Diary / Beauty / Aug 21, 2023
5 Summer Makeup Looks for Your Skin Tone
Written by: Piper Gray
Photography by: Ben Ritter
Summer brings with it a wave of vibrant colors…and higher temperatures—and your makeup should reflect this shift. With the heat and pool time and other summertime pursuits, no one wants to spend a lot of time on their look—or even follow a many-step routine that requires a lot of product. It’s all about striking a balance between a more natural look and the season's bright energy.
The key to perfecting your summer makeup looks starts with understanding your skin tone and choosing the makeup products that flatter it best. To help you get comfortable, we've put together this guide with useful tips and insights designed to make your summer makeup routine more effective and enjoyable.
How Do You Identify Skin Tone?
Understanding your skin tone is the first step to finding your most flattering makeup that leaves you feeling confident, no matter the season. In the world of dermatology, the Fitzpatrick Skin Type scale is used to categorize skin colors into six distinct types, ranging from Type I (very light or pale) to Type VI (very dark or deeply pigmented).
While this scale is used in a scientific sense to talk about your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays, it can be a helpful place to start when determining your coloring. But your skin tone is about more than pigment or melanin. It’s also about your undertone, too—which is to say whether your skin is cool, neutral, or warm.
Ever been inspired to try out an outfit or makeup, only to find that the colors completely clash or wash you out (even though you could’ve sworn the hues would match your same skin tone)? In that case, not knowing your undertones is probably the culprit here.
While our skin tone may change throughout the year based on sun exposure or aging, your undertone will always remain the same. Knowing your undertone can help you more easily identify what colors will work well with your skin tone and take some of the guesswork out of makeup.
How Do You Identify Your Undertones?
One common method is to examine the veins on your wrist. You likely have a cool skin tone if they appear blue or purple. If they seem green, you likely have a warm skin tone. And if you can't easily distinguish between blue and green, you likely have a neutral skin tone.
There are some other indicators, too. If you tend to burn easily in the sun, you’re probably a cool undertone. If you tan rather than burn, you’re most likely warm. And if you tend to burn and then tan, you’re probably neutral.
The jewelry you reach for again and again can also give you insight. If you find gold really flattering—way more than silver—you’re probably warm. Silver jewelry is more likely to flatter cool tones, and if you mix both metals, you’re probably in the middle, with neutral undertones.
Why Do These Things Matter?
Matching your color choices to your undertones can affect whether or not you look best in delicate pastels or bold neons. (Of course, your personal taste will also play into this.)
Light skin tones typically need a foundation with a pink, red, or blue base, while medium skin tones often require a foundation with a yellow or gold base. For dark skin tones, a foundation with a deep blue or cool red base can bring out the skin's natural radiance.
This may sound complicated, but with finding the right products—and with a little time and practice—it’s easy to use your specific skin tone and undertone to master your looks. To help you get to that point, let’s talk about how to make some different summer looks work for your complexion.
1. Embrace Your Natural Skin
Makeup looks that embrace your natural skin are ideal for the summertime. A no-makeup makeup look especially is perfect for warmer weather, as it requires few products, and a light application of those at that, allowing your natural glow to shine through. Focus on keeping things light, airy, and fresh with healthy, nourished skin. Think: almost stripped, barely any product covering up your natural tone and features.
It can be tempting to slack a bit on your skincare routine when it’s so hot outside, we get it. The last thing you want is a heavy-feeling moisturizer, and who wants to risk looking greasy if you’re already sweating? But don’t skimp on keeping your skin adequately hydrated. Nourished skin will look clearer and show less signs of redness. When you take care of your complexion, you’ll need less product to color-correct and then feel more comfortable to go (nearly) bare.
If you're concerned with feeling or looking oily, consider switching up your usual products and opt for a lighter, but still plenty nourishing, moisturizer.
Our Oil-Free Moisturizer is utterly lightweight and suitable for the most hot and humid climates. Those with dry skin may need something a bit more substantive, even in the summer weather, so the Light Moisture Cream will be great.
Cleansed, nourished skin needs little else if you’re taking this stripped approach, save for a couple of products that heighten this simple, clean look.
Groom your brows with The Brow Gel in Clear—we can’t overstate how much a tidy brow wakes up the face. Finish up with a light application of Miracle Balm in Au Natural over the cheeks and any place else you’d like to subtly highlight.
2. Go for Bronzed
Sunscreen is the number-one product—for all of these looks, for all seasons—but we still all want to look like we are fresh from a beach vacation (just safely so). This look relies on bronzer to mimic a sun-kissed glow and add definition to a nourished complexion.
