How to Know What Colors Look Best on You

Woman standing near wall full of colors in white sweatshirt and glasses

Choosing fashion colors that you love and that love you back, can be tricky.

By deciphering which skin tone and undertones we have can make it so much easier to choose the perfect color.

Here, we take a look at how to do this by yourself as well as the effect this has on how colors look against your skin.

What Should You Consider When Choosing Colors

Shopping can be tricky at the best of times.

We’re constantly thinking about fabrics and price points, as well as the dreaded question of what styles and shapes suit your body type.

So, to add another query to our shopping list, that actually applies to everything from a new coat to a lipstick, what color will look best on me?

You might have noticed that a specific shade of blusher you’ve tried in the past is not exactly flattering on your skin tone.

Looking at the wide variety of blusher options available at the makeup counter, without help, we often just choose the shades we like the best.

However, as we each have our own skin tone, which gives us our natural complexion, not every color on offer is going to be for us.

This is very much the same with fashion.

Some people will suit the newest mustard yellow trench coat that is sweeping Instagram, but many will not.

It’s very much the same with shades of red and deciding if black (and white) is actually flattering on us.

One of the most difficult colors to narrow down is grey.

With so many color varieties within the grey spectrum, it can be very difficult to select which shade from soft pastel grey to graphite is the one for us.

So, why is it this complicated?

It all comes down to our skin’s undertones.

Here, we’ll take a look at what undertones are and work out how to narrow down to your specific type.

When you’ve figured this out, you can see how this impacts the way different color varieties look on you and allow you to always choose the most flattering shades when it comes to beauty and fashion.

What Are Different Undertones?

Woman wearing yellow top and jeans and posing on brown background

Firstly, let’s look at what an undertone actually is.

If you’ve seen articles and discussions about both skin tones and undertones, you might have wondered whether there is a difference between the two.

And you’d be right.

Our skin tone is the surface level color of the skin.

Therefore, we’d be referring to being light or dark skinned and everything in between.

Our undertones refer to the natural colors and tones underneath the surface of your skin, which can be a whole spectrum of shades.

Skin Tones

Your surface skin tone, otherwise known as your complexion, is the color you see instantly when you look in the mirror.

This, in general, will be fair, light, medium or dark.

Fair skin tones are extremely light and will tend to burn when in the sun.

Light skin tones are slightly deeper than fair with a little more color to the surface of the skin.

Medium obviously lies between light and dark, so is quite a wide spectrum of shades and dark is the deepest complexion.


Undertones refer to the shades of color underneath the initial surface of the skin.

These are what determines and impacts which colors actually suit our skin tone.

You will also use your undertones in your skin to determine which makeup shades are flattering, especially when it comes to selecting items like foundation.

There are three general undertones; warm, neutral and cool.

Warm undertones will show golden colors, including yellows and peach.

Neutral undertones tend to be more olive shades, which is almost a blend of warm and cool together.

You’ll be able to see more green and brown undertones under the surface of the skin.

Cool undertones tend to have pinks, red and even blue tones to the skin.

Deciding on both your skin tone complexion and your undertone will really help you to select the best and most flattering color choices.

How to Determine Your Skin Tone and Undertone

Three woman laying next to each other

There are ways you can determine your own skin tone and undertones without having to visit either a professional makeup artist or skin tone expert.

Determining Your Skin Tone

You’ll most likely know what skin tone you fit in to.

Whether your skin tends to burn or tan well when on holiday can tell you if you’re fair or light, as opposed to medium or dark.

When you know this, a good look into the mirror can decipher between your final two options.

You can also refer to your regular foundation, which although might not be perfect for your undertone, will be close enough to your complexion in terms of light or medium.

Determining Your Undertones

Determining your skin tone can be slightly trickier because of the larger amount of options you need to consider.

Here are some hacks to discovering your own specific undertones.

Look at Your Veins

Veins can actually tell a story about the undertone shades in your skin.

Turn over your wrist to look at the underside of your lower arm and try to determine what color your veins mostly appear.

Purple and blue tones of your veins will mean you’re more likely to have cool undertones.

Green-looking veins usually equal a warm undertone and if you’re struggling to tell the difference, it’s most likely because you’re a neutral undertone.

Do You Tan?

Much like with your overall complexion, whether or not you easily tan in the sun can help determine your undertones.

Those that tan easily and quickly are usually warm undertones and those who turn red in the sun tend to be cool.

Also, bear in mind, dark complexions can be both cool or warm even if they tan or don’t tan well.

The Paper Test

Grab a plain white piece of paper and hold it up against your face with no makeup.

Those with cool undertones in their skin will see bright skin, that looks great next to the white.

Not so flattering, warmer undertones will look dull and sallow in comparison to the white paper.

A neutral undertone won’t be able to see much difference with or without the paper next to the skin.

There are some other simple tricks to try to see your undertones.

Test gold and silver jewelry; gold looks best on warm skin and silver on cool.

Also, take a deep look into your eyes.

Your eyes correlate with your undertones so if you have a warm or cool flecks of color through your eyes, you’ll get some extra hints.

How Does Your Skin Tone Impact What Colors Look Best on You?

Woman wearing pink dress and holding wine glass

The colors and tones within your complexion can hugely affect what colors suit and flatter you best.

Wearing a shade around your face, especially underneath the chin that does not suit you can cause you to look tired, washed out and even older.

This is simply because certain colors work best with others.

For example, you wouldn’t pair a warm yellow skirt with a cold charcoal grey sweater because the combination of tones doesn’t work.

This is the same with pairing with your skin.

What Colors Suit Your Undertone?

Different colors work best with different undertones of the skin, hence why sometimes you’ll put a sweater or a lipstick on that you feel “drains” you or, equally, can make your skin pop.

Now that you’ve discovered which skin tone and undertone you are, let’s take a look at the colors that will suit you best and be most flattering for your complexion.

Warm Undertones

If you decided you have warm undertones in your skin tone, the best colors for you to wear are now also warm hues.

Think oranges, warm reds, and yellows, as well as golden tones like amber and brass.

You can still wear colors that feel a little cooler, you just need to select the right hue.

So, when it comes to greens and blues, go for deep emerald and turquoise tones and avoid icier shades of these colors.

Cool Undertones

Cool tones look fantastic in bright but cool hues.

Think royal blue, candy pink and lilac.

This kind of skin tone also look great in pure white and soft, pastel greys.

If you’re a fan of dark color, try navy instead of black, which will give your skin an extra lift.

Skin with cool undertones should try to avoid oranges and yellow, which will work against the coolness of the skin and look slightly off.

Neutral Undertones

Neutral tones could be seen as easy or difficult.

In some ways, you can’t really tell if you’re warm or cool toned, so in theory, you suit everything but might feel that no colors in particular really make the skin pop.

Neutral undertones actually really suit pastels, so it’s a good rule of thumb to shop lots of pastel blues, pinks, and soft lilacs.

Greys and off-whites also look great but try to avoid bright pops of color like red and hot pink, which tend to overwhelm the skin tone.

No matter which complexion you are, there is a huge range of colors that will naturally suit you best.

With no skin tone being better than another, just different, this is a great way to find fashion and beauty products to really suit and flatter your natural skin.

Now it’s time to have a major closet and makeup clear out and rid yourself of the shades that don’t suit, making way for a brand-new wardrobe of clothes that truly look best on you.