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“Skin Tone” and “Undertone”: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Team Colourette on
“Skin Tone” and “Undertone”: What’s the Difference?

“Skin tone” and “undertone” are two terms you’ve probably heard during our livestreams and GRWM videos. While these might sound the same, they’re actually not!

So for the besties who want to learn the difference and apply this knowledge to an upcoming shopping spree: this guide is for you!

Skin Tone vs. Undertone

“Skin tone” is the actual colour of your skin, i.e. the skin you see in the mirror! If you want to get technical about it, your skin tone refers to the amount of melanin (naturally occurring dark brown or black pigments in your skin) in your epidermis (the outermost layer of your skin).

On the other hand, your “undertone” refers to the subtle hue underneath the surface of your skin. There are three kinds of undertones: warm, cool, and neutral.

  • You have a warm undertone if you have hints of either yellow, peachy, or golden hues.
  • You have a cool undertone if you have hints of pink or blue.
  • You have an olive undertone if you have hints of green AND yellow/warm undertones. Your skin may appear more ashy or gray compared to other skin tones.
  • If you have a neutral undertone, it means that your undertone is roughly the same color as your actual skin tone.

Have you ever tried a foundation shade that looked like it would match your skin tone, but ended up making you look ashy? Or too pale to the point of looking sickly? It was most likely the result of an undertone problem! The foundation’s undertone probably didn’t complement YOUR undertone.

The Filipino Skin Tone-Undertone Spectrum

Filipino skin tones can usually be sorted into three main types based on how dark or light the skin is and what the undertones are! We use the terms "Morena," "Chinita," and "Mestiza."


It’s relatively easy to tell if someone has a morena skin tone. In scientific terms, they're our besties with the most amount of melanin in their skin, so they’re on the browner/darker side of the skin tone spectrum. They usually have warm undertones.


Mestizas, on the other hand, usually refer to our besties with mixed Filipino and European ancestry (usually Spanish). This means they have fair skin but aren’t too pale. They usually have cool undertones.


Our Chinita besties get their skin tone-undertone combo from their Chinese heritage! On the spectrum of darkest to palest, Chinitas are the palest. They usually have warm undertones.

What's My Skin Tone/Undertone?

Determining your skin tone is the easy part—just ask your friends or check the mirror!

But if you want to be extra sure, pay attention to your jawline. This area is usually less affected by changes in skin colour from factors like pollution, sun exposure, etc. Wash your face and check how dark/light the skin is under natural sunlight!

Figuring out your undertone is a bit trickier. But we found two easy tricks that you can try in the comfort of your own home.

  1. Vein Test - Check the colour of the veins in your arms.
    • If they’re blue or purple, then you probably have a cool undertone.
    • If you have greenish veins, you most likely have a warm or olive undertone.
    • If you can’t tell whether your veins are green or blue, if they’re neither, or if they’re in between the two, then you probably have a neutral undertone.
  2. Sun Exposure Test - Pay attention to how your skin reacts when exposed to the sun.
  • If you tan easily without getting sunburned, then you probably have a warm or olive undertone.
  • If you tan slowly but don’t get sunburned very often, then you’re probably neutral.
  • If you get sunburned quickly (or if you get sunburned THEN tan), then you most likely have a cool undertone.


How Does This Apply to Me?

Figuring out your skin tone-undertone combo can really change your makeup game! You’ll be able to pick out which base makeup shades (foundation, concealer, etc.) suit you best. And when it comes to Colourette products, you’ll have a better idea of how our shades would look on your skin.

If you’re looking for Colourints that best suit your skin tone, check out our IG Guides! We listed 5 Colourtint shade recommendations for each of the three skin tones we mentioned here.

We hope this guide helped you on your makeup journey, besties! What other beauty terms or makeup tricks do you want us to talk about? Let us know in the comments below!

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About the Founder

Colourette founder Nina Ellaine Dizon started the brand from her love for makeup. An entrepreneur even at a young age, Nina was able to establish a name through hard work, grit, and passion. When she built Colourette, she aimed for it to be an inclusive brand fit for the Filipino lifestyle. Nine years into Colourette, Nina remains at the helm of the brand’s product development and continues to create makeup that is made for Filipinos, by Filipinos.

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