How To Know My Skin Tone At Home In 3 Easy Steps

Key Highlights

  • Skin tone is the surface color of the skin, while undertone refers to subtle hues beneath the skin's surface. Your skin tone color codes fall under 4 major categories: Fair, light, medium, and dark.
  • By performing easy skin tone color tests at home, you can determine your skin tone, which will help choose suitable makeup and clothing colors, as well as tailor skincare routines to specific needs.
  • Factors like genetics, sun exposure, and age can influence skin tone, and your skincare needs to address these issues and ensure enhanced and even skin tone. 

Can’t find the perfect shade of foundation, concealer, or blush for your skin tone? Feel like the lipsticks you have picked fail to suit you? Maybe it's time to understand your skin tone!

In very basic terms, skin tone is your skin’s surface color. Knowing this can be very helpful in matching color tones, especially with makeup products, to get the perfect, glamorous look without leaving ashy or chalky makeup on your face. Although there might be only a handful of names on the skin tones list, the subtle differences within and between each of them might have you questioning - ‘How to know my skin tone’?

For that, let’s first take a deeper dive into what skin tone is, the different names of skin tones, and how it differs from skin undertones (we know that question is lingering in your mind)!  

Keep reading for our complete skin tone guide to get the answer to how to know my skin tone at home in three easy steps. how you can determine your own.

What is skin tone?

What is skin tone

As mentioned above, your skin tone code is the color seen on the surface of your skin. These are largely determined by the amount of melanin present in your skin’s outermost layer. Your tone or complexion types can change from time to time based on exposure to sun or other factors (we’ll cover more on this later).

You would have also heard the term undertone being used often. They are the subtle and natural tones under your skin’s surface and aren’t subject to any external change. There are 3 main types - cool, warm, and neutral. Your skin tone’s color palette can vary from another person with a similar skin tone simply because of the undertones.

Types or names of skin tones

Types or names of skin tones

The skin tone color chart has four main tones:

  • Fair skin tone, meaning it is the lightest tone in the skin tone color codes. It’s very sensitive and due to less melanin, it is more likely to get sunburnt than tan due to sun exposure.
  • Light skin tone, which also appears fair but has some warm undertones. It can gain a minimal tan. It can take on a natural beige skin tone color.
  • Medium skin tone is when the color moves from fair to medium skin tone and there is a lighter brown color with warm undertones. Medium olive skin tone can have both warm and neutral undertones and can tan easily.
  • Dark skin tone is a melanin-rich skin tone that tans more easily and is less likely to burn. The skin color codes that fall in this category are deep black or brown skin tones.

While these are the four primary types, specific skin tones can range anywhere between these. An individual can simply have deep skin tones or medium-dark skin tones. Similarly, you can have light-medium skin tone, light brown skin tones, or warm ivory skin tones (which falls between fair to light skin).

Phew! With the human skin tones chart being so vast and varied, you might still be scratching your head wondering, ‘How to know my skin tone’? Stick around, because we are going to share some simple tips on how to know your skin color or tone.

How to know my skin tone: Try these 3 easy steps

1. Start by stepping into natural light

  • Wash your skin thoroughly to remove any makeup or dust, wait for 15 minutes, and then find a natural light source.
  • Try and sit by a window or balcony, or find some outdoor seating space. You might wonder why you can’t do the skin tone detector test indoors or with an artificial light source. Since different types of light give different glows, it can slightly change the tone of color on your skin under each light.
  • Grab a mirror and notice the color on the surface, whether it is dark, light, fair, or medium skin tone.
  • Look carefully at the skin around your jawline as this is the least susceptible to color changes.

2. Look at your wrist

  • When you are under natural light, hold your wrists up to the light and check the color of your veins.
  • The blue, purple, or green veins skin tone can determine your skin undertones, which can help you better position yourself on the skin tones chart.
  • If you can distinguish green veins, the skin tone or undertones will be warm.
  • For those with blue or purple veins, the skin tone or undertones will be cool.
  • If you can’t differentiate between blue-green veins, the skin tone or undertone is most likely neutral.

3. Assess your skin's reaction to the sun

  • Did you notice that when we listed out skin tone names, we mentioned reactions such as sunburns or tans? These reactions are largely dependent on the level of melanin in your body, so observing how your skin reacts to the sun can help you determine how to describe skin tone.
  • If you tan easily under sun exposure with little to no skin burns, then you have a medium or deep skin tone that often appears as darker shades of brown skin tones or on the black skin tone chart.
  • If you tan with some skin burns, you mostly have a light skin tone color.
  • If you don’t tan at all but rather get sunburns, then you have fair or white skin tones.

Why knowing your skin or color tone matters?

Why knowing your skin or color tone matters

Understanding how to decide your skin tone is crucial because your answers can help you take better care of your skin. For example, light or white skin tones might face more severe effects of sun damage as they don’t have enough melanin to protect the skin from the sun’s UV rays.

But apart from providing your skin with the right protection, another reason to do the skin tone color test is to understand what concealer, foundation, and other makeup products suit you.  

