Undertones for Asians: How to tell if your skintone is Cool, Warm, Neutral, or Olive

Monday, January 18, 2010

So I decided to write a post on Asian skintones, or more specifically Asian undertones, because I think that as an Asian, sometimes it's harder to tell if you're warm, cool, neutral or olive than if you were Caucasian. But why write a post specifically dedicated to Asian undertones, as opposed to undertones for everyone in general? There are two reasons for this:

  1. Most literature out there right now on discerning undertones still assumes a Caucasian reader (e.g. checking to see if your veins are blue or green, checking to see if your skin is pink or yellow, or classifying yourself as a Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter), which are not as helpful to an Asian girl. Most Asian girls I know (including me) have trouble using traditional classifying techniques, as sometimes they do not fall into any of the groups, or they fall into more than one group. In fact, for some Asian girls, these techniques tend to bring about more confusion than anything else.
  2. A large proportion of Asians have surface yellowness in their skin. Chinese people, like me, are the most obvious examples, although I've noticed some Indians have surface yellowness too. As a result, people tend to assume that you're warm just because your skin is yellow. However, this is not always the case. The reason why people often assume so stems from a conception of cool-toned skin as being 'pink', as in Caucasian-skin-pink, and this conception in turn is due to traditional literature on colour theory classifying people as either pink, or yellow. That classification is all fine and well - it's not inaccurate, but it's definitely not complete, because this literature makes the implicit assumption that the audience is Caucasian, because Asians in general don't have Caucasian-pink skintones, even if we are cool-toned. To say that all Asians are warm-toned because we have yellow skin is to confuse skintone (which is the surface colour of your skin: beige, tan, etc) with undertone (which is whether you are cool, or warm, or neutral), and not to mention a very horrible generalization.

Since Asians don't have Caucasian-pink skin, it's harder to tell what undertones we have just by looking at how pink or yellow we are - since we're mostly yellow! That has led tons of people (including people actually in the makeup business) to assume that Asians = warm undertones, when in reality, the surface yellowness of your skin does not necessarily make you warm, just like how having rosacae does not necessarily make you cool-toned just because you have a pink face. Like I said before, to do so is to confuse skintone with undertone, and there's a big difference between the two! Furthermore, I've noticed so many Asian girls wrongly categorize themselves as warm, and it really annoys me. Seriously! I can't tell you how many times I've seen a beautiful cool-toned Asian girl wearing peachy orange blush and bronzey orangey eyeshadow because some silly makeup girl at a makeup counter just took one cursory look at her skin and told her she was warm just because she was Asian (and yes, both Asian and Caucasian makeup assistants have been known to wrongly classify Asian undertones). And lastly, I'm writing this post because, after 3 years of experimenting and wrongly thinking I was warm-toned, I've come to realize that I'm really not warm, but olive, with cool-to-neutral undertones, and I want to save you guys all the time and money I wasted trying to figure things out.

That said, Asian skintones and undertones are confusing for lots of people, even makeup artists, because they were probably taught the "traditional" way of looking at skintones and undertones, which assumes Asian=yellow=warm. Unfortunately, the "traditional" method of determining skintones and undertones was developed way back in the 1970's or 1980's, and unfortunately, as a reflection of historical times then, was centered almost entirely around Caucasian skintones. If Asian skin was at all considered, it was all lumped together under one category - "Exotic" or "Ethnic", and people barely made any effort to separate coloured women from Asian women, or even the different types of Asian women from each other, when in reality, we all know a woman from India will have different colour cosmetic needs compared to say, a woman from China! Even more recent literature on this topic still tends to make the fatal errors I've described. So, this is my take on the traditional method. The principle I'm using - cool, neutral, warm, olive, is still mostly the same, but I'm tweaking it, and showing how it can be understood in the context of Asian skin.

So here we go. It's going to be a hefty post. I'm sure a lot of people are going to disagree with me, and insist that yellow = warm. And if this is confusing - well, I didn't say it wasn't going to be. After all, it took me three years to figure out all that I'm going to write!

First of all, if you're Asian - STOP ASSUMING YOU'RE WARM. Yes, that's you. Yup, don't look away! I said you! Please don't make the mistake of assuming you're warm just because some snooty girl wearing a brush belt at a MAC Counter told you so. You know yourself best, and you've probably experimented with various makeup colours on your skin before, and you know how they looked on your skin, so you'd be in a better position than some snooty makeup girl to know what undertone you are.

Instead of thinking of yourself as Warm-or-Cool, I encourage you to think of warmth and coolness as a spectrum. You know. Warm, Warm to Neutral, Neutral, Cool to Neutral, and Cool. And of course there's Olive, but I will talk about that later.

With this spectrum in mind, think about your previous makeup experiments. How did you feel with bronze eyeshadow on? Grey eyeshadow? How did you feel about a plummy lip? What about a coral lip? If necessary, do one half of your face with warm colours, and the other half of your face with cool colours. Go to a source of natural light (like a window) and look at one half, and compare it with the other half. Which half looks better? Do they both look equally good? If you looked better with grey eyeshadow, a plummy lip, and if the side of the face with cooler colours looks better, you're probably somewhere in the cool spectrum. If the side with warmer face looks better, you're somewhere in the warm spectrum. If they both look the same, you're probably neutral-ish. If you remember liking warm colours when you were more tan, and cool colours when you're more pale, then you just might be olive! You can even try this with clothes - think of your favourite pieces of clothing that looks best on you. Are they cooler or warmer colours on the whole? Is that favourite dress you look so good in a corally colour, or a deep navy blue?

Now that you've done that, you'll have a rough idea of where you fall under. Warm? Cool? Neutral? Or still not sure? Now, we'll go on to refine and clarify further by looking at your photos! :)

Huh, PHOTOS? Yup, take a look at your photos of yourself with your friends and family, both Asian and Caucasian, and photos in natural light are better. The reason why I suggest doing this is because Asians have a huge variance in undertones, and sometimes it's easier to figure out where you are by comparing yourself with others. On a fundamental level, its harder to tell cool-toned Asians from warm-toned Asians when we're all yellow - after all, a cooler yellow is harder to discern from a warmer yellow, than a pink is from a yellow, if you're looking at Caucasian skin. So, sometimes the best way to judge whether you're a cool yellow is to look at photos of yourself, especially photos with other Asian friends, so you can find your place within a whole spectrum of yellow. Look at your photos, and notice how your skin looks when you're next to them. Do you look cool sometimes, warm other times? Do you consistently look pink? Do you sometimes look greenish? Do you consistently look yellow? By looking at your own photos, you can get a sense of where you are on the undertone spectrum. And also, by comparing how cool/warm you are relative to other Asians, you'll avoid making the "Asian yellow skin = warm undertones" mistake, since you'll get to compare colours relative to each other, and give yourself a more nuanced appraisal of your skintone, and avoid mistaking surface yellowness for undertone yellowness.

I know most people have it drilled into their heads the all yellows are warm, so most people have trouble visualizing how a yellow can be cool. Think of a pale, lemony yellow vs a rich golden yellow. The pale lemon yellow is cool, while the rich golden yellow is warm. Here's an example of a warm yellow vs a cool yellow (thanks to pandamic on MUA):

Warm vs Cool Yellow

The yellow on the left is what most people think of as "yellow" - its a golden yellow, and would pair best with warm colours - grass green, orange, rust red etc. However, the yellow on the right is a cool lemon yellow, and that actually looks better with cooler tones, like emerald green and deep blue-teal. So don't make the mistake of thinking that just because the surface of your skin is yellow, it automatically makes you warm. It doesn't, because yellow in itself can be warm or cool.

UPDATED TO ADD: Whaddaya know, other people have also put up diagrams and illustrations of cool yellow too! These aren't makeup artists, they're actual artists, so I guess they should know their stuff! Here's two of the best illustrations I found (Source links at the bottom of each picture.):

This first picture (love the hand-drawn effect) shows you not just cool vs warm yellow, but also cool vs warm blue, and cool vs warm red. Yes, red and blue can be cool or warm too. I'm also, by the way, sick of people telling me they can't wear red lipstick or blue eyeshadow because they are this undertone or another. It's all about finding the right shade, I say!


This picture below shows you why this is the case. The reason is that on the colour wheel, every colour blends into other colours. The implication is that every colour, e.g. blue, red, or yellow (of course), all run along a gradient of warm to cool. The implication this has for Asian undertone analysis, of course, is that yellow also runs along a spectrum of cool to warm.


So even if you're absolutely clueless, based on how you appear in your photographs with your friends, you can get a good idea of how cool or how warm you are. If in general you tend to look pink, you're cool. If in general you tend to look yellow, you're warm. If you tend to be neither, you're neutral. And if you tend to look pink, but notice you have a green tinge to your skin sometimes (especially when compared to others) then you're olive with cool undertones, and if you tend to look yellow, but have a little bit of green, then you're olive with warm undertones. And if you look green sometimes, but equally pink and yellow, you can be olive, with neutral undertones. The more photos you look at, the wider your sample size, and the more accurate your judgement.

I know that sounds confusing, and it's useless without show-and-tell, so here are a few examples, using my own photos. These are all my facebook account photos. And they're also mostly from my college graduation because it was outdoors so we had good lighting in abundance. I'm going to walk you through each of the photos, and show you how I deduce my own skintone from my own photos. Hopefully after this you'll get an idea of how to go about looking at your own photos, and what to pay attention to when you take out your photo album!

