I’ve seen a ton of ways of figuring out your skin tone and advice on dressing for your particular coloring. Some are good; some are bad. It’s a whole lot of misinformation, so I’ve compiled here the best resources I’ve come across for determining skin tone and corresponding color palettes.

Let’s take a look at the basics.


3 Categories of Skin Tone

Warm toned skin tends to have a golden or apricot undertone. Their hair tends to have hints of orange, yellow, red or gold. Eye color tends to be amber, dark brown, hazel, or green.

This is the most common skin tone to have, and the easiest to dress because of it. Cool toned skin has a pink or rosy undertone. Hair often contains blue, blue-violet, silver, drab, and ash undertones. Eye color tends to be light blue, gray-green, blue green, turquoise, gray-blue, black or cool brown.

People with neutral skin tones are able to pick and choose from most colors of the spectrum and wear them without any adverse effect on their looks. Neutrals can have combinations of the coloring and features of warm and cool tones.

These fall into the following scale of skin tones:

Von Luschan's Chromatic Scale

…with the following descriptors:

Type von Luschan scale Also called
I 1–5 Very light or white, “Celtic” type[2]
II 6–10 Light or light-skinned European[2]
III 11–15 Light intermediate, or dark-skinned European[2]
IV 16–21 Dark intermediate, also “Mediterranean” or “olive skin”[2]
V 22–28 Dark or “brown” type
VI 29–36 Very dark or “black” type

Side note: Who the hell is as light as #1???


Color Analysis or Color Seasons

Within these three color families, there are color seasons from the skin tone color matching theory:

Winter - Elizabeth Hurley

Winter is, along with Summer, one of the two cool (i.e. blue-based) palettes. This means that a person who is a Winter should wear colors that have blue undertones. Winters differ from Summers in that their skin tends to contrast dramatically with their hair and eye color, and therefore seem intense. They look best when dressed in colors that contain relatively sharper contrasts than would look best on a person belonging to the Summer season.


Summer - Mila Jovovich


Summer is, along with Winter, one of the two cool (i.e. blue-based) palettes. A Summer person should wear colors that have blue undertones. Summers differ from Winters in that their skin tends to contrast gently with their hair and eye color, and therefore seem softer and less intense. They look best when dressed in colors that are also relatively softer or less intense, and that contain less dramatic contrasts, than the colors which look best on a person belonging to the other Winter season.


Spring - Naomi Watts

Spring is, along with Autumn, one of the two warm (i.e. yellow-based) palettes. A Spring person should wear colors that have yellow undertones. The main difference between Spring and Autumn color palette is that the Spring’s colors are based on yellow such as yellow sparkling gold, in contrast with Autumn’s colors which are based on deep gold. As a result spring’s colors are intense, often bright and playful.



Autumn - Angelina Jolie

Autumn is, along with Spring, one of the two warm (i.e. yellow-based) palettes. An Autumn person should wear colors that have yellow undertones. Generally the autumn colours are warm, soft, and deep. Some of the Autumn colors are brick, coffee, caramel, beige, tomato red, and forest green.





Color Choice Effects

Wearing Complementary Colors
-Skin will appear luminous and radiant.
-Eyes will appear bright.
-Hair will appear multifaceted and reflect more highlights.
-Teeth will appear whiter.
-You’ll tend to receive more compliments on your appearance.

Wearing Detracting Colors
-Skin will appear tired and drained.
-Eyes will appear shadowed with dark circles.
-Teeth can appear yellowed, gray, and stained.
-You’ll tend to receive comments such as “You look tired.”


How to Determine Your Skin Tone
There are several ways to determine skin tone. Pick from a few of the following to ensure you don’t make a mistake, and remember that there are always exceptions.
#1. Jewelry Test: Place gold or silver jewelry next to your face. Whichever seems to complement your face more is the correct tone for you. Gold = warm, and silver = cool. If they look equally good, you’re a neutral tone.
#2. Vein Test: In natural light (standing by a window or outside), make a fist and look at your inner wrist veins. Veins that are mainly blue are a sign of cool skin tones, while green or yellowish tints are a sign of warm tones. If your veins are a mix of green and blue, that means you’re a neutral tone.
#3. Features Test: Check the features listed in each of the descriptions for Cool, Warm, and Neutral tones to determine your own tone.
#4. Fabric Test: Hold up different pieces of fabric from both color families and see which makes your face appear brighter and healthier. If both look great, you’re a neutral!

#5. Check out this link for Seasonal Color determination.


Great. So helpful. :-/ Now what?!
Now that you’ve determined your skin tone, the following color palette is a good start for choosing clothing, makeup, and hair colors that will better complement your natural coloring.
Warm Colors: Earth tones – yellows, oranges, browns, yellowish greens and orange-based reds. Foundation is yellow-based. Looks better in ivory than pure white. Looks washed out with black worn close to the face.

