Skin Undertones

You may want to skip this post. There will be no concrete answer at the end. It will be a thought repository for my ramblings till someone helps me understand this.

Traditionally, undertones are thought to be either cool, neutral, or warm, not coloured.

Overtones are the outside colour of the skin, like the names of foundation, as porcelain, bisque, buff, natural, warm beige, and so on. Light/medium/deep also refers to overtones. The overtone must be in the top epidermal layer.

You can get any combination of undertone and overtone. So warm undertone + ivory overtone, or cool undertone + ebony overtone, etc. Porcelain and ebony overtones can share the same cool undertone.

Worth noting too is that you can have a false overtone. The red flush in the skin of women with too-yellow hair, or the yellow overtone in the cool dark Seasons when they wear too-warm colour, these are just effects created by wrong colour. They clear away as soon as you change your shirt or hair colour.

Where is the undertone and what exactly is this colour that we are calling cool-neutral-warm?

I looked for input from respected sources.

1. Bernice Kentner of Color Me A Season, always ahead of her time, describes undertone as a real colour, a combination of 4 variables. From her book, The Magnificent Eye, she describes undertone as the result of an equation made up of 4 variables:

. the thickness of the skin which varies by Season and determines which colours show through

. the yellow-brown colour of all skin, beneath the top layer

. the meshwork of oxygenated (red) and non-oxygenated (blue) blood vessels beneath the skin

. the velocity of blood flow in those vessels; so Autumn has faster blood flow which shows more red of arterial blood

I do not know about the blood flow velocity. I would think that ultrasound would have detected those differences among people.

I absolutely agree with her that Seasonal Colour Analysis is not about overtones. If it were, yellow skin would wear warm foundation, but it often does not (or should not). If it were, wearing our skin colour would be flattering but it isn’t. The apparent surface skin colour does not appear in the swatch books for the 12 Seasons because surface colour is not a good representation of our true pigmentation.

2. Lauren Battistini at Color My Closet makes the fundamentally important point in this post, that undertone refers to how skin reacts to colour. If your skin is most perfected by cool colours, then your undertone is cool. Not certain if I can extrapolate this far, but maybe this means that undertone is not a real colour at all, and could not be found anywhere in the biological layers of skin. It is a reactionary term.

Personal Colour Analysis is about identifying the precise degree of darkness, warmth, and saturation in the colours of your body, and so in the colours that harmonize with your native colours when you wear them. It has nothing to do with overtone really, which is why suntans and rosacea do not affect the PCA result. Those are surface effects. The PCA process looks through the surface skin layer to evaluate reactions in the lower layers.

In the Comments, Lauren says that each Season has a core colour, using the example that Autumn is orange. Each Season does have a signature or core colour (Winter=red, Summer=blue, Spring=yellow). This overlaps with the undertone concept but isn’t exactly the same.

3. Imogen Lamport at Inside Out Style Blog writes an excellent blog with practical real-world advice. In this post on skin tone and makeup, a client writes in with a question. Imogen offers several examples from her experience as a colour analyst.

If I understand this right,

Now you may be more obvious and have a warm yellow or goldish undertone and overtone and therefore warm colouring, or you may have a pinkish undertone and overtone and be cool.

This means that the True Seasons are those where overtone and undertone accord. She cites examples where the two may conflict but I remain confused.

4. Beauty School Blog is written by makeup artist, Jen. I find it a fresh take on makeup blogs, with good lessons, a genuine voice, and a wider spectrum of topics. I found this article very thorough. If the undertone is a real colour, then which colour is it exactly, and where is it?

5. Variations of the pigments. There are certainly different colours of melanin and carotene. How about hemoglobin? Do different people have different coloured blood? I have never heard a surgeon say this (not counting the different colours of venous and arterial blood). To the naked eye, I can tell you that dogs and cats have the same colour of blood. How much can the pigmentation of a hemoglobin molecule be altered without affecting its ability to carry oxygen, certainly a life-threatening event that evolution might not have permitted. I have only questions at this point.

6. The 12B concept of undertones. The pictures posted along this article show how undertones appear in my head. There is no scientific testing here, only what I see when I look at this skin. (Dark Autumn could be redder. Bright Winter could be lighter and yellower. Light Summer, I couldn’t decide. Close enough to make the point.)

What use is it?

Foundation is matched to undertone (cool/neutral/warm) and overtone (ivory to ebony).

For some, these are the fundamental lip and blush colours, the from-within, most intrinsic colours. Using them for items such as eyeglass frames, ties, scarves, and accessories looks good, though the viewer would never know why.




82 thoughts on “Skin Undertones”

  1. I was actually thinking about something very similar lately. I was thinking about my colour theory that I learnt years ago doing Design, and had noticed that although Munsell devised a five-colour system, many of the current colour analysis systems seemed to default to a three-colour system (I was also looking at the Natural Colour System: four complementary colours + black and white; but didn’t get too far into that). This may be out of turn, because I haven’t taken the Sci/Art training, so I’m not sure whether they go into this… and thus I’m stating something obvious :)

    I’d remembered you saying that Autumn is orange (brown) and Spring is yellow, and I knew that Winter and Summer were both “cool,” but I wasn’t sure whether there was ever a distinction between the blueness of Summer and the “other coolness” of Winter.

    So, I plotted it out onto two colour wheels- one with three colours, the other with five. With Autumn at orange, Summer is opposite at blue. I then put Autumn at orange, and extrapolated this across the circle to choose another complementary colour. In the three-colour subtractive wheel (BRY… though it really should be CMY like in print process), it came out with purple, which you have above. This makes sense, but at the same time… isn’t purple considered “neutral”?

    So I tried on Munsell’s five-colour (additive, I believe) wheel. This time, green and purple are thrown into the primary colours for good measure (I didn’t investigate why). Autumn and Summer remain opposite each other. This time, Spring’s complementary colour sits between Blue and Purple- which you can name whatever you want, something like Indigo, I suppose.

    I hope that makes sense :) What do you think?

  2. Thanks for the link.

    I don’t exactly understand where the undertone comes from, whether it’s some part of the makeup of the skin, but I certainly notice that Warm people have more carotene in their skin (often) and cooler people have less carotene.

    I am cool, but have a yellow/greenish overtone. I wear a foundation that has a yellowish tint.

    I’ve seen plenty of warm people who have a pink/red overtone, and who wear foundations with a pinkish tint.

    With colour analysis it’s how the undertone reacts to another colour, that decides how flattering it is.

  3. Most interesting, Ellen. You have far more training in art and color wheels than I have.

    The color wheels you constructed sound rather like this one:

    I thought Munsell’s wheel was a 10 color wheel. So he used 10 colors, and spaced them evenly, for ease of calculation. He uses the 3 variables of hue, chroma, and value to describe a color and proceed through the possibilities. It’s a bit skewed because our perceptions of each color are not precisely equal, and each color doesn’t saturate at the same level of value, so it looks more like a tree or an ellipse than a perfect sphere, but it still works.

    So like this,

    and this,

    I don’t know the terms additive and subtractive in this context.