Let's start with an easy one. Take a look at this picture.


Notice the guy on the left is definitely warmer than me, the girl on the right. In fact, next to me he looks burnt orange, and I look horribly pink. So he's warm, and I'm somewhere in the cool spectrum. See how this is so much more helpful than just looking at pictures of yourself in isolation? If I had just given one of me alone, you might have made the mistake of just thinking I was warm because of my yellow Asian skin. But here you can see there's a spectrum. Eventually, with enough practice, you'll be able to look at photos of yourself or your friends in isolation and discern their undertones, but before you get to that stage, it's really helpful to have a spectrum to compare to.

Next photo:

This one is also an easy one. Here you can tell we both have the same undertone - unlike the previous photo, there are no weird skintone clashes, and we look pretty harmonious colour-wise. So based on this photo, you can hypothesize that we are both cool-toned.

Let's try a third:


Here, it's obvious that my friend on the right is warmer than me. So she'll be in the warm spectrum, and I'll be in the cool spectrum. This photo is a really good comparison of Asian cool undertones vs Asian warm undertones. As you can see, it's possible to be cool-toned without being Caucasian-pink, because some yellows are cooler-toned than others. Notice also that both me and my friend have a weird green tinge to both our skins? The green tinge is a dead giveaway of olive skin. So we're both olives, too - only thing is that I'm olive with cool undertones, and she's olive with warm undertones.

If you didn't get what I meant, compare her with the guy in this photo.


That guy is one of the smartest guys I've know in my entire life. He's also a lot warmer than me. However, unlike the previous friend I posed with, he doesn't have a greenish cast to his skin, so although he's warmer than me, he's not olive as well. In fact, you may notice that he isn't as warm as some of the other people I've shown you. He's probably more neutral. I'd place him as neutral, or neutral-warm. And as you can see in this photo, my olive undertones are really showing through. I look really green.

Here's another:


That's my mum and I at graduation. Yes, she looks young, doesn't she? I hope I age as well as her. Anyway, as you can tell, she's warmer and more olive than me - next to her I look really pink. But you can still sort of see a little bit of olive peeking through though.

Let's try another one:


Don't you just love Orlando?! Florida is SO AMAZING. Anyway, here you can see I'm cooler than my friend, although my friend isn't warm either. We're both cool, but she's less cool than I am, and next to her, I look really, really pink! I'm going to place her as neutral, to neutral-cool, while I'm definitely in the cool range here. If you notice carefully, you'll also notice that my skin looks a little green, as opposed to my friend, who looks more yellow - check out the shoulders and neck - and this is my olive-ness showing through again.

Now let's look at another one:


Wow, that's an embarrassing photo. Remind me not to let my friends take photos of me clubbing again. But anyway, I included this because it's a really good differentiation of olive versus cool undertones. Notice that my friend is really pink, and I look kind of green? That's the difference just being cool, and being olive with cool undertones.

Here's another example of the same thing:


Once again, as you can see, my sister (on the left) is a lot pinker, and less green than me - obviously she's cooler and has none of my olive. Meanwhile, I look really green.

Now that you've got the basics, let's do a few people at a time:

For starters, let's try this photo.


Can you tell who is what undertone? The guy on the right is obvious - he's really warm compared to everyone else, and he's most probably warm. The other two people are cool-toned, but if you look closely, you'll see the guy on the left is more pink, while I'm slightly more green.


Wow, a row of Asians! LOL. But seriously, photos like these are extremely useful for telling you where you are in the colour spectrum. Can you guess these people?
Left - Right: Warm, Warm (and if you noticed, he's more warm than the previous guy), Cool (and Olive - here you can see I look greener than everyone else), Neutral, and Warm.

Next photo:


I know, I know. Aren't Asian girls hot? :P And as for FOB hand gesture - we know it's considered FOB, but we do it anyway because we like it. Hah. So there. And I might add, the peace hand gesture is only considered FOB in America anyway, so in a wider, world context, it ain't so FOB, y'all. Anyway, if you've learned well, the first thing you'll notice is how the girl that is second from the left is so much warmer than everyone else. Let's start: neutral, warm, neutral, and neutral, with just a hint of pink. If you have a photo like this, that makes you look like a totally different undertone, I encourage you to think in terms of a spectrum once again. From this photo, I know that although I'm cool, I'm not on the extreme end of the cool spectrum, and so maybe neutral-cool is a better description of me.

Here's another photo with Asian (and non-Asian) girls:


Look at the three Asian girls at the right of the photo. Can you tell that the two in the back row are cooler than the one in the front row?

So after looking at all my photos, I'm able to conclude that I'm olive, with neutral-to-cool undertones.

Now that's done it. You should be able to look at your own photos and see where you stand relative to your friends.

And because I love you guys, I'm going to talk a little more about olive skintones, because those are tricky, particularly for Asians.

A Very Short Note on Olive Skintones

(Edited 4/3/2010: I added that heading above because I realised that people were referring to this post not just for Asian skintones, but also for clarification on Olive skintones, Asian or not. I hope this heading helps such readers find the "Olive section" more easily without having to wade through the entire post. If you are one of those readers, I do encourage you to take a look at the photos before this section and my comments on them, as I do talk abit about Olive skintones in the previous section too.)

First of all, olives are tricky to begin with, regardless of whether you're Asian or not. People tend to have a misconception of olives being the exclusive domain of tanned people like Eva Longoria, but that's NOT true. You CAN be fair, AND be olive. Olive is NOT a measurement of how dark or light your skin is, but it is referring to the fact that you have both warm undertones and cool undertones in your skin. So yes, you can be NC10 and still be olive. Heck, I'm NC20 and I'm olive.

Another thing that I've noticed is that people tend to have a miscoception that all olives have warm undertones, just like how they tend to have a misconception that all Asians have warm undertones. That's not true. Olives can be either warm or cool. So olive itself isn't a undertone per se, but it IS a property of your skintone, and something that can impact whether you are cool or warm. A lot of people are going to disagree with me on this, but the way I see it is as such: if you have olive skin, you have a mix of both cool and warm undertones, which complicates matters when you try to discern your undertone. Depending on how much cool, how much warm, and how fair/dark your skin is, you can either have cool or warm undertones. So you can be fair or dark olive, with warm or cool undertones. Which means you can be any of these if you're olive:

  1. Dark Olive with Warm undertones (this is most common, and I'll explain why later)
  2. Dark Olive with Neutral undertones
  3. Dark Olive with Cool undertones (this is rare, and I'll explain later)
  4. Fair Olive with Cool undertones (most common, once again I'll explain)
  5. Fair Olive with Neutral undertones
  6. Fair Olive with Warm undertones (this is rare, and I'll explain)
  7. Medium Olive with Warm undertones
  8. Medium Olive with Neutral undertones
  9. Medium Olive with Cool Undertones

The reason why dark olives with cool undertones are rare, and fair olives with warm undertones are rare, is that olive skin tends to change undertone with depth of skintone. This shouldn't come as a surprise - after all, one of the things that makes someone olive is that he/she has both warm and cool undertones. So, because of that, when you get darker through tanning, the yellow in your skin tends to show through more, so the darker you get, the more yellow you get, and you become olive, but warm. However if you are fair, and olive (like me), the olive in your skin tends to show through more, and this is actually a shade where cool colours are more flattering. So you become olive, but cool. This also explains why a lot of cool olives (especially Asians) kind of look "greenish" in some lights. It's a result of their olive undertones and fair skintone mixing together. So most olives tend to be warm if they're dark, while they tend to be cool if they are fair. Most people only conceive of olives as being dark, which is why sometimes they assume that olives are necessarily warm, which is not the case all the time, because if you're olive and fair, you can be cool, and you're more likely to be cool than warm. And if you're medium olive, you can be either warm or cool, but you can also be neutral. Cool right? So remember folks, olive is NEITHER cool nor warm, but it can be EITHER, because it just means that you have both undertones in your skin. Thus, if you are olive, depending on the depth of your skintone, you can be cool, warm, or neutral!

If that hasn't convinced you, or if you aren't sure if you're really olive or not, take a look at pictures of yourself in natural light. One of the things about being olive is that sometimes you'll look more yellow in photos, but other times you'll look more pink, and sometimes you'll even look green (especially if you are a fair Olive), depending on the lighting.



In this photo, I look really warm. And for anyone wondering why that guy on the left is always in so many of my photos, it's NOT because he's my boyfriend, or my cousin, or related-to-me-in-some-special-way. It's because he's the resident facebook photo whore, so most of these photos were taken with his camera and uploaded there. And also because he's obviously warm, so having him in photos makes for a good tutorial on discerning Asian undertones.

Anyway, as you can see, I look warm in the above photo, but in this photo below, I look cool. (See what I said about knowing that it's FOB and still doing it? And on another note, I have no nail polish on! Gosh.)


And here, I just look green (and yes, I'm such a makeup nerd that the highlight of my day is seeing an awesome looking Max Factor store).:

I'd like to clarify that this slight green tinge isn't always present in ALL olives, and even if it is, is present in varying degrees. In particular, pale olives who are cool-toned tend to have the most green in their skin, while darker olives who are warmtoned tend to have little to no green in their skin. But if you do see it, it's a clue that someone might be olive.

