How-to: wear the right makeup for your skin tone.
Jessica Alba has a warm skin tone. Photo: Getty
Although we’re firm believers that beauty rules were made to be broken, when it comes to creating a foolproof wardrobe of makeup, taking the time to nut out your skin tone can save you serious time, money and confusion at the cosmetics counter. If you’re unsure whether you have an autumn (warm) or spring (cool) complexion, all you need to do is head out into the natural light and take a look at the colour of the veins on the underside of your arm. As a general rule, blue-toned veins signal a cool complexion while green veins indicate a warmer skin tone. Then, once you’ve got your skin tone down pat, it’s time to pick ‘n’ mix the shades that suit you best.
Think of the sun, with burnt earthy tones such as brick-red, orange, bronze, gold and honey, and you get the pretty picture.
The skin: The next time you’re on the hunt for a new foundation, yellow-based formulas are the way to go. As for the cheeks, soft pink powders can disappear into the skin so it’s best to stick with warm pinks, like peach or coral that boast just the right amount of gold to play up the existing olive undertones in the skin.
The eyes: You can’t go wrong with neutral tones, like bronze, gold, coffee, copper and taupe and when it comes to eye liner, both black and brown work a treat.
The lips: Although brown and golden-toned bullets such as almond and honey shades are a given, orange-reds and warm pinks, like apricot or peach, look equally as flattering. Just try and avoid anything too pale, like baby pink as it can wear looking frosty.
Emma Stone has a 'cool' skin tone. Of course she does, you say! Photo: Getty
The most versatile of the two complexions, the existing rose-pink undertones in cool skin tones mean you can get away with wearing pretty much any jewel-toned colour such as blue, green or purple, in both pastel and vivid form.
The skin: Soft pink powder and crème blushes were made for cool skin tones, but if you’re keen to dabble in bronzer, blending a hint of peach powder with it will soften the brown undertones to stop if from looking grubby against the skin.
The eyes: Although gold is universally flattering, cool complexions have gem-tones, like turquoise, topaz, emerald green and amethyst in the bag. If you’re new to colour, try wearing the shadow as liner or opt for a soft wash of shadow across the lids followed by a slick of eye liner. Our vote goes to a rich navy like MAC Cosmetics Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Prussian, $32, maccosmetics.com.au.
The lips: If you’re looking for a quick pick me up, classic fire-engine reds and berry shades of gloss and lipstick, such as raspberry pink or fuchsia, have got your back.
The exception to the rule: purple
If you’re struggling to crack the colour code, purple is the ultimate one-fits-all shade. “Purple-based anything, from nail polish to blush and lipstick is the most universally flattering hue,” says makeup artist Fern Madden. If you’re after proof, check out Clinique’s Blushing Blush Powder Blush in Iced Lotus, $49, www.clinique.com.au.
The Nail Files
Unlike makeup, there’s so much variation in nail polish that there’s literally something for everybody. “Take for instance grey nail polish, if you’ve got a warm complexion, you can make it work with a brown-based shade like a mushroom or putty lacquer, whereas cool skin tones will suit a blue-based grey like dove-grey,” explains OPI educator and stylist Karon McKendrick Taylor. “It’s as simple as heading to the nail bar, picking the first lacquer that takes your fancy and asking the sales assistant to find the shade within the colour that suits you best."