If you think there are just a few skin colors, you’re underestimating the diversity of skin tones. Our skin isn’t limited to a few shades of white or black. There are tens of different skin tones with their unique skin tone names.
Why is it important to know these skin tone names? Well, for one, you’d be able to distinguish your own skin tone. That can be immensely helpful when it comes to skincare and makeup. Also, you’d know other skin tones, so you wouldn’t generalize people, especially people of color.
The reason why we have so many different colors of skin is because of a pigment called melanin. The amount of melanin in your skin determines the shade of skin, as well as undertones, to some extent.
Generally, the more melanin the skin has, the darker it is and vice versa. So in this article, I’ll go over 20 different skin tone names and educate you on what they look like, what advantages they offer, and what challenges they face.
There are many different skin tones besides the main white, brown, and black skin colors:
- Porcelain, Alabaster, Ivory, Beige, and Peaches & Cream are fairer skin tones with mostly warm or cool undertones.
- Light skin tones are more susceptible to photodamage from the sun and hence need protection (high SPF).
- Honey, Caramel, and Praline are light brown skin tones with mostly neutral undertones.
- Bronze and Caramel skin have natural radiance and can range from light to dark brown.
- Espresso Brown, Hickory, and Sable are deep brown (black) shades of skin, with sable being rarer.
- Light brown and deep brown skin tones are not that susceptible to sun damage and are at low risk of melanoma.
- Knowing the right skin tone can help you pick the right makeup products and wear the colors that complement the skin.
Different Skin Tone Names
Here are the names of different skin tones, going from light to dark:
Porcelain skin tone is one of the fairest skin tones, based on the Fitzpatrick scale. While it’s hard to distinguish from other pale skin tones, its highlight is its cool yellow undertone. That sometimes makes it even paler than, say, ivory skin tone.
This is a skin shade common in people with Caucasian ethnicity as well as Asians who live in colder regions (think Japan, Korea, or Northern China). As is common with white skin, porcelain skin is also prone to sun damage, so protection is a must. It’s not uncommon for this skin color to get photodamage early on because of too much exposure to the sun.
Celebrities with Porcelain Skin Tone: Emma Watson, Kirsten Dunst, Cate Blanchett
Alabaster skin tone is very close to porcelain, except it has a neutral undertone. This results in a very pale complexion. Alabaster skin is typically free of blemishes and has an even tone. Although the lack of cool or warm undertones can sometimes make the skin look incredibly pale, it’s still a beautiful skin tone that works well with a wide range of colors.
However, if you have alabaster skin, avoid too muted makeup because that just adds to the paleness. You can incorporate some color to add contrast and make up for the lack of undertones.
Celebrities with Alabaster Skin Tone: Elle Fanning, Kristen Stewart, Avril Lavigne
Clearly, one of the most underrated skin tones, ivory skin is just so versatile when it comes to compatibility with other colors. It’s a pale skin tone with blue, pink, peach, or golden undertones. Therefore, it may have cool or warm undertones.
In comparison with porcelain or alabaster, ivory skin is slightly darker, thanks to these undertones. However, it is susceptible to sun damage and may get sunburnt if not protected.
Celebrities with Ivory Skin Tone: Emma Stone, Nicole Kidman, Isla Fisher
Beige skin tone can be considered somewhere between ivory and olive. It’s not as pale as ivory but not as brown as olive, either. It typically has a yellow tint or greenish undertones. It’s closer to olive skin than ivory.
If you have beige skin, you would have the easiest time picking out a foundation or concealer. There are just so many choices for beige foundations.
Celebrities with Beige Skin Tone: Kate Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Ariana Grande
5. Peaches and Cream
No, this is not some crazy ice cream flavor; it’s actually a skin tone. It’s basically alabaster or porcelain skin with peach or pink cheeks. In other words, it’s quite pale and blemish-free with visible pink and peach undertones.
You can imagine this is a beautiful skin tone, with a radiant peachy look even without makeup. So if you have a peaches and cream skin tone with naturally pink cheeks and T-zone, you don’t need a lot of makeup. You won’t even need to put on blush all the time. How lucky!
