When it comes to makeup, most of us know the importance of taking the time to find the right colour for our foundation. We test, blend and compare multiple colours, with only the most minor degrees of difference between them (after all, we would like our face to match our neck!) before we settle on ‘the one’. And yet, when it comes to clothing, we rarely take the time to think about the best colours to wear for our skin tone – or even – what skin tone we are: Spring, summer, autumn or winter. Confused? Let’s break it down.
Before we get to the seasonal stuff, it’s important to note that our skin has two types of tone: surface tone and undertone. Ever tried on a shade of red lipstick, only to find it completely washes out your face while the other red one right next to it makes your eyes whiter and skin brighter? The second probably worked with both your surface tone AND undertone, while the first one may have had a totally different undertone!
Surface tone – The skin colour you would descibe yourself as having, like ‘tan’, ‘dark’ or ‘ivory’, for example.
Undertone – The colour underneath the surface. For example, you could have the same surface tone as someone else with a completely different undertone. This is the one that most dictates which colours suit you (and is the one that tends to be the hardest to work out!).
Undertones are then further broken down by ‘Cool’, ‘Warm’ and ‘Neutral’ tones:
Cool tones – Pink, red or bluish undertones
Warm tones – Yellow, peachy or golden undertones
Neutral tones – A mix warm of and cool undertones, olive tones
One major misconception? That pale girls can’t have warm tones and dark skin ladies can’t have cool tones. Blake Lively is a good example of fair skin with a warm undertone while Lupita Nyongo’o has dark skin with a cool undertone.
You probably know your surface tone right away, so the next step to working out which season you are is identifying your undertone. There are a few tricks you can use to work out whether you are cool, warm or neutral:
Every skin tone has a season and theory is that your type depends on two factors:
Style writer Anuschka Rees describes the seasons as representative of the four possible variations of these two variables:
“If your natural hair colour is lighter than medium brown, you would be typed as either a Spring or a Summer; if it’s darker you are a Winter or an Autumn. If your skin tone and hair have a warm undertone, or you are a natural red-head, you would be classed as either a Spring or an Autumn; if your skin has a blue-ish, cool undertone and your hair is more ashy and has no golden or red highlights, you are either a Summer or a Winter.”
Worked out your undertone? Now you’re ready to suss out your season! Rees breaks down the seasons as follows:
Your hair colour will play a big part in which season you fall into, especially if you’re a neutral undertone, so don’t despair if you can’t work which season you fall into right away. You might be in-between! If you’d like to learn more about which season you are, head over to Ree’s blog for an even deeper breakdown into the season colour types.
Main image credit: Balmain via Vogue Runway