The interesting thing about this is that all these photos were taken in natural light, but as you can see, sometimes it can be tricky to deduce what undertone you are just by looking at yourself in isolation. Hence, this is why I recommend looking at yourself relative to other people in a spectrum of undertones, because the spectrum of undertones for Asians is much more nuanced than for Caucasians (in my opinion anyway), and sometimes, you need to make comparisons and see colours in a spectrum to break out of the "Asian=warm" fallacy. Eventually of course, with practice you'll get so good at it that you'll be able to just look at photos of one person only and figure out what undertone they are, but at first its always useful to compare to other people. After all, it's precisely because Asians have yellow skin that makes it so hard to discern their undertones with accuracy - distinguishing between cool yellow and warm yellow is not easy for most people, which is why so many people tend to pin any yellow person as warm, which is wholly inaccurate.

EDITED TO ADD: I'd also like to point out that this "yellow/olive = warm" fallacy doesn't just apply to Asians, although of course Asians are more prone to being wrongly classed as warm than Caucasians are. In general, a lot of pale olive Caucasians are also often wrongly classed as warm when in fact they are cool.

I've put up a photo here to illustrate the difference. This photo is from fellow makeup addict and friend Musings on Beauty. She's a pale olive with neutral-cool undertones who keeps getting classed as warm because of the yellow in her skin due to her olive undertones. However, her dad is clearly warm, and her mother is clearly cooltoned. So I though a photo of her lovely family together (all with her permission, of course) would be the perfect thing to illustrate the difference in Caucasians, and show that this "all-olives-are-warm" thing is fallacious for both Asians and Caucasians alike:

From left to right we have: Marie's dad, who is warm, Marie, who is pale olive, and her mum, who is cool.

You can clearly see the gradiation in skintone here. The dad is a lot yellower than either of them, and Marie is a lot cooler-toned than him. But she's also warmer-toned than her pink-toned mother. And in between both of them, Marie's skin has a bit of a green tinge too - a dead giveaway that she's not totally warm like her dad, but that she's olive. So you can see that there's a difference between being warm, olive, and cool.

So, that's it for today! I wish you good luck and all the best in your skintone evaluation!


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  1. wooooooooooooooow!
    This is an amazing, well written and so informative blog post!!! I learned so much!!

  2. Thank you for stopping by & the blog post comment! I'm glad you stopped by, b/c this post really helped clarify undertones for me! Finding the right shade is so hard, you've helped a lot! :) t/k!

  3. Wow, this is one of the most informative posts about asian skin I've ever read. I think I'm olive, because I definitely look green a lot, but I'm still trying to figure out if I'm more neutral or warm. It is SO hard to find a foundation that works. :(

    :D The next time someone misconstrues skintones, I'm linking them to this post!

  4. Amazing post hun! What would you suggest for the ppl with warmer undertone, NC or NW?

    Thanks for sharing the useful tips with us xoxo

  5. @The Beautifier: Thanks! For warmer undertones, NC is definitely better, NW is more pink :) If you are really really warm, you can even look into the Cs.

    @Arianna: yes, please share this link! I'm so sick of people misconstruing Asian skintones!

    @Amina: Thank you! I'm glad you found it interesting! :) It's 3 years of personal experience!

    @Cathryn: Aww thanks! You're too kind!

  6. Wow, this is really helpful! I've always been so confused about undertones. Thank you so much for sharing this. :)

  7. LMAO @ resident Facebook photo whore...when I studied abroad in England back in 2007, my group of friends and I were all FB photo whores.

    Very informative! My skintone is no doubt warm but I have a weird balance of yellow and red.

  8. I like this post! :), great info.

  9. This is absolutely brilliant! As a "just plain white" girl (according to my then 4 year old Phillippine-Aleut-Caucasian daughter) who dables in color analysis, I've long held that "olive" skin was more of a neutral/can go warm or cool type of skintone. I help ladies color match foundation for an online cosmetics company and have long preached the whole "yellow isn't necessarily warm" thing. You articulated this concept brilliantly, and offered up excellent concrete examples! Fantastic! And thank you!

  10. This is the most helpful post I've ever read on Asian skintones. Thank you for taking the time to write it -- with illustrative photos as well! I've shared it on Facebook so hopefully my friends & acquaintances will also read it.

  11. LOVE THIS POST! I was always so confused about my skintone but now I know I'm medium olive with neutral undertones - it helps a LOT, and saves me a lot of money :)

  12. I still can't figure out what is my skin tone): Can you help?

    Also I was wondering, because asians(especially east asians) are kinda yellow overall, shld they use more warm tone makeup irregardless of their undertones? Since the yellow is often the first thing that pple see and in many cases, more powerful than whatever pink shades they might have.

    About olive skin tone people, do they suit coral pinks or fushia pinks then? gold jewelery or silver jewelery?

  13. @X: Hi X, I have no idea how to help you LOL. I don't know who you are or what you look like, and how am I supposed to tell you your skintone that way? LOL. Well, you could try describing what colours you look best in, or what colours you prefer to wear. Or you could show me a photo of yourself, but that's kind of awkward to do since we're complete strangers. The best way is for you to experiment yourself, and figure out what looks good on you.

    Like I said, basic colour theory advocates matching your undertones to your makeup colours, and I agree with that in general (with some exceptions). So most of the time, regardless of whether you are Asian or not, in general cool undertones go with cool makeup colours, and vice versa. My post is just on how to identify undertones, which can be tricky for Asians. Your skin may be yellow but regardless, because of your cool undertones you will still suit cooler undertones.

    As for Olive skin, it depends. If you read the description of Olive skin I gave, I made it clear that Olives can be either warm or cool, or neutral. So if you are a warm Olive, you would in general suit warm colours, and if you are a cool Olive you would in general suit cool colours. That's the general rule, although for Olives because their skintone is more nuanced some cool Olives may find they can wear some warm colours and vice versa. Like I said, if you aren't sure, a mix of trial-and-error and experimentation is sometimes the best way for you to figure out :)

  14. Hi, I really love your informative post, but I'm still having problems finding out my skin tone. I am quite fair and pale, but am still yellow skinned @.@ This is a link to a picture of mine. http://img139.imageshack.us/img139/1150/633658.jpg
    I'm the second from left, in the blue shirt. Could you have a look at it and help me find out my skin tone? XD thank you very much :3

  15. @Anonymous: Hi Anonymous, based on that picture, I'd say you're cool. Of course, it's only one picture in indoor lighting, so I may be wrong, but you do look really pink to me, so I'd go with cool. And you're very pretty too! :)

  16. Thank you!! I do look like that in outdoor lights too. yay, so now i can get the right makeup palette :D

  17. Loved this Post!!!!

    I am gonna bookmark this and take prints to read more carefully in leisure.. Gr8 work!

    I am so glad someone came & clarified the whole issue, I was sick of being handed yellow toned foundations that made me look ghostly, pale & sick :D

  18. So now I know... I'm fair olive with cool undertones. For years, I was told that I had warm undertones, but never understood why warm-colored clothes didn't look right on me. Thank you very much.

  19. wow! very informative! i got tired of the asian=yellow=warm thing. im having problems determining mine because my skin appears different depending on the lighting too. please help me find my undertone? thank you!

    me in natural light:

    me, indoors, flourescent light:

  20. oh i forgot to mention, in the post May 8, 2010 4:13 PM, im the one in brown skirt!

  21. @Anonymous: I really like that skirt! Where did you get it from? LOL! Anyway, I think you're neutral, leaning a little to the cool side.

  22. it's great that im neutral. it means i dont really have to confine myself to certain shades! now, it makes sense that it doesnt matter whether i wear gold or silver jewelry. thank you!!! by the way, i got the skirt from a local department store. i dont think it even has a brand! hahaha!

    thanks for your help! =)

  23. I've been trying to figure out my undertone and I'm glad that I found this post. :D

    Whenever I've been asking for help with foundations they've given me different ones. I'm pretty sure I'm leaning to the cold side but I would appreciate if you could help me. XD


    I'm on the far left. Hopefully being eurasian, nerdy and not having any asian friends won't make it impossible to find my undertone. xD

  24. @Anonymous: It's hard to tell from that picture, because the indoors lighting is skewing the colours and making everything look cooler-toned than it really is. But you look like you could be neutral to me. I wouldn't trust this diagnosis though, because the lighting is making colours look a little off. If you give me a pic of yourself in a natural, well-lit environment it might help more.

  25. Searched my folders for pics taken in natural lightning. I don't know if these are good enough.


    http://i87.photobucket.com/albums/k144/Shuusou/khhg.png (to the left, in the back)

  26. Another thank you that just had to be said! It all makes sense now. (A neutral olive Asian, formerly believed to be warm)

  27. The most detailed article for Asian undertones. Great job and thanks.

  28. Thank you so much. This helped me a lot. Good to know for Asian skin tones.

  29. What is your email? I would like to send a picture of myself to you so you can tell me what my undertone is. I still have a really hard time finding my undertone...

  30. @Cathy Liu: Hi Cathy, I do believe my email is somewhere on the site, but anyway, the email is musicalhouses at hotmail dot com :) Feel free to send me your pictures!

  31. I absolutely loved this post. Imagine me trying to figure out my undertone when i decided to purchase the everyday minerals foundation: i'm brazilian, half japanese, half italian. I wanted to order every single sample to find what color i should use!
    This post really helped a lot.

