Want to know what I find frustrating? All of those online quizzes that claim to tell you what skin tone you have, what your face shape is, and whether you’re shaped like a pear or an apple (P.S. you’re not fruit and neither is your body!). Do they actually help anyone find the answer? Definitely not me! Skin tones can be pretty difficult to figure out if you don’t know the right tricks. But once you know what skin tone you have, choosing a flattering lip color becomes super easy. It’s really not as complicated as they make it out to seem in all of those crazy quizzes, I promise.

There are a lot of articles written that try to explain different little tests you can run to figure out your undertones. While they can be helpful (some more than others) they still leave a lot of ambiguity. Good news is I have an easier way! The next time you’re wondering about your undertones, consider this:

If you were drawing yourself with colored pencils and the beige/skin tone colors had been taken out of the box, which colors would you use instead?

If you look at a piece of fine art, you’ll see the artist didn’t use the flesh-toned crayon from the good ol’ box of Crayola’s to draw or paint their subject. Artists use a mixture of pinks and blues and yellows and purples to give a person depth and make them look – ahem – like a unique human being.

You don’t need to be a fancy pants artist to look at yourself in the mirror for a few minutes and ask yourself what colors you would use if you didn’t have that uber convenient skin-toned colored pencil. If you look and decide you’d use mostly pinks and blues, you have pink undertones. If you decide you’d use mostly yellows and purples, you have yellow undertones. If you’re still stumped, give the experiment a try and report back!

If I were to draw myself I would mostly use yellows and purples, maybe some greens, a little blue and a touch of pink. Since I’d mainly use yellow, my undertones are yellow. If I were to draw my sister Tess, I’d mostly use pinks and blues with some purple and a tiny bit of yellow. She’s a pink. Once I figured that little point out, choosing the most flattering colors for my skin tone seemed a heck of a lot more simple!

That leads to an important distinction: skin tone doesn’t really have much to do with how tan you are. The two can be completely independent of one another. Sometimes someone’s ability to tan can be an indicator of their skin tone because fairer skin tones, which typically have pink undertones, don’t often get super tan while warmer skin tones, which usually have yellow undertones, have the tendency to tan. That aside, I know pink undertones that get very tan and I know yellow undertones that don’t.

Tess is definitely a pink and I am definitely a yellow…and yet she is much more tan than I am. Despite whether she is pale as a ghost or super tan, I’d still use colors within the same family to draw her, and I would do the same when drawing myself.

So, that’s how you crack the code about what your UNDERTONE is. Now, let’s chat about what colors suit which skin tones. Tess was my accomplice in this one, and we decided to break the pinks into 3 categories: bold, bright, and barely. Today is the pink edition – we’ll conquer the reds and neutrals in a few weeks!

Honor with Yellow Undertones

Honor with Yellow Undertones

Tess and I picked these colors because they don’t wash me out, they aren’t jarring, and they compliment the yellow in my skin without accentuating it. I would not look good in a super deep fuchsia because all of the blue would wash me out. On the other end of the spectrum, an orangey red would not be ideal for me because it would really draw out that yellow in my skin making it look sallow. I tend to lean toward colors that have a little purple to them because the purple in the product will accentuate the purple tones in my skin which will help balance out the yellow. If you have yellow undertones, try purpley or rosy pinks.

Here are the colors from left to right:
1. Soft Lilac
2. 207 Rose Perfecto
3. Discontinued color – Envy is similar

4. 32 Pink Independent
5. 13 Rose Tempura

6. Pink in the Afternoon
7. 780 Bold
8. 203 Eau de Corail

Tess with Pink Undertones

With Tess, we chose colors in the coral family and colors with a little blue to them. Since she is a pink and has some blue tones in her skin as well, the cooler pink colors would really come across nicely on her skin. And the coral tones add some orange/yellow to balance out her pink/blue undertones. A pink with too much purple in it, though, would wash her out. If you’re a pink, try a cool-colored pink or a coral.

Here are the colors we picked for Tess from left to right:
1. Lively
2. Fiore

3. Discontinued color – similar to a cross between Tatin and Pink Lady
4. Peaches and Cream
5. Rieuse

6. Sandwash Pink
7. 203 Eau de Corail

Some colors out there can work for various undertones. Did you notice that 203 Eau de Corail color was on both of our lists? That one compliments both of our skin tones!

That’s the trick I use whenever I’m considering what someone’s undertones are. The moment I heard it, it took something ambiguous and made it make a lot more sense. It’s not quite an exact science, but it does the trick for me! Give it a shot and let me know what you find out 🙂