How to Find Colors that Flatter You – Tips & Tricks

Makeup & Beauty Tips on How to Find Colors that Flatter You

Share your best tips and tricks for finding the right colors for your coloring! Feel free to share your experiences, how you mastered techniques, or what you struggle with.

My Tips

  1. Experiment! ย First and foremost, it’s about playing with different colors and seeing what you like and what you don’t like. ย You can even mix colors to create shades you don’t own (but maybe will!).
  2. A general rule of thumb is warmer complexions look better in warmer hues and vice versa. I think it’s a good starting point, but just because you have cool undertones doesn’t mean you can’t wear a warm color.
  3. Sometimes it’s not about that one color as it is about how the color works whatever else you have on (both in terms of makeup as well as clothes, accessories, etc.). ย There are some colors that don’t work as well with my coloring if that was all I wore, but if I pair it with another color, it can work.
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28 Comments

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For years I’ve heard that warmer complexions look better in warmer tones and vice versa for cooler tones. But after all this time, I’ve found that cooler colors work far better on me although I have a warm complexion. I personally prefer cooler colors and after years of wondering why warm colors don’t look right on me, I’ve tossed that rule. I think the contrast is more flattering on me, kind of like using a contrasting color — not a matching color — to enhance my eyes.

I did a color analysis a few months ago to find out the kind of colors that best suit my (warm) complexion. It turns out warm colors make me look sickly whereas cool-toned ones bring out the pink in my skin, which makes me look healthy and awake.

This analysis was meant to help me choose clothes but it turns out the same goes for my makeup! Hence I agree with your comment though I bet other things may influence the kind of tones that suit us, like Amy pointed out.

Hi Lucia, I’m based in western Europe but there must be trained color analysts in all parts of the world.

Basically the analyst had pieces of fabric in the gradient of each color (e.g. from raspberry to pastel pink…about 8 shades per color). She held them one by one so they covered me from shoulders to belly while I was sitting in front a mirror under natural day light.

Then she showed me how colors at the warm end of the spectrum bring out the sallowness in my face (I’m NC 20) whereas cool ones bring out the white of my eyes and teeth as well as the pink in my cheeks. That meant my ‘color wheel’ is the winter one, as she worked with the season wheels of colors. Hope that was helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

I think Christine’s first tip for experimentation is the best way to go no matter what your undertone is! For me, I find it depends on the colour & whether it’s a product for my cheeks or eyes. I have warm/ yellow undertones, but I find some warm blushes or eyeshadows sometimes look slightly -off- on me.
Like today I wore MAC Barefaced blush, which: “is described as a ‘mid-tone warm nude [with a satin finish]’. Itโ€™s a medium, slightly subdued, warm brown with hints of orange/tan and a satiny sheen.” While I love the colour, the brown tone (warm-on-warm) on my cheeks is just not as flattering on me as say, NARS Seduction, which is also warm, but berry toned. Or MAC’s Ripe for Love (my all-time fave!!), warm again, but coral.
For me, eyeshadow is usually more forgiving except for one colour. Coppery shades often look awful on me (like Benefit’s My Two Cents/ Clinique’s Ample Amber/ MAC’s Aztec Brick [wow I keep tryin’ huh?]), totally wash me out. Maybe this is where I should be mixing other shades in to make it work for me better, but on a day to day basis (for work) I often only wear one eyeshadow colour at a time. Most other shades work nicely on me, but it’s all about trying it out! ๐Ÿ˜€

It’s the same with me. I have warm toned skin, but very dark eyes and hair. When I wear warm tones (like orange toned lipstick) it just clashes with my hair and eyes in a really bad way. But cool tones hit the spot ๐Ÿ™‚