  32. THANKYOU!!! i'm half asian half caucasian and could never decipher my undertones, i kept fluttering between warm and cool and now things make a whole lot more sense!

  33. Hey Musicalhouses! I thought your post was so helpful, yet I'm having trouble finding my undertones. I've sent some pictures to your hotmail account. If you could help me figure out exactly what I am that would be oh so great~

  34. finally! thank you, thank you, thank you!!!1


  36. Thanks, thanks, thanks! This might be odd, coming from a Caucasian (so to say), but I am going to follow your blog because you give the best advice to my case! You seem to understand something that usually Caucasian make-up artists and brands do not understand: olive complexion and our mixed, varying undertones!

    I found myself having problems with most usual foundations because they're either too pink or too peach or too yellow. And "neutral" foundations are usually too gray. I have what I call mixed undertones: I am medium olive with slight warm tendencies and a little of cool yellow and warm reddish copper, so in winter I get really neutral as my warm reddish copper disappears and in the summer, especially if I tan, I go warm, clearly warm.

    (About foundations: besides correcting them with a dusting of a powder that counteracts the excess peach - a slightly greenish or cool yellowish finishing powder, I finally found 2 mineral makeup companies which cater us olives with all our variety pretty well: Meow Cosmetics and Adorned with Grace).


    About you, again, even though I do not have "Asian eyes", your tutorial on almond-shaped, deep-set, hooded eyes has helped me, because I have this kind of eyes (of the Mediterranean variety). I never had noticed that in my case too my crease is not the place where I should contour my eyes, and your post was really helpful!

  37. i wll send u my pic on ur email id can u pls tell me my undertone because i m also vry confuse abt it

  38. Hi, I'm sooo glad that I found your post. I was struggling to find out my skin tone :D. I'm Asian but I have kind of medium/dark skin and I'm still confused about my undertone. I think it's warm...but I'm not sure. I have some pictures here, could u please look at them and find out my skin tone? Thanks a million <3<3<3.

    Here are the links. Two were taken in natural light and one indoor, all without makeup :D




  39. @Anonymous: I'd like to help, but I can't tell which one you are, because there's more than 1 person in every photo!

  40. OMG!!! T__T yeah I'm sorryyy. ok 1st photo i'm the third from the left, 2nd photo i'm on the right, last photo i'm the 2nd from the right :D

  41. @Anonymous: Apologies for the slight lag in replies. I'd put you as warm-ish :) I hope that helps!

  42. So now I know which foundation I should get. Thank you so muchhhh <3<3<3. And I'm really sorry for rushing like that :(

  43. Very helpful, now questioning my yellow skin, but I still like warmer colors better so I am going with that.

  44. thank you so much for your article. although i´m caucasian, i went through the same confusion with the different kinds of color theories (yellow undertone = warm skin ...). and after a while of struggling i told myself : look, you have the yellow skin like chinese people and many of these "yellow" people look just great in cool colors. and so do i.

  45. Very helpful! I try to define my skintone by using the method you introduced. However, I met some problems. Could you please help me? I looked several of my photos in natural light with other people and I noticed that sometimes I looked “yellow” while other times I looked a little “pink”, depending on how strong the light is and who were surrounding me. So I am guessing that I am kind of falling in the middle of the “warm-cool spectrum”? But I feel and most people told me so that I looked good when I was wearing red or dark pink t-shirt. Sometimes, green also works on me. So I am wondering maybe I am a natural-warm? I just start to learn how to put make-up, so I am not sure whether I should buy orange blush and lip gloss or go with pink? I tried some in the mall. Personally, I prefer orange. But now I am not so sure about it. Could you please give some advice? Thanks a lot.

  46. @Xiadi: Everything is in the warm-cool spectrum, because warm is on one end of warm vs cool, and cool is on the other end :P I think you meant to say neutral-warm? Anyway, it's hard for me to tell just on description alone (because there are warm reds and cool reds, and warm greens and cool greens), so it's hard for me to discern your undertone from your description. But for makeup, regardless of your undertone I'd encourage you to experiment with different colours and eventually you'll figure out what you like. If you personally prefer more orange colours, then it sounds like you lean warm :) However, some people find that even if they are warm, they can still wear some cool colours, and vice versa - so the warm-cool distinction is helpful, but not a hard-and-fast rule. At the end of the day, it is likely that you will find that you prefer some warm colours but not others, and some cool colours but not others. If you are warm (like I think you might be) then more of the colours you prefer will tend to be warm colours, but this doesn't mean you can't wear all cool colours at all. So even if you think you are warm, don't feel that you have to restrict yourself only to warm colours - at the end of the day, it's all about wearing what you are comfortable in.

  47. Thanks a lot for your reply! I don't know there are cold red... What kind of red is cold red? Now I am very interested in the color theory. Do you have any reading materials to recommand so I can learn more? About make up, I am such a beginner and I really don't want to waste money on blush that doesn't match me. Will a blush that balances pink and orange work for any skintone?

  48. @Xiadi: There are cool reds and warm reds. Cool reds are like violet reds, or more purple reds, while warm reds are like coral-reds, or more orangey reds. I don't have any specific reading materials, because I learned by reading anything I could get my hands on, as well as trial and error. But one of the most comprehensive and compact guides I've found to colour theory is here: http://www.makeupalley.com/user/notepad/GeekChick

    It isn't actually a site, but it's some girl's post (her notepad really) on a makeup forum. If you're not a member of the site you'll have to sign up for an account to read it (it's fast and free - I would know because I hang out on that forum too, LOL), but it's totally worth it. She talks not just about warm v cool, but also about other aspectts, like clear v muted and high contrast v low contrast. So it's a really great primer into figuring out what colours look great on you and what doesn't.

    I hope that helps! Good luck!

  49. @Xiadi - and a blush that is in the middle of the road (i.e. neither too cool or warm, which is what I think you mean when you say too pink or orange), will definitely work :)

  50. Great post!

    could you help me out as well?
    I look different in every photo so I'm so confused!

    in the sunlight

    in my room

    normal daylight



  51. @cynbee: I know I haven't replied yet. I've been very busy at work. I'll try to look at your photos over the weekend, ok? Thanks for your patience!

  52. Thanks a lot for this!
    I'm not Asian (which I sometimes find sad), but friends come to me for make-up advice sometimes, so I always try to educate myself as much as I can. I'll try to spread the word!
    Your post also confirmed that I probably really am neutral to cool myself. :)

  53. @cyn.bee: So I finally managed to look at your photos! I think you look pretty neutral, actually, maybe you lean a little to the cool side. No olive undertones. You look a lot warmer in the first photo than in the rest (in the rest you look sort of cool-ish) but I think that's due to the direct sunlight shining on you. I'm going to go with cool-neutral, possibly leaning more cool. I hope this helps!

  54. thank you for your help!
    is it weird that I prefer warm eyeshadows to cool eyeshadowS?

    I'm not sure if I can pull of Satin Taupe.
    I rather like UD's Half/Baked ... :)

  55. @cynn.bee: No it's not weird. Usually you find you can wear some warm colours but not others, and some cool colours but not others. So even if you are neutral-cool, it means that there are some warm colours that would look good on you, and some cool colours you'll hate. So don't limit yourself to any specific colour base, because chances are you can wear some of each. The warm/cool guide is most useful as a guide for starting out, if you have no idea where to begin, but ultimately you find your way through experimentation. You have to wear what you feel comfortable in! :)

  56. Wow, THANK YOU so much!!!!! This is hands down the most amazingly helpful post on this topic I've ever seen! I've been so frustrated in my search for that perfect foundation shade, and this definitely cleared things up a LOT!

    Could I ask you to help me figure out my skin tone as well? I'll email the photos to your hotmail account. Thank you again, you are freaking brilliant!!! :)

  57. thanks!

    i was looking forward to get the UD naked palette when I#m in London in February.
    but I have heard of people who say it's way too warm for their skin tone...

    I try applying cool pink tone blushes, but they always end up looking weird on me.
    on the other hand I like peach blushes a lot!

  58. @cyn.bee: From what I've heard and seen, the UD Naked palette isn't THAT warm. It's what I'd call neutral-warm, and I've had cooltoned girls say they could wear it. So I think you'll be fine. Of course, if you have doubts, it's better to see in person first.

    As for blush, it's also a matter of experimentation, although from what I've seen, usually it's better to match blush colour to undertone. Some people don't like pink blushes even if they have cool undertones - it's usually that they find pink a weird colour on the cheeks because they're not used to it, or (in Caucasian girls usually), they feel like their skin is pink enough and they want to 'tone down' the pink-ness. If you don't like cool pink on you, try going for a more neutral pink, like NARS Desire, or Bobbi Brown Pale Pink - both of these are quite universal. Or you could try other colours with a hint of pink, like corals (they're sort of pink and orange to me, and usually they're quite universal colours), or a pinky-peach like NARS Orgasm. And of course, if you like peach, feel free to keep wearing that. As always, I'd encourage you to experiment and see what works best on you, and fits your personal preference best.

  59. Thank you so much. This post really change my life. I've always think of myself as a warm tone, but now I think I maybe a cool or a neutral one.
    Still could you please look at my pictures and help me out if I'm warm, cool or neutral.
    I know my face look pink, but my body kind of look really yellow.

