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Based on pink, blue, purple and grey colours, cool-toned make-up is a simple way to work with your skin’s natural undertone.
Cool-toned make-up is, somewhat unsurprisingly, make-up that contains cooler tones. Unlike warm-toned make-up based on hues of orange, yellow and gold, cool-toned make-up is based on pink, blue, purple and grey colours.
For example, while it’s perfectly possible to have a warm-toned pink (underpinned by tones of gold and peach), it’s also perfectly possible to have a cool-toned pink, with a base in purple, blue or silver.
Your skin’s undertone tends to be the best gauge of which type of make-up will suit you best. If you’re naturally warm-toned, warmer-coloured products will blend more seamlessly and help skin look healthy and glowing. If you’re naturally cool-toned, those same products could make you look sallow.
How to identify your undertone
“Warm make-up tones show up as yellow, peach and even golden tones on the skin. You can decide your undertone by assessing your veins. If they appear more blue or purple, you likely have a cool undertone. If your veins appear more green or olive, then you probably have a warm undertone. If you have a mixture of them all, you likely have a neutral undertone,” explains Aimee Connolly, a make-up artist and founder of Sculpted by Aimee.
Make-up artist and founder of Vesta London Beauty Vesta Boateng has two more practical tips for identifying your undertone: “Although a product may look like it’s neutral or cool, you won’t really know until you try it on your skin or complexion,” she says. “But, the colour of your jewellery can be a great way to identify your undertone.”
For example, if you find you naturally suit silver jewellery, you’re most likely a cool-toned person. If you suit gold more, you’re likely warm. If it’s both, odds are you’re neutral-toned.
Why are undertones important in make-up?
“Unless you have a neutral undertone, your undertone matters a lot when choosing your shades,” says Connolly. “For example, if you place a cool make-up shade onto warm skin it will appear much paler and almost leave the complexion looking washed out; it just won’t be a match. Likewise, if you put a warm foundation onto cool skin, it may show up much more yellow than expected. The best thing to do for a natural finish is to match the tones of your make-up shades, with the tones in your skin.”
However, don’t take that as a carte blanche on avoiding cool-toned products as a warm-toned person and vice versa. Revington says there are ways to play with shades:
“When it comes to products like blush, all rules go out the window,” she says. “A peach-tone blush can actually add a healthier perky glow to cool-toned skin, and a cool neutral blush like a rose or a bluey-pink colour will lift a warm complexion brilliantly. I think it is really important to nail your foundation shade and complexion products, then you can play with colour and have fun!”
How to tell if a product is cool-toned
“If a product is a cool-toned neutral, you will notice that it has hints of rose, pink, red or blue throughout. You will notice these as a hue rather than a full-on contrast of colour,” explains Connolly.
“If a product is a warm-toned neutral, it will appear to have more golden, yellow, olive or peachy hues throughout. The best way to figure out which one suits you best, is to swatch the product on your skin and notice how it blends. If you have a cool skin tone the pinky shades should blend better, and if you are warm, the yellow/golden tones should look more flattering on your skin.”
MUA tips for buying cool-toned make-up
“When it comes to complexion products, cool-toned neutral make-up tends to be marketed as neutral, so think of ivories or linens. If you are a true cool tone, you can probably get away with wearing a cool neutral foundation. However, avoid a warm neutral foundation as you could start to look sallow,” explains make-up artist Grace Revington.
“Similarly, for warm undertones, you may be able to turn to a neutral foundation but if there’s any hint of pink in there, you can start to look ashy.
“When we look at other make-up such as eyeshadow, you’ll recognise a cool neutral product as a taupe, a grey-brown, or a contour shade. This is almost like a shadow, or a transition shade to blend in the crease. These shades can be complementary on a lot of people with cool-toned skin, and if applied carefully, golden or warm skin can also wear these shades to create shape and define features. However, applied too heavily or not blended, skin can look muddy.”
Nine best cool-toned beauty buys
Mac Lip Pencil in Oak
Smooth to apply and long-lasting throughout the day (or night) Mac’s lip liners are known for having a wide shade range and excellent formula.
Cool-toned shades include Oak, Stone, Plum, Cork, Cyber World and Chestnut.
Shop Mac Lip Pencil in Oak at Lookfantastic, £14.40
Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Yes Honey
A worthy opponent to Pillow Talk, Charlotte Tilbury’s Yes Honey is a moisturising lipstick infused enriched with ingredients to leave lips nourished and smooth.
Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow in Aura
Infused with “twinkling reflects”, Hourglass’ eyeshadow is the icy frosting to finish any look. Designed in an innovative cream-powder formula, this eyeshadow glides on before drying down into a weightless powder finish.
Revolution Pro 4K Bronzer Palette in Cool
Revolution Pro’s four cool-toned bronzer palettes to sculpt, bronze and add a soft glow to the face.
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Intense Amethyst
Colour rich yet crease and transfer-resistant, Laura Mercier’s travel-friendly eyeshadow stick is a solid choice for when you’re on the go or heading out after work.
Cool-toned shades include Intense Amethyst, Matte Cobblestone, Pearl, Khaki and Plum.
Le Phyto-Blush Powder Blush in Shade 6 Shimmer
A soft blusher loved by celebrity make-up artists, Sisley’s Le Phyto-Blush is enriched with botanical oils to glide onto the skin, leaving a light flushed veil.
Mac Pop Dazzleshadow Eye Shadow in Feel the Fever
A great stocking filler, Mac’s eyeshadow pots are long-wearing and pack a serious punch of iridescent, multidimensional colour.
Nars Cosmetics Liquid Blush in Orgasm
It’s one of the most celebrated products in make-up history, Nars Cosmetics’ liquid Orgasm blush. Add a sheer pink glow to cheekbones, forehead and the tip of the nose.
Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Light, Medium, Dark
A sculpting shade, this Kevyn Aucoin powder comes in three cool-toned shades to leave skin radiant and velvety soft. The best bit? It’s waterproof and crease-proof, too.
Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Light, Medium, Dark at Space NK, £36
Natasha Denona Glam Palette
Create a myriad of cool-toned eyeshadow looks with shades such as statement silver and duo-chrome hazelnut to iridescent champagne.
Mac Pop Dazzleshadow Eye Shadow in She Sparkles
As cool as it comes, Mac’s Dazzleshadow in She Sparkles has a cream-like texture for easy application. It’s buildable and suitable for all skin types and contact lens wearers.
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