Foundation Colour Theory

MAC foundation colour theory is probably one of the most confusing things for a lot of women and girls to understand.  If you studied Art or Fashion in school, you'll probably have learned Colour Theory and studied the colour wheel (pictured above).  You may already know the difference between cool and warm colours, but here's a little re-cap just in case:

Warm Colours: 
Yellow, Orange, Red

Cool Colours: 
Blue, Green, Violet

To make things easier, I always think of fire and water - fire symbolises the WARM colours and water symbolises the COOL ones. 

When talking about skin undertones and fashion (for example, which colours suit you), you will see that there are two types: cool undertone and warm undertone.  I already made a video on this topic last winter but here are the basics:

Warm Undertone:
If you have peach, golden or yellow undertones to your skin

Cool Undertone:
If you have pink, blue or red undertones to your skin

I personally am warm, because I have a golden or yellow undertone to my skin.  I tan easily and rarely burn in the sun.  If you are dark with golden undertones you are also warm.  On the other hand, if you are very fair with pink undertones to your skin, you are cool.  If you are dark with blue-ish or red undertones to your skin, you are also cool.

Now, here's where it gets confusing!  And this is what I had always been taught prior to going make-up school:


That statement is not strictly true, nor does is explain fully WHY they're different.  Here's the real reason, which hopefully will simplify things for you as it did me:

Our skin may have different colour undertones, however there is no such thing as blue, green or violet skin.  There is also no such thing as bright yellow or bright red skin.  Our skin is made up of different shades of TWO COLOURS: Red-Orange and Yellow-Orange.  Here's how this is broken down:

If you have pink, blue or red undertones to your skin

If you have yellow, peach or golden undertones to your skin

Now, think of holding a rod, or iron.  If it's burning red on one end and yellow on the other, which do you think would be hotter?  RED!  That's probably going to burn you really badly so I suggest you drop it right away :)  Therefore, we have come to this conclusion:

Red is hotter than yellow so...
RED = Warm

This is in relation to each other, of course.  When talking about foundation, we need to forget about the rest of the colour wheel.  Now this is the real reason why MAC determines skin to be either NW (Neutral Warm) or NC (Neutral Cool).  In other words, in terms of MAC foundations, I wear NC (Neutral Cool) foundation because I have a yellow/golden undertone to my skin.  However, in terms of everything else (clothing etc.) my skin is WARM.

NW/Neutral Warm = Red-Orange
(If you have pink, blue or red undertones to your skin

NC/Neutral Cool = Yellow-Orange
(If you have yellow, golden or peach undertones to your skin

I hope that this explains MAC Foundation Colour Theory better to you guys and I hope it's not too confusing!  I was super confused before we covered this in make-up school and now it's all very simple, you just need to get things straight in your head!

Stay Stylish!


  1. Wow, thank you for this! it's really informative and you explained it in a very simple way so people who get confused easily (like me) understand it very well :) I'm loving your blog at the mo!

  2. Very helpful, thank you, Anna!

    Liesl :)

  3. omg, now i understand!!! Thank u so much xxx

  4. Hi Anna, i love your blog! Is there any chance you could do a blog about what to wear for an interview? Im kinda confused about what to wear because its for River Island and i know they like their retail assistants to be fashionable. so im kinda stuck because i know alot of people recommend shirts and black pants but maybe thats abit to boring? what would you recommend? i want to stand out for the right reasons. By the way..i love your blog :) jen x x x

  5. oh and i dont mean to sound demanding but the interview is next monday so if you do get a chance to do it before then it would be a huge help! thanks, jen x x x x

  6. @Anonymous/jen I believe she has a video of what to wear to an interview, but I don't quite remember. Try searching through her uploads on her youtube channel to find it. Good luck by the way!

  7. Thaaaank you so much! I have read about MAC foundations before, but you explain it the most simple way!

  8. Thanks for all the great feedback, girls! I'm glad you all found it helpful :) <3

  9. їPuedo tomar obtener Foto de su blog?



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