    1. http://img19.imageshack.us/f/15024110150093555865712.jpg/
    Natural lighting. I'm the second one from the right. I've white t-shirt with black cardigan-ish on.

    Indoor white lighting
    I'm the second one on the right.

    Indoor white lighting
    I'm the middle one. My shoulder looks yellow, so maybe my body is warm?

    Camara flash. I look really pink so maybe I've cool skin tone?

    Additional info: I am of Chinese decendent and have naturally black hair and black eyes and really pale skin. In all pictures I have neutral pink blush on.

    Thank you so much :)

  60. @Anonymous: I think you are neutral-cool, with probably some olive undertones as well. I hope this helps!

  61. Thanks!!!
    Geesh, I always thought that I have warm skin tone.
    Will try some cool eyeshadow now.

  62. OMG, this post is full of win. :]

    From your description, I THINK I am neutral or neutral warm. Not sure if I have alotta olive though. Then again I am wearing a cool-yellow top in this pic. Hmmm...

    Could you help me out please? :D :D :D

    Some additional info: I'm mixed with 1/8 French, so I figured maybe that's why I don't notice the olive tones in my skin, if I have any.

    Thank you soooo much :) *hugs*

  63. @MsCheeky: Yes, you are more warm or neutral-warm. I don't really see any olive undertones. The yellow top isn't really a cool yellow top though, it looks a little more like the warm yellow to me, although I guess it's sort of in between the two yellows I was talking about. But it does look good on you. :)

  64. Thank you so so so much for this awesome blog! For years I have been wondering why warm colors (suggested by MU artists) adds 10 years & make me look like I have liver failure. Now I think I may be a cool or Cool neutral?

    I have added a link to one of my reviews on MUA, so that it can help other Asian & mixed girls too! Thank you so much for making me look younger! Big HUgs!!! Katysha :D

  65. This is the first time I've seen someone talk about Asia skin tones in a way that makes sense. The comparative pictures are great. I've had people act like colour is somehow obvious, but as you show, it can be very tricky. Thanks!

  66. i totally agree with this post, especially about the olive parts. When i tan i get reallly really golden and warm (and look awesome in my orange bikini :P), but in the winter i look better in greys and blues!!!

  67. Thanks SO much for your detailed explanation! I've always thought I was just warm with yellow undertone, but but now I know I'm actually medium olive with warm undertones! In the beginning I didn't get what you are saying about "greenish," but then I saw it too! That explains why I wear purple better in winter and risk making it look a bit dirty in summer! I am SO going to make my Asian friends read this, and I'll stop calling myself yellow! Love your blog! Please keep up the good job!

  68. Im asian too and i was told at MAC that i am and nc30 BUT it still looks pink-ish orange, so what does that make me?? olive? AHHH please help!!

  69. @anoymous: Could you be more clear in your colour description? Saying a shade is too pinkish orange isn't enough info for me to help. Usually if a foundation is the wrong undertone, it will be either too pink or too orange. Too pink usually means that the foundation is too cooltoned, while too orange usually means that the foundation is too warm. So saying pinkish orange isn't very helpful. If you're having trouble with colour descriptions, feel free to send a pic over. Another alternative could be that your foundation is too dark or too light, in addition to the possibility of a wrong undertone. I hope this helps!

  70. Sorry, i shouldve been more clear... when apply foundation (Mac Studio Fix Fluid nc30) it is kinda on the pink-ier side, i dont know if that makes sence, i guess my skin is just too yellow? but after wearing it for a while, it looks orange (im guessing after it oxidizes on my skin) but even right after applied its already pink. like if i dusted a baby pink blush all over my face.. i feel like i may have olive-ish undertones but does that mean im not Cool Toned?? sorry, i know too many questions but i'm really having a tough time finding the perfect shade of foundation.... by the way, your amazing!!! you need to start a youtube channel, unless you already have one??

  71. heres a pic by the way


  72. @anonymous: I've looked at your photos, and the foundation is too cooltoned and too light for you. You'll need a foundation that's a couple of shades darker, and a bit yellower.

  73. ohh okay, so go warmer shades then?? since its too cooltoned? but i thought warmer meant more pinkier? anyway thanks so much! i went to sephora today and told me to go lighter haha, AHH! im getting different opinions... but this blog is really helpful and thank you for replying...

  74. @Anonymous: OK here there are two issues with your foundation, first that it's a bit too light, and second that it's a bit too cooltoned. So I'd sort out one thing at a time first. I'd go and pick a darker foundation shade (maybe 1 shade darker? Or 2? Not like 5 shades darker LOL), and then I'd test it out, and see if it looks too orange or pink. Usually, if a foundation looks too ashy/grey/grey-pink (like a geisha mask), it doesn't have enough warm tones. If it looks too burnt/orange (like a fake tan gone wrong), it has too much warm tones. So with a darker foundation, I'd look and see if the undertones match.

    I don't think your foundation is too dark for you - the girls at Sephora probably got deceived by in-store lighting LOL. If anything it looks a bit lighter than it should be.

    As for a foundation being too pink...it can really go either way, depending on how it's being used. For some people, when they say pink, they really mean that a foundation is too orange (too warm). But for others, they mean that it's too ashy. Different people use it to describe different things, although to me personally I tend to think that a too-pink foundation should mean one that is too cool-toned. So that's why I usualy prefer to look at a picture, because different people describe the same colour differently :)

  75. i did try nc37 and it was noticeable darker on my skin, i mean to the point where it wont blend in and not only that, after it oxidizes, it was even darker and orangey... i see why you posted this blog, its hard for Asians to be color matched.. i still think you should start a youtube video that way you can really help a lot of girls out there. the beauty community on youtube is amazing, and i think you would fit right in... you really know what your talking about. anyway, consider it, girls would love you and your advices!

  76. This is the best post about skintone I've ever read, as an Asian! I turned out to be COOL after all (pink in all pictures). I've been purchasing the wrong makeup! Although I can't tell whether I am green and I can't tell in your photos too that you're green. Do you have another way for me to tell whether I am olive? Thanks!

  77. @Anonymous: I think your problem is complicated by the fact that you face the issue of foundation oxidizing and turning darker and more orangey on you. This is a separate problem from the issue of your foundation not matching your undertone. Personally, if your foundation doesn't match, it can be very difficult to find a match, because oxidization will change the colour of the foundation, and not all foundations oxidize the same way and at the same rate. If I were you, I'd search for another brand/formula of foundation that doesn't oxidize on you, and then try to find a match from there. An alternative to use a primer, as I've heard primer can also prevent oxidization by forming a layer between the skin and the foundation. Once you've solved the problem of oxidization, then you can tackle the issue of finding a match. Good luck! And I don't think YT vids are part of the plan for now...I don't have the equipment for it, LOL!

    @kibytec: If you're obviously pink in all your photos, it's likely that you don't have olive undertones. You're most likely just cool-toned. On the other hand, if your pink-ness is a bit more muted, you could be cool-neutral, or cool-neutral with some olive undertones. If you're unsure, feel free to send a pic over for clarification.

  78. Thanks for all your help, i decided to try a new foundation and i love it, it matches me nicely, i got the bare minerals in the shade golden medium which is a yellow-olive undertone and its perfect!!! your so amazing, thank you for everything...

  79. Wow thank you SO much! Do you mind if I email you some pics? The initials are GC. Thanks!

  80. I'm not Asian but this was extremely helpful! after years of trying different foundations in so many undertones, thinking I was cool at first due to the redness in my face, and then thinking I was warm because my neck appears yellow (at least, in comparison to my face), I now think I may be neutral with olive undertones. I recently tried some samples of Lucy Minerals foundation and was surprised to find that I use the shade Pale Olive (as opposed to their shades categorized as neutral or warm). for reference, I'm an NC15-20 of Italian/Spanish descent.

    I've had the problem of a lot of foundations, whether warm or cool, or even neutral, looking orange on me. is this characteristic of olive undertones? or is it just because I'm pale? :P

  81. Thank you sooo much!!! I was (almost)convinced that I was warm-toned, and yes, I am indeed, Asian, but I kept questioning it because blue-based red lipstick matched me and my blue-based pink lipstick did too.

    The problem was that every time I checked online and did the little tests, I came out warm, because I always turn out yellow than pink!
    Except with the vein test, my veins are both blue and green.

    But I was so confuzzled from all the testsclashing with my own experiments with color....... it just didn't make sense. So I'm soooo glad I came across this because it is sooo helpful to me!

    The only thing I still don't understand is that green tint in the skin thing...

    Also, that warm yellow vs cool yellow image REALLY helped.


  82. @Michelle: Usually if foundations look too orange on, it's usually because the undertone is too warm for you. It could be that although you have some yellow to your skin, you aren't as warm-toned as the foundations that are typically yellow-based tend to be. I do think you have a pretty neutral undertone, with possibly a hint of olive (I can't really tell from the photos on your blog), which is why perhaps a shade that is Pale Olive (and thus yellow, but not too yellow) might work better on you than another shade that's very yellow. I hope this explanation helps!