    Also, our eye can only distinguish so many levels of value before there’s no point in adding any more. So for the purpose of colour coding human coloring, the 12 groups provide enough levels to give distinct hue, chroma, and value without so many levels that nobody could tell them apart, or find that much offering in the stores, or reduce it so finely that the even spacing between the groups would have to be altered.

    It’s quite fascinating. I’m still chewing on the concept that Lauren’s article made me consider (though she doesn’t say this), that undertone is more like a virtual color, one created by what is next to it. I just made that up but I think I’ll have to abandon it. Wherever the undertone is, it is real and can be seen, whatever color terminology or palette we choose to give it.

  4. Oh I could ramble on about this for days lol!

    Personally I believe hemoglobin (the red pigment in blood) as seen through the filter or surface of your skin is what makes up the undertone. It modifies the tones found in the surface skin. An undertone is a subdued color that’s underlying, or seen through and modifies another color.

    The hard science is that skin tone colors come from pigments & everyone has the same pigments, just the mixture varies. Basically, the pigments carotene (yellow/orange) & melanin (brown/black) reside in the surface layers of the skin. The red pigment, hemoglobin, resides beneath the surface. Surface skin tones are not static, they change all the time as so very many things affect them. Diet, hormones, sun exposure, irritants, illnesses/diseases, medications, etc.; not to mention that any particular color is perceived differently in context with other colors and the quality and quantity of the light one is viewing them in. The direction you are facing, the light source & time of day even have different temperatures (degrees Kelvin).

    Anyhow, the top layer of skin is a visible layer called the epidermis. The epidermis contains both living and dead cells and within this outer layer are pigments that determine your skin color. If there is very little carotene and melanin, the skin is pinkish. Pink skin is caused by hemoglobin, a pigment in the blood. The blood passes through tiny blood vessels that are very close to the surface of the skin. Unless the skin is dark from melanin or carotene, the hemoglobin in the blood will be the primary coloring factor. Skin thickness would also play a part here.

    As we age our skin can get thinner. Thinking of that, more of the hemoglobin would show through in the thinner skinned areas. Could a warm skintone possibly be from merely the near lack of a visible undertone (hemoglobin/ red)? Surface pigments are the warmer tones (yellow/orange/brown), it makes sense to me. At least at this point in time.

    Many say to check the underside of the wrist for undertone, probably because the skin is thin there. Skin has different thicknesses in various parts of the body & typically thinner spots are the underside of the wrist, around the eyes & ears (feet could also apply too haha!). Seeing we are focused on the face I don’t think wrists (or feet ;-) are a good place to look. The skin is thin there and chock-full of veins, which affect the color of the skin in those areas & looks nothing like the tones of our faces. The wrist area typically appears more greenish or bluish from the veins being so close to the surface. However the skin is also typically thinner around the eyes & if veins show through the skin around the eyes that area is probably going to have a cooler (more bluish) appearance there in comparison to the predominant flesh tones. Some people also have visible red-violet-red capillaries that lie close to the skins surface.

    There’s just so much to consider! I think that’s why draping is important. To actually see the effect the different hues (and tonal qualities of those hues) have on our faces.

  5. Interesting article Christine. Your color pictures resonate for me though I can’t quite visualize bright winter as lighter and yellower than the color pictured – which color in the book would it be closest to?

    I’m also intrigued by the idea of core colors. What do they mean and how are they used?
    Do the neutral seasons also have core colors?

    In an unscientific (and not informed by any theories) way, I’ve thought of undertones as the pinks, light reds, lavenders, peaches, and orange-like colors.

    Thanks for exploring the harder questions,


  6. Thanks to everyone for contributing…and confirming that it is a difficult question. Whether undertone is real or created (and I believe it’s real), the aspect that it greatly, indeed entirely, determines reactivity to color in skin is also true. The undertone is how best foundation, clothing, makeup, and metal are determined. Overtone, whether real or false, is beginning to feel more and more irrelevant to me.

    Denise – you’re right about that Bright Winter. I must get round to fixing that. Think of the color of a strawberry. Lighter and yellower than Winter’s red-violet, but still very saturated. Neither as blue or as dusty as a raspberry. So, a golden red, but very much red. I’m glad to see that you think of undertone as a specific color as well. I can’t shake this, because I see it come out of the skin.

  7. Hi Christine, thanks for another really great article. I love it when color consultants are open-minded! I highly recommend this article:

    The article shows that if we could spread our skin color thinly on a white surface, we would easily see its undertones. The pink undertones in a pinky-beige skin could show up as warmer or cooler, for instance, a blued light pink or a yellowed light pink. Since most of us would not be willing to go through this when finding our undertone (LOL), we use the other test recommended in the article instead: we drape and check how the skin reacts to different colors with different undertones. The draping process reveals if a yellow undertone is truly warm or more taupey-cool-gray, or if a pink undertone is coral-yellow or blued pink.

    So the undertone really is there, it is not a reactive color characteristic. It’s just that draping is the only sensible approach to seeing it in human skin.

  8. Additive = adding light, all colours mixed creates white (used in physics to describe the behavior of light, eg computer monitors/tvs)
    Subtractive = removing light, all colours mixed creates black (used in paint and printing process)

    I’m familiar with Munsell’s broken sphere :) To say Munsell used 10 or 5 colours isn’t too different: I think it’s 5 primary colours and 5 secondary… like saying Red, Yellow, Blue or Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet :)

    Speaking of perception, there’s a system adored by my old lecturer in colour theory: The Natural Colour System. I’m actually really interested in testing its feasibility in regards to PCA, because it’s all about describing colours based on our perception of them :) I think it uses about seven primary colours, and rather than a full or broken sphere, it has two cones, which can be cut into triangles which explore saturation/tone, lightness/tint and darkness/shade. It’s a system used mostly for “talking about colour,” rather than making colours (if that makes sense).

    I suppose undertone works if you talk about it using NCS concepts (crudely bastardising here), for example: skin that appears more green than yellow, or more violet than red. As someone whose neck is more yellow than her face, I’ve started considering options like: foundation, lipstick and blush that is pinkish, but a powder (like another epidermis) that is yellowish.

    I’d love to hear more from Imogen and Timber about skin science :) I remember reading that there’s two main types of melanin, but then there’s two subtypes to one of them, so there’s basically three variables just within melanin!? It’s crazy.

  9. So, do undertones and overtones combine in predictable ways regarding seasonal classifications? Such as, cool undertone and warm/light overtone = soft summer?

    And, for makeup should the colors match the book before or after they’re applied to our faces? (I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon, often a lipstick or blush looks like one color in my book in the pack and a different color in the book after I’ve put it on – fascinating) It would be so great if the seasons had a set of colors that would work for foundations.


  10. So, do undertones and overtones combine in predictable ways regarding seasonal classifications? Such as, cool undertone and warm/light overtone = soft summer?

    Not in my case, Denise.
    I have a cool undertone but my surface color is yellow(ish). I also have warmth in my eyes. But I am a Cool Winter……

  11. Sorry for the double post.

    Denise, I can give you an answer to your second question: they need to match your book before you put them on. I know what you mean about colors looking different once applied, and it’s trippy. I have Clinique’s Buttershine lippie in Pink Goddess, a very cool-looking color, and it goes coral on me. Figure that one out. (o.0 )

  12. What NCS does that is awesome is that it has the colour Atlas, which has pages of triangular configurations of each pure colour. As a result, you can see, laid out, all the incarnations of that one chroma value: darker, lighter, greyer.

