AI skin tone analysis: AI’s role in understanding skin tones and undertones

by Ivona Androic

In the quest for the perfect foundation match, the beauty industry has been continuously innovating, seeking solutions that cater to an incredibly diverse consumer base.

And it has found a powerful ally in artificial intelligence (AI).

One of the most promising advancements is the integration of AI skin tone analysis—a technological marvel that’s reshaping how we approach makeup.

This article delves into the intricacies behind skin tones and undertones and explores how AI technology is pioneering a new era of foundation matching.

Understanding skin tones and undertones

Before we explore the role of AI, it’s crucial to understand the basics. So, what are skin tones and undertones exactly?

Skin tone is basically the surface color of your skin.

Undertones are the subtle hues that lie beneath.

And together, they determine which foundation shades will look natural on you.

Undertones are generally categorized into three types:

  • cool (bluish undertones),
  • warm (yellowish and peachy undertones)
  • neutral (true red, blue, green, and yellow)

Everyone is, therefore, somewhere on this spectrum between cool and warm, generally a mix somewhere in the middle, but rarely completely neutral.

Undertones color wheel. Photo credit: Simplified Wardrobe

Traditionally, determining these undertones has been a subjective process, often leading to inaccuracies.

Moreover, the complexity of skin tones, influenced by genetics, environment, and lifestyle, presents a significant challenge. Every individual’s skin is unique, comprising a combination of melanin (which gives skin its color), hemoglobin (which adds pink or red tones), and carotene (which adds yellow or orange tones).

These components, in varying proportions, create an extensive range of skin tones and undertones, making the task of matching foundation shades to individual skin types a daunting one.

How is AI able to analyze and understand skin tone for better foundation matching?

At the heart of AI skin tone analysis lies a combination of computer vision and machine learning technologies.

Computer vision allows the AI to “see” and analyze photographs, i.e., still images of skin, identifying color variations. Machine learning algorithms then process this data, learning from and analyzing against a vast dataset of skin tone images to estimate the color based on the Monk Skin Tone Scale

Therefore, each person gets their estimated skin tone according to the Monk scale. This is then converted into the RGB space where the foundation products are, recommending to the customer the product that would best suit their needs among the ones offered.  

Benefits of AI in skin tone analysis

The precision and objectivity of AI in analyzing skin tones offer transformative benefits. Here are some of the most significant ones.

✧ Enhanced accuracy and personalization

AI algorithms can discern subtle nuances in skin tones, facilitating a highly personalized foundation-matching process. This level of accuracy ensures that consumers can find a foundation shade that seamlessly blends with their skin, enhancing natural beauty without the guesswork.

✧ Inclusivity and diversity

By encompassing a broad spectrum of skin tones in its analysis, AI technology can be used to champion inclusivity. Arbelle’s AI Shade Finder, for example, is based on the Monk Skin Tone scale that addresses the beauty industry’s historical oversight of diverse skin tones. This scale provides a more direct and accurate representation of skin tones, ensuring that everyone can find their match based on the product shade range that’s in brand product portfolio.

✧ Efficiency and accessibility

AI-powered tools, like virtual try-on apps and online shade finders, make it easier for consumers to discover their ideal foundation shade from the comfort of their homes. This accessibility is particularly beneficial in a post-pandemic world where in-store testers may be less available or appealing. Consumers’ needs and preferences have shifted, and they now see many benefits to using accessible, online, and digital beauty tools.

Connecting AI analysis to practical applications: The AI foundation shade finder

Our AI Foundation Shade Finder embodies the practical application of AI skin tone analysis. By analyzing a user’s skin through a photo or live camera feed, our tool recommends the foundation shade that best matches the user’s unique complexion.


This tool simplifies the process of finding the right foundation, eliminating the need for trial-and-error and reducing product waste.

Moreover, this process ensures that users can find their perfect match quickly and efficiently, bringing a level of customization previously unattainable in the beauty sector.

Embrace AI-driven beauty solutions

AI skin tone analysis marks a significant advancement in understanding and addressing the diverse needs of beauty consumers.

As we look to the future, the potential of AI to transform the beauty industry is boundless, offering more personalized, inclusive, and accessible beauty solutions.

By embracing AI technologies like our AI Foundation Shade Finder, we step closer to a future where everyone can find their perfect beauty match.

Tap into AI beauty solutions

Contact us today to discover what your brand can do and achieve with AI foundation shade finder.