Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between NW and NC

NW vs NC

Cosmetic companies and manufacturers use a lot of terminologies in order to classify their many lines of cosmetic products. These terminologies are also used for the sake of their consumers. Consumers often buy the product with the closest shade to match with their natural complexion, skin tone, and skin undertones.

One of the most familiar classification terminologies used is “NC” and “NW.” Both “NC” (the abbreviated form of Nude, Naked, or Neutral Cool) and “NW” (which stands for Naked, Neutral, or Nude Warm) are terminologies that fall under the category of various skin products like foundation and concealers. In this type of cosmetics, the skin product and its shade is usually determined by the person’s individual skin tones.

A person’s skin has tone and undertones. The skin’s tone and the undertone can be determined by looking at the veins near the wrist. A person can have a warm skin tone with yellow, orange, or olive undertones by having green or yellow veins. A person with blue veins is classified as having a cool tone with blue or pink undertones. A combination of blue and green or yellow veins produces a neutral tone.

Skin tones are very important because they often indicate what cosmetics, clothes, or hair color will complement or flatter the skin, and more importantly, the person. Cosmetic products, particularly skin products, are developed for every skin tone. They usually have five classifications for their products: warm, neutral warm, neutral, neutral cool, and cool. Both neutral warm and neutral cool serve as a combination between both shades of neutral and intense warm or cool.

People with warm tones can use warm shades while the cool shade complements people with cool tones. The neutral warm and neutral cool shades are for people in-between the warm or cool shades and the neutral shades. Aside from the classification of either “NC” or “NW,” makeup classifications are also comprised of numbers. The numbers indicate the intensity or the depth of shade of the product. The higher the number indicated, the deeper and the more intense the color of the shade of the product.

Most cosmetic companies follow that Neutral Warm should go with warm skin tones, and Neutral Cool should be used with cool skin tones and their corresponding undertones. On the other hand, MAC Cosmetics reversed the scheme in their skin products. The major cosmetic brand has Neutral Warm for people with cool skin tones while the Neutral Cool is designated for people with warm skin tones. This reversal might cause some confusion for women who switch makeup brand products.


1.“NC” (known as Neutral, Nude, or Naked Cool) and “NW” (known as Naked, Nude, or Neutral Warm) are skin product terminologies used by cosmetic brands to classify products for different skin tones. They are often used for foundations and concealers.
2.“NC” is for people with cool skin tones (with blue or pink undertones), which are determined by blue veins on the wrist. On the other hand, “NW” is for people with green or yellow veins near their wrists and also known as warm skin-toned people (in addition to orange, yellow, and olive undertones). This scheme is reverse when it comes to MAC skin products. In their line, “NC” is for people with warm skin tones and the corresponding undertones while “NW” is for people with cool skin tones as well as the undertones.
3.When used, “NC” and “NW” appear with a corresponding number which represents the range from a very pale shade to a very dark shade. The numbers indicate the intensity or the depth of the product’s shade or color.

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