherine Heigl


Fall skin tones are warm and muted, and usually consist of people with light golden skin, brown eyes and red or brown hair. They may also have golden blonde or dark honey colored hair with icy blue eyes. Their light skin makes them prone to burn easily in the sun so a strong SPF is a must!

  • Best Colors: Almost all earth tones, both rich and muted, look great with a fall skin tone like caramel, beige, burnt orange, gold, dark red, olive and rich brown look gorgeous on fall girls
  • Watch Outs: Cool shades, especially pink, should be avoided. Be careful using bright colors and black/white as they may make you look washed out.
  • Celebrity look-a-like: Jada Pinkett-Smith, Lauren Conrad


Asians and Africans usually fall into the winter season, with cool and clear skin tones. Winter consists of very stark and dramatic skin, including pale skinned Caucasians with dark hair.

  • Best Colors: True white, true black, cool grays, navy blue, deep reds, bright pinks, jewel tones like emerald, royal blue, royal purple and icy pastels look dashing with winter complexions
  • Watch Outs:  Steer clear of beige, orange, gold, brown and other washed out shades, as they may wash out your dramatic features
  • Celebrity look-a-like: Zoe Saldana, Leighton Meester


Last but not least, spring skin tones are warm and clear, encompassing women with light and strawberry blonde or auburn hair. Springs usually have light green or blue eyes with light, ivory skin. Freckles are most populous in the spring category as well.

  • Best Colors: Pale, soft like ivory, peach, true red, clear blue, camel, light pink, coral, golden yellow, golden brown, aqua and bright greens look dazzling on spring tones
  • Watch Outs: Avoid dark, dull colors as they may make you look tired and dragged down. Use caution with black and white, as well, because it may be too contrasting for your complexion.
  • Celebrity look-a-like: Emma Stone, Alicia Keys

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and we encourage all of our elfettes to experiment and see what works best for them! Tell us what season your skin tone is and which colors you love using!


Elle, new Elfette on the block

41 comments email to a friend print this page tags: DarkSkin   Light Skin   Skin Tone   
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Cherchezlafemme wrote:
1) 8/1/2012 1:13:01 AM
I'm African-American with cool, muted
Reply to this
kayekaye wrote:
2) 8/3/2012 12:27:02 PM
Im warmed toned with muted.
Reply to this
ArianaB wrote:
3) 8/3/2012 6:31:31 PM
I'm neutral :] I like this blog post!
Reply to this
LisaLu wrote:
4) 8/6/2012 12:06:56 PM
Very helpful. Cool and clear for me.
Reply to this
nicoleluvsmakeupmeow:) wrote:
5) 8/6/2012 4:51:13 PM
Reply to this
Sidney1026 wrote:
6) 8/6/2012 6:30:27 PM
Thank you so much! This really helped me out and I'll show this to my friends.
Reply to this
Elle, the new Elfette on the block wrote:
7) 8/7/2012 5:40:19 PM
Thanks everyone! I'm SO glad this has been helpful for you! Finding your skin tone is not easy but once you know what "season" you are, you'll start to realize why you gravitate towards some colors more than others. Of course we encourage you to try all colors in the spectrum and create your own style, but there are a few that will always look great on you! Make sure you show us your great looks on Facebook and Twitter!!
Reply to this
JenJenJen wrote:
8) 8/10/2012 9:43:02 AM
I guess I'm an Autumn then, but Everyone always says I look good in bright pink which seems inconsistent. I'm confused...:)
Reply to this
lyv wrote:
9) 8/10/2012 9:44:09 AM
I'm a fall:) Thanks, this was definitely helpful and informative!
Reply to this
Lexyp wrote:
10) 8/10/2012 9:48:13 AM
I'm warm toned and muted
Reply to this
Rona wrote:
11) 8/10/2012 9:49:42 AM
I'm african-american with cool tones.
Reply to this
Annie in Tampa wrote:
12) 8/10/2012 9:50:02 AM
Great guide - thanks!
Reply to this
Mgmacts wrote:
13) 8/10/2012 9:51:29 AM
I'm neutral! I have a vein of every color.
Reply to this
Classy wrote:
14) 8/10/2012 9:53:41 AM
I'm a Black woman and my tone is Cool & Muted. I tend to stay away from from pastels during the summer but during the Winter its easier to create that soft iridescent look. Black eyeliner is a lil harsh to use alone so i'll apply a plum or purple~ish color over it. On the normal I use jewel tones, very rich and pigmented. I wear glasses so I try to use glittered colors for that pop.
Reply to this
Jacq wrote:
15) 8/10/2012 9:58:24 AM
I'm cool and clear, so the winter season :)
Reply to this
Shortcake wrote:
16) 8/10/2012 9:59:14 AM
Im mostly Spring because of my freckles but I'm a little Fall too!
Reply to this
Adbdiva wrote:
17) 8/10/2012 10:04:39 AM
im most definitely summer!
Reply to this
Garthtater wrote:
18) 8/10/2012 10:05:22 AM
I have spring..... which is good, cause it's my favorite season and time of the year!!!! :) Good colors, too :)
Reply to this
Bluepersu8n wrote:
19) 8/10/2012 10:19:20 AM
I am a warm toned Spring!
Reply to this
chochoney wrote:
20) 8/10/2012 10:19:20 AM
African American and neutral!
Reply to this
kittykittykitty wrote:
21) 8/10/2012 10:23:09 AM
I'm still not sure. :(
Reply to this
robbiemommie3 wrote:
22) 8/10/2012 10:24:08 AM
I figured out early on that I have a weird skintone. I could be described as a fall but, I can also fit into spring. My skin its somewhat olive but with the freckles and Brown hair and eyes. I tend to have a really hard time with foundation and almost never use it bc most are either to light or to dark and then I need one with less red or yellow. I also wear cool tones really well. I'm like a chameleon I guess.
Reply to this
Elfette0100 wrote:
23) 8/10/2012 10:33:19 AM
awesome!! i def want this <3
Reply to this
Sholita wrote:
24) 8/10/2012 10:33:27 AM
I'm winter and my favorite colors are dark links and purples with gold accessories ;)
Reply to this
caitiedid wrote:
25) 8/10/2012 10:34:37 AM
I am a spring! I love this site it is always so helpful!
Reply to this
thisistas wrote:
26) 8/10/2012 10:44:24 AM
i love winter!
Reply to this
Flowerchildej wrote:
27) 8/10/2012 10:44:49 AM
I'm guessing that I'm neutral (my veins look bluish green) yet my skin is quite golden toned (?) and clear. I can wear silver or gold equally and I'm probably a winter (love the bright jewel tones!) with a little bit of spring thrown in. Aqua and turquoise tend to be the colors I turn to when I want to wear brights.
1 Reply | Reply to this | Open Thread
LexxxIsBest wrote:
28) 8/10/2012 10:55:43 AM
I'm African American and I'm winter toned with clear skin. I love purples and pinks they're fun looks to mix with a smokey eye and I like goldstar because they make my dark eyes look a bit lighter and it makes my make up look natually shimmery.
Reply to this
TraciLea wrote:
29) 8/10/2012 11:23:49 AM
Going to try the white towel test ASAP!
Reply to this
Pokey puppy wrote:
30) 8/10/2012 1:43:20 PM
Awesome good things to think about
Reply to this
PastorBlondie wrote:
31) 8/10/2012 3:59:13 PM
Years ago...mid-late seventies, a woman named Carole Jackson created Color Me Beautiful-a wonderful tool to help women look their best in seasonal colors...she was bought out by different group...but her original book can be found in Barnes/Noble, Amazon and other book sellers .....thats why cosmetic companies around the worls give you a choice for make-up colors in warm or cool....every person is ONE season...but can wear some colors from companion season.
Reply to this
Kulsum wrote:
32) 8/11/2012 3:57:15 AM
I'm a warm undertoner! And it took me a while to figure that out! haha! I saw my hand was more yellow than my sister-in-law, and then i knew i was yellow undertone! pretty cool way to find out eh? :D Also whenever i wear black outfits i look so pale! And but i like that too! :D Thanks for the article though, it was fun! :) <3
Reply to this
Alliepetey wrote:
33) 8/2/2013 5:19:21 PM
What about olive skin tones????? I have olive skin with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. What season? I have a neutral skin tone (not cool or warm) but I can't figure out what season I am.
Reply to this
KatieM89 wrote:
34) 1/6/2014 5:54:48 PM
I'm mostly winter with some spring thrown in :)
Reply to this
LaraDee wrote:
35) 4/20/2014 7:57:45 PM
I am a cool winter. I LOVE royal blue and purple. Of course, I also love black and white. Great article. Thank you so much.
Reply to this
BeautyintheBathroom wrote:
36) 7/28/2014 4:36:53 PM
REALLY good article!
Reply to this
Zephyr wrote:
37) 8/20/2014 9:27:12 PM
I feel as if I don't fit into any of the categories presented here. -.- This didn't help me figure out what I am. ... I'm sad now.
1 Reply | Reply to this | Open Thread
CCBloom wrote:
38) 10/21/2014 12:20:31 PM
Well I'm confused. I definetely have very translucent skin, my veins are blue, some purple, (I am that see-through), however, I have naturally a darker ash blonde (looks gray always has except during my early childhood where it was white) hair color with very blonde highlights and blue eyes. So I seem to fit into winter and summer?? Someone help please. Lol
1 Reply | Reply to this | Open Thread

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