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Skin Undertones

  • 3 min read
Image Credit: @Rouge.Ink


In PMU, your healed result is really dependent on three main components: the skin, the environment and the color pigment used. The skin alone has a variety of factors to consider such as undertones, how it heals, sun exposure and products used. You could (and should) spend months researching, learning and talking all about it! However, let’s start by breaking down skin undertones.

What Are Skin Undertones?

Skin undertone is the natural color underneath the surface of your skin. Environmental factors such as sun exposure (a tan) or lighting in a studio may affect how the undertone is perceived. 

Exercise: Grab a few different lights (flashlight, phone light, lamp, etc.) run your arm underneath each, noting the colors you see. Is it warm? cool? Blue? Yellow?

What Are Skin Undertone Colors?

There are three main undertone colors: cool, warm & neutral. However in PMU, there are six sub colors:

Transparent - Cool porcelain, sometimes with a violet influence that can be seen around the eyes. Most obvious when a person has lighter skin. 

Translucent - Cool ivory-porcelain sometimes with a blue influence around the eyes. The lips may appear pink or lavender. 

Ruddy - Red-violet, rose-beige, soft pink, or ruddy cast to the skin. 

Olive - Golden bronze or olive. Many people of Mediterranean, American Indian, and some Hispanic descent have olive skin. 

Sallow - Pale yellow, ivory, or sallow. If there is a greenish cast, it will normally appear a yellow-green. This skin type typically has no blue or red cast. 

Brown Skin - All brown skin has some degree of cool blue, green, or violet undertones. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type Chart

If you’re still unsure, a common way to determine is the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Chart which outlines the six colors with a test to determine as seen below.

I Always burns, never tans. Skin is very pale white ranging from porcelain to translucent.

II Sun sensitive, burns easily, tans minimally. Skin is white and fair but has beige undertones.

III Sun-sensitive, burns minimally, slowly tans to a light brown. Skin is fair or cream with hints of pink, beige, or olive.

IV Minimally sun sensitive, tans to a moderate brown. Skin is dark with yellow, orange, slight blue, and olive tones.

V Sun-insensitive, rarely burns, tans to a dark brown. Skin is very dark to black with blue or orange tones.

VI Sun-insensitive, never burns, tans to black. Skin is deeply pigmented brown.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type Test

Your eye color is:

Light blue, light gray or light green = 0 

Blue, gray or green = 1 

Hazel or light brown = 2 

Dark brown = 3 

Brownish black = 4 

Your natural hair color is:

Red or light blonde = 0 

Blonde = 1 

Dark blonde or light brown = 2 

Dark brown = 3 

Black = 4 

Your natural skin color (before sun exposure) is:

Ivory white = 0 

Fair or pale = 1 

Fair to beige, with golden undertone = 2 

Olive or light brown = 3 

Dark brown or black = 4 

How many freckles do you have on unexposed areas of your skin?

Many = 0 

Several = 1 

A few = 2 

Very few = 3 

None = 4 

How does your skin respond to the sun?

Always burns, blisters and peels = 0 

Often burns, blisters and peels = 1 

Burns moderately = 2

Burns rarely, if at all = 3

Never burns = 4

Does your skin tan?

Never, I always burn = 0 

Seldom = 1 

Sometimes = 2

Often = 3

Always = 4

How deeply do you tan?

Not at all or very little = 0 

Lightly = 1  

Moderately = 2

Deeply = 3

My skin is naturally dark = 4

How sensitive is your face to the sun?

Very sensitive = 0 

Sensitive = 1 point

Normal = 2 

Resistant = 3

Very resistant/Never had a problem = 4

Total Score: ______


Skin Type I (0-6 points)

Skin Type II (7-13 points)

Skin Type III (14-20 points)

Skin Type IV (21 - 27 points)

Skin Type V (28-34 points)

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