    Denise, I have major issues when dealing with the idea that someone could have a cool undertone and a warm overtone and then have a neutral overall season. This is mostly because I remember holding tubes of paint marked, “cool red,” “warm red,” etc. Yellow is considered “warm,” but you are never going to see a person with literally blue skin. But you can have a warm (reddish) and a cool (blueish) yellow: yellow overtone with a warm/cool undertone. I don’t tan at all, I’m not olive-toned, and I never turn “golden.” I know I’m predominantly cool (especially when I then hold out the inside of my arm to other people who consider themselves “pink”… they just look warm and ruddy, or even yellow in comparison!) But I’ll leave it up to the analysts to add more…

    Ashley, I know exactly what you mean! I have lipsticks like that (I never understood the advice that started, “if a lipstick turns blue on you…”), and I find that when I smear them on white paper next to other lipstick that seems to stay true, I find that they’ve often got a sneaky bit of warmth in there (more noticeable with yellow than brown). I actually went through the Buttershine colours (or whatever they’re called over here), and couldn’t really find anything that would give me the “I’ve just been walking outside on a cold day” flush of colour that I get with MAC Rebel or even Stila Convertible in Fuchsia (ie, skin reponds by turning bright and glowy).

    Hm, sorry if I’m hogging this thread, I just find it so interesting and it’s lovely to have people to discuss it with ;)

  13. Jenny,

    I think you have it right, and have said it in the most straightforward way possible. There can be 20 shades of brown paint, some rosy, some blue, some golden. This is the same, and the draping is the only way to eliminate all the confusing variables and isolate the undertone alone.


    It can certainly become crazy. I suppose every question has a level beyond which you’ve no need to pursue it any further. And definitely NOT hogging anything. We’re here because we love talking about it too. It really helps me clear my thinking and beliefs by discussing it with knowledgeable people who can bring in different perspectives.

    Not sure if I understand your cool undertone/warm overtone/neutral Season confusion. I would be that person, as an example. I look yellow-brown-golden without makeup, and much more so in bad colours. In fact, there is a BIT of heat in my skin, of the Autumn brown variety, but not a lot. A “Neutral Season” is anyone who isn’t a pure Season, but does that mean that Neutral Seasons have opposing overtones and undertones? No, not at all. Sometimes they coincide very well. I think I don’t understand the “major issues” part. Can you explain it differently?


    No predictions at all concerning overtone colour corresponding to undertone colour, as Ineke says. Therefore no way to make Season specific foundation. I believe that it would be beyond outstanding if there well-coded Season makeup, but others have tried that and run into obstacles.

    I match makeup first on white paper to the swatch in the Book. It’s the only way I can accurately tell the degree of warmth, brown-ness, etc. Then I try it on my face, though the Book is accurate that I don’t even do that anymore. If it matches the Book, it will work. It takes some practice to learn to recognize what will work.

    I know that makeup can turn orange, or different, on certain skin. I’m not enough of a cosmetic chemist to know if that’s a pH or other chemical reaction, or just the wrong pigment for that person. When makeup is right, it will find the exact same shade in your skin and mesh invisibly. When it’s close, it will blend pretty well. When it’s really off, it sits on top like a dot. I have found that all the makeup that used to turn instantly orange on me when I thought I was an Autumn and buying those colours, no longer does so in Dark Winter colours. And I never see it happen on clients when I apply colours after a PCA – leads me to think that this colour changing thing is a the result of complete discord with the shades already in the skin, so instead of amplifying what is already there (as good colour does), it creates these odd contrasting and conflicting colours.


    I am amazed that Pink Goddess would go coral on anyone. Breath of Plum absolutely goes on pink, I agree. I’ve been using Lancome Aplum alone lately, a good matte barely-browned red-plum with enough blue in it to be Winter dark, and been pleased.

    I really can’t see that you’d be Dark Winter. I’m no MUA for black women but, you have no good reaction to any of the makeup. I haven’t found dark overtone colour to make that much difference, interestingly. Pam’s gloss – I’ll have to look.

  14. Ah, sorry. I was ambiguous.
    Basically, two things:

    1. I have a problem with yellow and red being necessarily “warm.” Red that is yellowish and yellow that is reddish are both “warm,” but there are also “cool” options to both of these.

    2. All skin will have red or yellow overtones (hence saying that no skin is blue), which would theoretically mean that everyone is either neutral or warm. I think I missed a “necessarily” in what I wrote before :P

    Me, give up on a question? Never! I’m a Scorpio, and I’ve signed up to do my PhD… I only give up if it’s too complex… or I understand fully ;)

    As for makeup “turning colours,” maybe it’s because part of it meshes, and the part that stands out really sits on top? So whatever colour it seems to turn is perhaps what needs to be eliminated. I also often find my face changes (dulls), rather than the lipstick itself.

  15. Ellen, take a look at the color wheel presented in the link I provided. I think it’s Munsell’s, don’t remember. There you can see that a color’s possible undrtones are really limited to two, the two neighbor colors on the wheel. For instance, a red can have an orange undertone, or a purplish one. The first one makes it a warm undertone red, the second makes it a cool undertone red. Yellow can have a green or an orange undertone, the first one makes it cooler, the second warms it up.

    I agree that all skin tones with a very few exceptions have warm overtones, since they are derived from orange/red. The difference lie in the undertones.

  16. Although undertone is elusive to define, it’s significance is essential and vital in determining clothing color choices!!!

    Undertone, as opposed to overtone, is a interesting discussion! Those of us who have an overtone that is ivory and an undertone that is cool quickly perceive something is not working when we try to match our superficial appearance Essential color analysis often recommends wearing our body colors, which is great if our true undertone is detected by the color consultant and she accurately notes our body colors. It’s also good for those who have the same overtone and undertone.

    I’m one of so many women that have been told I’m an autumn (soft autumn, deep autumn, and even spring) and I should wear olive green to match my eye color. When I wear olive green my eyes “pop”, but my chin and my face turn a terrible shade of olive green, too!!!! Teal pops my eye…but reflects under my cheek bones so much that my husband always asked me if I’ve got a bruise LOL. My eyes have gold, pale yellow,, moss, amber, gray. and light green in their hazel mix. Wearing any of those colors do terrible things to my face (sallow, etc) …but my eyes pop! I have to choose between eyes and skin, but skin has the priority because I don’t like looking green!!

    This is why I love the your system and your website. You are so careful in your analysis and Sci-Art seems extremely accurate in correctly identifying undertone!!!

  17. Jenny, do you mean the “Paint Color Mixing Chart”? If so, that’s not Munsell- that’s the subtractive colour mixing I was talking about before (while Munsell’s works with light, which is additive).

