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Honored Contributor
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Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: How do you know if you have this type of skin tone....

Here is my take on this.

If you look hideous in pink and berry lipsticks, you are warm

If you look hideous in coral and orange lipsticks, you are cool

If you look great, or at least acceptable, in both pinks and oranges, you are neutral.

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Re: How do you know if you have this type of skin tone....

On 3/14/2015 lovestoteach said:
On 3/14/2015 suzyQ3 said:
On 3/14/2015 lovestoteach said:

Please correct me if I am wrong... in MAC cosmetics I am a NW15 (I am very white and pink undertones is what they call "cool") Bought a pencil mistakenly once there in NC15 and it was wrong, wrong wrong! (They were nice and exchanged it for me).

On MUA, where beauty divas are busy reviewing products, everybody classifies their skin tones by the MAC system... so I got busy and tried to decide what it was.

Wondering if a true neutral only knows for sure which way to classify their tone by trial and error?

DD always wore BE "fairly light" -- wrong for me, but matched her perfectly. She has yellow undertones. MAC mistakenly sold her a NW 15 (my tone) so now she knows what those letters mean... she needs at least an NC 15, if not a little darker?

You're absolutely correct. MAC uses the color wheel. So "warm" means in the red or pink family, and "cool" means more in the yellow or gold family.

As far as I know, though, most companies do just the opposite.

I forgot to add that NW means "not warm" (so pink) and NC means "not cool" so yellow... thank you for your help suzyQ I was trying to explain this to DD, too and hoped I got it right! {#emotions_dlg.wub}

lovesteach, I think that was just a way for people to remember that MAC's "W" is "cool" and their "C" is warm.

The "N" before each means "neutral": Neutral warm and neutral cool.

Good explanation here, from karlasugar:

MAC was really my gateway to learning about makeup, and, (as always happens) I felt that what I learned first must be the “right” way of doing things.

MAC has a lot of foundation colors, so if you know your “MAC number,” you can go pretty far. However, there’s also a lot of confusion about what the MAC letters and numbers actually mean. Â According to MAC, NW stands for “neutral-warm.” These shades are more pink. NC is neutral-cool; these shades are more yellow.

So I was always arguing with people who said NW = “not warm” or “neutralize warm.” Naturally, I had to get to the bottom of this.

The source of the confusion is surprisingly simple. MAC considers pink undertones to be warm, and yellow undertones to be cool. Every other brand says the opposite.

How did this happen? MAC says it’s looking at the color spectrum (in which red/pink is warmer than yellow). I didn’t find that explanation to be very enlightening.

I think MAC is referring to peachy-pink undertones — which are warm — and other brands are considering blue-pink undertones.

The source of the confusion is that warmness or coolness in skintone is not about pink and yellow. It’s really about peach and blue (or red/yellow and blue/purple as skintone gets darker). If you’re thinking of the stereotypically English/Irish face (pale, ruddy, with a cool blue-pink), that’s where people get the impression that pink undertones = cool. This diagram totally cleared it up for me (from Three Custom Color’s website):


So I think I’m Neutral Warm — in some lighting I think I look pinker; in some lighting I look yellow; but I prefer green, brown, and neutral eyeshadow; red-orange lipsticks; and look better in gold jewelry.


~Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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Re: How do you know if you have this type of skin tone....

On 3/14/2015 depglass said:

Here is my take on this.

If you look hideous in pink and berry lipsticks, you are warm

If you look hideous in coral and orange lipsticks, you are cool

If you look great, or at least acceptable, in both pinks and oranges, you are neutral.

This is a good one! {#emotions_dlg.thumbup} I'll expand a little more:

Nature's take on this ---

The colors you see in spring: like the grass, the sky, the sun - warm

The colors you see in fall: leaves, pumpkins, stormy skies - warm

The colors you see in summer - bright blue sky, sunshine, white clouds - cool

The colors you see in winter - bright white snow, Christmas red, Christmas green, jewel tones - cool

Silver - cool

Gold - warm

If you look good in stark white - cool; off-white or cream - warm

I agree with Snow Owl - If you think you might be neutral, go to Lancome or MAC and see for sure

I am MAC NC20 - Warm. NC and NW can also mean "needs cool" (warm) and "needs warm" (cool) MAC also has an "N" for true neutrals

I am warm. I know I'm warm. I've been playing with this for years. I have never used Bare Minerals. Just out of curiousity last night, when DD and I went to Sephora, I asked the head makeup artist about the color I would wear in Bare Minerals - not telling her anything about my skin. She matched me to Golden Fair. I didn't get it, but I did get their new Complexion Rescue tinted cream in Vanilla. I liked the way it felt on my skin - and what's one more foundation, right? Wink

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Posts: 6,204
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: How do you know if you have this type of skin tone....

