FemaleF.I.R.S.T, Inc.

Personal Training for Women

How to choose colors that flatter you

Okay, ladies, let’s talk beauty. With the holidays in full force, you’ve probably gotten a few invites to parties with “holiday attire” or “cocktail attire” listed as the dress code. And no doubt you’ve either been hitting the stores or your closet trying to figure out what to wear. Would that emerald green number at Macy’s look good on you, or should you go with the red dress? But does that red complement you or make you look washed out? How red is too red? And does the green make you look sick? Should you just give up, RSVP no to everything, and curl up with some hot tea and Gilmore Girls and call it a day?

    Have you ever given thought as to why certain colors make your eyes pop and give your skin a glow while others make you look washed out or sickly? Why you’ve always been dying to wear a bold, fire engine-red lipstick, but when you put it on, something looks off? One word: undertones. Undertones refer to the underlying tone in your skin (NOT your primary skin color), and are on a spectrum ranging from yellow (warm/gold/olive/peach) to red (cool/blue/pink). For example, you may be fair-skinned with underlying tones of blue and pink, or you might be darker with underlying tones of yellow and orange. Things like your hair color, the season, and lighting can affect how you perceive your undertones.

    So why are undertones so important? Well, they can affect how certain cosmetics and colors look on you! Things like your hair color, foundation, lipstick, blush – even your clothes – are affected by your undertones. Remember the fire engine-red lipstick? The reason it might look off on you and amazing on someone else is due to your undertones. You may have cooler undertones, which can clash with warmer colors – like that fire engine-red lipstick. But how do you determine where you fall on the undertone spectrum? It’s not an exact science, but there are some general rules of thumb.

    Warm/Yellow Undertones

  • People with warm undertones have a greenish cast on the veins in their wrists.

  • Warmer colors (oranges, yellows, reds) tend to be more flattering.

  • Gold jewelry tends to look better on people with warm undertones.

  • White clothing provides a nice contrast with warm undertones.

  • Orange-red lipstick (fire engine-red!) looks better than blue-red lipstick.

    Cool/Red Undertones

  • People with cool undertones have a bluish cast on the veins in their wrists.

  • Cooler colors (blues, greens, purples) tend to be more flattering.

  • Silver jewelry tends to look better on people with cool undertones.

  • Off-white clothing is more flattering than white clothing as it won’t wash you out.

  • Blue-red lipstick looks better than orange-red lipstick.

    Neutral Undertones

  • People with neutral undertones can wear both warm and cool colors with no discernable difference.

  • Both silver and gold look flattering on people with neutral undertones.

  • Neutral undertones can vary with the lighting (may look cooler/warmer in certain kinds of light).

    People can also have olive undertones and peach undertones. Olive undertones are generally categorized on the warmer end of the spectrum, although the veins in the wrists of people with this coloring generally look a little greener. Peach undertones can fall into either the neutral or warm categories, and tend to look gold with a touch of pink.

    Now that you’re well on your way to discovering your undertones, don’t be afraid to experiment! Try on a variety of lipsticks to see which ones best complement your natural beauty. Play around with eyeshadow colors to see what works. And keep in mind that just because you have a certain set of undertones doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself. Still want to wear that fire engine-red lipstick? Go for it. Can’t imagine yourself without that emerald green cocktail dress? Wear it. Wear what makes you feel like the badass chick you are. Because confidence goes well with any color.  

    Curious as to which products go better with certain undertones? Check out some suggestions here.