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Ever swipe on a lipstick to find that your complexion looks oh-so radiant, while a similar color leaves your skin looking sallow or lackluster? Chances are, the first color complimented your skin’s undertone and the second didn’t. Not quite sure what your undertone is? You’re not alone: it’s one of the most frequent questions we get at Birchbox, and even our team has been stumped in the past. Read on and watch our video for a quick and easy guide to understanding them.

What is an Undertone?

An undertone is the tone that peeks through your skin from beneath the surface: warm, cool, or neutral. A warm undertone generally gives skin a yellow, peachy, or golden tone. In contrast, cool undertones can be bluish, pinkish, or ruddy. Keep in mind, this is not the same as your skin tone. No matter how fair or deep your complexion is you can have a cool, warm, or neutral undertone.

Why It’s Important to Know Yours

Finding your perfect shade of foundation, lipstick, and even hair color can be a seriously difficult task. This is where knowing your undertone can help you figure out which hues work best for you. While some brands like Estèe Lauder and M·A·C Cosmetics label their foundations as warm (w), cool (c), and neutral (n), that’s not always the case. Generally, foundations that have a cool undertone have a slight pink tint to them, whereas ones with a warm undertone lean a bit more yellow or golden. Knowing your undertone can also help you find your perfect shade of lipstick. If your skin’s undertone is on the cooler side, opt for lipstick hues that have a blue or deep-purple undertone. If your skin leans warmer, opt for shades that have an orange or yellow base. When finding your most flattering hair color, it’s all about complementing your skin’s undertone. As a general rule of thumb, cooler complexions work best with warmer hair hues—think beige, caramel, honey and espresso. Those that have a warm tone in their skin should try shades with an ashier undertone, like icy blonde, chestnut, and licorice.

While some of us have very distinctive undertones, finding your own is not always as easy as looking in the mirror. We’ve come up with helpful hacks you can do at home to figure out whether your undertone is cool, warm, or neutral. Watch the video to learn more!

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