We usually defer calling the skin color of someone because we don’t want to offend. However, we should be able to distinguish one’s skin color for what it is. In this article, I will discuss different skin tone names and descriptions.
There is a wide range of human skin color. They can vary from pale to dark and every color in between. A leading authority on standardized color reproduction, the Pantone Company, says that they have identified at least 110 different kinds of skin tones.
While there is a wide variation of skin color, generally, there are only four main types of skin tones. They are:
Read on to learn more about the different human skin tones, names, and corresponding descriptions.
Different Skin Tone Names and Descriptions
The human skin tone is very wide and varied. They can range from pale to dark and colors in between. Pantone, a company that standardizes color reproduction, has identified 110 different skin tones of humans.
Four General Skin Tone Types
While human skin colors have a very wide range of hues, they all fall into just four general skin tone types. They are:
- Dark (or Deep)
How to Distinguish Your Skin Tone
It is by looking at your skin when exposed to natural light. While under natural light, you need to check what the veins underneath your skin look like.
You have a warm skin tone if your veins look green or have a greenish-blue hue. But if your veins look purple or blue, you have a cool skin tone. However, if it’s hard to distinguish if your veins are blue or green, your skin tone is most likely neutral.
There are lots of substances that influence the color of our skin. The most common substance that affects our skin is melanin, a deep brown or black color pigment. It is produced within the melanocytes in our system.
Amount of Melanin in the Skin Determines the Skin Color
In other words, the amount of melanin in our skin determines the color of our skin or our skin tone. There is a way to determine the melanin level in our skin and how our different skin types react to the sun. The use of the Fitzpatrick scale determines this.
While the Fitzpatrick scale is useful in this way, it still has its limitations in our multiracial world. So, I’ve written this article to help you distinguish the different skin tones in humans, most importantly, your skin tone.
This article will discuss 23 different skin color tone names and their descriptions.
23 Skin Tone Names and Their Descriptions
Honey skin has been described as a non-oily, well-hydrated, and supple complexion. There is a wide variation in this skin color, ranging from fair skin having a yellow-orange hue to deep brown. One of the best examples of this skin tone is that of Penelope Cruz, a Spanish actress, and model.
A person is said to have caramel skin if their skin contains lots of gorgeous golden undertones. Looking at this skin surface, you will invariably see different colors ranging from light to deep brown.
But more often than not, the color will fall between light and deep shades of brown. This is what they call medium brown. A good example of this skin tone is that of Halle Berry, a famous actress. Other celebrities that display this skin hue are Beyonce, Tyra Banks, and Meagan Good.
Cambridge Dictionary defines Sable as dark brown or black. In some people’s eyes, this color is almost similar to blue. This skin tone is neutral or warm due to its brown undertone.
Not so many celebrities have this type of skin tone. In other words, it is a pretty unique skin hue. One individual has this skin tone, Melanin Goddess, aka Khoudia Diop, a Senegalese actress, and model.
This particular skin tone displays a deep hue of brown combined with a slight tinge of reddish-brown. Those who have this cacao skin hue are said to have cool undertones.
This skin type is rich in melanin and is almost always glowing and silky smooth. Djimon Hounsou, Idris Elba, Duckie Thot, and Alek Wek are famous people who have this skin tone.
Ivory is a skin tone that is typically darker than porcelain skin tone. Those with this skin color may have either a pinkish, peach, bluish, or golden undertone. An undertone is a color beneath the surface of the skin. Celebrities with ivory skin tones are Isla Fisher and Nicole Kidman.
The skin tone called carotenoid is also the name of a substance that gives vegetables such as tomatoes and carrots their distinctive orange and reddish colors.
Some even say that if you consume healthy doses of these veggies, your skin will acquire a golden or yellow undertone without too much going out in the sun.
The journal Evolution and Human Behavior has published a study about carotenoids and skin tones. In their research, Dr. Ian Stephen, the lead researcher, and his team found out that many people find carotenoid skin more attractive than naturally tanned skin.
