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How to Tell if Your Coloring Is Warm or Cool

by Michelle Powell-Smith, studioD

When you aren't sure of which makeup color to select, or how to purchase clothing that best complements your coloring, understanding the undertone of your skin comes in handy. Skin tones fall into two basic categories: warm and cool. For each of these two categories, there are specific matches to coordinate and avoid.

Closet Color

You may be able to determine if you have warm or cool undertones by considering what looks best on you in terms of the color of your clothing, lipstick or everyday jewelry. If colors from pale icy pink to deep plum to rich ruby red tend to flatter you, you likely have a cooler complexion. If you feel best in a peacock-toned teal, a rich rust, or a deep fall gold, your complexion is warm. Cool complexions may find they favor silver or white gold jewelry, whereas warm complexions look better in yellow or rose gold.

Varied Veins

One of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you have warm or cool coloring is to take a look at the veins on the inside of your wrists. Make sure you're in good, natural lighting for the most accurate color perception. If the veins in your wrists have a blue tone, you have a cool complexion. If your veins look more green than blue, your natural coloring is warmer and more golden.

Milk or Cream

If you can't decide if you're warm or cool after the vein test, gather two scarves, shirts, or even large pieces of paper. One should be pure white and the other a cream tone with a yellow base. Hold the samples up to your face. If you have a cool complexion, the white sample will make your skin look its best. Your eyes will appear brighter and you'll look more rested. If you have a warm complexion, cream will do the same for you. The wrong tone will make you look tired or washed-out.

Daring Drapes

If you opt for a professional color analysis, you'll be draped in various colors from different palettes to determine your best colors. You can do the same with items from your own closet, particularly if the other tests haven't left you with a clear choice. Choose several cool garments, in shades of blue, plum or pink and several warmer tones, in shades of gold, orange or green. Hold these up to your face and see which shades look best. Ask a friend for help if you're having trouble deciding and take the time to explore both muted and clear tones. You may have a warm complexion, but need muted softer shades to look your best or have a cool complexion, but delicate coloring that looks best in soft pastels.

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.

Photo Credits

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