  83. i was relieved that i'm possibly a cooler skin tone! aha. i thought that all asians had to be warm. anyways. how do i know which lighting is real? because i'm different shades (and i'm sure many others are as well) in different lighting. i would look reddish under some (such as regular indoor lighting), yellow under some (florescent lighting), and white with a tint of green under some (outside in the sun/under shade i'm pure white). which lighting shows my REAL skin color/tone? i believe it's outside, but sometime the sun is too bright and some times it's too dark, it's hard to tell! thank you!

  84. @anonymous: The best lighting is shaded natural light - in other words, use natural sunlight, but not directly under the sun. A good example of such a place would be by a window on a sunny day, as long as the sun isn't streaming in.

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  86. Thank you so much for writing this!!

  87. I'm trying to buy my first MAC foundation, and this helped me so much!! I didn't know if I was a NC or NW. Thank you for posting this. :)

  88. Thank you for this post; it's really informative! Can I trouble you with a question? I'm really torn on what jewelry I can/should wear as a pale, cool olive. Gold? Silver? I'm hoping gold, since I'm allergic to silver (I know, I'm totally a werewolf, lol!), but I want to make sure as I'm going to be looking for a wedding ring soon and want it to always look good on me. Any suggestions?

  89. help im having a hard time figuring out if i look more pink or yellow or green. will u help me? my facebook is www.facebook.com/aongv

  90. @Meredith: If you are a pale, cool olive, then usually cool undertones wear silver better. However, you can still wear gold, because like I mentioned in the article, olives still have some warmth in their skintones, since they have both cool and warm undertones. So maybe one or the other might look better on you, but you'd probably be able to wear either, unless your cool undertones are very strong and apparent. So if I were you, I'd just try on both a gold and a silver ring, and see how you feel about either one. If you have a strong preference for one, go for it! If you end up being indifferent between the two, then you could wear gold to be on the safe side of your allergies. :)

    @Aong and Cheng: I can't see your Facebook profile, it's Friends-only.

  91. oK - sorry about that. I lifted the privacy restrictions... :)

  92. @Aong and Cheng: You're warm, and I don't reallys see any olive. Hope that helps! :)

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  94. i see every color in my skin according to my surroundings. those hints of green .. pinks, yellows ... what am i? i am not sure about mac, but in bobbi brown .. i was matched to the color honey ... which looks a bit too yellow or orange on me honestly.

  95. @Farrah: If a foundation is match too yellow or orange for you, chances are it's too warm-toned for you. Bobbi Brown foundations in general do tend to run pretty yellow, though, so it's possible you could be neutral, cool, or leaning slightly warm, just not as warm as the foundation. It's normal to see more than one undertone, because like I mentioned in my article, skintones do come in a spectrum instead of discrete "warm" and "cool" categories, but overall your skin will tend towards one or the other. Or you could even be neutral. It's a bit hard to go by purely words alone, but if you have a few photos I could take a look at, I could provide some help.

  96. @Musicalhouses thank you for such a quick response :) ... i appreciate it. i sent you an email with a few pics of mine ... hope you can help me out here :) ... cheers!

  97. may i add ... i am very happy to have found this blog :)

  98. Wow thank you so much for this! After reading this post I find myself in the cool-neutral skin tone category. I'm still confused about the green tint though - I don't see any green tint in any of your pictures at all!

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  100. Thank you so much for this. I've always been confused with my undertone. I've tried the vein, jewelry and other techniques but I still don't get it. This post is really helpful but I'm still quite confused.

  101. @Aya: Thanks for your comments, and I saw your previous comment as well. Do give me a bit of time to look through your pictures, and I'll post back here on what I think your undertones are, ok? :)

  102. @Musicalhouses, thank you very much! :D No hurry :D

  103. I was wondering if you could tell me what the undertone of my skin is. I think I'm warm-ish. My skin gets warmer in the summer when I'm more tan, so I think I might have an olive skintone as well.


    The first picture was taken in late autumn-early winter. The second picture was taken in the summer.

  104. This is fabulous! I've struggled to find my undertone, and now I know why. Thank you so much for sharing. From Melbourne, Australia

  105. @Aya: Thanks for your patience! I've looked through your photos, and I think you are warm. I hope this helps :)

    @susie h.: You're right, I think you are warm-ish and a little bit olive too. Hope this clarifies your doubts!

  106. You are so AMAZING!!! I skimed through this post once, and read it word for word again. Interesting. I'm always stucked up to buy the wrong make up because people think im so a white white asian, I get sold the wrong makeup at the counter. I sent pictures to your email. Im anxiously waiting, please tell me what you think, and what kind of blush/bronzer you think goes with my skin tone.

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  108. @Musicalhouses, thank you very much!!! :D

  109. So sorry to bother you with yet another request! I considered asking other caucasians but figured you might be the best person to consult. :)

    I *think* I may be neutral-warm. Have no idea about olive-ness.

    Also - if our skintone is yellow and undertone neutral, then how should we go about matching ourselves to foundation?

    I'm on the right:

    In the middle:

    If you would have a look and give me your opinion, it would be really appreciated! Thanks so much for creating this blog post!

  110. I like to comment again, thanks to this post, I finally learned what my skintone is after 2 stops to Macys and 2 stops to Sephora, returns and exchange. Its all about putting this post with trial and error together. Sometimes hard to tell by picture due to lighting. Under my eyes/cheek area is neutral, but my forehead (areas where you would put bronzer, Im lightly warm. But Im in the light range so its hard to find the perfect foundation match, but I have finally found the 2 shades (the lightest neutral, and lightest warm) to make a perfect match. The best would be do half a face a color, and the half another. I've learned if a makeup artist uses a concealer/foundation brush doing strokes on your cheeks for a color match just wont cut it becuase what about other areas like forheads, chin, and etc. Its hard for uneven tone girls like me to find something perfect, until I uderstand what is my undertone. THANKS <3

  111. @joyce: Apologies, the link doesn't seem to be working for me. Could you give me a link that I might be able to use?

    @Lisa: I think you're neutral-warm. And also very pretty, but you probably knew that already :)

  112. i O.o when i saw how many comments you got for this and still replying after a year!

    i thought i was warm but then i came across your article.it was very, very comprehensive! but it made me think twice if i am really warm.

    i'm Malaysian Chinese, i tan rather than burn, greenish veins on the underside of my arm. i also seem yellower compared to my friends. i can't really tell if i look better in gold or silver ( i think i have poor color sense, haha)

    would you mind taking a look at my pictures? all are taken under natural sunlight (i'm 2nd from the right in the last picture)


    now that i'm experimenting with makeup, i'd like to know what color palettes suit me. would love to have your expert opinion, thanks in advance!

  113. @xuan: I do think you are warm. For you, maybe neutral warm colours would look best (fawn brown, pinky-peach, coral etc). I usually encourage people to play around with colours and experiment a little bit, because even when you know your undertone, sometimes a bit of trial-and-error is best. This is because people's skintones are often complex, so you may be warm, but you might find that you can still wear some cool colours, or may not like some warm colours. But I hope the colours I suggested are a useful starting point. Good luck!

  114. You are a genius...lol! This is probably why straight up warm yellow tones do not look good on me. I just found your blog and I'm in love with it!

    Thanks for writing your blog!

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  117. i do notice i can't really pull off bright blue eyeshadow. that was helpful, thank you!

  118. This is very informative--unfortunately, due to my untrained eye, I still have trouble determining whether I'm warm or cool. Can you help? Here are some images:

    http://img3.imageshack.us/img3/498/1001544p.jpg (I'm the one on the right)

  119. Hi, can you tell me if I'm a warm or a cool?






  120. @joyce: Hi Joyce, I do think you are warm, and I don't see much olive. I hope this helps!

    @winriichan: The first photo doesn't work for me. Based on the other two photos, it's difficult for me to tell, since both of them are in indoors lighting, and that could skew colour in photographs. So I think you look neutral from those two photos, but I cannot be sure about it. I hope it helps, though!

    @Anonymous: It's hard for me to tell, because all the photos are either taken indoors, where the light could skew the colours, or outdoors, but with obvious colour skewing (e.g. the colours are all tinted blue or yellow). So I can't be sure, but if I had to take a guess, I'd say you could potentially be warm. Hope this helps!

  121. Thanks for your help! Sometimes it's really difficult for me to pick the right foundation shade although I know myself it's in the warm range.

    For some brands yellow is alright and some are too yellow, some beige is in the pink range and some in the yellow range. The word "beige" is too confusing for us to understand...

  122. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  123. Hello, what a great tutorial you have!
    i think i am medium olive with warm undertones, could you help my out? i am not sure about my own judgement. thankies :)


    and by request, could you do colors tutorial on what color olive people looks good in? thankss xoxo

  124. hello sorry for double posting, please delete one of my posts before.

    i doubted that i am a warm undertones since the vein inside my wrist looks blue and green at some parts.
    would you mind taking a look at my pictures?

    left wrist: http://i53.tinypic.com/1z3oydt.jpg
    right wrist: http://i56.tinypic.com/2qb98y9.jpg
    foot: http://i51.tinypic.com/p61ao.jpg
    foot (ankle): http://i54.tinypic.com/muhkox.jpg
    thigh (the vein looks very green): http://i55.tinypic.com/33e5xc8.jpg

    all are taken under natural sunlight

  125. hello musical house..can you help me out? im confused (for at least 2 months right now i guess) and need your help. would really appreciate your thought and time answering this :)
    sorry for being such a bugs and thank you.. crossing my fingers, and hope for the best


  126. hello musical houses..i would really appreciate your time and thought you put into answering..sorry if i've been a bugs..

    thank you and hoping the best!


