Here’s part two explaining how I look at, classify, and understand color, which reflects how I describe products in reviews and how they’re classified in the Swatch Gallery (which is truly a work-in-progress as I refine and get a better understanding of depth, undertone, and how relative that is within each color categorization!). You’ll want to make sure to at least read through part one for a primer on color theory.
Cooler-toned greens will lean blue, they might sometimes like more like teal if you tend to see teal as an equal mix of blue and green. “Emerald green” is often a cooler-toned green, but I find it translates into cooler and more neutral-to-warm shades in makeup. Lighter, cooler greens can look like “mint green,” which I’d classify under “cool aqua.”
Neutral-toned greens are balanced between blue and yellow undertones, though some will use the term “neutral” to really mean muted or “dirty” – these would be more olive greens, but they tend to contain more yellow/brown undertones (making them more warm than balanced between cool and warm).
Warmer-toned greens have stronger, more noticeable yellow or golden undertones. They can get so yellow that they get into chartreuse territory, which is a true yellow-green mix. The lighter, brighter, and yellower-leaning, the more likely it is to be more of a “cool” yellow than classified as a green. With more shimmer to them and some depth, very yellow-toned greens start looking like “cooler” golds.
Teal is created when you mix blue and green together, and teal tends to represent more of a mid-tone to deep amount of darkness (lighter teals are often classified as “aqua”). Cooler-toned teals are ones dominated by blue rather than green. They might sometimes read as “warm” blues rather than true (very blue through and through) or very cool-toned blues (that lean purple).
Balanced teals are neither blue-leaning nor green-leaning and seem to strike that perfect, 50/50 mix of undertones. Most teals are cooler-toned than they are balanced or warm-toned. Sometimes this area is better classified as “warmer” blue. In makeup, more balanced teals are often the result of a cooler base color and warmer shimmer.
Since blue is really a cool-toned color, there are only a few “warmer” varieties, and in makeup, this is typically the result of a cooler base color paired with warmer shimmer, which gives it a “warmer” appearance overall. “Warmer” blues tend to be better described as blue-based teals (as warmth is introduced by mixing with green into blue).
Berry is like plum’s cooler-toned sister. Berries are cooler-toned most of the time when referenced, and I think the way to think of “berry” is to think “raspberry” rather than “strawberry” or “blueberry.” I also think that “grape” as apt here. Cooler-toned berry hues lean purple, whereas warmer berries will tend to lean redder, and this space can overlap with warmer purples, too.
Berry shades balanced between purple and red still tend to be dominated by red but lack some of that brightness that cooler-toned berry shades do. A lot of raspberry-hued colors are more balanced than strongly purple.
The more “strawberry” it starts looking–which means there’s more and more red to it–the warmer it is. I generally don’t find that a lot of cosmetics fit into “warm” berry and tend to better correspond to other color classifications (pink, coral, plum).
Purple is a secondary color created when you mix red and blue together, and so the more blue that is in the mix, the cooler-toned the purple appears. This is why you’ll sometimes see people use the term “blurple.” With a lot of blue, it may also appear as a “cooler blue.”
Warmer lavenders are dominated by red (and to some degree, pink, when they are lighter); they can sometimes look like cooler-toned pinks. When they get deep enough, they can start appearing more like true fuchsias.
Brown is created when you mix complementary colors together, e.g. blue and orange, red and green, or purple and yellow. This is why classifying brown is difficult, but it is helpful to think of cooler-toned browns as appearing bluer, purpler, or redder. When one undertone has enough brightness, it may end up being easier to think of it as another shade.
Browns that seem to lean neither cool-toned nor warm-toned are neutral, and I think a lot of them get classified more as a taupe than a true brown. This meeting of cool/warm tends to look like a muted red or a sallow green.
Warmer browns tend to look more red, orange, or yellow. I’ve tried to classify very red- or orange-toned shades that are more mid-tone as coppers in the last few years to help clean up the spectrum of brown to reflected slightly more de-saturated undertones.
Taupe is officially defined as a “brownish gray” per Merriam-Webster. When it leans cooler-toned, it tends to be more like a plummy gray to plummy brown — there’s a purplish influence to the undertone.
Mauve is a mix of red and purple, but it is primarily marked by a dusty, de-saturated quality, especially in makeup. Sometimes the easiest way for me to think of mauve is that it encompasses colors that are too warm/red to be listed as lavender and too brown to be listed as pink. Cooler mauves will lean purpler, sometimes appearing a bit brighter or more saturated than its warmer friends.
Pewter is a metal alloy that uses mostly tin with smaller amounts of other metals, like copper, lead, or antimony. If you google “pewter,” you’ll find it ranges from a darker, warmer gray to a silvery-gold. Because of its metallic background, in cosmetics, pewter often reflects lighter, brighter warmer grays to darker, cooler golds. Cooler pewters tend to lean bluish-green to gray.
More balanced white shades will look less bluish and may lean almost grayish at times, but they don’t look warm; they won’t lean ivory or beige or yellow. Most white shades in makeup lean cooler-toned or warmer-toned with less in the narrow space between the two.
Warmer whites have a touch of beige or yellow to them, they can look almost “golden” but they still remain quite light (and sometimes bright). Once they darken a bit, they tend to enter beige or white gold territory.
True silver sits in the middle as a more balanced undertone–doesn’t visibly lean blue or cool-toned and doesn’t have any champagne, beige, or gold cast to it (which can make it appear more pewter or taupe).
Warmer silvers tend to be slightly darker , not quite as bright, and have a touch of beige visible in the undertone. I tend to classify these more on the spectrum of pewter or taupe rather than silver as silver is a more defined color (compared to other colors!).
More neutral-toned grays are balanced between cooler, bluer undertones and warmer, beige undertones. I’ve found that most shades I’d classify as gray tend to be cooler or warmer and very rarely truly neutral.
Cooler-toned blacks tend to be almost bluish or purplish, and there aren’t that many as most fall into a more balanced space. They may often get categorized as darker grays, deep, cool-toned browns (or taupes), or blackened navy blue.
Much like cooler-toned blacks, warmer-toned blacks are often better described and classified under the darkest depth of other shades, e.g. darkest brown. Warmer blacks will appear slightly tinged with brownish warmth (but you might classify them as a cooler brown!).
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!
We're here to help you make better beauty purchases that you'll enjoy and love! We recommend signing up to take advantage of personalized features like tracking products you own, viewing dupes that you already have, and more!
Curious how two shades compare to each other? Type in the shades below to get instant side-by-side swatches!
We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get
behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback,
product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please
contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!