Experts explain how to learn which hues will compliment you best.

Merissa Principe
May 31, 2021 @ 11:16 am
Credit: Getty Images

One of the most fun parts about getting ready in the morning is putting together an outfit. We love pairing our favorite graphic tees with our go-to leather jacket and changing up our style according to our mood. Sometimes, though, picking out an outfit can be tricky. With so many options on the market and so many fashion trends to try, it can feel overwhelming to the point where you no longer know what styles and colors look best on you.

Sure, it's easy to throw on an all-black neutral ensemble and call it a day, and neutral hues, such as black, white, and beige, work on almost everyone, but we also love a pop of color in both our makeup and fashion. But when it comes to finding a new lipstick or foundation, for example, it's common to fall in love with a bright shade of pink at the beauty counter only to discover that it doesn't look ideal when you try it on at home.

Just like with makeup and hair, "knowing your skin tone, or at least having an idea of what colors look good on your skin, can really make a difference in not only picking the right foundation or lipstick but can also help influence your choices when shopping for accessories and clothing too," explains Autumne West, Nation Beauty Director at Nordstrom.

While finding the right hue for your skin tone is easier said than done, filling your closet with colors that flatter your natural skin tone can take your style to a new level. To help cut out some of the guesswork, we asked two experts how to find the best color to wear for your skin tone.

How do you find your skin tone?

When it comes to finding your skin undertones, or the natural colors underneath the surface of your skin, look at your inner wrist and see if you can identify the color of your veins. Skin tone—or skin undertone—usually falls in one of three areas: warm, cool, or neutral.

"People with warm tones lean golden, yellow, or peach and usually have "greenish" veins. Cool tones can lean more toward red or pink and have visible blue veins. A neutral tone will have a mixture of these colors, non-visible veins, or generally overall olive tones," says West.

Then, there are those with deep skin tones, who also fall into the neutral category, and have a mahogany or a rich dark coffee undertone.

How do you find the best colors for your skin tone?

"First, when in doubt, get matched by a beauty expert and ask for samples of a few shades to try at home before you commit," advises West, adding that "Jewelry can also help you determine your skin tone in a fun way. While everyone can wear silver or gold, generally one may be more complementing on you than the other. If you tend to look better in silver, your skin may lean toward a cool tone and if you look good in gold, you're usually warm-toned. If you are somewhere in the middle, you may be neutral."

Another way to find what hues compliment your skin tone is to hold different colored pieces next to your face in natural bright light. "Your initial reaction to the color will indicate which colors work best for you," says Brittney Nakamura, a Nordstrom Stylist. "For example, I have a warm olive complexion, so chartreuse (or green) and mustard yellow tones can wash me out. But chartreuses is one of my favorite colors, so when I wear it, I add a bold pattern or navy, plum, or black for contrast."

Below, you'll find our easy guide to wearing the most flattering colors for your skin tone so you'll never have to think twice about your color palette again.

Skin tone: Cool

Looks best in: Pastels

Like Katy Perry, people with cool skin tones tend to have red, peach, or blue undertones, fair skin, and either light blonde, bright red, or dark hair. "Brighter jewel tones, like sapphire and emerald green, tend to make fair and cool skin pop, especially for people with bright colored eyes," says Nakamura. "Usually, people with blue undertones tend to find that silver or rose gold jewelry flatters them best, especially when paired with complementary colors such as cool blues, violets, and virtually any kind of pastel."

Skin tone: Warm

Looks best in: Earth tones

Warm skin tones have yellow or olive undertones and are naturally drawn to yellow gold jewelry. Typically, people with warm undertones have dark blonde, auburn, or warm brown hair with dark blue, light brown, or hazel eyes—think Blake Lively and Beyonce.

"This skin tone pairs well with earth tones like deep merlots, olive or mossy greens, rich blues, and earthy browns," says Nakamura.

Skin tone: Neutral

Looks best in: Jewel tones

If you're not quite warm and you're not quite cool, you may be neutral, like Selena Gomez and Zendaya. Common traits of neutral tones include olive or gold undertones with dark brown or ash blonde hair and hazel or brown eyes.

"People that fall into this category can wear almost any color, from light pinks to dusty grays and especially vibrant jewel tones," says Nakamura.

Skin tone: Deep

Looks best in: Bright colors

Deep skin tones have a mahogany or a rick dark coffee undertone, jet black hair, warm brown eyes, and look great in almost any color and any jewelry. To really make your features pop, try bold and bright colors in red, yellow, orange, magenta, or bright green. A head-to-toe monochrome look in one of these bright colors will flatter your flawless canvas or for a more casual look, you can balance it with light, bright, or white neutral colors.

For a little more inspiration, look to fashion icons like Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling, and Lupita Nyong'o.

And remember, you can't forget the ultimate rule of fashion: There are no rules. Just have fun!