Celebrities with Peaches and Cream Skin Tone: Julia Roberts, Kate Bosworth, Julianne Moore
Honey skin is one that’s radiant but not oily and in terms of shade a few shades darker than ivory. It can vary from pale to dark in terms of shade with a yellowish-orange tint. This kind of skin tone can easily attain that perfectly mild tan because it’s naturally more towards tan skin.
You can use both lighter and darker foundations as per your mood or the look you’re going for with this skin tone. Both light and dark colors suit this complexion.
Celebrities with Honey Skin Tone: Penelope Cruz, Kim Kardashian
Olive skin tone ranges from fair to light brown with a distinctive green tint. This tint is what makes this shade so unique. It’s mostly found in ethnicities from warm/tropical regions like South Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.
Olive skin is not as prone to sun damage as pale skin tones. Therefore, it gets tanned rather easily. Also, this skin shade comes with oiliness, so taking care of that excess sebum production is necessary.
Celebrities with Olive Skin Tone: Salma Hayek, Frieda Pinto, Emily Ratajkowski
You’ve probably heard this one a lot in TV shows, movies, song lyrics, and even in real life. It’s usually used in a positive context because caramel skin is highly desirable. It’s similar to olive skin tone, but a tad bit darker and with neutral undertones.
As such, the caramel tone can range from light brown to dark brown. People with caramel skin usually have an even skin tone and dark hair and eyes.
As a brown skin tone, caramel skin doesn’t get sun damage that easily. However, moisturizing is key to maintaining its softness and suppleness. Consider yourself gifted if you have this skin tone, as it works well with both bright and subtle colors, including nude shades.
Celebrities with Caramel Skin Tone: Beyonce, Halle Berry, Tyra Banks
Praline is a neutral skin tone with mostly neutral undertones. It’s somewhere between very light brown and brown skin, and many celebrities, especially with some ethnic lineage. have this skin tone.
Like other light brown skin tones, Praline skin also packs in the benefits of both light and brown skin tones. It gets tanned easily but doesn’t get red like fair skin. As for the makeup, bright colors pop out easily, but you can also go for subtle shades. Since the undertones are rather neutral, pink, peach, or gold blush can add some contrast.
Celebrities with Praline Skin Tone: Jessica Alba, Shay Michaels, Venessa Hudgens
Mustard skin tone is not exactly mustard like the actual color or condiment we add to sandwiches. It’s essentially brown skin with yellow undertones. It’s more yellow than brown, which is why it deserves the name Mustard.
It doesn’t get red under the sun. The yellow undertone is quite visible and dominant. People from South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa have this skin color. However, it may be hard to distinguish from other brown shades because the intensity of the brown is not that different.
If you have mustard skin, you can use makeup to add some color contrast. Like Alabaster skin, this skin tone can also look sickly sometimes.
Have you ever looked at someone and thought they had tanned under the sun, but then they told you that’s what their skin tone is like naturally?
Well, that’s Bronze skin tone, which is naturally tan with golden undertones. However, bronze skin can also be a result of hyperpigmentation as a result of too much iron in the body.
Since this skin tone is naturally more on the dark side, you should choose foundations made for black skin. Anything slightly lighter or similar to the shade of your skin will work perfectly. The best thing about this skin color is that it has a natural glow. So you don’t necessarily need a lot of makeup.
Celebrities with Bronze Skin Tone: Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna
This is a rare tone of skin, which is dark and has a distinct red tint. Hence, the name mahogany like the wood color. It’s a reddish-brown tone that has also been described in history books, particularly those about ancient Egypt.
In terms of the skin, the properties are similar to other brown skin tones. As is common with brown skin, moisturization is key to keeping it hydrated and supple.
Chestnut is similar to Mahogany but think of it as a darker shade of Mahogany with less of the red undertone. It’s also similar to dark brown but without neutral undertones. The undertone can be red or golden.
Like Bronze skin tone, Chestnut skin tone also has a natural glow and radiance. So there’s no need for much bronzing when applying makeup.
Celebrities with Chestnut Skin Tone: Issa Rae, Viola Davis
Umber skin tone is not very well-known in the skincare world because it’s not very distinguishable from Chestnut. However, Umber skin is a tad bit darker than Chestnut. But in terms of skincare and makeup, it’s no different. You can use the same foundation or concealer for both Chestnut and Umber skin shades.