    What you’re saying is correct, I was just distilling it down the the three primaries of red/yellow/blue (even though this is considered archaic in modern colour mixing: cyan/magenta/yellow/black is used in printing). That’s kindof what I was getting at: so all skin has a “warm” overtone, some combination of red or yellow, and then has either a warm or cool undertone. This doesn’t NECESSARILY make all skin appear warm or neutral. It will either be “pure” (which we can assume is “neutral”), somewhere between red and yellow (“warm”), or heading towards blue (“cool”) in two ways: via violet or green.

    In other words, if your “overtone” appears warm, that’s because… it is, but you’ve just been doing a bad job of working with your undertone (if it’s cool). Not saying you’re not neutral, Christine, or that no one is. This is a long way of responding to Denise that I don’t believe that overtones and undertone combinations behave predictably, because if you find the undertone, there’s no reason to take the overtone (which I imagine would always be warm… but I’m leaving room for doubt) into account :)

  18. Ellen,

    Dayam!!! I think you’ve figured it here! The reason the makeup turns color is that the right shades blend and diffuse into the same shades already in the skin. The “color change” is just the wrong colours left sitting on the top.

    In your statement 2. above : red, yellow, or otherwise in the overtone has NOTHING to do with the warm/neutral/or cool of the undertone. That’s my belief, but I’m not sure if you’re agreeing or disagreeing with it.

    I’m pretty sure I’m ok with the idea of all skin having a warm undertone, some more than others. This is why foundation is always some sort of beige. And until cosmetic companies made foundation more yellow (inherently warm), nobody looked right.

    I’m interested in your comment about neutral (though I think we’re defining it differently, or I’m losing you between “pure” (do you mean same undertone as overtone?) and “neutral”), and how it moves to cool via violet or green. So, what you mean is, if you start with warm (red to yellow), you have to add violet or green (meaning a component that contains blue?) to get to cool? I want to understand this because I see green often in a Light Summer in a drape with any turquoise (though granted, that is an artificial overtone). Also, again with Light Summer, as the diagram in the article shows, I can’t decide between 2 undertones.


    Different face and neck colours don’t affect the draping. To some extent, everyone has that. In your perfect colours, the difference is minimized. And in makeup that respects the Season, or undertone, it becomes unnoticeable because the undertone is common to both face and neck.

    Faces can indeed have odd overtones. Too much rosacea or tan will make the draping harder but not impossible. Redness almost helps, because the good and bad effects are much more pronounced. The hardest skin for me, of them all, is the person who has smoked for years. The skin is grey and doesn’t react to anything. Very hard.


    YES!!! It is way too easy to see the brown Autumn drape connect with brown eyes, but it is a red herring. A false clue. The person may be a Spring/Winter, and you’ll go way off looking at that brown connection. Winter and Summer might both have navy in the eye. Green and gold are all over.

    The eye is the jewel in the face we’re going to energize, but I ignore all those eye colour connections till very late in the analysis. The SKIN takes precedence. The eyes will automatically be correct and perfect. The same biology colors the whole body, it’s just hard to detect the precise greens and reds, etc. in skin. And who can really tell the precise browns in their eyes, there are about 6 of them in any given eye.

    Undertone determines foundation heat, Season, clothing, blush/lip colour, accessories, everything. Overtone, eye colour, hair colour, neither here nor there.

    The Sci\ART system is so good, ay? Somehow, in the precision of how the drapes are color-measured, undertone will be found. And, in the way the colors are produced in the Colours Books, every one of your precise eye colours will magically be in there, accurately rendered.

    Thank you for the continuing discussion, women. We’re moving forward by leaps and bounds. I’m feeling much more solid, thanks to you.

  19. Christine, I’m agreeing that the overtone has nothing to do with it… mostly because on all people it will always be warm :)

    Ah, I probably should have used the word “true” instead of “pure.” So (and now I sound like my tutor that taught us about NCS) a red that is neither yellowish nor purplish; a yellow that is neither greenish nor reddish (I’m deliberately not using “orange” because I’m referencing the NCS primary colours). Blue has always been tricky- supposedly the greenish blue is cool.

    Gigi, how do brown and purple work on you? Do you have a dark ring around your iris? Your eyes could be similar to mine. Have you tried royal blue? Maybe olive green or teal would make nice eyeliner colours (so long as they’re not too vivid), or a nice colour to softly overlay your usual eyeliner with. Just a hint right next to where it works the best :)

  20. Wow! I’ve been reading all these comments about overtone v. undertone, and I’m starting to understand more about the whole concept. I’ve always wanted to know why brown and many other warm colors don’t ‘work’ on me (they either just sit on top of my skin or they wash out my already fair skin, making me look sickly) while cool, clear colors brighten my skin and give it a healthy glow despite (or maybe because of) being a natural redhead.

    What I’m wanting to know from this is, based on many sites I’ve read, why is red hair always tied to warm undertones when there are redheaded women like myself with cool undertones? Is it a way of getting redheads like myself to choose only those colors that don’t look flattering on us?

  21. OK. I find that foundation and a bit of green powder do wonders, though I’ve custom mixed the latter to suit my skin better; I’m hoping that will take away some of the greyish cast it leaves.

    Samantha: The CMB theory (among others) judges season by hair, eyes, and skin. Red hair being orange, it puts people into the orange season, i.e. Autumn. Or something like that. >.> Christine explains it in one of her articles on A Greener Tea, but I don’t remember which one.

  22. I’m finding this discussion helpful, though I don’t think I understand it all completely. Thanks,
    Christine, for taking the time to change the bright winter picture – I think you’ve really nailed it! This red is good with both my eyes and skin, not just one or the other like many reds.

    I’m a bright winter and I have been thrilled with how well my colors work. I’ve REALLY struggled to find a foundation that works for me, however. I would like to understand how to use this discussion to help me find a good foundation. Some turn orange, some turn greyish, some look way too yellow. Foundations that are labeled “neutral” tend to look kind of flat or blah on me. “Cool” ones turn orange. “Warm” emphasizes my “false overtones” and generally looks to yellow.

    As a bright winter what category (cool, warm, neutral) should I be looking at? If anyone has ideas or suggestions, I would really appreciate it!!

  23. Samantha, I’ve seen two types of redheads: golden and pink. Ashley is right: there’s an assumption that because your hair is “orange,” then the overall “look” would be warm. According to “More Alive With Color,” released as a part of Pantone, there are three types of every colour of everything (like Christine says), and it therefore depends of the shade. I won’t type out the whole thing, but these are some terms to describe cool red hair: Sherry, Plum, Ruby, Berry, Dark Auburn, Medium Auburn, Light Auburn. Warm shades are: Coppertone, Red Penny, Rich Copper, Sun Bronze, Honey Red, Spicy Ginger, Reddish Blonde, Burnished Copper. They do say that fair skin is a hint that someone will be a cool redhead instead of a warm one. I think it’s usually ignorance on the part of the non-redheads writing the books/sites. For inspiration, google Doe Deere :)

    Denise, I think Christine says that a bright winter is mostly cool (purple), with a little bit of yellow. You might have to do some mixing like Ashley (and I do it, to some extent). Do you have access to Prescriptives? They’re meant to colour match you perfectly by mixing up a formula for you. If it turns orange, you might want a little blue powder, if yellow, can you even it out with cool pink or purple blush or powder?

