Colour Theory | A Guide To Finding The Best Palette For Your Skin Tone

Discover the hues that were made for you.

While there are no hard and fast ‘rules’ when it comes to personal style, there is something to be said about the eternal appeal of wearing colours that complement one’s skin tone.

 

Besides being a simple yet effective way to instantly brighten the complexion, eyes and smile, choosing colours that suit your skin tone can also help simplify the process of creating your capsule wardrobe by focusing on the shades that flatter, time after time.

 

So, if you have ever found yourself wondering ‘What are my colours?’, keep reading for The Aje Report’s detailed guide on how to find the best colour palette for your skin tone.

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What Are My Colours: How To Find the Hues That Suit You

When it comes to finding the best colour palette for your skin tone, the first step is to determine your skin’s undertone. As the word itself suggests, the ‘undertone’ signifies the tone of your skin from below the surface that influences your overall complexion.

 

Traditionally, there are three types of undertone in skin colour theory: warm, cool and neutral. Figuring out your dominant undertone is the easiest way to uncover which colours will best complement your overall skin tone. This is because it is the undertone that reveals which hues enhance and ‘pop’ against your complexion, making your eyes and skin appear brighter, and smile whiter.

 

Thankfully, there are a few tried and tested techniques for doing exactly this. Below, four ways to find out whether your undertone leans warm, cool or neutral.

The White Paper Test

The ‘white paper test’ is arguably the simplest method for finding your undertone. Commence with a makeup free visage in a space with natural light to best examine your skin. Take a piece of pure white paper and hold it up to your face and consider how your face looks in contrast.

 

If you notice subtle gold, yellow, green or light brown tones beneath the surface, you have a ‘warm’ undertone. Conversely, if you find pigments that veer more towards blue, rose or pink, your undertone is cool. Find your skin seems ashen or grey? You are looking at a neutral undertone.

 

It’s important to note that some skin conditions such as acne or rosacea can make it more difficult to observe your natural undertone. In such scenarios, have someone hold the paper test near the crease behind your ear, as it is far less susceptible to be affected.  

The Jewellery Test

The ‘jewellery test’ is another way to reveal your skin’s undertone. Begin by holding a piece of silver and then gold jewellery against your face, and then observe: which piece of jewellery makes your skin ‘sing’? If you have a warm undertone, the gold jewellery should give your complexion an added glow, while silver jewellery looks more striking against a cool countenance.

The Vein Test

Unlike the paper and jewellery tests, you don’t require any additional items to do the ‘vein test’. Simply take note of the colour of the veins in your wrist and hand. If your veins appear more blue or purple, that is a sign of a cool undertone, while a green hue suggests a warm undertone. If it doesn’t seem like it is quite either of those? That indicates a neutral undertone.

The Hair and Eye Colour Test

Although it is not a perfect method, examining your hair and eye colour can assist in uncovering your skin’s undertone. Typically, people with cooler undertones tend to have blue, green or grey eyes, with locks that span blue-black and brown hair that appears almost black, to very light blonde.

 

On the other hand, those with gold undertones often have varying shades of brown and amber eyes, with black, dark brown or caramel blonde tresses. While not always the case, those with neutral undertones usually possess hazel eyes and locks with mixed warm and cool natural highlights.

The Best Colours For Warm Skin Tones

Best colours for warm skin tones

If you have determined that you have a warm undertone, you should look to colours that share the same ‘golden’ quality. To bring out the naturally aurous quality in your complexion, lean towards rich shades of yellow, orange, burgundy, chestnut, deep berry, caramel and warm red.


That is not to say traditionally perceived ‘cool’ colours such as blue and green are off limits by any means, but that blue shades with yellow undertones, such as turquoise and olive, are far more flattering for warmer skin tones. When opting for neutrals, consider creamy off-whites, camel and chocolate.

The Best Colours For Cool Skin Tones

Best colours for cool skin tones

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If your undertone is on the cooler side, opt for traditionally cool shades such as sapphire, cobalt blue, emerald, lavender, and ice blue. When considering warm hues, such as pink and red, select shades with blue-leaning undertones, like ice pink or ruby, to enhance your overall complexion. With neutrals, favour colours like navy, crisp white and classic grey.

The Best Colours For Neutral Skin Tones

Best colours for neutral skin tones

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Those with neutral skin tones have the benefit of suiting almost all hues, but tend to look best in ones that fall in the middle of the spectrum — neither too bright, nor too bold.

 

Consider a palette of dusty pink, medium green, jade, light peach and lagoon blue when opting for colour. In terms of neutrals, off-white, medium greys, back and coffee will highlight your features best.

A Final Note On Undertones

When determining your skin’s undertone, it is important to note that it is not dependent on how light or dark your skin is, and that anyone of any shade can have cool or warm undertones.

