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Cool, warm and neutral – it might sound like we’re discussing weather patterns, but these three words actually form the basis of skin undertones. Whether you have a deep, medium or fair skin tone, learning how to find your undertone is the secret to a flawless foundation blend. We’ve all had the experience of purchasing a new foundation only to have it look grey on the skin. Not exactly the natural, lit-from-within look we were going for. This is a case of a poor undertone match, and in this article, we’ll explain how to find your undertone for foundation.


Warm vs cool skin tone

Most skin undertones fall into one of three categories: warm, cool and the lesser-known third category, neutral skin tone. There’s a misconception that skin undertone and skin shade are one and the same. However, you’ll find warm, cool and neutral skin undertones in every depth and saturation of skin shade. So, whether you find yourself typically reaching for the most deep or fair skin tone available in a foundation line-up, it’s worth undertaking one of a few DIY tests to discover whether you have a warm vs cool skin tone. Now, let’s explore how to find your undertone.

How to find your undertone

The question must be asked when seeking our ideal foundation shade: what is my skin undertone? Fortunately, it’s possible to find the answer from the comfort of home. Maybelline has a selection of smart virtual tools designed to help you find what foundation for cool undertones is best, alongside warm undertones and neutral undertones. Hop over to the Foundation Finder  for a recommendation tailored not only to your skin undertone, but also your preferred coverage. Alternatively, take a peek at our interactive Fit Me Shade Finder for an in-depth assessment of your perfect Fit Me shade. 

Besides virtual tools, there are a variety of ways you can identify your skin undertone. If you’re ready to learn how to find your undertone for foundation, here are three simple DIY tests to try.

  1. Check the colour of your veins

    This test requires no props and can give you a good indication of your undertone whether you have a deep, medium or fair skin tone. Step into natural light and check the colour of your veins on the underside of your wrist or on your neck – wherever you can discern the colour most clearly. If your veins appear:


    • Blue and purple: You have a cool undertone.

    • Green and olive: You have a warm undertone.

    • A combination or unclear: You have a neutral undertone.

  2. Try on your jewellery

    On your mission to find your undertone and learn how to match your foundation shade seamlessly, you may have come across the jewellery test. Although picking out whether gold or silver jewellery flatters warm vs cool skin tone best is subjective, it’s worth a try to consolidate what your undertone is. Simply don some silver then gold jewellery and compare how they enhance your skin tone. Remember:

    • Gold jewellery typically flatters warm skin undertones.

    • Silver jewellery is most flattering on cool skin undertones.

    • Neutral skin undertones will pop with either gold or silver jewellery.

  3. Put on a white t-shirt

    The third at-home test to try when learning how to find your undertone involves a pure white item of clothing – or even a piece of paper will do the trick! This will allow you to easily contrast the underlying colours of your skin to white and see which tones are most prominent:

    • If your skin appears more red or golden in comparison to white, you have a warm undertone.

    • If your skin looks rosy and pink in comparison to white, you have a cool undertone.

    • If your skin isn’t leaning too much in either direction – for example, you can pick up on some warmer and some cooler characteristics – you have a neutral undertone.

How to match foundation to skin tone

Confidently identifying your skin undertone will help you select your ideal foundation colour. The goal here is to avoid the dreaded line of demarcation along the neck or jaw that can result from a sub-par colour match. When looking for how to find your undertone for foundation, carry out one or two of the above DIY tests and apply the results to your foundation of choice.

When wondering how to choose foundation for your skin tone, the next most important factor is selecting your preferred formulation. If you prefer a subtle, luminous finish we recommend the Fit Me® Dewy + Smooth Foundation, while for a natural, satin finish the Fit Me® Matte + Poreless Foundation will be your go-to. If a mattified, blurred effect is more your vibe, the Instant Age Rewind Instant Perfector 4-in-1 Matte Foundation Makeup is for you. The Instant Perfector is a great one-and-done for light makeup days and has a self-adjusting shade range suitable for all undertones. Lastly, if you need a foundation that will stay put all day, the Superstay 30H Foundation has you covered.

The finishing touch to your perfect foundation blend is a smooth and flawless application. This can be achieved in multiple ways – some swear by the precision afforded by a foundation brush while for others applying with fingers can’t be beaten. Whatever your preference, be sure to read ourstep-by-step guide to liquid foundation application to level up your blend.


To discover your new favourite foundation from the comfort of home, visit our Virtual Try On service next.