What Are Cool Colours?

“But how do you know what colours are cool?” – I get asked this a lot. Defining cool colours and knowing the difference between warm colours, is a key part of creating a wardrobe that works and finding colours that flatter your complexion.  

In this post I share everything you need to know about cool colours: what they are, examples of cool colours, how to wear them and who should wear them.

“The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you! – Coco Chanel. 

Have you ever worn a lipstick that made your skin glow and your eyes brighten? Only to try another similar shade and find your skin looking dull, washed-out and your imperfections more noticeable? Well, there’s a reason for that. It depends on the cool or warm undertones in your skin. So how do you know whether you’re more cool-toned or warm-toned? And what does it actually mean?

How to tell if a colour is cool?

Cool colours are those that have a blue undertone and can appear to have a lot of white added. 

Try thinking about a cold, bright, white and crisp winter’s day – everything has a hint of cold-blue or white to it.  When you look at the colour wheel you can see that colours are split into warm or cool based colours, but don’t let that confuse you. 

Roberta Style Lee Colour Wheel with Cool and Warm Colours

When we refer to cool and warm colours in colour analysis we are referencing a season that is defined as cool, such as cool winter or cool summer.  Now seasons these all have colours that are shown on the colour wheel that are defined as warm (confused yet?) but there are ‘cooler’ versions of these colours. 

As an example, look at a cool green versus a warm green

Cool green versus warm green | Difference between cool and warm colours | How to tell if a colour is cool

Can you see how the cool green appears to have more ‘blue’ in it and just feels cooler,  and the warm green has more ‘yellow’ and has an overall warmth to it? 

Think about painting, if you’re creating a winter scene, you’d go for clear crisp white + mix in a bright blue to make it look cold.  If you were painting a scene in autumn or summer you’d want the warmth of the sun to show, so you’d mix in lots of yellow.  

Examples of Cool Colours 

  • Greys
  • Bold bright clear & Icy blues
  • Bold bright & Icy pinks 
  • Crisp fuchsia
  • Loud purple
  • Bright burgundy
  • Bold bright clear greens 
  • Black 
  • Crisp Snow White 
Cool Colour Palette | Grey, Blue, Purple, Pink, Green, White and Black | Colours for Cool Skin Tones

How to Wear Cool Colours

Colours can clash if you don’t pair them correctly. As a general rule of thumb, try to combine cool undertones together (and the same goes for warm undertones), otherwise your outfit will feel off.

But this doesn’t mean your colour choices are limited. You can experiment with contrasting or complementary colours for a bold look – just make sure that you match the intensity and undertones of the colours. For example, if you look best in muted cool colours pair a pastel blue with pastel pink, or if you look better in bold bright cool colours go for a bold clear green with fuchsia pink.

Wearing Cool Colours | Pastel blue and pastel pink colour combination | Pink and Green Colour Combination | Ways to Wear Colour
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Who Should Wear Cool Colours?

If you’ve done colour analysis and have been told you are a cool summer or a cool winter, then wearing colours that are cool will be best suited to your skin’s undertones.  That’s not to say that colours that are defined ‘warm’ on a colour wheel aren’t for you, you just need to find the ‘cooler’ versions of these colours.

If you are unsure about your undertones you can do a DIY test at home and see if cream or white looks best on you. White = Cool and Cream = Warm .

Who Has Cool Skin Tones?

There are plenty of cool-toned celebs who pull off their colours really well. Some may be quite obvious – and a few may surprise you. 

Contrary to what you’d expect, Naomi Campbell is apparently a cool tone, at the opposite end of the spectrum you have the English rose Anne Hathaway. Then the tanned and very warm looking Liz Hurley wears black really well, so I’d say she’s likely to be cool too. Courtney Cox-Arquette is a great example of someone with cool-tones who looks great in bold colours. 

And finally an example for the gentleman would be Mr Simon Cowell. 

Did you guess any of these cool-toned celebs? Can you think of any more? Share your favourite “cool” celebs in the comments below.

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