We’ve all been there before, where we purchased a product only to realize it didn't match our skin tone code and ended up with uneven patches around our skin. So, this will help you achieve the most natural makeup look without clashing light and deep skin tones between your face and neck.

Understanding your skin tone and undertone can also help you pick up and match the colors of clothes you wear based on your skin tone color chart. Warm tones can stand out with warm color clothes whereas those with cool tones can opt for cool-toned clothes.

What factors can affect your skin tone?

  • The number one factor that affects your skin tone color palette is the melanin in your skin due to your genes. Depending on the ethnicity and geographical location of your ancestors, you can have more or less melanin. For example, people living in sunnier places are likely to be on the darker side of the skin tones list, as they genetically have more melanin in their skin to protect against UV rays.
  • The amount of exposure to the sun is an external factor that can change your body and face complexion. People with light-medium skin tone or medium-dark skin tone can notice a change in their skin tone when they spend time outdoors due to a tanning effect.
  • Continuous exposure to environmental factors like pollution or dust can clog pores and lead to discoloration or uneven skin tone. Even extreme temperatures can alter color tones. For example, during winter, you have limited exposure to sunlight which can cause your skin to appear pale. But these weather changes also dry out your skin, and if dry, flaky skin is not well moisturised, it can cause a dark, deep winter skin tone.

Does skin tone change with age?

Yes, your skin tones can change with age as the pigment cells containing melanin reduce in your skin. Due to this, even medium to dark skin tones can appear paler, thinner, and drier.  

Alternatively, you might notice uneven dark patches in the skin of older people and this occurs due to uneven distribution of pigment cells in the skin


With so many factors and changes to consider, it can be difficult to zero in on your exact skin tone code from the numerous varieties on the human skin tones chart. But, if you were plagued with the question of how to know your skin tone with simple tests at home, we hope this comprehensive skin tone guide answered your question.

Learn how to decide your skin tone with simple steps such as observing your skiing under natural light, examining the color of your veins, and noting your skin's reaction to the sun. This will help you tailor your makeup and style to suit your unique color, be it fair to medium skin tone or dark, deep skin tones, while effortlessly taking care of your skin’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your skin tone or complexion type can change due to external and environmental factors, so the best way to improve it is by taking active steps against these factors.  

Cleanse your face daily to get rid of clogged pores that can cause pigmentation or discoloration. Soak in the sun’s goodness, but do it responsibly and while wearing proper sunscreen. Follow habits like eating nutritious foods and keeping yourself hydrated to avoid any inflammation showing up on your skin, while also following a consistent skincare regimen and giving your skin and body a good night’s rest. 

Technically, by staying in air-conditioned rooms, you are avoiding direct exposure to sunlight which means you can avoid tanning or letting your skin tone grow darker. However, sitting in air-conditioned rooms for long periods is not advisable as it makes your skin dry and itchy, which can lead to uneven skin or color tone.

While you might not be able to completely change your natural skin tone code, you can achieve a brighter or lightening effect by following a few steps. Keep yourself well-hydrated to give your skin adequate moisture for a glowing dark skin, medium skin, or light skin tone. Don’t forget your daily dose of sunscreen to avoid the sun’s rays from darkening your skin. Regularly cleanse and exfoliate your skin to remove dead cells and dirt that sit on top of the skin and cause blemishes or uneven pigmentation. 

Once you understand how to describe your skin tone and undertones, you can better understand how to choose colors that flatter your skin. Warm skin tones often look better in reds, oranges, yellows, and other warm colors, while cool tones should go for blues, purples, and other such cool color tones. Strong black and white colors can wash out those with light brown skin or pale complexion types. Bold colors can flatter medium dark skin tones or medium olive skin tones. But the ideal colors for dark skin tones range from a variety of whites to vibrant colors as well as pastel tones. 

The skin tones chart for Asian skin is quite varied, ranging from fair to medium skin tones, and even dark, deep skin tones. North, East, Central, and Western Asian countries have fair to light-medium skin tones or light-brown skin tones. The skin tones in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia or South Asian countries like India include medium tan complexions, light to dark shades of brown skin tones, or medium olive skin tones. 

To get a crystal clear face complexion, practice good lifestyle habits like eating well-balanced meals, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, quitting smoking or secondhand smoke. Follow a good skincare regimen that should involve getting rid of excess sebum and dirt from the pores, applying sunscreen daily, and keeping your skin hydrated - from inside and outside. 

Get a glowing or golden, rich skin tone by not just following healthy habits but also a tailored skincare regimen. Clean your skin regularly and use the double cleanse method on days you wear makeup. Based on your skin type, exfoliate your skin every few days to remove the dead cells on the outer skin. Use a hydrating moisturizer and follow it with broad-spectrum SPF. Add Vitamin C and other antioxidant-rich products to your routine to help give your skin a bright and radiant color tone. 

You cannot completely change your natural skin color tone without doing invasive and relatively harsh treatments. However, you can enhance it by following a skin-healthy routine that focuses on smoothening uneven skin tone and healing discoloration or hyperpigmentation in the skin. You can even use Vitamin C and other products with antioxidants to give your skin tone a natural glow. 

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Current Version

Sep, 11 2023