While mahogany is seldom used to define a certain type of skin tone, it is just another word that can mean ruddy, rusty, reddish-brown, or copper skin. But it is not like deep brown skin or sunburned skin.
Male gods and pharaohs were represented in Egyptian art as having reddish-brown skins. Some of the more famous names in the Bible are believed to have this reddish-brown or mahogany skin tone. They include Esau and David, and generally most Hebrews.
This is a skin tone that displays a light brownish-yellow color. Some liken this skin tone to the ocher, a color hue that ranges from yellow to orange to dark brown. If you are not familiar with this tint, you will find it difficult to define it with your eyes. Think of Anne Hathaway, and you’ll get the idea.
Again, what are the four types of skin tones? The skin color spectrum includes fair, dark, deep, olive, and everything in between. Meanwhile, you can divide undertones into three categories, namely, warm (golden, yellow, or peachy), cold (bluish, pink, or red), and neutral (combination of warm and cool undertones).
Pecan belongs to the nut family protected by a golden to light brown kernel. The color of the nut itself is smooth brown. When this color is applied to a skin tone, it refers to skin having a less dark hue than caramel brown.
Pecan skin tone can have either a reddish undertone or a golden-yellow undertone. Those who have this skin hue are susceptible to tanning. But they won’t likely get burned as those with lighter skin tones.
Some think that porcelain is just the same as ivory and alabaster skin tones. In a sense, they are right if they are referring to those who have pale but healthy complexions that are at the same time flawless, even, and smooth.
But if you will look at these people closely, you will see the difference. Their differences lie in their undertones. The undertone of alabaster skin is cool or neutral. With ivory, it is typically pinkish. But with porcelain, the skin undertone is yellow.
Today, this skin tone seems to be fashionable. You can look at Emma Watson, Kirsten Dunst, and Scarlett Johansson as prime examples. They all exude that classy and gorgeous porcelain skin tone.
11. Peaches and Cream
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that those who have peaches and cream complexion have pale but smooth skin with cheeks that are light pink. This skin tone usually has no skin blemishes. And just like alabaster, this skin tone is also an attractive kind of pale complexion.
Kate Bosworth and Julia Roberts are two examples that will best describe these peaches and cream skin tones.
When you spend lots of time under the sun, you will acquire a bronze skin complexion. That’s what many people say. This is why many people interchange bronze skin tone with a suntan. However, bronze skin tone is typically darker than suntanned skin. It has a distinct golden glow.
One of the best examples of a person with bronze skin tone is the singer and actress Jennifer Lopez.
This next statement doesn’t refer to Ms. Lopez, though. Some people who manifest bronze skin may have hemochromatosis. This serious medical condition occurs when there’s an undue iron buildup in the body. It leads to the darkening of the skin.
Those with beige skin tones can be tan with a green undertone, gray-yellow, or light brown with a yellow or gray tint. Typically, beige hovers more toward the olive skin tone spectrum.
Sofia Vergara and Kate Hudson are two examples of celebrities with beige skin tones with a slightly yellow undertone. Carrie Underwood also has a beige skin hue, but her undertone is olive-like.
Tan, to most people, means light to honey or dark brown. That is what a naturally tanned skin looks like. You can consider every shade in the brown spectrum tan. But it also depends on what your think is acceptable as brown color.
If a person’s skin has a medium reddish-brown or dark tan hue, they have a chestnut skin tone or milk chocolate skin. This skin color was first used as a skin tone definition in England in 1555. It is different from plain brown in that it has a red tinge and is usually darker.
One distinct characteristic of this skin tone is its golden or copper undertone. This gives glowing melanin-rich skin to those who have this skin color.
Just think of Gabrielle Union, an American actress, if you want an example. Another example is Issa Rae, another American actress. They both display chestnut skin tone, with warm red and golden undertones.
16. Saddle Brown
As its name implies, the saddle brown skin tone is named after the color of the horse saddle in the American West. The medium brown color characterizes this skin color with a slight red undertone. There are certain cases wherein saddle brown can mean a darker shade of brown with a yellow tinge.