I think when you first start getting into makeup you want everything, at least for me it was like that. Working at a Makeup Counter probably didnt help either. Makeup is suppose to be fun and creative, I had tons of eyeshadow, blush, lipstick and lipgloss…..five years after working in the beauty department and finally finished with Nursing school…passed my NCLEX-RN yaay, my makeup routine has dramatically simplified and I have 5-6 eyeshadows that I love 3 blush and no lipgloss, discovered I dont like lipgloss and cut my lipstick collection in half. I couldnt be more happier. So my advice is experiment, be bold, fun and confident ๐Ÿ™‚

I think it’s especially important to have a blush that (in your opinion) looks good on you – it seems like there’s a lot more leeway when it comes to lipstick or shadow colors, but a “bad” blush shade can make a person look ill.

Completely agree with your first comment. If I strike out with a colour, I come back at it and combine with something else or change the way I apply. Sometimes I’ll layer colours when I feel one is running too warm or too cool for the way I want it to look. Frequently I will apply cross temperature base..meaning I will put use a warm base with a cool colour on top and vice-versa and this can help to make your top layer really stand out (right now I’m thinking of copper and purple). Don’t be afraid to not be all matchy matchy. While it makes it easy to co-ordinate blush with lipstick for example, sometimes the look falls a bit flat as a result. I’m not one for adhering to wearing only colours consistent with skin temperature. Nature provides an awesome and inspiring canvas of colours in all temperatures that come together and combine effortlessly and harmoniously. We can too!

Take into account your overall coloring. Although I have a neutral skintone, my hair and eye colors are cool, therefore warmer shades aren’t going to be as flattering.

Also, consider your personal aesthetic/style; if you tend to wear black, greys, jewel tones, etc., that bright pink lipstick that looks good with your coloring may not work so well with your outfit.

I’ve found that it depends on more than just my skin and eyes, and that my hair color has a big impact on what colors look good on me. Some of the makeup that I bought when I was light blond makes me look a little dead now that my hair is more of a light brown. Now, I seem to need a bit of warmth on my face to make me look awake. So, I’d agree that experimentation is the biggest thing.

I’m going to echo everyone who rejects the cool/warm rule (as did Christine). I actually THOUGHT I had cool undertones for years, in part because I looked better in cooler colors. Now that I have a better understanding of my coloring, I like both. I have both warm and cool blushes, lipsticks and eye makeup. It depends on the product and what I’m wearing it with.

Really the only way to do it is play around. Also that happens to be super fun, so win ๐Ÿ™‚

I struggled with lip color for so long because i have warm coloring. Warm colors work best on my eyes, and warm carmel works well on my lips. But if i want a more dramatic lip, i hate how warm colors look (anything orangey). I love raspberry, roses, blue based reds and dark wine colors. Is there a reason for this or do you think it is just preferrence?

For me what really help was not looking into only warm or cool but the color type. On me muted colors, like taupes, muted teal, plum look best. Brights and primary colors not so much.

I really depends on your coloring. Also invest in good blending brushes and try to blends brights with neutrals.

I’m really struggling with knowing what my ‘colouring’ or my ‘tone’ are – I wear YSL BD40 but personally I find it not quite the right match – NC15 was matched to me, but I didn’t really find it suited me. I always feel these warmer shades just look a little yellow on me, but I’ve been told I should definitely be wearing them.

Anyway, I always think gold and bronze look best on me, but I struggle to move out of these shades and virtually always wear browns, golds, bronzes and coppers, so I’d like to know what else would be a good match – my hair is blonde and my eyes can look green or blue depending on the shadow I wear. I’ve been thinking about dyeing my hair brown to suit my skin colouring more, but again I’m not sure what my tones or colourings are.

I think the biggest trick is to just experiment and see what works best on you. I used to be so scared of playing with color ’cause I didn’t know what colors were supposed to work on me. I discovered that there are almost no colors that I can’t wear, only colors that are more flattering than others.