  24. Thanks Ellen,

    I have not thought about trying colored powders. Where do you find colored powders?

    I have tried Prescriptives (4 times) and was “color typed” all over the map. Even custom blended turned orange on me. My memory is that they have a category for red undertones. Maybe using Christine’s picture of red for bright winter, I can at least begin in the right category. I’ll give them another try. Thanks!


  25. You could probably find them in drugstores or department stores. I get mine from indie mineral makeup companies. So far, I think I like Aromaleigh’s best.

    What is your skin color? Are you ivory, porcelain, olive, mocha?

  26. I’m ivory or porcelain. Makeup consultants have put me in both categories. Usually porcelain colors are too light and ivory ones are too yellow. I need a nice light neutral beige. I think Christine described her bright winter client as having “red and white” skin – that’s a pretty good description for me too. Laura Mercier’s nude tinted moisturizer looks pretty natural on me at first, but by t he end of the day it gets a little orange. I’d also like a little more coverage.


  27. One place I like, if you don’t mind loose powder, is Meow Cosmetics. Their foundations are separated into “breed” (color) and depth, and they have 86 in all, plus three different coverage formulas. They offer $1 samples, so you can try foundation before buying a full size. I have the elusive cool olive complexion, which is a serious pain in the butt to find in drugstores (and not necessarily so easy to find in department stores, either); and I actually found a match at this site. Here’s the link:

  28. I might add that it’s not the skintone that is elusive, rather the proper foundation match for it. :P

    Ellen: I believe it’s red-violet with yellow. Makes a lovely strawberry color. :D

    Christine, is there any way to have a running list of the latest comments, or perhaps a subscription option at the bottom comment box, like on A Greener Tea?

  29. Ashley: I just lurk on this page. Every time I get bored: refresh! I have a wordpress blog too, so I’ll see what I can find out about subscriptions or alerts.

    Violet-red + yellow makes sense (and Iove the idea of strawberry… mmmm), but needing a “neutral beige” would make me think purple + yellow = white, which would give the illusion of a “cleaner” skin feeling. But red-violet + yellow = red-violet – violet = red… Ha, Don’t mind me.

    Denise: As Ashley said, you can probably find them anywhere. Green seems common. I remember seeing blue and lavender before, but they must have belonged to now-defunct companies. I’ve been intending to try meow, so I second Ashley’s suggestion of looking at them! I wish we could all go shopping together. Then we’d have the opinion of someone with an informed good eye instead of someone with a makeup diploma hoping you’ll buy :)

  30. Denise,
    You’ve probably looked at this, but Clinique Repairwear Fair Neutral 03 might be worth a look. Might have too much coverage. I’m amazed that you’re having this much trouble. Foundation shopping certainly takes time but there are good lines. Have you looked at Armani’s Luminous Silk? Merle Norman’s Timeless?


    Oh, yes. There’s a way. It’s called a plug-in, a little piece of software you hook onto the blog software. Theoretically easy. Takes a little fussing but much easier than it used to be. I’ll explore. I didn’t think anyone actually used that :)

  31. Christine,

    Thank you! I love Clinique Repairwear. I’ve tried other Clinique formulas but never that one. The others looked bad – this one looks fabulous. I look like I have great skin, not necessarily great makeup. But I look like I’m wearing makeup – finished. The other 2 lines you recommended are also ones I haven’t tried, but will do so.

    I think you’re a genius. After all the searching and bad advice from cosmetics counters, you were able to help without seeing me! I brought home samples of Fair Neutral 03 and Alabaster Breeze (one shade lighter). The woman who helped me, said she thought Fair Neutral 03 “gives you a little color – will be perfect when you get some color this summer.” I don’t really try to tan in the summers, so we tried Alabaster Breeze and it seemed to totally disappear into my skin – may be a touch lighter. Both colors are way better than anything else I’ve tried. My skin tone is pretty uneven – I think Fair Neutral matches the darker parts and Alabaster Breeze the lighter places in my face. Neither color creates a line of demarcation at my jawline.

    To help me decide between them I wanted to ask another question about undertones/overtones. Did you recommend Fair Neutral 03 because of what I’d said about my ivory/porcelain complexion or because it’s good for a Bright Winter? (overtones or undertones?) I hope this question is clear.

    I’m also wondering about the undertones color as “most natural” for us. I have two lipsticks that match my book that I love, but they give different effects and I’m not sure which is most natural. One is Clinique Raspberry Rush (I got the idea from you) and the other is Revlon’s Cha Cha Cherry (matches the golden-red in the book). Computer monitor color can be deceiving – which of these is closer to the bright winter undertone as you see it?

    By the way, I love your make up for summer article – great, perfect looking colors!

    Thanks to everyone else who offered help to my makeup-impaired self! I’m looking forward to experimenting with new ideas.

    Thanks again!

  32. Ellen, I did not remember, yes, it’s the subtractive color chart I was talking about. I guess it’s the one that makes most sense to me, since I can sense it. ;) ( But color is a VERY difficult subject in physics, though! And we base our science and “truths” on Aristotle and what we are sensing, while we might have won much more if we merged that view with Plato’s as well!)

    Denise, plese don’t look for categories.Different brands give opposing advice because there are no set rules here and I’m afraid some even don’t know what an undertone is. Yet!
    – Instead, aim to see a skilled saleswoman who sells very many different brands and let her match you – but don’t let her change your undertone if you are 100% sure of it.

    Let her match your overtones based on your undertones. But remember, there are lots of faulty makeup brands out there, so maybe you will just have to refuse buying anything. “Cool” in one brand equals “almost warm” in another! Just go by the surface color, then adjust for undertone. Go by your eyes, how you are feeling and in natural daylight!

    The perfect foundation matches your overtone AND your undertone. Take care if you have normal or slightly oily skin. Too much oil in the formula will make it turn on you, no matter how perfect it may seem in the first ten minutes.

    Gigi, ask me about reflctions, LOL! I have been labelled a Winter twice by “color consultants”, and Winter colors reflect so badly on my chin that I get a new (and less flattering) facial shape! I am a Spring and I always dressed like that before color analysis came along…..some of the systems out there are just too simplified!

    NEVER wear a color that reflecs on your skin – it’s just horribly , awfully, fundamentally wrong!

    If you are over 35, just watch your jawline. This is one of the many advantages of gettingolder :) If it sags, or the color refelcts under there – or there is a shadow under it – the color is wrong. LET IT BE. ;)

  33. Thanks to everyone who offered help and advice for my foundation-impaired self. I’m not a fan of mineral makeup and I have to drive a ways to get to everything except Clinique, so I started there. Christine, thanks especially for your suggestions! I love the feel and look of Repairwear. Color wise, Fair Neutral 03 was almost right ( better than anything else I’d tried). My saleswoman said, “when you get a little more color this summer, it will be perfect.” I asked to try one shade lighter to match my current skin color, and Wow! it was perfect. (Alabaster Breeze) Seemed to totally blend into my skin. Looks finished and professional, like my own skin but without the imperfections. Seems to bring all the focus to my eyes . . . I guess now I’ll have to figure out eye makeup!!! (smile)

    Thanks again to everyone!

