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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog
Makeup for beginners #1


Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, August 25, 2006 1:51 AM (Eastern)

How can you tell if you're "warm," "neutral," or "cool"?

I revisited this eternal question recently and realized afresh how not simple it is to determine what you are.

Sure, there are several methods...one is to examine the veins in your inner wrist. Supposedly, if the majority of the veins are greenish in tone, you are "warm." If the majority are blue not greenish, you're "cool." If it's about 50-50, you're "neutral."

Mine are sort of greenish, but I feel that's inconclusive. Some lipsticks do turn orangey on me and I can wear some cooler colors.

Another is the red shirt method. You are to take two red shirts (or red pieces of cloth): one a cool, blue-toned red, the other a warm, orange-toned red. You are to hold one shirt or cloth up near your face and then the other. Whichever one looks better with your face, determines your "coolness" or "warmth."

Fair enough, I prefer warmer-toned red shirts. As much as I like cool red shirts, I never buy them because I know they won't get worn.

Another is the Wet 'n' Wild method. You are to buy some really inexpensive color cosmetics in both warm and cool shades and just play around with them and see which tones look best on you.

I have done something similar back in the day...and discovered that almost no drugstore red lipsticks work for warmer coloring. Ninety-nine percent of them turn fuchsia once applied.

A fourth method is to hit a MAC counter and get yourself "typed." i.e. the person at the MAC counter can tell you what shade of foundation you would wear in MAC. They have some codes for it...NW or NC for example. NC stands for Neutral Cool and it means the opposite...actually it means the makeup is neutral cool, meaning you have yellow undertones. NW, likewise, is Neutral Warm and means your skin has pink undertones. If I'm butchering all this, use the comment box. I was always too lazy to get typed by MAC, but it is a legitimate method.

Anyhow...snapping out of it. I realized that all of these methods could narrow it down somewhat, but not entirely. For a long time I considered myself "warm" but it's only relatively recently that I saw that three categories don't work...if you're not warm-warm or cool-cool or utterly neutral...if you fall between any two categories. Hence for a start, I think of five categories as follows:

warm
neutral to warm
neutral
neutral to cool
cool

And I realized that a benchmark or two would be easier than any of the above methods. (Not a new concept, it's been done on beauty boards since there were beauty boards.) So I came up with a short list of MAC lipsticks (which can be widely tested) that have worked for me (a confirmed neutral-to-warm):

MAC Sophisto
MAC Viva Glam V
MAC Spice It Up
MAC Fresh Moroccan

The idea is that if the above lipsticks turn orangey on you, you're cool or neutral to cool. If they turn ashy, harsh or purple on you, you're warm. If they look stupendous on you, you're neutral to warm or neutral.

Hope it helps some...


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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
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