First, decide which formula you want: a powder? A liquid, even a cream? Your skin type will help inform your selection. If you have oily skin, a gel or cream may feel slippery and not stay put; in that case, a matte powder, like The Bronzer, may be the way to go—and it can also help absorb excess oil. Apply it with our Bronzer Brush, dusting on your cheeks and any place else you want to add some warmth.
Those with dry or normal skin can benefit from a liquid or cream bronzer, which will provide extra, dewy hydration. Smooth on our Gel Bronzer with your fingertips, focusing on the areas the sun would naturally hit; it’s lightweight enough that you can build up the intensity and dimension by adding more, or diffuse it further with The Everything Brush or The Skin Brush.
To dial up the radiance, sweep a bit of shimmer in a coppery hue onto your eyelids. Our cushiony eyeshadow, Just a Sec, comfortably deposits a luminous layer of extra warmth; we recommend Golden Peach for lighter skin tones or Bronze for darker skin tones.
3. Just the Eyes
When you want a no-fuss but still impactful look that’s easy to maintain throughout the day (or night), pick one feature to highlight: either the eyes or the lips, not both.
For this look, play up your eyes. Simply, of course—for this season, the less steps and less products the better.
First, tend to the brows and lashes. A cleaned- and shaped-up brow with defined lashes is a timeless combination. Fill in bare patches and define your brows with our waterproof Brow Pencil—and to achieve an utterly classic appearance, follow up with a swipe of our Brow Gel. Add a swipe or two of inky mascara to punctuate the look.
From there, layer on The Best Eyeshadow, building to your desired intensity. For a summer-suitable look, we’re going for a subdued appearance that easily transitions from morning to night. Also, The Best Eyeshadow is also excellent as an eyeliner if you want to precisely brush on a bit of definition around your eyes to wake up the face or dramatize for an evening out.
Straight from the Jones Road team, some recommendations for eyeshadow colors by skin tone and skin undertone:
4. Just the Lips
When keeping the rest of your look neutral, a confident lip will deliver unmistakable impact. And when it comes to choosing a lipstick color, knowing your undertones can help.
Reach for The Lip Tint when you want to make a stronger impression and Lip and Cheek Stick when you’re looking for a product that does double-duty. Both are smooth, buildable, and velvety—and most importantly, they’re so light that you can apply (and reapply) without a mirror. Just swipe on; these aren’t meant to be super precise, but you can apply with our Eyeliner Brush for a more exact, classic take on a casual summer lip.
To amplify your color, glide on Cool Gloss in a hue that corresponds to your base layer of The Lip Tint or Lip and Cheek Stick. It can also be worn solo for an even simpler but still plenty impactful look.
Below, our team shares some more recommendations for lip colors based on your skin tone and skin undertone:
5. Add Some Shimmer
You may feel inclined to dismiss shimmer because, well, the heat can have us all feeling a little glowy, and perhaps not in a way that makes us feel our best. But with this approach, you’re in control of the glow and are boosting your complexion in a season when it can be easy to feel sluggish. This is a simple way to impart a youthful energy that’s just the right amount of dewy—and it works for daytime, too.
If you’re skeptical or simply want the most simple highlight, start slow and easy with an all-over wash of soft-focus moisture. Miracle Balm emphasizes your cheeks and lips even; apply with your hands for the most natural look.
Add extra, silky radiance to your complexion with Shimmer Face Oil. And yes, while it’s an oil, it won’t weigh you down or make you look slick. A little goes a long way, and you’ll look luminous in no time.
Heightening your eyes with shimmer brightens the face, which is always a worthy goal, no matter the season. Sheer it out for the subtlest of glimmer (patting any extra product on your cheeks, if the color is suitable) or intensify by layering on.
For either approach, we have two great options. One, Just a Sec looks just an eyeshadow and can be applied as such: sweep it across the lids and for extra highlight, scale up to your brow bone and/or target the inner corners of your eyes.
Two, Sparkle Wash is a liquid eyeshadow that is applied with a wand; it’s just as easily diffused but is innately more sparkly. Both of these are excellent for adding on top of a base layer for a stronger look.
Make Your Look the Talk of the Season
Summer is a wonderful time to experiment with new makeup looks. It doesn’t take many products to make an impact so don't be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone and embrace your natural skin and bolder, more vibrant hues than what you’re used to.
Above all, remember that the best makeup look makes you feel confident, beautiful, and uniquely you.