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By Deborah Grayson

How do I determine my skin tone to know what colors are right for me?

To determine your skin tone, observe the color of your nail bed or pinch the skin under your arm (or any place the sun never shines). Does the tone tend to appear more reddish-orange, reddish-blue, pinkish-blue, peachy or yellowish? Once that's determined, you'll have a benchmark for your natural skin tone. The colors that will look most organic against your skin are the colors you find in your skin. Conversely, the colors that will create vibrancy are those that contrast.

In selecting foundation, powder and blush, I urge you to honor your natural skin tone and choose colors that replicate your organic hues. Concerning eye shadow and lip color, it's all decoration as far as I'm concerned, so go for what attracts you. In most cases you will be naturally drawn to colors that flatter you.

If you're going for a subtle look, stay within the realm of you natural tones or punch it up slightly by layering colors, for more depth, or by adding neutral highlights for shine. Classically, there are four different palettes. Match one to your natural skin tone:

Earthy: Browns, ambers and bronze, with some yellow tones

Rosy: Cherry pinks to red pinks

Violet: Purple tones with blue cast

Coral: The orange family, with a touch of red in the mix

For a more vibrant look, use tones that contrast with your natural palette, though I do suggest if you're going bold on the eyes, keep it subtle on the lips and vice-versa. Thus:

  • If you're mostly pink toned, try a plucky blue or autumnal brown on the eyes, with a hint of gloss on lips. Or go for all out coral on the lips, but stay subtle on the eyes.
  • If you have red tones, try an earthy green shadow, with a sheer lip. Or if you want to go for red lips, make sure it's a blue/red, and remember to stay with the more neutral eye. If you are peachy, experiment with a vibrant purple shadow, though keep lips translucent beige. Or do a true pink lip with your natural eye.

Recommended Products:

Dior 5-Colour Eyeshadow
Five shades: peach, off white, amber, and two browns; a classic.
Price: $59
Available: Christian Dior counters, Sephora,

M.A.C Eye Shadow
The trendiest and most fabulous! Create a personalized palette to suit your mood.
Price: $15-$38
Available: (800) 387-6707, M.A.C boutiques and counters,

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.