How to Choose the Best Makeup for Medium Skin Tones

September 17, 2021
Genesis Rivas
By: Genesis Rivas | by L'Oréal
How to Choose the Best Makeup for Medium Skin Tones
Dear medium skin tones, we know the struggle of finding the perfect makeup match for you. You’re not considered fair or light, but you’re not quite 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 — and 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 are neutral tones, which are 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. 

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 50 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 prefer a powder formula, we recommend the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder.
makeup up for medium skin tones

How to Choose Blush and Highlighter for Medium Skin Tones

Choosing the right blush 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 the Maybelline New York Cheek Heat Gel-Cream Blush in Rose Flush to bring color to your cheeks. If your undertones are warm, a soft apricot or peach blush like the NYX Professional Makeup Bare With Me Luminous Cheek Serum in Peach Bronze will enhance your natural glow. 

For highlighter, we recommend opting for golden-copper shades to illuminate the high points of your face. We love the NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow Icy Highlighter Duo in High Key Flex.
blush for medium skin tones

How to Choose The Best Bronzer for Medium Skin Tones

Chances are, 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, try a soft shade of golden-brown like Glossier Solar Paint in Ray. And a powder like the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer in Medium will add just the right amount of warmth to the skin, without looking overwhelming. A sheer liquid like the Giorgio Armani Beauty Neo-Nude A Contour is another 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.

makeup for medium skin tones

How to Choose Eyeshadow 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 smoky eye. For fun shades that really stand out, the Urban Decay Wired Palette will add major contrast to your complexion. 

How to Choose 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, those with cool undertones should look for a shade that has a slight hint of pink like the L’Oréal Paris Les Nus by Colour Riche Lipstick in Nu Intense. Warm undertones, on the other hand, pair perfectly with a beige-nude like the Giorgio Armani Beauty Lip Maestro Liquid Lipstick in Granite.


Cool undertones also look stunning in red with a blue undertone, berry, pink and light mauve, like NYX Professional Makeup Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick in Undress’d. Warm undertones look amazing with orange-based reds, burgundy, coral and even brown.
makeup for medium skin tones
  Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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