Ever tried on a lippie that washed you out or a blush that seemed too garish for your complexion? The explanation behind that is simple: they didn’t match your skin tone.

When it comes to choosing makeup, your skin tone is what determines which shades make you look most beautiful. It’s actually a combination of two things: surface tone, or the color of the surface of your skin (like ivory, olive, or bronze), and undertone, or the color underneath your skin that shines through. Undertones are classified as warm, cool, or neutral (a combination of the two). And for any shade to look good on you—whether it’s a foundation, lipstick, or nail polish—it should match both your surface tone and undertone.

Dazed and confused? You won’t be for long. Determine your undertone through one of these methods—and after, find out which colors suit your unique skin tone!

1. THE JEWELRY TEST

Do you look better in gold jewelry or in silver? Think of which metal makes your skin take on a healthy, glowing look, rather than which one you prefer. If the answer is gold, you are warm-toned; if silver, you are cool-toned. Does your skin contrast beautifully against both? You’re most likely neutral-toned (and the same logic applies for the rest of these awesome tricks).

2. THE VEIN TEST

Flip your hands over right now and check out the veins on the inside of your wrist. What color are they? If your veins appear greenish, you are warm-toned. If, on the other hand, they appear bluish or purplish, you are cool-toned.

3. THE SUNTAN TEST

On a sunny day at the beach, what happens to the color of your skin? Warm-toned skin will darken to golden-brown, while cool-toned skin will burn rosy-red.

4. THE BOND PAPER TEST

Take a piece of white paper and hold it up to your freshly-washed face. If your skin seems more yellow, gold, or bronze in comparison to the paper, your undertone is warm. If, on the other hand, it seems more pink, your undertone is cool.

5. THE LIGHT BULB TEST

With a hand mirror, stand under a yellow light bulb and then a white light bulb. Warm-toned skin will appear grayish and washed out underneath white light, and richer and brighter underneath yellow light. For cool-toned skin, it’s the opposite.

WHICH COLORS LOOK BEST ON YOU?

  • Warm-toned skin comes to life in “earth” colors: autumnal yellows, reds, and browns, dark leafy greens, soft cream, taupe and camel, and all kinds of gold and copper.
  • Cool-toned skin, on the other hand, looks best in “sea and sky” colors: pure white, steel gray, royal blue, emerald green—not to mention, the starkest, most crayon-like versions of red, magenta, and purple.
  • Women with neutral-toned skin are the luckiest of all: you can easily pull off several shades within the same color family without looking too pale or too dark. Isn’t that swell?