 

One small caveat does apply to those with olive skin tones, as while it is commonly perceived as warm, with a green overtone and a ‘golden’ appearance, the undertone is actually blue and therefore cool.


Go Deeper With The ‘Season Colour Analysis’

For an even more tailored approach to finding the colours that suit your skin tone, you could employ the classic ‘season colour analysis’. With the theory’s dating back to the mid-18th century, the seasonal colour analysis categorises skin-tone matching based on, as you may have guessed, the seasons.

 

Taking skin undertone, hair colour and eye colour into consideration, it breaks each seasonal skin tone (summer, autumn, winter and spring) down further into 12 sub-categories, proposing three additional ‘types’ per season to create a more customised palette.


The Best Colours For Summer Skin Tones

True or Cool Summer

Skin: Cool undertones, with overtine ranging from medium beige to dark brown.

Eyes: Grey or blue.

Hair: Medium to dark, ashy tones of brown.

Colours to wear: Classic navy, cobalt blue, traditional rose, mint, violet, raspberry, dark emerald and evergreen.

Light Summer

Skin: Predominantly neutral undertone that might lean slightly pink.

Eyes: Blue or green.

Hair: Medium to dark, ashy tones of brown.

Colours to wear: Lavender, light warm coral, baby blue, cool pink, cornflower, wisteria, primrose yellow and pastel green.

Soft Summer

Skin: Neutral undertone that leans slightly warm, with overtone colours ranging from medium beige to dark brown.

Eyes: Blue, hazel or grey.

Hair: Ashy brown, ranging from medium to dark.

Colours to wear: Chocolate brown, dusty rose, marsala, lilac, cassis, soft white, true red, peacock and periwinkle blue.


The Best Colours For Autumn Skin Tones

Warm Autumn

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Skin: Warm undertone with overtones ranging across ivory, olive and medium brown.

Eyes: Dark and golden to chocolate brown eyes with gold flecks.

Hair: Medium to dark brown or auburn with golden tones.

Colours to wear: Burgundy, golden yellow, rust, deep olive green, saffron, wine red, coral, aquamarine and warm blue.

Soft Autumn

Skin: Neutral undertone that might lean slightly warm.

Eyes: Light brown, green or hazel.

Hair: Blonde, strawberry blonde or brown hair.

Colours to wear: Peach, light olive, soft lime, moss, French blue, sage green, oyster white, cream, light coral, aubergine, warm grey and old gold.

Deep Autumn

Skin: Warm undertone, with overtones ranging across ivory, olive and medium to dark brown.

Eyes: Dark brown, brown-black, dark blue and green.

Hair: Medium to dark brown and black hair with golden tones.

Colours to wear: True red, deep teal, dark olive green, topaz, citrine, warm ruby, forest green, dark chocolate and soft white.


The Best Colours For Spring Skin Tones

True or Warm Spring

Skin: Warm undertone, with overtones ranging from warm beige to slightly tan.

Eyes: Light brown, hazel, green or blue.

Hair: Golden blonde, strawberry blonde, and auburn to dark, warm brown.

Colours to wear: Lime, yellow ochre, dusky peach, coral, tangerine, soft teal, sea green, aqua, ivory, evergreen, ginger and biscuit.

Clear or Bright Spring

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Skin: Cool undertone that leans slightly pink, with overtones ranging from ivory to golden brown.

Eyes: Light brown, blue or blue.

Hair: Warm, golden blonde or brown hair, copper and auburn.

Colours to wear: Bright blue, watermelon, true red, azure, light emerald, dove grey, cobalt blue, violet and red coral.

Light Spring

Skin: Cool undertone that veers slightly pink or peach, with pale overtones.

Eyes: Hazel, green, blue or light brown.

Hair: Light to medium golden brown, golden blonde, strawberry blonde and light red.

Colours to wear: Light aqua, soft teal, ivory, bluebell, cornflower blue, blush, periwinkle, shell pink, peppermint, pale peach, and primrose yellow.


The Best Colours For Winter Skin Tones

Cool or True Winter

Skin: Cool undertone that veers blue.

Eyes: Blue, grey or light brown.

Hair: Ashy blonde, black with blue tones or ashy brown.

Colours to wear: Emerald, cobalt blue, cherry, sapphire, bright navy, amethyst, bottle-green, fuchsia and cool ruby.

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Clear Winter

Skin: Cool undertone that veers blue.

Eyes: Bright blue or green.

Hair: Black or medium to dark brown.

Colours to wear: Hot pink, cobalt blue, true red, violet, sapphire, azure, ice pink, acid yellow, emerald and light grey marle.

Deep or Dark Winter

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Skin: Neutral undertone that veers blue with overtones that appear olive or warm.

Eyes: Black or dark brown.

Hair: Black or medium to dark brown.

Colours to wear: Deep claret, forest green, oakmoss, true red, garnet, navy, turquoise, cool ruby, chestnut red, sapphire, amethyst and white.