The other way you can tell if you are a true neutral is by the color of metal (jewelry) that looks best. If you can wear either gold or silver and they both look right on you, you are a neutral.

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Posts: 34,905
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: How do you know if you have this type of skin tone....

On 3/14/2015 suzyQ3 said:
On 3/14/2015 lovestoteach said:
On 3/14/2015 suzyQ3 said:
On 3/14/2015 lovestoteach said:

Please correct me if I am wrong... in MAC cosmetics I am a NW15 (I am very white and pink undertones is what they call "cool") Bought a pencil mistakenly once there in NC15 and it was wrong, wrong wrong! (They were nice and exchanged it for me).

On MUA, where beauty divas are busy reviewing products, everybody classifies their skin tones by the MAC system... so I got busy and tried to decide what it was.

Wondering if a true neutral only knows for sure which way to classify their tone by trial and error?

DD always wore BE "fairly light" -- wrong for me, but matched her perfectly. She has yellow undertones. MAC mistakenly sold her a NW 15 (my tone) so now she knows what those letters mean... she needs at least an NC 15, if not a little darker?

You're absolutely correct. MAC uses the color wheel. So "warm" means in the red or pink family, and "cool" means more in the yellow or gold family.

As far as I know, though, most companies do just the opposite.

I forgot to add that NW means "not warm" (so pink) and NC means "not cool" so yellow... thank you for your help suzyQ I was trying to explain this to DD, too and hoped I got it right! {#emotions_dlg.wub}

lovesteach, I think that was just a way for people to remember that MAC's "W" is "cool" and their "C" is warm.

The "N" before each means "neutral": Neutral warm and neutral cool.

Good explanation here, from karlasugar:

MAC was really my gateway to learning about makeup, and, (as always happens) I felt that what I learned first must be the “right” way of doing things.

MAC has a lot of foundation colors, so if you know your “MAC number,” you can go pretty far. However, there’s also a lot of confusion about what the MAC letters and numbers actually mean. Â According to MAC, NW stands for “neutral-warm.” These shades are more pink. NC is neutral-cool; these shades are more yellow.

So I was always arguing with people who said NW = “not warm” or “neutralize warm.” Naturally, I had to get to the bottom of this.

The source of the confusion is surprisingly simple. MAC considers pink undertones to be warm, and yellow undertones to be cool. Every other brand says the opposite.

How did this happen? MAC says it’s looking at the color spectrum (in which red/pink is warmer than yellow). I didn’t find that explanation to be very enlightening.

I think MAC is referring to peachy-pink undertones — which are warm — and other brands are considering blue-pink undertones.

The source of the confusion is that warmness or coolness in skintone is not about pink and yellow. It’s really about peach and blue (or red/yellow and blue/purple as skintone gets darker). If you’re thinking of the stereotypically English/Irish face (pale, ruddy, with a cool blue-pink), that’s where people get the impression that pink undertones =cool. This diagram totally cleared it up for me (from Three Custom Color’s website):


So I think I’m Neutral Warm — in some lighting I think I look pinker; in some lighting I look yellow; but I prefer green, brown, and neutral eyeshadow; red-orange lipsticks; and look better in gold jewelry.

I am in the upper left corner... notice this is under "cool" and it says I have pinkish tones (I do) my foundation color in MAC is NW15... and the SA told me that is the pink one of the two lightest foundations that they sell. HTH

~Have a Kind Heart, Fierce Mind, Brave Spirit~
Honored Contributor
Posts: 34,905
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: How do you know if you have this type of skin tone....

On 3/14/2015 depglass said:

Here is my take on this.

If you look hideous in pink and berry lipsticks, you are warm

If you look hideous in coral and orange lipsticks, you are cool

If you look great, or at least acceptable, in both pinks and oranges, you are neutral.

Thanks, depglass... this is really helpful!

Here is another telling situation, which some may find helpful. I bought a peach-colored chiffon and sequin evening pant and top from "Snooty Hooty" a boutique $$ in Atlanta GA many years ago. Upon marrying, I modeled this for my husband and he said... "I don't care if you never wear that color again. You can put that outfit in the garbage as far as I'm concerned!" He is rarely one to care about these things... I laughed and told him that the SA told me I looked so beautiful and that is why I bought it. Ask a man's opinion for color .... they usually aren't swayed by design. Usually.

~Have a Kind Heart, Fierce Mind, Brave Spirit~