Make Up

Makeup Basics– Women of Color “Yellow Bone” **Cool Undertones**

I use the term ‘yellow bone’ lightly because in black American folklore, yellow bone is used to refer to light skinned–multiracial–black women, however this is a fallacy. “Yellow bones” can also be medium tone and dark skinned, like myself. Women of color like caucasian women have olive or red undertones. Today, I am focusing on those with olive–read yellow–undertones.

Yellow bones come in all shades. From light (multiethnic or 2 multiethnic parents) to dark (ethnic blending in recent past or one multiethnic parent). Don’t be confused just because you are multiracial does not mean you will have have yellow undertones. It depends on the mix. Native American, East Indian, or Pacific Islander (esp. Filipino) with black will most likely  give you red undertones but any multiethnic mixing with European or East Asian blood will most always give you yellow undertones.

In order to understand the varying shades in the yellow undertones spectrum here is a chart of Mac Foundation shades in the NC (neutral cool) family. I will be using mostly Mac foundations because it is the product line that I know best. If you have other products that you like take what I am teaching here and apply it to that line.

The best way to know if you have yellow undertones is to look at the underside of your arm if the skin there is yellow or gold then you indeed have olive undertones. You can also look at your chest–basically areas that do not get much sunlight. Another way to tell is to put a foundation on your face that has a warm/red undertone, if after a few minutes to an hour of wearing it your skin starts to turn or look orange–for years I wore NW45 or 43 or Fashion Fair and could not figure out why I was always looking orange because I had the misguided attitude that since I was ‘dark skinned’ I was obviously a ‘red bone’–than you obviously have yellow undertones. And if you are wondering I, like Gabrielle, am a NC50.

The one important thing you must know when choosing your makeup is that you must ALWAYS stick to warm colors. Colors that are more red or orange versus blue or yellow. The reason for this is because we are on the darker end of the gold spectrum using colors that have cool undertones can turn gray on our skin and make us look green–on the lighter end– or gray on the darker end. I also like to use fuchsia and purple a lot since purple and yellow are opposites on the color spectrum, therefore those color families give us a healthy glow.

Well how can you tell if a color is more cool than warm you ask? Look at these two Mac eye shadow colors. One is Star Violet (cool tone) and the other is Plum Dressing (warm). You would use Plum Dressing if you had to choose.

Star Violet (cool tones)

Plum Dressing (warm tones)

I have put together a few makeup inspiration boards for you to look over to see how I choose colors. I hope they inspire you. And do not be afraid to try color. Gold or bronze lipstick or gloss is not considered ‘natural.’ Who has ever seen any human with bronze or gold lips ever? So, my Mac users who are addicted to Oh Baby, In my tranny voice, “Ima need you to try something new.”

I mixed these charts to incorporate looks for women on both ends of the shade spectrum. Again, the charts are just base line suggestions not the law and it really does not matter your shade–its more about application technique– you can use both charts in both spectrums to your advantage. Enjoy.

Daily Look 


WOC Yellow Tones, Daily Look


Bold Lip


WOC Yellow Tones, Bold Lip


A tutorial on red lips


Colorful Smoky Eye


WOC Yellow tones, purple smokey eye
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