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Skin undertones are the underlying tint to the skin that influence whether a person has a “warm” or “cool” complexion. Generally, people with yellow undertones have warm skin while people with blue undertones have cool skin. Assessing the color of these undertones can be useful in selecting hair dye, makeup, jewelry, and clothing in flattering colors and shades. The actual color of the skin itself, called skin tone, should not be confused with the less obvious undertones.
It can be difficult to tell if a person has blue or yellow undertones just by looking at their skin. Looking at their veins, however, can help reveal the underlying colors. Veins that appear blue generally indicate blue undertones. In many cases, blue undertones are found in people who are very fair and do not tan easily or in darker skin tones that appear slightly reddish.
Veins that appear to have a slightly greenish tint indicate the presence of yellow undertones. Yellow undertones are often found in fair people who tan easily, Asian skin types, and warmer dark skin tones. As the name indicates, yellow undertones are usually present in people who have a warm, almost golden hue to their skin.
People with blue undertones are generally considered to have cool skin. The colors that look best on cool skin are also cool, oceanic shades, like cool purples, blues, greens, silver, gray, pure white, and black. Selecting clothing and cosmetics in these colors is usually a good way to predict which outfits or makeup looks will be the most flattering. As for hair color, people with cool skin are usually most flattered by champagne or platinum blondes, chestnut or ashy browns, and true black.
Warm skins that boast yellow undertones usually look their best in rich, earthy colors. Some examples are bold reds, oranges, golden yellows and greens, bronze, cream, and warm browns. Gold jewelry is particularly complimentary to skin with yellow undertones, whereas blue undertones look best in silver. The most flattering hair colors for people with warm skin undertones will probably be golden or reddish browns, honey blonde, strawberry blonde, or auburn.
One tricky aspect in assessing skin undertones is that it is possible to have warm eyes paired with cool skin, or the reverse. As a result, choosing colors based on having yellow or blue undertones is not a foolproof guarantee of flattery. Some are subtle enough that most colors can be worn without issue. While assessing these undertones is a good start for people trying to determine what colors flatter them, experimenting is the best way to find out for sure.