Finding the Right Neutrals – Warm & Cool

Why do some neutrals look better on us than others?  The likely reason is that the ‘undertone’ of these neutrals is in harmony with that of our skintone.    Like our skintone, colours have an undertone as well.

In describing undertones, we use the words ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ to describe the ‘feel’ we get from them.

In this colour wheel, we roughly divide warm and cool colours this way:

In general, if a colour has more ‘yellow’, it’s considered ‘WARM’, if it has more blue, black or white, it’s ‘COOL’.

Left: Cool Neutrals (colour combo)
Right: Warm Neutrals (colour combo)


How do we know if a colour is WARM or COOL?

Truth is:  determining a single colour’s undertone is  DIFFICULT.  The best way to do so is by COMPARISON.

If Colour A has no yellow in it, while Colour B has, then Colour A is COOL

So, the presence of yellow / a greater amount of yellow makes a colour ‘warm’ or ‘warmer’ than another.

A greater amount of blue, black or white in a colour makes it ‘cooler’ than another.

The colour on the right has the most yellow, therefore it is the ‘warmest’ among the 3 colours.

Even blues can be warm.
Left: Coolest colour, Right: Warmest (has the most yellow)


If your skin tone is warm, then the colours that are in harmony with you are warm as well.

If you find that a colour just doesn’t seem ‘right’ on you, it’s likely that that colour has the opposite undertone.  A person who has a warm undertone will find that colours with yellow in them look more  HARMONIOUS with their skin tone.

The following pictures are used the illustrate how colours of a different undertone look out of place – they stick out like a sore thumb, drawing attention to themselves.

Original Colour Scheme (done by Nippon iColour Visualiser)
Warm Neutrals



The colour of the decorative partition has been changed. Notice how it doesn’t jive with the rest of the colours in the combination. The original on the left looks a lot better. This colour is too ‘cool’ for the whole colour combination.


The same partition has been ‘repainted’ – this colour is better than the earlier one, but it’s still not the best.


Finally, this colour fits best into the general colour scheme. It attracts the right amount of attention without being strangely out of place.

The same principle applies in choosing neutrals for your outfits.

To find the best neutrals for you:

  1. find out your skin undertone
  2. select different colours and put them against your face, ask yourself, does the colour look ‘weird’ on me?  If the colour shouts for attention in a negative way, then it isn’t the right colour for you.





Color Hunter for YOU: Dressing in your colours

I just stumbled upon a great site.

It’s called: Color Hunter.

Home Page for Color Hunter

What’s so special about it?

We can upload a picture and get the main colours found in it (complete with the universal Hex colour codes).


Why should we be excited about it then?

We can immediately what colours are in our bodies through the aid of a picture. 

Whenever I give talks on colours, I get this question: what colour suits me most?

The truth is I can’t answer anyone straight off without doing a proper analysis under strict conditions (ie. correct lighting, no makeup and going through a set of drapes).

So, this is where Color Hunter is useful and empowering for the individual who wants to do a simple colour analysis in his/her own home.  Read on……..

One of the most important things in PERSONAL COLOUR ANALYSIS is to search for the colours that LIKE us, colours that complement us.   These colours are obviously those that are already in our skin, hair and eyes.  For those who have the opportunity to consult a colour analyst, finding the ‘right’ colours isn’t an issue.  However, for those who don’t have a chance to go for a Personal Colour Analysis, the best way to do it is to look at your skin, hair and eyes, and see what your colours are.  The colours found in your own body are the ones that LIKE you!

That’s how Color Hunter can help.

Let’s see an example:

I uploaded this picture of J.Lo into Color Hunter.

The colors that  were generated from this picture are:

Colours derived from the picture

J.Lo’s skin tone is warm and her hair colour is tinged with various shades of brown and tinges of gold.  Naturally, these colours look good on her because they HARMONISE with her natural colouring.  (ignore ‘white’ – that’s from her clothes)

Let’s see another example:

The picture I selected


I cropped the pic above to show only my hair and skin colours. I don't want the colours of my earring, background and shirt to be included.


These are the colours generated from my picture.

Indeed, these colours are flattering on me. I’m warm toned, and my colours are generally deep.  Rich warm colours like these are preferred over cool colours.

How can I use these colours?

Use them for your colours and accessories from earrings to shoes.

Give it a go!  But before you try, take a picture first.  Make sure you follow the steps below for a more accurate colour analysis:

  1. Take a head shot with a neutral white background.
  2. Take the picture in good natural light, avoid flash.
  3. Avoid wearing accessories.
  4. Crop the pictures if necessary to remove ‘foreign’ colours.

The Color Hunter is a simple way to find the basic colours that flatter you.  Its shortfall is that it can’t help you find other flattering colours not in the picture.   But, it is a pretty good way to start!

Personal Colour Analysis: Affirming Your Image with Colours

Have you had people commenting that you looked good? How did that make you feel?

On the other hand, have you had people telling you that you looked tired even though you weren’t? How did that make you feel?

We all want to be complimented on how well we look. I for one would like to hear that I look ‘radiant’ or ‘healthy’. That makes me feel that I need little else to look good. My spots will show less and I’ll need less makeup! The truth is, our face reflects the colour of the clothes that we wear. If someone told you you looked tired but you weren’t, chances are the colour you were wearing near your face that day did not enhance your look.

The colours that work for you can give you a radiant & healthy appearance. Your face glows and your eyes look brighter. When you glow, you’ll look more youthful. So, your colours are doing the work for you when you are tired! When you’re confident that the colours you’re wearing make you look good, it translates into springier steps and a lighter heart. Because when you look good, you feel good too!

So, isn’t it time to find the colours that make you glow? When you wear colours that work with your skintone, intensity and contrast, you’ll find that people are drawn to your face: YOU, not your perceived flaws. And you certainly don’t want anyone to point out any flaws when there is none! Personal Colour Analysis is relatively foreign to a lot of people; but I’d like to have more of us thinking about it and seeing how it can fit into your life.