Q&A: The Best Colors for Asian Skin

April 24th, 2008

Q:  I’m a light skinned Asian girl and I have trouble figuring out when exactly I looked washed out. What kind of nude colors would I look good in and which ones should I avoid?


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A:
With your dark hair and light Asian skin, nude, pastel, and frosted shades will all tend to make you look washed out–pale, but not in a flattering way.  To avoid this unhealthy, washed out look, try wearing bright colors and vivid jewel tones.  Ruby reds, emerald green, cobalt blue, royal purple, teal, and even bright yellow will all flatter your complexion. 

If you would like to wear a nude colored dress, opt for a darker shade of nude so as to provide enough contrast to not blend in with the dress.

Have a great tip about great colors for Asian skin? Share it with us in the comments!

Entry Filed under: Shopping Guide, Women

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kate  |  April 24th, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Are you really confident that bright yellow won’t make Asian skin look, shall we say, jaundiced? I’ve always shied away from it for that reason. Is it just certain shades of yellow?

  • 2. Trisha  |  April 24th, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Bright yellow can work on some Asian skin tones (I have a lovely Club Monaco bright yellow trench that works beautifully), but I agree that it can make some people’s skin look “jaundiced.” Everyone’s skin is different, so I’d recommend trying on a few bright yellow pieces in the dressing room. Some shades will work, others may not look as good–but you’ll only find out what exact shades will work for your skin by trying stuff on.

  • 3. kay.  |  April 24th, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    oh this is so helpful! fashion advice is so often targeted at caucasians, and it can be hard to figure out what works for asians.

  • 4. kay.  |  April 24th, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    oh one more thing. does black make yellow skin look washed out too?

  • 5. Trisha  |  April 25th, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Black can look severe on very fair skin tones. That said, there are warm shades of black and cool shades of black. If you have warm toned skin (e.g. yellow skin), look for warmer shades of black, and vice versa.

  • 6. nic  |  April 26th, 2008 at 8:36 am

    thanks for posting this!!! i have light asian skin as well and i find that a mustard yellow really looks bad on my complexion. possibly another “yellow” to shy away from.

  • 7. Kathleen  |  April 26th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    What would you suggest for darker-skinned Asian women? I’m Southeast Asian with brown skin and like to experiment with color, but sometimes I’m uncertain about particular colors (especially pastels).

  • 8. Trisha  |  April 27th, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    For darker skinned Asian women, we still recommend (and love) bright, vibrant, saturated colors. Depending on how dark your skin is, pastels still can make your skin look washed out. Generally speaking though, the darker your skin, the better pastels will look on you.

  • 9. Anonymous  |  April 28th, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Colors like forrest green and teal are also not complimentary to Asian skin color. I like to wear bright colors like yellow, turquoise, pink, purple… they look pretty good.

  • 10. Trisha  |  April 28th, 2008 at 10:02 am

    What shade of blue-green are you thinking about with teal? For teal, I’ve had more luck with brighter, more vibrant shades. Everybody’s different though! The best thing to do is try on a bunch of colors and see what works for your skin. If you look glowing in a color, keep it. But if you look washed out, ditch it.

  • 11. Kate  |  May 4th, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Hm, teal and forest green look great on me. I’ll have to try a bright yellow sometime — most yellows don’t work on me, but I’ll be interested to see if I can find one that does!

  • 12. Azn  |  April 11th, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I have to agree with the bright yellow. It can look good on some Asians. We’ve just been brainwashed to stay away from it, but it can look good! It takes an open mind and guts!

  • 13. asian  |  November 8th, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    i find that the best colors on me are dark purple, dark blue, and turqouise. i love musty yellow and i got a sweater in that color recently.. but i don’t think it matches my skin color well unfortunately.

  • 14. Maddie  |  March 13th, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I think Asians happen to look lovely in orange!

  • 15. skye  |  January 25th, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    basically every shade of green (except for the swampy army green) looks reeeally bad on me… and vibrant colours dont really go w me very well. like, the highlighter colours.

  • 16. mouschi  |  May 30th, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Turqoise (not too bright), teal (not too dull), navy blue, royal blue, cream, rose pink, mint (it’s a pastel, but still can work), peach, pinkish-purple. People tell me red is my colour and I look really striking in it too. A deep, grounded, but still fun sort of red. Charcoal is a god-send as a replacement for black. White is a no-no, guess I’m going to have problems looking for a bridal gown next time!

  • 17. Anonymous  |  July 2nd, 2012 at 12:27 am

    yellow ewww if you are an asian that is tanned yellow is disgusting trust me i know how it works

  • 18. Carolynn Dao  |  July 24th, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    What if you have Asian skin that is not too dark or light….like a nudy-sandy-beigeish colour?

  • 19. Dame Suzy  |  September 12th, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    I have light/medium Asian skin and grays are usually quite bad on me although sometimes I’m surprised. I have a light yellow and white gingham top and it’s very cute on me, but mustard - I have great doubts about that as I do certain strange yellowish shades of green. Light pinks make me look washed out, In general, I stay away from pastels since there are so many bright colors that look way better and they’re very in nowadays even in the spring thank goodness! YES to darkish to kelly green, any shade of blue or teal, purple, red, fuschia, gold, silver, black, white, rich brown - we’re quite lucky really.

    What doesn’t work for me: yellowish-browns - they always look like poop to me anyway :) grays, some pastels, and that eggplant color in the photo - I just don’t like it - I think it’s the color of bruises. Orange I also think is a big risk since there tends to be a slight orange tint in our skin that comes out even more,

  • 20. JadaNYC  |  December 10th, 2012 at 10:26 am

    YES, Asians can wear yellow! It all depends on (1) what shade of Yellow is your skin tone and, (2) matching it to the right shade of yellow fabric and, (3) you MUST MUST MUST wear makeup! I am a light-toned Asian with jet black hair. I find that with wearing yellows (and any vibrant or pastel shades) MAKEUP IS A MUST. Otherwise your entire face will be washed out, unless you are wearing the color item on your bottom half and black or white on top. A nice foundation or tinted moisturizer with blush, eyeliner and mascara will balance your colors nicely. I love soft yellows, aquamarines, and chartreuse and yes I wear all three colors with TM one shade darker than my skin tone.

  • 21. Hayami  |  March 1st, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    I’m Asian with a light NC20 skintone and I found that the colors that work best for me are dark jewel tones like navy, wine, berry tones and dark green. I would definitely recommend staying away from yellows, oranges and corals, as they just bring out the worst part of our yellow toned skin. Neutral tones work well too - especially a military olive. Hope this helps!

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