Jun 282012

Choosing makeup for dark-skinned women can be confusing. For instance, most cosmetics that we find in Indian stores seem to be geared towards the Caucasian skin tones thus making it rather difficult for Indian women with dusky to dark skin tones to find colours that suit them. Not that it’s always easy for the ones with fair to medium skin tones to find suitable shades.

The key to finding suitable makeup for your skin tone lies in determining your undertone. Both sets of women often make the mistake of thinking that they have a warm skin undertone and have bronzers and gold or yellow-tinted shades recommended to them by store assistants. The problem is that if you wear warm colours when you have a cool undertone or if you wear cool colours when you have a warm undertone, you look tired or unnatural. So it is important to determine your undertone before choosing your makeup shades (this goes for clothes too) as you will look best when you wear colours suited to your undertone.

How to figure out what your undertone is:

First of all, let’s differentiate between skin colour/tone and undertone. Skin colour or tone is the most apparent colour of your skin: fair, medium, dark. Undertone is the underlying hue of your skin. Your skin colour can change shades through tanning or less exposure to sun but your undertone remains the same. Undertones are pink, yellow, greenish/olive and neutral which is a mix of pink and yellow.

I have read a few articles on this and finally came across the article that I have given as a reference link below. It confirmed what I had suspected after a few experiments of my own: that you instinctively know which hues suit your skin. I had so many people advising me to wear bronzer or orange-tinted red and brown lipsticks because, being a brown-skinned Indian, I must have warm undertones. All the while it just didn’t feel right. It was always the cool colours that suited me. So thank you, Musicalhouses! There are warm, cool, neutral and olive undertones. You can be between categories too. Read the reference article for the explanation.

An easy way to quickly determine your undertone:

For now I’ll tell you how I simplified it for myself: take a closer look at the colours you favour when choosing clothes. You’ll know if you are a warm-toned person if warm colours like golden yellow, orange, brick or light brown usually look good on you and you are cool-toned person if you find that cool colours like cool blues, purples and pinkish/purplish reds look good on you.

While I did write this post primarily for the benefit of dark-skinned women, I must emphasize the fact that correctly determining your undertone can be useful to women of other skin tones as well. Just because you’re fair or medium toned does not mean that you automatically fall into the cool undertone bracket.

For a detailed explanation and illustration of the complexities of Asian undertones visit: http://musicalhouses.blogspot.in/2010/01/undertones-for-asians-how-to-tell-if.html

Note: If you are one of those people who like to follow trends or at least try them out, refrain from wearing a shade just because you saw it in a magazine or on TV. Always adjust the colour to suit your skin tone.

For more suggestions on lipstick shades to suit your skin tone, do keep an eye on my blog for future posts :-).

  2 Responses to “Makeup For Dark-Skinned Women: Determining Your Undertone”


    Hi Stephanie, I accidentally stumbled upon your blog, but after going through some of your articles, Iam sure glad I did ! There’s this doubt I have, am a reasonably fair girl, and I do feel most shades of both undertones look good on me, (since I wear clothes of those colours and they seem to suit) . So then how do I determine my undertone?


      Hi Revathy! I’m glad that you found my website useful. Do stay tuned for more articles!
      About your undertone, it is not about whether you wear all the colours or not. It is about which ones make your own skin colour appear to glow, the ones that sort of celebrate or showcase your skin colour. Those are the ones that will indicate your undertone.
      If both warm and cool colours do that for you, then you are lucky! You probably have a neutral undertone, which means that you can wear almost any colour to your advantage.

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