The best tip I have is to experiment with colours that you may not otherwise try. Orange has always been my least favourite colour, and it’s something I normally never picked up, instead opting for deep rose and mauve-y tones (because those were the colours I liked). But you can’t tell from just hand-swatches; you have to swatch them on your lips and cheeks. Oranges, peaches and corals are now my favourite colours to wear because they just bring out the best in my (very warm) complexion, as well as my dark eyes and hair.

The amazing thing I’ve learned about makeup is that the colour is important in how it brings out the existing tones in your skin and hair, rather than the colour itself. Warm tones bring out the gold in my skin (and make my brown eyes look amazing), whereas cool tones bring out the yellow and make me look sickly. However, my skin becomes a lot cooler (thought still warm) in the winter, so I find I can pull off cooler tones in those months. So my tip basically is: don’t think about how the colour looks, even if it’s really beautiful; try to think more about how the colour changes/plays up/brings out your natural colouring. So try on that lipstick but don’t look at the lips, look at the whole face, look at the skin, look at the eyes, the hair.

All I can say is that wear whatever makes YOU think you look good — Be your own version of beautiful vs someone else’s. I personally don’t believe there should be rules about what someone should or should not wear apart from that. Flattering be damned! ๐Ÿ˜›

I think that it’s best to try any colour on, if not on your eyes, at least on the back of your hand so you can see how the colour fares on your skin. I used to stick solely to neutrals; even taupe was too much colour for me. Then I tried Chanel’s Safari on one day and never looked back. I now have an obscene number of taupes in my collection. It helps to have an experienced makeup artist/sales assistant apply your makeup too, if you’re not sure where to place the new colour for maximum impact. The Chanel makeup artist who put Safari on me combined it with Torrent, a khaki liquid eyeshadow (the entire line is now discontinued), which really made Safari pop. Only do this though if you’re sure that the person is competent at makeup though; I’ve had a sales assistant line one eye with a line pointing up and the other eye with a line pointing down, so I wouldn’t blame the colour in this case…. Finishes can also make a difference; just because a matte colour doesn’t do that well on you doesn’t mean that the same shade in a different finish won’t look good on you. Subtle shimmer in particular softens colours and gives them more dimension. I’ve never subscribed to the cool/warm thing, probably because I have dark hair and eyes, so apparently practically everything will work on me. I don’t like the theory in any case, because it’s a rule and I feel that there should be no rules when it comes to makeup so I just do whatever I want.

I have a light complexion, dark brown hair and blue eyes. I should be all over the cool toned stuff, right? I am always attracted in makeup and clothing to the warm toned colors. What’s up with that?

Just study your coloring and look at the effect different colors have on it. For example, I find that with my very dark hair, very dark eyes and pale skin with a hint of warmth in it that I tend to look best in colors that are slightly warm and smoky, and usually deeper. But there are exceptions! I find that for me personally that it makes sense to have a few signature colors (I’m only slightly cooler than you, Temptalia, and about the same coloring as Messy Wands!), for example, mine would be dark wine reds, berry reds, vampy colors and smoky/antiqued colors (dark teals, dark greens, plums, antique gold, taupe brows) in eyeshadow. Beyond that, just experiment! There are always exceptions to the rule, and makeup can always be washed off!

I experimented soooo much that I had 500 products in my make up stash. Now, after the experiments, I know, that I’m no cold nor warm type.

I got a light olive complexion and mid tones fit the most:
Eyeshadow: warm beige, neutral brown, red brown, cold-grey, petrol, greyblue, olive, firgreen, wood green, camel, warm pink, wine – No white, black, pastels,
Lipstick: pinked red, warm pink, violet, periwinkle, nude-rose – No orange
Blush: rosy peach, warm pink, some dark mauve – No orange, rose, mauve
Foundation – greyish to neutral, Asian BB cremes
Clothes: camel, warm/neutral beige, neutral brown, taupe, forestgreen, petrol, periwinkle, mint

I hope that helps for somebody, who doesn’t fit into the warm/cool scheme.

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