If you have dark brown skin with red undertones, your skin tone is Umber. You can choose products that are suitable for black skin. Again, moisturizing is important if you want to maintain that natural radiance and red tint of this black skin tone.
15. Saddle Brown
Saddle Brown skin tone name comes from the brown color of horse saddles. It’s a light brown shade with an almost unnoticeable red undertone. Think of it as Mahogany or Chestnut without the visible red undertone.
Since it’s similar to other light to dark brown shades, the skincare routine and makeup choices are not that different. You can easily find a foundation that matches the exact skin tone you have, as now we have more appropriate foundation colors for brown and black skin.
Celebrities with Saddle Brown Skin Tone: Zawe Ashton
Almond skin tone resembles the natural brown shade of almonds with cool undertones of blue or pink. It’s more towards the darker end of the brown skin color spectrum. White looks especially spectacular on Almond skin tone.
17. Espresso Brown
Espresso Brown is commonly used for a variety of dark brown skin colors. However, it’s a tad bit lighter than most dark shades of brown. Don’t confuse the color with the actual espresso color, which tends to be quite dark.
If you combine Chestnut and Bronze skin tones, you’ll get Espresso Brown skin tone. Again, thanks to more inclusivity in the skincare and makeup industry lately, you can easily find foundations and other makeup products that suit this particular skin tone.
Celebrities with Espresso Brown Skin Tone: Tike Sumpter, Lupita Nyong’o, Adeola Ariyo
Cacao skin is dark brown with a red undertone, which is more like a brownish-red. With more melanin in the skin, it’s dark, glowy, and smooth. The name comes from the Cacao beans color, which is a deep brown shade.
Like other darker skin tones, Cacao skin also offers many benefits. Most importantly, it’s low risk for skin cancer.
Celebrities with Cacao Skin Tone: Idris Elba, Lizzo
Hickory skin tone gets its name from the wood that we often use for barbeques. It’s one of the deep brown skin tones with yellow or pink undertones. Again, it’s hard to distinguish from other dark brown skin tones because they look quite alike.
However, this skin tone can range from light to deep brown. It’s the undertones that distinguish it as pink undertones that are rare in black skin.
Celebrities with Hickory Skin Tone: Michaela Coel
Sable is a dark brown shade (almost black) found predominantly in some African tribes. It has brown undertones, which essentially make the overall skin tone quite dark. It’s a rare skin tone that most people with some kind of tribal or ethnic background have, with their roots linked to indigenous tribes in Africa or Latin America.
Celebrities with Sable Skin Tone: Khoudia Diop, Adut Akech
How to Determine Your Skin Tone?
Determining the exact skin tone you have is not very easy. You can tell if you have fair skin, light brown, dark brown, or deep brown, but it may be hard to find the exact skin tone name.
Normally, skin experts recommend using the Fitzpatrick pigment scale to determine skin tone. On this scale, there are six types of pigments, with Type I being the lightest and Type VI being the darkest.
As you can guess, this scale has some limitations. It essentially limits the skin tones to six variants, which is far less than what we have in today’s super diverse world. However, you can still use it to get some idea of where your skin falls on the scale.
Generally speaking, lighter skin tones like Porcelain or Alabaster fall in the Type I category. Skin tones like olive can range from Type III to Type V. Mustard skin tone is clearly closer to Type IV. Darker skin tones like Almond, Cacao, and Espresso fall in the Type VI category.
You can also look for the undertones in your skin by looking at the veins on your wrist. The color that they depict is what your undertones are. However, if I’m being honest, that, too, is not that easy to determine.
Another rather easier way to determine your exact skin tone is to consult with a dermatologist who can help you determine your skin tone and undertones. They can also advise you about what would suit your skin tone in terms of skincare.
Pro Tip: When determining your skin tone, look at your jawline as that part of your face has the most stable skin tone.
There’s more to the skin than just black and white. If you notice, there are more shades of brown/black skin than white. This is why I find it ridiculous that people often group people of color in just two skin tones: brown and black. There’s a lot more diversity in the world and many different skin tones, each offering its unique benefits and beauty. Whether you have one of the light skin tones or brown/deep brown ones, keep it in mind when buying makeup. Also, pay attention to your skin type because that will determine your skin needs. And most importantly, don’t forget to love your skin for what it is!