Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

Medium skin tones — You’re not quite considered fair or light, but you’re not olive either. You’re in this sweet middle spot that makes your options for blushes, lipsticks and bronzers seemingly endless. But when it comes to your foundation, choosing the right shade to match your nuanced complexion can sometimes pose a challenge. The key is getting your undertones just right. To help you discover what shades and colors are the most flattering for you, we put together a guide on finding the perfect products for your medium skin tone.

What Are Undertones?

Beneath your skin tone, there are subtle hues that are called undertones. Those colors can either be cool, warm or neutral. If you have cool undertones your underneath shades favor pink, red or blue whereas warm tones are more yellow, peach or golden. Then there is neutral tones which is a balance between warm and cool. 

How to Find Your Undertones

The White vs. Cream Test: Grab two articles of clothing (or even a towel) — one white and the other off-white. While wearing NO makeup, decide which color complements your skin tone best. If it’s the pure-white shade, your undertones are warm. If the cream color suits you more (because the white washes you out), then you have cool undertones. If both flatter you just the same, you’re neutral.

The Vein Test: Look at the veins on your wrists. If they’re green, then you have warm undertones. If your veins are blue, then you have cool undertones. Do you have both colors or do they appear to be blue-green? Then you have neutral undertones.

The Jewelry Test: If gold jewelry enhances your complexion, then you’re likely on the warmer side. If silver jewelry looks best on your skin tone, then you have cool undertones.

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Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

HOW TO CHOOSE FOUNDATION FOR MEDIUM SKIN TONES

It can be a little overwhelming when choosing the right foundation because most brands offer two or three colors that look almost identical. Opt for a brand that has a large shade range like the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Foundation. With over 45 colors to choose from, each shade comes in three different undertones. For instance, if your color match is the shade Buff, you get the choice between Buff C (cool), Buff W (warm) or Buff N (neutral). Once you find your exact undertone, you’ll be able to determine which foundation is perfect for your medium complexion. If you’re still unsure, have a makeup expert at your go-to beauty retailer help you solve the undertone mystery. 

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HOW TO CHOOSE BLUSH FOR MEDIUM SKIN TONES

Choosing the right blush for you can also be a confusing process with medium skin. Going with a blush that’s too light can wash you out, while one that’s too dark will look harsh and unnatural. If you have a medium skin tone with cool undertones, go for a rosy pink blush like NYX Professional Sweet Cheeks Matte Blush in Pink Coral to bring a flush of color to your cheeks. If your undertones are warm, a soft apricot or peach blush like Maybelline New York Fit Me Blush in Pink will enhance your natural glow. 

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THE BEST BRONZER FOR MEDIUM SKIN TONES

If your skin tone is in between light and olive, you already have a natural hint of color in your complexion. So, the goal here is to just enhance it without going too shimmery or too dark. And beware of bronzers that are too warm, as they can make you look orange.The general rule of thumb is to select a bronzer that’s no more than two shades darker than your skin tone — but more specifically, ensuring that your bronzer is a perfect match means finding one that suits your undertones.

For medium skin with warm undertones, a soft shade of golden-brown like NYX Professional Matte Bronzer in Light or a soft brown with peach tones like Milani Baked Bronzer in Glow works best. Finding a bronzer to match cool undertones is a little trickier since many shades can come off as yellow, orange or even muddy.

A powder like the L’Oréal True Match Super Blendable Compact Makeup in Buff Beige will add just the right amount of warmth to the skin, without looking overwhelming. And a sheer liquid like the Giorgio Armani Maestro Bronzer in #100 is also the perfect product to enhance your complexion’s natural radiance while adding some definition to your cheekbones. It’ll look like you woke up with glowing skin.

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EYESHADOW SHADES FOR MEDIUM SKIN TONES

An illuminating bronze or honey shadow shade works wonders against your skin tone. Try the Urban Decay Honey Shadow Palette for a light, daytime look or build the color for a smoldering, golden smokey eye. For fun shades that really stand out — cool undertones look lovely in lavender or gray, while copper and rich blues flatter warmer undertones.

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FLATTERING LIPSTICK COLORS FOR MEDIUM SKIN TONES
Lucky for you, just about any lipstick color from light pink to deep berry enhances your skin tone — but there are just a few things to keep in mind! When shopping for the perfect nude lippie, women with cool undertones should look for a shade that has a slight hint of pink like the NYX Professional Soft Matte Lip Cream in Abu Dhabi — otherwise a true nude could wash you out.

Warm undertones, on the other hand, pair perfectly with a beige-nude like the new Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro Liquid Lipstick in Granite.

When looking for brighter pigments, cool undertones look stunning in blue-based red, berry, pinks and mauve. Warm undertones look amazing with gold-or-orange-based reds, burgundy, coral and even brown.

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