  34. Yay! Christine has some color recommendations on A Greener Tea; those should help you in your search for makeup.

  35. Glad you’re finding something, Denise. Repairwear’s coverage is heavy, I usually mix it with moisturizer. But the skin-neutrality of 03 and 05 is really excellent. Jenny’s advice is right on – foundation has to match the undertone (I think warm/cool/neutral is sufficient distinction, but many companies’ label doesn’t match what’s in the bottle) , and the overtone. I would think either of those lipsticks could work. As a Neutral Season, Bright Winter can do some warmer and some cooler reds, since there is both warmth and coolness in the undertone. You may find mixing Alabaster and Fair Neutral will be an option too. Mixing foundation is easy and seems to bring out the best in both colours (true of mixing all makeup, I find).

  36. Is the skin’s undertone related to the natural flush tone of the inside of the the fingertips?

    I have noticed (using a VERY unscientific sample) that if you press your fingers together and look at the flushed tone of the inside of the fingers, that shade strongly links with the seasonal palette of the individual.

    Try it on yourself, then go and try it on someone else. You will be astonished at the difference between people’s finger flush colours. Violet, peach, puce-pink, grey-mauve or orange-red… The shades are clearly visible. My own shade is a warm combination of red and golden-brown. The closest natural image I can think of is a soft version of the colour of a cut fig – see Gravatar.

    Do you think that identifying fingertip shades would assist in identifying undertones?

  37. Jo,

    That color you describe is certainly telling, and is surprisingly different between people, as you say. It’s great way to compare relative warmth and coolness.

    But I’ve done that with women of the same Season as I am, and the difference is still too big. I am on the warmer side of my Season, she on the cool, but we are both Dark Winters.

    I absolutely agree that it’s your own body colours that determine Season. There are color systems (David Zyla’s The Color Of Style) that have you determine your best white from your palm, your best dark from your eye…it’s all true IF you can get the important, truest shade right, among the 10 nuanced shades that are there.

    Some people are very good at finding the essence of the skin or eye, as you are. Maybe I’d get better if I practiced, but I just find it too unreliable. It puts me in mind of whether the coldness or wetness of a dog’s nose is any indicator of health or disease. After 20 years as a veterinarian, I have no idea. There may be some correlation, but I rely on other systems so I’ve never learned that one.

  38. Hi. I haven’t posted here in a while, as I still haven’t been professionally draped, though I’ve narrowed it down to dark autumn/dark winter or bright winter/bright spring. I just wanted to say how helpful this post has been, along with the post about Jocelyn. (Her coloring is quite similar to mine down to the very dark eyes.)

    Re: The red hair thing Ellen brought up. I color my hair myself, usually a medium warm brown or dark auburn. My natural hair color is a medium brown with some red highlights. The grays are sort of creamy white. The shade I usually use, while red, is a neutral, brown-red. I made the mistake of coloring my hair copper and it clashed horribly with my skin. Most home hair colors label all reds warm, which isn’t true at all. I think the biggest mistake women make when going red is just picking the wrong red.

    Jo – When I pinch my fingers together, it’s sort of a coral-pink-red: slightly darker than bright spring’s, almost bright winter’s. My lips are the same color. (As is one of my favorite lipsticks, Revlon’s Strawberry Suede.) Cool trick.

  39. Christine,

    Mixing the two foundations was just right! Thanks. I used the David Zyla book, after my Sci Art analysis, only choosing from my bright winter palette. In that context it was helpful for building a casual/summer wardrobe. I’ve haven’t tried it for business clothes.

  40. To Denise:

    I’m bright winter too- very pale with pink undertones and a tiny bit of yellow in the overtone. I got typed by prescriptives as Y/O but looked much better in my freinds R foundation. I found out later that they put me as Y/O beacuse that was the only category that went down in shade as pale as i am.

    I currently use MAC foundation in NC15 mixed with a splash of their white face and body foundation and it really works for me. It gives me that pale snow white skin that just looks great with MAC Frankly Scarlet blush and Ruby woo lipstick.

  41. Thought I’d best mention it – to MAC NC (Neutral/Cool) is the one with the pink undertones. Thier NW (Neutral /Warm) is the one with the yellow undertones- huh!

  42. Kathy, Hi again!

    The finger-flush thing is great for picking blusher too. Just rub your finger on the blush sample, trot out into daylight and press your fingers together – does your natural flush coordinate/match/compliment the blusher? If so, you have a winner.

    Thanks Christine, actually I was only thinking (as I drove to work yesterday) how much I envy your eye – to be able to hold an image of a seasonal undertone in your mind’s eye is far, far beyond where I am. I tend to be reactive rather than pro-active. If I see someone in the wrong colour(s) it is usually fairly obvious, but the reason (colour temperature, etc.) only emerges when I see them in several different shades.

    This undertone concept is wonderful food for thought.

  43. For Trish: Thanks for the suggestions. I’m excited to have new things to try. I’m still growing into the brightness and “glamour” (Christine’s word) of the Bright Winter palette. Frankly Scarlett blush and Ruby Woo lipstick just sound like they would be a good stretch for me. I can hardly wait to try them.

    Jo: Try the finger flush trick to choose a blouse – WOW!

  44. Hi

    I tried the clinique repaire ware foundation in Alabaster breeze- i loved the texture but the colour was a t least 2 shades too dark for me- and the rapberry rush lipstick just looked my own lips! I would be really grateful if anyone knows of a foundation in a cream colour- akin to the colour of MACs blanc type eyeshdow as i’m fed up having to mix one up each day. i have good skin with an even tone but i prefer a heavier coverage one that I can just use on my T-zone.


    Also- that finger flush thing doesn’t work for me- no matter how hard i pres my fingers together they just return to thier origional colour. MY Bf says I must have poor circulation.

  45. @Denise and anyone else having trouble finding a foundation that works: I had a bit of an epiphany at the Mac counter today. I’ve worn N3, NC15 and NW15, none of them ever seemed quite right. In Studio Fix (what I usually wear) N3 is good, but a bit ashy around my mouth. NW15 and NC15 just looked dull. The SA brought out C2, a shade that in the pan looks exceedingly yellow but made my skin look brighter and more alive than the other three. What I thought I’d been doing was wearing foundation that was too light, but instead I was wearing one (or three) that was too muted. I have very little beige in my skin: just a lot of red/peach/yellow. My poorly lit avatar photo renders me golden, but I have a lot of red in my skin, especially my face, so the yellower shade neutralizes a lot of that, too. (Overtone = red, undertone = yellow, then)

    A long time ago, I was “typed” at Prescriptives: once as a “Red,” and another time as a “Yellow/Orange.” I wore whatever the lightest shade was in each color family. I wouldn’t say either was an exact match, but both found the corresponding colors in my skin and looked fine.

