Warm or Cool? How to Dress for Your Undertones

MAR. 28 2023

Color can be complex. After all, millions of shades exist, each defined by hue, saturation and light. When it comes to your professional headshot, a basic understanding of how color interacts with your skin tone can help you best prepare for your shoot. 

Skin tone is immediately perceptible, and it can range from deep to fair. An undertone, however, is the color beneath the skin that affects overall hue. While skin tones can change throughout the year (think: a summer tan), undertones never change.

While virtually infinite amounts of skin tones exist, undertones are defined by three separate categories: Warm, cool and neutral. 

  • People with warm undertones tend to have a golden appearance. Their skin tans easily, and they find gold jewelry complements them best.
  • People with cool undertones tend to have a red or pink appearance. Their skin burns easily in the sun, and they find silver jewelry complements them best.
  • People with neutral undertones tend to have neither a gold or pink appearance, but an olive one. It’s the rarest undertone, most present in people of color. 

Have you ever loved a piece of clothing on a model, but felt disappointed when you tried it on? Our satisfaction with clothing and beauty products has much to do with undertones. When we grasp ours, we can choose palettes for our hue that emphasize our inherent style.

If you’re still unsure what your undertone is, take a look using these tests.

  1. The Vein Test. Inspect your inner elbow. If your veins appear green, you likely have a warm undertone — and blue, a cool one.
  2. The Paper Test. If you can’t see your veins, place a stark white piece of paper against your chest. Notice which colors seem present to you. Gold and green colors indicate a warm skin tone, and red and blue, a cool one.
  3. The Sun Test. If you tend to sunburn easily, you have a cool skin tone. Those who simply tan have either a warm or neutral undertone.

Ready to know which colors will make your headshot shine? People with cool skin undertones should opt for shades of blue, teal, lilac, lavenders and rose. Those with warm or neutral skin tones are flattered by shades of camel, orange, gold and scarlet. 

Your headshots are the perfect time to practice your new skills in color theory. Ready to book one? Schedule with us here.

We hope you found our guide helpful! Be sure to explore our other blogs, and learn more about us here.

Written by Lindsay Pace // Have thoughts for her? Say hello at lindsay@taylorsquarephotography.com.

The Final Verdict

Warm or Cool? How to Dress for Your Undertones

Defining Undertones

Categorizing the Concept

A Case for Undertones

Find Your Perfect Palette