  127. @Renni: Hi Renni, do give me a few days to respond. I usually reply to comments needing analysis work (like undertone analysis) over the weekends when I can take more time to properly look at the photos. I'll get back to you soon. Thanks!

  128. dear musical houses, thank you for the reply :)
    and i'm waiting :)

    thank you :D

  129. @Renni: You look neutral-warm to me. I'm not too sure about the olive. It may be there, but it's not showing very strongly on your skintone. But you're right

    The blue veins vs green veins test doesn't tend to work very well for Asian girls. It seems to work better on Caucasian skins. Most Asian girls I know get confused by the test. I think it's because our skins have a bit of yellow by nature, so it's hard to discern the undertones that way.

    A better alternative might be the gold vs silver jewellery. The idea is to see whether you look better with gold or silver jewellery on. If you look better in gold, you're likely to be warm, and if you look better in silver, you're likely to be cool. And of course neutrals will feel there isn't one in which they really look better in. Hope this helpss!

  130. Thank you for writing such an informative blog on skintones!! I've had trouble finding foundation and make up for my skin tone...it's a bit weird and i'm not sure how to classify it...sometime its yellow, and in some pictures it looks greenish brown, and some it looks light green...but when I do get out in the sun and I get really dark...I look brownish greenish...LOL...thank you again!!

  131. @musicalhouses, thank you, it really helps a lot! :))

    it really hard to know what kind of undertones we had unless have trained eyes for it. thanks for seeing through to it, and your time and thought you put into this, i appreciate that! :D

    really we are women of colors and are proud of it!

    thank you so much musicalhouses *hugs*

  132. @Anonymous: If you do feel that you have very strong green undertones then you could be olive. While I can't make any judgements without photos, in general for foundation choosing, if you are unsure of your undertone (or have a complex undertone like olive), then it would be a good idea to go for a more neutral colour (i.e. neither too warm or cool). I've also known of people who mixed foundations to get their exact match. Good luck!

  133. Hey there, so I don't use colours in my makeup very often. I'm not a fan of eye shadow so my standard makeup is black eyeliner and a bronzer as my blusher.

    As for colours that I wear or don't wear, I have so much clothes that I think I've owned every colour under the sun! Except maybe for orange? And I only have a few yellows.

    Rather than describe myself, I thought I'd send you my FB profile link (http://www.facebook.com/vanessa.quake) and see if you can help me sort it out?

  134. @ness: Hi ness, I can't see your photos on your FB profile. I think you need to add me as a friend on FB for me to see them.

  135. @Musicalhouses: Just sent a FB friend request to you! ;) Thanks so much!

  136. @ness: I've looked at your photos, and I think you are warm :) You do seem to pull off a lot of colours though, so you definitely have room for experimentation! Hope this helps!

  137. Hi, I was wondering if you could help me out. I'm 115 with MUFE HD, would that mean I have a cool skintone?

  138. Hello Musicalhouses, I've sent you an email. Please help me analyze my undertone... Thank u! =)

  139. @Juli: Hi Juli, I've emailed you back already :)

  140. @Anonymous: From swatches I've seen of MUFE 115, it ses to be neutral to cool in undertone. So yes, if it matches your skin exactly, you are more likely to be cool than warm. Hope this helps!

  141. Hey, I just saw your speedy reply to my comment from back in March.
    Thank you SO much for all your dedication to this extremely illuminating blog post. And also thanks for the compliment. :) Keep up the excellent work!!

  142. Hello!

    I just wanted to stay that this article was amazingly informative. Thank you for writing it! I didn't want to bother you, but I've been trying to figure out my undertone for the longest time and everyone keeps telling me I'm warm with yellow undertones. I'm not so sure that's correct, because my foundations never look right. Could you please take a quick peek at my photos and let me know what I am? Thank you so much!

    http://img28.imageshack.us/slideshow/player.php?id=img28/7155/1306461743kqi.smil <- It's a slideshow of 8 photos.

  143. Awesome article!

  144. @Papillon: The link doesn't work for me. Perhaps you could put the link to the individual pictures instead?

  145. Hi Musicalhouses,

    Sorry about that. The link works for me, but here are the links to the images:


    Thank you so much!

  146. Hi!
    Thanks for the very informative article! I have always assumed I was warm, but maybe I'm not....
    I don't have the eye to determine that...
    Do you mind looking at my pictures and telling me my undertone? Thanks so much!

    Outside At Night:









  147. Thanks for the extremely informative post! I found it so helpful in figuring out my skintone. I found out that I have a warm skintone (which is what I thought previously anyway), but the tip you gave about looking at photos with other people in them was really great :)

  148. @Papillon: Hi Papillon, did you take down the photos? The individual image links don't work for me either.

    @Angela: You actually look pretty neutral to me! So go ahead and experiment with whatever colours you want :)

  149. This is a great post, thank you!
    I know I am olive but I still can't figure out if I am cool or warm-undertoned, could you please help me?

    Here are some pgotos of me(girl with glasses):
    Outdoor lighting





    Indoor lighting


  150. @Anonymous: You're a tricky one - out of all your family, you have the hardest undertone to discern. I thinnk you are probably neutral, possibly leaning cool. Hope this helps!

  151. Wow! This is amazing! I never knew there was more complexity when it come to Asian skin tones. I've always thought I was warm since that was what everyone said...but I don't know so much anymore. I don't even know if I'm olive skin toned. I'm really bad at this, lol. I was wondering if you could help me determine what my true skintone is? Thank you!


    on the very right

    second to the left






    Thank you so much! <3

  152. Thanks, this was very helpful for me, an asian girl trying to find the right color wedding dress (haven't actually gone shopping yet, but looking online). One thing I will comment though, as you have mentioned, natural light is best to try to discern the differences; however, being in the shade and being out in the sun will alter the warmth and coolness as well! You look cooler in the shade and warmer in the sun!

  153. Thank you so much for this; it was tremendously helpful. :)

    I've always been matched to warm yellow foundations, and they just never looked right. At the same time, the very cool foundations always looked really pink on me, and I have little to no olive notes to my skin. With this post, I figure that I'm more a neutral yellow with slightly cooler undertones. So the next challenge is figuring out the best foundation(s) for me... But at least I know what to look for now! Thanks again so much.

  154. I'm caucasian and still not clear abt my undertones. I look good in both coral and plum lipstick. Sometimes yellow foundations are too yellow, like Teint Miracle 01 and the pink ones are too pink. I think I am a neutral that goes yellow in the summer.

  155. I love how you're still getting comments on this post OVER A YEAR later. Just shows how amazing this post is :p

    I'm so glad i stumbled upon this, because I always thought to myself, Yellow = warm right?... so why are my veins blue? and why do i look pink-ish green sometimes?? I seriously thought I was delusional.

    After reading your post, I've come to the conclusion that i have the same undertones as you, and so I really wanted to ask which foundations have you found that work well for your skintone? Because I'm having a nightmare of a time finding something that works.

    Hope you can help :)


  156. This is a brilliant article! I've never been able to figure out my real skin tone- I'm part Caucasian and part Asian, so I've got yellow, but I've always thought there was coolness there... to add to my confusion, I have rosacea so my cheeks close to my nose are always pink and that, I think, throws my perception off.

    Now to find some pictures and then try some different makeup colors...

  157. I loved reading this, yes I read all thru the post :D It has some insight that I think helped a lot :) Thank you for this very fascinating post. :D



  158. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;) tearsofjoy

  159. Oh my God, you deserve a beauty award for this one, I'm not Asian, and I've been around for a while, and I have never seen such a great post in my whole life. Congratulations, I am right at this moment giving you a round of applause, and thinking I have every single wrong foundation on the market. and have no idea what color skin I own.

  160. This was so confusing but helpful! I'm definitely going to read it a couple more times and try to really look at my skintone. The pictures really helped me to understand so thanks again.

  161. I seem to be a neutral olive. I wear warm colored blush, but cool colored clothing/lip gloss, and a mix of cool and warm eye shadows. So I'm guessing neutral, but what color should a neutral olive wear for foundation? Can anyone give me an example of words to look for on foundation to get the right color? I wear medium beige by Revlon, but I feel I can look sickly in it and super yellow. :( Any help anyone?

  162. @Anonymous: It's hard to tell what you are based on the description. But if you are really unsure, a good way to find out what colour works for you would be to figure out exactly why the Medium Beige shade doesn't work. Is it too yellow (looks abit orangey) or too pink (looks abut ashy)?If it's too yellow, then you know that likely you need a shade with cooler undertones, and if too pink, then a more yellow shade would work well. This is assuming the shade isn't too dark or too light, but if your current shade is also too light/dark, then you'll also have to correct accordingly. When you figure out why your current shade doesn't work for you, then you'll have a better idea of what to look for in your next shade.

  163. Hi there, i used to think that people who have medium dark skin is olive. thanks for your detailed description with pictures.
    can i add you to my facebook account so you can tell me what undertone i have? i just know that i've fair skin. people always say i should wear gold jewelry which makes me think i'm warm, but i can't wear clothes that are in yellow, orange and green cause they wash me out but i can wear pastel clothing which makes me think i'm cool.
    maybe i just have olive fair skin with cool undertone like you? anyway, here is my fb account http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517998812

  164. this has been very helpful! But to be honest, I still don't understand the olive thing. Nobody looks "greenish" to me. You don't look green at all. You look pale but I don't see any green cast. But maybe my eyes are too untrained

  165. Thanks for this article! I think I know what my skin tone is now, but am still unsure. May I send pictures of myself to you through e-mail?