  46. Kathy,
    I’ve never thought about foundation colors as muted and bright, but that makes sense to me. Gives me something else to look for. Thanks


  47. Kathy,

    What you are saying about foundation shades is making real sense to me. I have been PCA’d as Clear (Bright) Spring because of the ‘clear’ look of my skin. But the colours that suit me better are Deep (Dark) Autumn. I have just spent months tweaking colours in makeup and clothes, and scratching my head, because the Deep Autumn colours suit me best but I also seem ‘clear’. And all the while I have been wearing Estee Lauder Bone foundation (warm, v pale) because has been the best match I have ever found, and I was really happy in it.

    Then over on A Greener Tea someone suggested Meowcosmetics, and I checked them out. When the samples came, one of them was a better match to my skin than ever before – golden/beige undertones, very fair. Suddenly, my real Deep Autumn face looked out of the mirror at me.

    EL Bone was the best match I ever found, and it WAS good, but my skin must be just on the border of clear/muted. EL Bone took me over the border into clear, while Meow Korat Sleek is the most unbelievable match; just as pale, but with gold tones, on the muted side of the borderline. It actually makes my skin look how it should – healthier, relaxed, softer, fair and slightly muted – and Deep Autumn.

    Thank you for your timely post, because it helped me understand what was going on!


  48. I checked out Meow Cosmetics. Almost too much variety. I’m tempted to order samples of the lightest peach or yellow peach shades. Revlon used to make a foundation that was a good match for me: tender peach or creamy peach something. I think they retired the shade years ago.

    I’ve found where most cosmetic companies fail is on the lighter or deeper end of the spectrum. If you have neutral, medium beige skin, your choices are endless. I need a warm shade, but not so golden. I think this is why I’ve been “matched” with pink or red shades. Red undertones can be warm or cool. MAC is pretty good at this, but they don’t carry nearly as many shades as they used to. (And when I find an oddball shade that works, I’m always afraid it’s going to be discontinued.)

    This line has a tremendous number of shades for every imaginable undertone, but it’s mostly for discolorations and serious skin problems:;jsessionid=YJAAQ45OHYBNKCV0KRTRHOQ?brandId=Cover+FX

  49. Hi Kathy,

    If you are going to sample Meow, I suggest you splurge on as many samples as you can – they actually do a postage and packing discount if you buy 20 or more (they are only $1 each).

    I bought 4 diff colour foundations, in the 3 lightest shades, so had 12 to play with. I’m usually as pale as the lightest foundation in any makeup range, but I take the 2nd depth of colour in this (think about Mac 15ish).

    I’m glad I got so many because I’m now absolutely sure I have the best possible match. Each sample has been enough to do at least 4 full faces. And I am REALLY impressed with the undereye concealer (there are 85 of them too!), although it can look a bit dry if I don’t moisturise the area well first.

  50. I see that Illamasqua make a pure white foundation, a white with pink, a light with pink and a light with yellow foundation- so I’m off to the shops this weekend to check them out., can’t wait.

  51. Dear Christine
    I m wondering, that you are a dark Winter not un autumn, but you are looking wonderful.
    What are the differences?
    I m so diffused about my type, my eyes are dark hazelnut, my skin overtone is light yellow-golden and i m looking awful with gold, silver is much better,
    my hair is a dark ash brown. For the clothes Black is awfull, but a true red is wonderful, lighter clear cool colors are best like a blue-green, blue-purple, light cool shocking pink, light cool blue-grey. Could i be berhaps a cool Summer? What are the colors for Cool Summers?


  52. I’m kind of surprised about the color depictions of Light Spring and Light Summer undertones. If True Spring is yellow, and True Summer is greyed blue, then shouldn’t the Light seasons be more teal/turquoise?

  53. I thought about this too, Ashley. In fact, in the first rendition of this article, I had 2 different options for Light Summer, a light pastel pink and light pastel turquoise-blue. I figured I had to commit myself.

    First thing, usually the undertone of the skin happens to be the Season’s best lipstick/blush (so mulberry for Dark Winter, and even True Summer’s grayed-mauve to some extent), so the pink seemed more correct.

    Second, the color of the color of the Sci\ART swatch books almost always coincides with that undertone color, and it’s the pink choice on the Light Summer book…but it is light turquoise on the Light Spring book.

    Third, I kind of made this up myself. I only ever see undertone discussed as cool/neutral/warm. The colors really come out at me when I see these people, but there’s no theory behind it that I know of. In fact, I think the blue and the pink are equally correct in this discussion.

    Well, we think the same.

  54. I hate to comment an old article, but this is the most relevant post for my question/pet peeve: Why, why, why, in most color systems, are pink or red tones in the skin automatically considered cool? Especially when they can both be very warm? Before I heard of Sci/Art, I read other sites that told me that since my skin is pink, I must be a cool season. Well, great, except for that whole most-cool-colors-not-being-very-flattering-on-me thing. Why do other systems try to tell us ladies with salmon or coral pink skin that we’re cool when we’re not? Google results for pink complexion also repeat that pink skin = cool skin. It just bugs me, especially because I tried making those cool (summer, if anyone’s wondering) colors work, and felt like there was something wrong with *me* and not the systems. This is why I like Sci/Art; it doesn’t have those set-in-stone, A always equals A guidelines.

  55. Amy,
    Though I’ve changed my ideas about the specific undertones, especially for the Lights, I agree with your statement. The undertone isn’t a colour anybody sees in your skin but it does determine what colours work best. Those pink and red colours are overtones that people see and may affect the result, but there will sure be other factors.

  56. I’ll post that one day, Denise. I figure that True Summer is blue-based. So, the U-tone of Soft and Light should be that way, either denim or cerulean respectively. Spring’s basic colour is yellow, where the Light and Bright Spring are variations on that yellow mixed with the red everyone has if they contain blood, making light peach pink or vibrant warm rose respectively. I’m thinking a lot about how each of the 12 palettes were made so this is in my head just now. The other Season’s U-tones haven’t changed too much, I don’t think.

  57. What is fascinating about this is that different seasons may yet find themselves in the same foundation (as sometimes comes up in Darin Wright’s case notes on the eb FB feed) and yet – and yet – they still need to wear different colours to make it all light up. Are we deferring to hair or eyes, here? No, I don’t think so – something is still penetrating, like light through finely cut stone, and is still insisting on our attention: is this our undertone?

  58. I think I can’t agree with the idea that the rate of blood flow or oxygenation of the blood are factors in undertone. To my mind, those would make the undertone change based on things like how healthy you are and how active you are.

    I think I read somewhere (‘though I can’t remember where, now) that the particular combination of skin pigments like melanin create the undertone. This makes more sense to me than its being based on the quality of my blood which, theoretically, at least, fluctuates!

    As for Zyla, I find it helpful to identify the colors he mentions, from the closest match within the seasonal palette.

  59. Just read your comment Rachel and have wanted to offer this little snippet of info, whether it be purely coincidental or not . . . when having routine blood tests during one of my pregnancies (and being about to pass out was taken onto a bed to lie down), the nurse made the comment (don’t know whether it was to divert my focus or not) that “you have the most incredibly beautiful colour blood”. I replied in a cold sweat ” isn’t everyone’s blood the same colour?” and she insisted that it certainly was not and kept raving about the intense and beautiful brightness of my blood. I must admit that I just had to curl my eyes to catch a little glimpse as the container left the room and it did look very red! At the time I was wearing all the wrong colours with a “cap” of bleached foiled hair and I remember thinking “well at least my blood looks good”. I have since been analysed as a BRIGHT winter!!

