Complimentary Colours: A Guide to the Most Flattering Makeup Shades for Your Skin Tone

Save time, money and disappointment by matching your makeup to your skin tone! Read on to learn how!

There’s a new lipstick out that’s totally in season, not to mention a blush that is calling your name, you simply must have both! You rush out to buy them only to be utterly disappointed when they make you look awful and absolutely nothing like that supermodel you saw wearing them in the magazine. This has happened to all of us at some time, but it’s actually easily prevented!  We just need to remember that certain colours don’t compliment particular skin tones. It’s all part of our beautiful individuality!

From now on, think of choosing your cosmetics as a matchmaking exercise; your skin tone matches certain colours better than others; you just need to learn, and eventually master, what those colours are! Once you learn what works for you, you’ll save yourself oodles of time, disappointment and above all, money.

Determining your Skin Tone and Undertone:

Ok, first things first, let’s identify your skin tone. Here are 3 categories for you to slot yourself in to:

Fair: Porcelain and Alabaster.

Medium: Almond and Olive.

Dark: Mocha and Chocolate.

You now need to determine whether you have warm or cool undertones to get your distinctive skin combination. Look at the veins on your wrist, if they are blue or purplish you have cool undertones, but if the veins are greener, then you have warm undertones. As a general rule, you’ll want to stick to shades with similar undertones.

Got it? Fabulous! Well then, here is our guide to the perfect makeup shades for you…


#1 The Best Blush

Fair skinned beauties with cool undertones look undeniably fabulous with light pink blushes so opt for a deliciously pink blush like Nars Gaeity or Clinique Blushing Blush Powder in Bashful Blush (wow, that’s a mouthful!).

Those of you with warmer undertones can get away with more yellow based blushes like a light peach or apricot shade such as the gorgeous Lancôme Nectar Lace.

Medium skin with cool undertones works wonderfully with soft rosy pinks such as Dior Rosy Glow.

Warmer undertones, on the other hand, look absolutely beautiful with golden apricots, browns and especially corals. Mac Melba is our number one suggestion for you ladies.

For you dark skinned stunners, think bright! Believe it or not, tangerines flatter those of you with cooler undertones so if this is you then choose something like the award winning Nars Taj Mahal blush.

Warmer undertones on the other hand look great with a vivid pink shade such as Stila Convertible Colour in Fuchsia.


#2 Eyeshadow Shades


Ladies with cool undertones should veer towards soft shades of pink and icy pastels. Bobbi Brown Sparkle Eyeshadow in Ballet Pink is a beautiful choice for you!

Warmer undertones can get away with light pinks, muted greens and a beautiful ivory colour like Estee Lauder Pure Colour Eyshadow in Ivory Slipper.


Cooler undertones are flattered by grey and lavender shades so Mac Eyeshadow Quad in Lady Grey is the absolute perfect choice for you!

Copper and deep blue’s flatter warmer undertones so opt for something like Smashbox Ambient Eyeshadow Quad in Golden Copper or Deep Navy Blue.


For those of you with cooler undertones, it’s all about the dark greens! Think evergreen, emerald and teal. Look at products like the striking Mac Pro Longwear Eyeshadow in Fresh Flare to get an idea.

Warmer skin tones should opt for toffees, caramels and bronze colours on the eyes like Stila Eyeshadow in Toffee.


#3 Lipstick Picks


Cooler undertones work well with cool pinks such as Barry M Lip Paint in adorable Dolly Pink. Light mauves are also a good choice.

Nude lipsticks are a great option for you girls with warmer undertones but definitely keep away from nudes that verge on brown! Brown is not your friend girls! Opt for a peachy nude like Nyx Butter Lipstick in Bit Of Honey instead.

TIP: Avoid very dark reds like burgundy and steer away from aubergine unless you’re purposely going for the Goth look. These shades can contrast too sharply with your fair skin.


Berry pinks, brilliant magentas and pomegranate all flatter medium skin with cooler undertones. Look for colours that resemble Laura Mercier Stick Gloss in Pomegranate.

Those of you with warmer undertones can play with more bronzy and copper shades such as Maybelline Moisture Whip Lipstick in Cinnamon.


Lucky for you darker skinned girls, you pretty much have your pick of any colour you like whether you have cool or warm undertones! Think dark purples, chocolates, deep reds and bright oranges! We suggest Bare Escentuals Natural Mineral Lipcolour in Spiced Raison to really make your lips pop.

Hopefully this has put you on the right track to embracing your natural skin tone! So say farewell to clashing colours and get shopping for the true hue for you!  

About the author

Jane Glover

Jane Glover is a 25 year old yummy mummy with a passion for writing and all things beauty related. A literature lover and fuchsia fanatic, Jane is happiest with a novel in one hand and a deliciously pink cocktail in the other.


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  • This was very helpful. Unfortunately I think some of the products suggested have been discontinued. I couldn’t find them on a google search but at least I have a color guide.

  • These are good tips. However, I have very fair neutral skin and always get compliments when I wear bright or dark red lipstick. I can do anything from bright orange red to deep burgundy as long as I keep the eye subtle. So I wouldn’t rule out bold lips for fair skinned ladies. (Just look at the model on the far left at the top of the page!)

  • Hi Ladies!

    I’m glad you all found the guide helpful :)

    Karen, sorry to hear you can’t find some of the products through a Google search. I was able to find the products in stores here in the UK and if all else failed on Amazon, except I admit, the Maybelline Moisture Whip in Cinnamon, I already owned that and I have since found that it is indeed literally impossible to get hold of these days so I apologise! If you tell me the products you were looking for I would be happy to suggest good quality equivalents for you.

    Hannah, I agree bold lips can indeed look beautiful on fair skinned ladies, it’s just that particularly burgundy and aubergine tend to contrast sharply against the skin, but if you can pull it then I’m jealous! I’ve always wanted to wear deep shades but they always makes me feel uber pale and harsh looking. I guess that’s the beauty of it all though, we’re all so different and not one rule fits everyone :)