Cool Colors: Jewel tones - blues, greens, pinks,purples, blue-greens, magentas, and blue-based reds. Foundation is pink-based. Looks better in pure white than ivory. Can easily wear black.



There are always exceptions, and this is not a hard and fast rule to live by. I have a warm skin tone, but I can pull off jewel tones of green and blue. According to the color theory, I shouldn’t be able to… but eff that. In short, this post is to better inform your color choices. You like wearing purple even though it’s not in your color palette? Wear purple! Just be aware of how you can mold your color choices to best present the assets you already have.


17 Responses to Determining Skin Tone and Color Palettes

  1. Some really interesting points you have written. Aided me a lot, just what I was looking for : D.
    My blog is about [url=http://www.homeremediesforacnetreatments.com]best acne treatment[/url]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  2. jolo says:

    Totally off subject, have you ever considered about how long you spend browsing and getting onvolved in Blog and Forum conversations – for me it’s quite shocking!

  3. Ellyn says:

    did anyone here know that 5 out of 6 guys love to play russian roulette?

  4. Olivia says:

    lool… that is a great idea! :(

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’84684823 which is not a hashcash value.

  5. Ondrea says:

    lol…. that is a great idea! :D

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’1158426624 which is not a hashcash value.

  6. Willi says:

    this post should be printed out and installed on every theatre in paris

  7. Really interesting blog, keep up the good work!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • Lindsay says:

      I would say cool, but it’s close enough to neutral that someone with a warm skin tone can pull it off. Hope that helps!

  8. Arxsyn says:

    This is a great, informative post. used to own a how to book called the beauty book from a uk publisher. I wish I still have it. It had great tips on this subject and was fully illustrated with photographs. For example, When choosing makeup colors you have to put you current hair color into consideration, rather than your natural hair color. The tips were divided into categories such as: light skin, warm, light hair, dark skin, cool, dark hair…. Sigh.

    After learning this sort of information, anyone can get an innate sense of what looks best on one’s self. I was in panic mode before, I didn’t get the undertone thing at all when first looking into it. I guess I am a neutral indeed if I am unsure if I am a true warm or cool. My skin has both green and purple veins. I am naturally light skinned with dark opaque brown eyes and black hair. When I was a young teenager a constant I knew was that I was most drawn to a bright, vibrant colour primary known as cyan when doing art projects and as a clothing or accessory colour that flattered me most. Sadly, I only managed to find 2 pieces in that blue shade because it’s not in trend at the moment. The easiest shade i like next is teal, which is very popular and easy to collect. I am also dying to own a piece of real aquamarine jewellery… Makes me wonder if I am a light golden at times!

    I dyed my hair a medium to dark reddish brown for the first time. I was astonished my taste of clothing colors have changed. I used to prefer pure white and bright jewel tones cause anything else made my skin look dull. Now I lean to colours I wouldn’t have touched otherwise: bone, beige, grey neutrals. I don,t recall wearing my drawer of black sweaters in the longest time. The most surprising was the color red. I used to hate wearing it. I felt it clashed with me physically and it was a harsh colour. Recently I pulled out a white skirt with a busy paisley of red, aqua, and slate blue. I was fascinated that the red jumped at me, not the blue hues on my skin. It’s just crazy how my preferences changed just from a dye job.

    The point is, everybody has that same innate sense. Everybody should own and be true to that one personal colour that looks AMAZING on their skin tone! It,s fun looking at celeb photographs to train that sense. You might find yourself thinking, wow he/she looks fantastic in that colour! He/she should wear it more often instead of x colour.

  9. E says:

    My d needs a custom dress for dance. She is a ‘winter’. The dress would be a combination of colors and she desperately wants yellow, which is not on her pallate.

    Can you suggest some 3 color combinations that include yellow, and which shade of yellow can she wear? Should she keep the yellow away from her face somehow? Really need your opinion! Thanks!

  10. Jessica says:

    I am trying to figure out what detracting colors are. I am an artist but I feel like fashion art is very different. Can you please explain what that means to me? I would really appreciate it!!

  11. [...] I did some reading on how to work out your skin tone (and therefore the colours that suit you). Rosalind of Arden gives some simple [...]

  12. lorna says:

    I need to know with is my daughter skin color.

  13. Christine says:

    I love this! Most people don’t even know what skin tone they are… they just assume they are warm in they’re tan and cool if they’re pale, but that’s not true. I actually wrote a blog article that has some great tricks and tips. Check it out and let me know what you think! http://www.weartostandout.com/blog/dress-for-your-skin-tone
    xoxo, WearToStandOut

  14. [...] is warm or cool, and if you need a Summer, Winter, Spring, or Fall palette. A good site for this is http://www.rosalindofarden.com/2011/05/determining-skin-tone-and-color-palettes/. Finding your color match will allow you to choose colors that erase fatigue, make your skin and [...]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

Leave a Reply

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


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>