  60. Kathy mentions Meow – the selection process is arduous because of the huge range of colours but if you take time to do it properly, the result is rewarding. I’m Soft Autumn, pale with freckles and I’m Level 1 Mau. If you get it right you look as if you are wearing nothing at all on your skin. Plus for troubled/sensitive skin, the minerals are actually healing to the skin rather than occlusive to pores/comedogenic.

    Those who abandoned mineral makeup because Bare Escentuals was masklike, too shiny, too itchy and didn’t have the right selection of colours – give Meow a try, they sell samples for $1.

  61. Funny you say this. I’ve noticed over the years that animals have blood of different colours too (I’m a veterinarian). It’s far too subtle for me to measure, and you have to account for venous, arterial, low oxygenation, jaundiced serum, and all that, but I still have a sense that there would be differences. Just too many variables in measuring it.

  62. i have a nuetral undertone thats very beige and can lean into warm tones slightly when it comes to make-up i’m very light, i think i’m an olive skintone but i look very light for an olive skin, i can go into light warm untones and and go into medium light nuetrals i find my skin is weird in that way

  63. Thanks for all the information! Something I never really get is: Do I match my blush to my over-/ or my undertone? I have a cool undertone, but yellow overtone. I would guess I am a soft summer. Till today my blush has always been a very light coral shade but I would like to try a more berry tone.

  64. Hi Christine,

    You mentioned too yellow of hair and redness of the face, I notice that I have a ruddy look I can sometimes get from too brassy hair color. When I dye my hair a light to medium brown (The color of when I was a child) my skin looks more flawless and seems at peace, creamy, and smooth. The rudy look is gone. My natural hair color is now a Dark Blonde, I think the sun bronzes/lightens it easily making my skin look more ruddy. On the contrary too ash looks painfully dull and gray. I wonder why dying my hair two shades darker is so flattering on my skin. I have been analyzed both True Summer (which was a toss up between Autumn) and then analyzed as Light Spring. I think I may have secured my third color analysis in few weeks from one of your own! I have high hopes this time, it’s wild how I could be considered so many different seasons.

    Thank you for everything you do and all you write!

  65. I get it, Heather. What’s wild is just how challenging PCA really is, even armed with great drapes. Bring up these issues with the next analyst. If she can’t help out, maybe I can after the draping result :)

  66. thank you for this article, as a turkish i hate the cliches. in my country people think “if you have a yellow skin you are warm and olive, if you have a pink skin you are cool and you are white.” my overtone is very light yellow as white chocolate and my undertone is cool… turkish people don’t believe in me when i say i have a cool undertoned white skin. they say “your skin is yellow, you are an olive!” i’m tired of this. i’ll show them your article :) god bless you :)

  67. Answering your question, different people do have different colors in blood (I am a surgeon). I don’t think a man could identify it, though, it is very subtile. (men see less colors as women).

  68. Hi, Carol,
    Back in my days as a veterinary surgeon, there were certainly no detectable differences in blood colours between species that I recall or that anybody ever discussed. There are certainly things about pigmentation (and colour analysis) that are yet to be understood from a bimolecular POV.

  69. To the extent that I understand what undertone really means, and depending on the apricot colour, perhaps it could. My general understanding of the term, unless anyone can suggest a better one, is a sort of composite colour that influences every other colour in the palette. Overtones are easier to see because they’re on the surface. We test undertone’s reactions but can’t actually see it. I’m always open to updating my concept of it though.

  70. I have a question about neutral skin tone and selecting the best foundation. If I am typed as a Soft Summer without foundation on, should I choose a foundation that is on the pink side? I have tried a pinker foundation with cool makeup and cool colors and I look ok, but not alive. A perfect foundation match for me with my neutral skin color seems to be a neutral peach, somewhere between a pink and a yellow-based foundation. However, when I put a neutral peach foundation on that matches my skin color best, then cooler makeup looks off. Peachier blush looks far better. So then I complete the look with warmer makeup and now I look better in warmer colors. If I wear a warm-based foundation, then I can even where brighter warm colors like spring colors. Neutral skin, a balance of cool and warm, is very frustrating. Help, please!

  71. Foundation is a one-woman, one-bottle at a time mission. There are no generalities for any Season because of the variety of individual pigmentation and the fact that foundation has to consider both undertone and overtone. SSu can be quite yellow looking, much more than they really are, same as DW in this way. Some SSu really do go a little warmer in foundation though. My go-to for SSu is Revlon Mineral Mousse in Light-Medium, which I can only find at Amazon. IDK how you could test it though, Kerri. You’d be out $10 if it doesn’t match. Near identical is Clinique Perfectly Real 14N. General rule, SSu foundation is pinky-beige-gray, for sure enough warmth to be neutral, maybe some you could call peachy (Aveda Sweet Tea).

  72. Hi Kerri,

    I am also a Soft Summer and have had a similar experience. With some foundations I feel not alive and yet other foundations can be too warm and dirty looking. My best luck with foundation is also not too light because it washes my peachy glow away. It is a special balance. The soft summer that is peachy might feel misplaced or feel that a few factors such as “peach blush” or “yellow highlighted hair” can send her into another season such as softer spring shades. However, I have concluded that the peachy soft summer is still very much soft summer and enhanced by the soft neutral cool palette of summer.

    Please let me share some makeup that works for me. Foundation: Avon “Shell” and/or Clinique “Cream Chamios”. A cooler peach is key, Concealer is Mineral Fusion “Cool” and/or Mary Kay “Ivory 2”. Avon “Lavender Gray” eye pencil and Almay “Plum” mascara, Lancome 311 “You got the Look” eyeshadow, Bare Mineral “Beauty” blush or Mary Kay “Cherry Blossom” Blush, and Lips are Lancome “Vintage Rose”, “Curtain Call”, and Mary Kay “Pink Satin”. Another eye-shadow I highly recommend is Laura Mercier “Water Color Mist Eye and Check Palette”. This palette is very soft and gives the feeling of “warm” with still being Soft Summer.

  73. Heather, that is so helpful. Thank you. I am a soft summer. I have grey undertones to my skin and also flush easily, but when my skin is ‘right’, it has a soft, peachy-pink glow.

    I’ll look into your makeup recommendations. I find that while most foundations can be immediately dismissed as too warm, ‘cool’ foundations can over-emphasise the grey or pink. I like a little coverage for its smoothing qualities, but colour-wise sometimes think I look healthier without! Too cool in a lipstick looks awful. Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Pink Truffle is a good neutral on me.

  74. Thank you, Christine, for the foundation recommendations. I will certainly try them out.

    Also, thank you, Heather, for the SSu make up list. That was so kind of you to put that together. I’m looking forward to taking it with me when I shop for makeup.

Leave a Reply

All mention of copyrighted terms and content from any book, website, or organization will be edited to include only the company name to avoid copyright violation on the part of 12 Blueprints. Thank you.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *