How to Determine Skin Tone Color

In the late 19th century, Michel Eugene Chevreul, director of a tapestry business, tried to match the yellow in a carpet and discovered that the hue was changed by the other colors resting next to it. Soon after began the trend of matching skin tones to colors around them. The objective of a skin color analysis is to coordinate fashion colors with a person's complexion for the best effect in wardrobe styling.

Things You'll Need

  • Mirror
  • Daylight
  • Memo pad
  • Pencil
  • Makeup in 3 different hues
  • Jewelry in gold, silver and other metals
  • Clothing in a variety of colors
  • Friend
  • Makeup professional (optional)


    • 1

      Look closely at your natural hair color in sunlight. If there are red highlights, gold or yellow you most likely have warm skin tones.
      If you have blue, green or purple glints in your natural hair, possibly ash hues, these are cool tones.
      Write down what you determine.

    • 2

      Study your skin tones in sunlight. Do you tan easily or have a color to your face? If so, your skin may be golden, warm peach or freckled. These are warm colors.
      If your skin looks light, porcelain, rosy pink or rich olive, you are cool again. Log your results.

    • 3

      Swipe 3 different foundation colors from cheek to jawline. If the yellowish color is best, add a point in the warm skin category and, likewise, if the pinker or bluer makeup looks better, you are a cool customer. Beige tones are neutral.

    • 4

      Hold jewelry up to your cheek. Gold or rose gold will complement warm skin. Silver or platinum jewelry looks best against cool skin.

    • 5

      Find clothes in colors that are saturated, not patterns, stripes or heathered colors. Pick red, yellow, blue, navy, pink, purple, orange, brown, black and white.

    • 6

      Do the swatch test with the clothing. Try holding the warm colored-clothes--red, yellow, orange, beige, etc.--up to warm-toned skin, hair and foundation colors.
      Try lifting the blue, navy, purple and black up against cool skin, cool-tinted hair and bluish foundation.
      For neutral or beige-toned skin types, see how plum, bronze, copper and browns make you feel.
      You want colors that are in your skin by nature. Colors that are not in your skin tones will provide contrast. You may feel more comfortable with colors that complement rather than contrast.

    • 7

      Ask yourself these questions: Does a particular color palette make you feel washed out? If the contrast is too great, how does a paler tint in the same color family look? Does your comfort level change with each color; meaning, do you feel more confident in one color versus its opposite? What colors look best on you?

Tips & Warnings

  • Flattering colors tend to enhance skin so as to mask flaws in the face. Grab a friend and spend an afternoon checking each other's colors and choices. If you are still unsure, visit a professional cosmetic counter and have a makeup artist help you decide. Younger skin is thicker and has more blush; older skin is thinner and can look bluish or sallow. Consequently, younger women can generally wear contrasting colors better than older women.
  • A skin condition, such as rosacea, can affect your choices. Best to opt for subtle tones in the neutral family: beige, caramel and brown with no contrast.
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