How to Pick the Undertone of Yellow


How to pick the undertone of yellow

One of the properties of colour is undertone (sometimes called temperature).

When we think about colour undertone (or temperature) warm relates to yellow (the sun), cool to blue (water).    If you want to make a colour warmer in undertone, add a little yellow – which is why a yellow-green is warmer than a blue-green (add blue to cool the undertone).  You can see examples of warm and cool greens here.

Yellow is naturally a warm colour, just as blue is naturally cool.

Just as we can make a blue warmer by adding a touch of yellow.  We can cool down a yellow by adding white (white is also cool). If you add blue to yellow it becomes green (and no longer yellow).

When a yellow has a little orange added, it becomes even warmer.  Which is why the mustard shades are all for those with a warm undertone.How to pick the undertone of yellow

You will see with the cool yellow that they have white added to them to make them a cooler version of yellow.

Just as cool undertone people can wear both warm and cool blues, warm undertone people can also wear all undertone yellows.

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  • There is a children’s picture book called Little blue, Little yellow. They are such good friends they become green. It is by Leo Lionni. This post immediately made me think of it.

  • The first step in grasping the concept? Understanding that our skin’s surface tone is the color you’d describe yourself as having (ivory, light, medium, tan, dark, etc.) Your skin’s undertone is the color underneath the surface.

  • Dear Imogen,

    I hope you are well. Why can cool undertone people where a warm blue?

    Vice versa why would an enigmatic look good with a cool yellow?

    Is it because the overtone of yellow is warm and blue cool?

    Thank you

    • Blue is basically cool
      Yellow is basically warm

      So even though there are cooler versions of yellow – it’s still more of a warm colour, just as even the warmer blues are still part of blue (which is cooler).

  • I love the yellows that come in my winter palette, pity that they are quite difficult to find. So far, I’ve only managed to find an icy yellow nail polish and one mid-yellow scarf. Although yellow on a winter probably works best in small doses anyway.

  • Hi Imogen, I still think yellow is definitely one of the most difficult colours to pull off. At least for me. I am supposed to have a warm undertone , butwhether I take a cool or a warm yellow I keep on looking unhealthy when I wear them. There must be something I am not doing right I think.

    • I have the same problem with yellow. My coloring is warm, and I have olive skin. Some yellows make me look ill, others make me look kind of muddy. I have one sweater, and one summer top that are a near-perfect yellow on me, but aside from those two garments, I just can’t get it right. ?

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