Discover Your Correct Skin Undertone For Makeup That Looks Best On You

By Brendan Vartan, esthetician & mua / @brendanvartan


When It comes to finding makeup that looks best on you, knowing your undertone and coordinating it with the undertone of your makeup is very important. In this article, I  will discuss some easy ways to find out what skin undertone you have and how to look for undertones in makeup using red lipstick shades as examples. 

I consider red the 'little black dress" of lipstick shades, and I recommend you have at least one red lipstick in your makeup wardrobe. It's a timeless color that can instantly make you look put-together and will never go out of style. As a makeup artist, however, I often hear "I can't wear red lipstick." or "Red lipstick does not look good on me." While not everyone looks her or his best in deep burgundy reds or bright orange reds, I'm here to tell you that you can wear red and that there is a red lipstick that will look good on you. The key is to look at the undertone of the lipstick and compare it with the undertone of your skin. 


What is undertone, you may ask? It is the layer of color or tone underneath the top of your skin that can be cool (blue or tones), warm (yellow, oranges...think close to the sun) or neutral (a mixture of warm & cool tones). So how can you tell which undertone you have?
  • One way is to look at the veins in your wrists. If they look purplish or blue, then you have a cool undertone. If they look green, you have a warm undertone. However, if it seems to be a mix of the colors or if it's very hard for you to tell when looking at your veins, you may be in the neutral category which often means you can work will wearing shades with multiple undertones.
  • You can also look at the clothes or jewelry you like to wear to help determine the undertone of your skin.  If you wear rich jewel tones such as blue-reds, blues, purples, and greens best and you look best in silver jewelry, you most likely have a cool undertone and will look amazing in reds with hints of blues or pinks like Modern Perfection Matte Lipstick in Princess of Power pictured here.

Lex and Jong Modern Perfection Matte Lipstick in Princess of Power - a neutral red with slight blue undertones

  • If you look better in colors that are generally considered warm such as yellow, oranges, orange-reds or browns and gold jewelry looks best on you, then chances are, you have a warm undertone.
  • Now here's the wild card - Olive complexions. While most olive complexions are considered neutral, they tend to have a green or yellow cast that can range anywhere from light-beige & slightly grayish to medium/deep tan. While this allows olive complexions to wear many colors, those with olive complexions generally look great in reds with some warmth, earthy or slight brown tones like Modern Perfection Cream Lipstick in Peculiar Belle, pictured here.

Lex and Jong Modern Perfection Cream Lipstick in Peculiar Belle

        Such tones complement the green & yellow in olive complexions well. 


Determining the undertone of a product is similar to determining the undertone for your skin. Like skin, lipsticks also have undertones. If you have some lipsticks in front of you, the best test is to swipe against the veins in your wrists. When you do this, the undertones of the lipsticks can usually be seen around the edges of the swatch. If you don't have the lipsticks in front of you, you can try to visually compare the colors. 

Lex and Jong Modern Perfection Matte Lipstick in Fire Dragon - an orange red


  • If the red gives off more of a pink or blue hue, it will work best with cool skin tones. With all of this said, these are not rules but guidelines. If you want the color to pop against your skin instead of complementing it, then by all means, you can choose a color that is in contrast with your natural undertone. 


  • Generally, red lipsticks look best with a clean line. As we age, we tend to lose definition in our lips so I suggest using a lip liner to line and fill in your lips to not only help the color last, but help keep the look clean.
  • Sometimes, it's not just about the color, but the texture that suits you best. If you are not yet comfortable with reds, find one with the right undertone, apply a layer and blot so it leaves a "just bitten" stain. For other days, you may want to opt for a sheer red gloss. For photography, I mostly prefer to have matte or semi-matte to matte reds as a base.
  • I know it may be intimidating but I encourage you to give this timeless color a try...and who knows? You may feel so good about how you look that you may find a new favorite signature shade.
Please let me know about your experience. If you have any questions about what's right for you, please contact me at and I will be happy to help. Also, don't forget to sign up for our VIP list so you don't miss out on upcoming beauty tips!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published