Just like the color of real almond nuts, the almond skin tone is a beautiful tan color with a lighter shade. This skin tone has cool undertones that can be red, pink, or blue. Asians, Hispanics, Mediterraneans, and Africans usually have this skin complexion.
In the Fitzpatrick scale of skin tones, almond falls under the fourth type of skin color, which is dark. There are a few celebrities that display this skin tone. Among them are America Ferrera, Mindy Kaling, and Vanessa Hudgens.
Alabaster skin tone is almost always blemish-free, bright-white, and even-toned skin complexion. This skin tone seems special because Collins Dictionary describes those who have it as having gorgeous, white, and smooth skin.
However, some consider this skin tone a sign that the person has anemia and is probably sickly.
In the Victorian era, this type of complexion, especially if rosy cheeks accompanied it, was regarded as a status symbol for those in power. During those times, this skin complexion was considered as beautiful.
Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams are two examples of celebrities with this alabaster skin tone.
Umber is not mainly known as a description of a skin tone. But it is listed among the different skin tones of humans. The hue of this skin tone is almost the same as that of chestnut and mahogany.
This means its basic color is natural brown with a red tinge. It is described as more vibrant and darker to differentiate it from chestnut and mahogany. This skin tone is considerably darker than sienna and ocher.
The mustard skin tone’s name is taken from a popular food condiment. Mustard, as you well know, is a brown shade of yellow. It is similar to turmeric, ocher, gold, and some honey hues.
21. Espresso Brown
The espresso brown skin tone is a catch-all characterization of different shades of deep brown. However, its general color is lighter than the brown shades of cocoa and mahogany. This skin color is richer and has a deeper brown shade than those displayed by medium beige, bronze, and chestnut.
If you want some real-life examples of espresso brown skin tone, think Adeola Ariyo, Oluchi Onweaga-Orlandi, and Tika Sumpter.
Hickory is named after the hickory tree, a hardwood in North America. This skin tone can range from light to dark brown. Lastly, you can have a pinkish or yellowish undertone if you have this skin tone.
The basic color of the praline skin tone is medium brown. This skin tone is not typically used to describe a person’s skin color. When it refers to an individual’s skin complexion, it means that person has a lovely medium brown skin tone.
If you want some examples of celebrities who have this skin tone, think of Camilla Cabello, Jessica Alba, and Shay Mitchell.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since over a hundred skin tones have been identified, many questions will arise from people about them. So, if you are wondering what type of tone is your skin color, you have to read the answers to the most often asked questions about this topic:
How Many Types of Skin Tones Are There?
According to the Pantone Company, there are 110 different skin tones worldwide. Pantone is a leading authority on standardized reproduction of colors, so they would know what they are saying.
How Can You Determine Your Skin Tone?
You can know your particular skin tone if you will examine your skin under natural light. What you are after is the color of your veins underneath your skin.
- Green or greenish-blue veins mean you have a warm skin tone.
- If your vein looks purple or blue, your skin tone is cool.
- If you can’t distinguish whether your veins look blue or green, your skin tone is neutral.
What Are the Main Types of Skin Tones?
There are four main types of skin tones.
All the 110 different skin tones identified by the Pantone Company will fall under one of these four main types of skin tones. In other words, even if you have identified your particular skin tone as hickory, it will still fall under the Dark-type of skin tone.
What Is the Most Attractive Skin Tone?
According to a fairly recent study conducted by Cynthia Frisby of the Missouri School of Journalism, most people think that light brown skin tone is more physically appealing than dark or pale skin tone.
In Closing: Various Skin Tone Names and Descriptions
Human skin color varies widely. They can run from pale to dark and in between. Pantone, a company with standardized color reproduction, has identified at least 110 different human skin tones.
While there are hundreds of skin tone types as defined by Pantone, they all fall under four main types. The four main skin tones are light, fair, medium, and dark.