  166. @Anonymous: Yes please feel free to do so. If I'm busy it may take me awhile to respond to your emails, but rest assured that your questions will get an answer!

  167. Thanks for the post! I still can't tell what I am--I look good in blues and greens, but also reds and oranges. Or maybe I just THINK I look good in these colors and don't, ha ha! Do you mind if I send a photo or two?

  168. @Nikki: Feel free to send over your photos! It may take me awhile to response, but you'll receive a reply :)

  169. Hi, I just wanted to let you know that your blog entry was so informative and answered so many of my questions! Despite having a yellow overtone like other Asians, my clothing choices and what I look best in would always be opposite of the "warm" color palette and the "yellow" foundations are actually too yellow for my skin tone. My own conclusion-- neutral cool!

  170. whoa, this is very informative:) thank you for making such a long writing about asian undertones. i'm so confused as well, because i'm also a mixed asian and so confusing in finding a right base color. this explain a lot :D

  171. best article on undertones!! Asian too and I can't tell my undertone! I guess I'm a neutral! Thank you! Your post is gonna be bookmarked. :)

  172. Thank you so much for this post! It makes perfect sense and I completely agree with you.

  173. Hello,

    I actually read through your whole article. Thank you for spending the time to write that. I have always been confused on what color of my skin tone is, whether if i am olive, or not, or if I am warm or cool skintone. When I go on websites, they tell you to look at the color of your veins, in which I did, and my vein is blue... but after reading your summary, you said that it can be a misconception? To sum it up, I am still confused.
    Would you be able to view my facebook picture and let me know? http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=32811492&viewas=100000686899395&returnto=profile
    I am the small asian girl. If the picture if too small for you to make a comparison, let me know!

    Thank you so mucH!

  174. Thanks for this post.. it focuses well on the diversity of Asian skins and how different they are from Caucasians.. I thought I was warm and ended up with a yellow face from most mineral foundations I ordered online.. now I get to understand that I am olive.. with warm undertones.. I really wish there is an asian brand that understands how different we are.. and why the blue-green veins thing doesn't work on us..

  175. So, if someone is deemed cool and olive (went for a color consultation thing where they drape you with swaths of fabric, I was deemed dark and cool even though i'm obviously very very yellow. not orangey, sunny yellow but sallow yellow according to the lady. i do look better in the cool tones although i doubt that's because I look better in jewel tones in general and the "warm" fabrics were an army olive green and a dull brick red. i admit though that when i'm pale, i become a dirty, almost ugly sallow yellow/ greenish colour), what kind of foundation should they get?

    i've tried the chanel vitalumiere aqua and at first it thought i was beige rose(30)since i'm cool but when i went to the counter, the lady said that there's weren't any pinks in my skin and i'm a beige 30. i look sallow/grey/dirty/ill more than half the time when i'm trying anything other than black.

  176. wow! this is all great information and examples! I always saw Asians had different shades of "yellow". I'm just not sure which one I am. Could you help me by looking through some of my facebook pics?

    Just add me and remind me who you are :)

  177. Also I tend to get really dark in the summer and pale yellow during the winter. I have plenty of green veins if that helps. :)

  178. I want to thank you for this post..first I'm not asian I'm hispanic.But I've always had a hard time finding right undertone.well I have yellow to my skin.like you mentioned I automatically labeled myself warm.But I found I always found the foundation was too orangey yellow.anywho after reading this I went through my pictures realized I was a fair to light olive neutral .like you I sometimes looked green and then other times I looked fair .i also tried the experiment of lipstick and the plum and gray shadow looked awesome I honestly never thought I would be anything other then warm skintone.your article really helped me change highly reconsider my foundations.i also never thought baby pink looked good on me because I was warm but now I know its the green olive tinge in my skin that makes it clash! Haha well I'm all done.thanks again! I dont have photos but I have this youtube.com/mshillyv! :)

  179. Hi! I find this really informative! But I have a question here, does it mean that people who tan easily are usually warm-toned?

    Thank you!


  180. Hi, Yours was the most satisfactory description of undertones I have come across. I am very confused with the undertone of my skin. I used to think I am warm. But now I am wondering if I am a neutral. Could you please try to help me based on the description I am about to give? I will also send a couple of photos to your email id. (Sorry, my online photos are not public)
    I am Indian and my skin has a yellow tinge to it. In natural light, I look medium fair with both pink and golden undertones. Sometimes it looks green. I also noticed that many of the warm as well as cool colours look good on me (including reds and blues and most pastels). However, I think sky blue is not so flattering. Bold colours are best (like crimson and royal blue). Something weird is that my skin tends to reflectt the colour I am wearing. This happens most with red blue, pink and (sometimes) green. Please help.

  181. Bless you, sweetheart ;) At least I could find one informative post on the internet which doesn't tell me: "If gold looks good on you, you're the warm-type!"
    Greetings from Germany :)

  182. Good thing I found this post, it was very helpful! However, I'm still finding a hard time figuring out all about my own skin tone. Do you have time to take a glimpse at some photos and help me out? I have some photos where it looks like my skin is ashy (not dry lol) and some photos I look incredibly fair skinned and was mistaken as european. The rest are brown-ish so it's all confusing me lol. Please let me know :)

  183. No offense but you are just comparing yourself to people who are darker than you. Darker does not equal warmer. You are still warm. (and it's beautiful on you) You are fair and warm and I don't think you look pink at all in the first picture.

  184. @Anonymous: No, darker doesn't always mean warmer, but my point was that there are Asians who are cool-toned too, and not all Asians are warm-toned. For Asians, it is not necessary to be pink to be cool-toned, since Asians are genetically yellow-skinned, so using Caucasian concepts of pink vs yellow are not very useful for Asians. Instead, I've suggested using warm yellow vs cool yellow as a guide instead. I won't go into detail on this, because my post elaborates on this. And for what it's worth, I do tend to look better in cool than warm colours (not just for makeup but for clothes etc as well), and I think it's quite apparent in my FOTDs.

  185. Hi! I really love this post as it is truly hard for Asian to determine skintone. I'm still having trouble with mine and I'd love your opinion. If it helps my veins on my wrist are a definite blue and I feel like I look better in cooler colors such as blues and greens than warmer colors. I tend to go for grey or plum overshadow and hate bronze eyeshadow on myself.

    There's a bunch of pictures of me on my blog


    Please help?

  186. @Jamie E. Anthony: It looks like you have a very observant eye for colour (just read your blog, of course you do! Your outfits rock!), and obviously you have a clear idea of wht colours you like and don't like. Based on your description, I'd say you were cool. Based on your photos, I'd say cool-neutral too.

  187. crazy intelligent and detailed! thank you!! is this like a PhD. in cosmetology, LOL??

  188. please help me! i read almost your entire article and you explained everything very well (a little too well) lol. i always have trouble because i am half asin/white. and i think i am warm with no olive.. but can i email you a picture so you can help me clarify? thank you! isaiahnbrandon@yahoo.com

  189. please help me! i read almost your entire article and you explained everything very well (a little too well) lol. i always have trouble because i am half asin/white. and i think i am warm with no olive.. but can i email you a picture so you can help me clarify? thank you! isaiahnbrandon@yahoo.com

  190. this is great! thanks for making this page informative.. I fully understand now... thanks also for giving me an idea on how i will teach this topic to my students next week... more power!

  191. @Anonymous: Thanks for the compliment! Not a PhD in cosmetology, unfortunately, but more like colour theory! It's always surprising how many people don't have a good grasp of basic colour theory :)

    @Sue: Sure, go ahead and email me a few photos. I get a lot of these types of requests, so I may take awhile to reply, but I eventually do reply everyone :)

  192. I'm not Asian, but this was still a very helpful post for me! Thank you so much for such a wonderful and informative post :)

  193. HURRAH!!! I've been telling people for years that my light olive skin is cool toned whenever people tell me I'm warm, as you say including shop assistants I know I'm not warm, if I out warm coloured makeup on I look very very ill! Neutral is not too bad but still I veer to cool toned products. Have tweeted about this post!

  194. This was really informative! Thanks for sharing! I am still unsure of what skin tone I am though. I have gone ahead and sent you pics of me via e-mail to get your opinion. If you could help me out, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks so much!!-Sarah T

  195. Check out the Everyday Minerals they have a page regarding skin tones, may be able to help you find yours.

  196. Appreciate your effort. Thank you!

  197. hi! I found your post very very very informative! I tried to deduce what skintone I have but i still am having a hard time figuring it out.. i sent my pictures to your email, hope you reply thanks a lot! :) -cristine nicole

    1. @Anonymous (Cristine Nicole): Sure, I'll take a look at your photos. It may take me awhile to get around to it as this is something I do whenever I have time to spare, but you'll definitely get a reply!


Thank you for commenting! I read each and every single comment! If you ask a question in your comment, please check back to this post, as I will reply in a comment to this post as well :) Please note that comments with soliciting links to shops or websites will be removed. Thanks!


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