Understanding your skin tone and the colours that suit you best

Colour tones

Have you ever bought a clothing item online and, after days of waiting for it to arrive, it just doesn’t look as flattering on you as it did on the model?

The fit, cut and length can be perfect but if the colour doesn’t work for you, it just won’t look right. One of the main reasons a colour doesn’t look as flattering on some people is because of a mismatch of personal colours. Personal colour is determined by a number of factors, such as your undertone, your complexion and the season.

Choosing the right colours for your wardrobe can make a huge difference to how you look and feel. Colours can enhance your natural features and complement your skin tone, but it can be challenging to determine which colours work best for you. Here are a few tips you can use to find the perfect personal colour palette.

Know your skin tone

Determining your skin tone is one of the first steps in determining your personal colour.

Your skin tone is the colour of your skin, and it can vary from neutral to cool to warm. People with warm skin tones have yellow, peachy or golden undertones, while people with cool skin tones have pink, reddish or bluish undertones. Neutral skin tones are a combination of both warm and cool undertones.

Here are some of the best ways to figure out your skin tone.

The colour of your veins

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To determine your skin tone, lift your wrist to eye level and look at the veins on the inside of your wrist in natural light. If your veins appear blue or purple, you might have a cool undertone. If they look green, you might have a warm undertone. If the colour is a mix of blue and green, then you probably have a neutral undertone.

Reaction to the sun

If you burn easily but do not tan in the sun, or develop a reddish tan, you likely have a cool undertone. If your skin tans a lot but rarely burns, you have a warm undertone. People with warm undertones usually have a golden or olive tan. You might have a neutral undertone if your skin doesn’t appear to have a single dominant shade and burns or tans equally.

Paper test

Another helpful tool to determine your undertone is the white paper test. Hold a piece of white paper next to your face or hand in natural light. If your skin looks pink or reddish next to the white paper, you have a cool undertone. For people with warm undertones, the face and hands look yellow next to the white paper.

Check your jewellery

Do you tend to gravitate towards silver jewellery and think you look best in it? If silver jewellery looks better on you than gold jewellery, you might have a cool undertone. The opposite is true for people with warm undertones.

Once you have determined your skin tone, you can move on to find colours that work best for you by using helpful tools such as the colour wheel.

The colour wheel analysis

The colour wheel is an abstract visual representation of different colours in the spectrum and their relationship with each other. Colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as red and green, are called complementary colours. These complementary colours create a striking contrast when worn together and can be worn in colour-blocked outfits. Analogous colours are those that are next to each other on the colour wheel, such as yellow, orange, and red, and create a harmonious and cohesive look when worn together.

For people with cool tones, the colours green, purple, and blue can be chosen to create a balanced outfit. If you have a warm skin tone, you can pair the colours yellow and red for a bold and cohesive outfit. 

People with a neutral skin tone can wear a wide range of colours, including both analogous and complementary colours, and still pull it off!

Consider your personality and the occasion

When choosing the right colours for your wardrobe, it is equally important to consider your personality and the occasion.

If you have a bright personality and think that bold colours such as red or yellow suit you, then you might as well go for it! However, these colours may not be appropriate for every occasion, even if they show off your personality. Colours that make a statement should be reserved for personal occasions, and timeless yet versatile neutral colours should be incorporated.

For people with a warm undertone, solid colours such as black and white, if paired together, can look good. Neutral colours such as beige and ivory generally look good on people with a warm undertone.

Keep the colour of your hair in mind

When checking for different colours that work for you, it is important to consider the colour of your eyes and hair to avoid the mistake of clashing any colours. If you have dark hair and brown eyes, solid, bold colours such as emerald green and navy may look better on you. Softer, pastel colours such as lavender and baby pink may be better suited for those with lighter hair and blue or green eyes.

Consulting a professional

If you’re having difficulty determining your personal colour on your own, consulting a professional can be a great option. A professional consultant is trained to identify which colours work best with your skin tone and personal style while providing you with expert advice and guidance.

Ultimately, determining your personal colour is about finding those colours that make you feel confident and comfortable. If you love a certain colour and feel great when you wear it, but it is not in your season, don’t be afraid to incorporate it into your wardrobe with accessories such as a handbag or a scarf. It is important to remember there are no strict rules when it comes to colour, the most important thing is to have fun and express yourself through your personal style. 

Do you know which colours suit you best? Why not share them in the comments section below?

Also read: Inject some colour into your wardrobe

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.


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  1. I bought a 2nd-hand book at a fete for 25c many years ago, which was called “Colour Me Beautiful”, & in this book women’s skin tones were divided into the 4 seasons. I decided I was a “spring”!, & have been sticking to this colourway ever since, & get many compliments on my choices! It corresponds to the “cool” colours mentioned in this article!

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