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Warm Colors vs. Cool Colors

A person's skin color is the most important factor in determining which colors look best on them. Hair color and eye color, while equally important, play a less important role in determining a person's natural coloring. One’s skin coloring is determined by the nature and proportion of the pigments contained in the skin cells just beneath the surface of the skin.

Color consultants look for the color of the skins undertone to determine its temperature. During a color analysis I determine if your skin is yellow based (warm) or blue based (cool) in temperature. Some of my clients might read olive based (this is also a cool temperature).

A good rule of thumb to remember is that COOL colors have blue as their base and WARM colors have yellow. If you divide a color wheel in half you will notice that all the COOL colors are on one side and all the WARM on the other.

When you look closely at a cool color you will that all COOL colors have a slight blue tinge to them. That tinge is the undertone. And you guessed it... when you look closely at the warm colors you will see that all WARM colors have a slight yellow tinge.

Bright Color Wheel

What does all this mean to you? Knowing your skin's undertone will dictate what color palette you should wear. Warm undertones should never wear colors from the cool color palette. And vice versa. Cool undertones should never wear colors from the warm color palette.

Notice, that a warm color palette doesn't mean you can't wear blue. If you have yellow undertones, you would wear a warm blue.

Knowing your skin's undertone is the first step in understanding what color palette you should wear... however, lots of people get confused when it comes to identifying which colors are warm and which colors are cool. Is that a warm blue or a cool blue? Is that a warm yellow or a cool yellow?

It's not always easy to tell.

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Jennifer Thoden


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