Before you can become a makeup guru, you need to know how different colors work. Knowing this helps you put together a perfectly suitable color palette for yourself or a client. Remember that the colors need to go well with the facial features and also be in alignment with the look you are aiming to achieve.
The color theory helps you understand colors and the best ways in which to use them to create a look that is simply stunning. It also helps you understand which colors complement and which neutralize each other. This keeps you from making a major faux paus with your makeup while helping you create stunning looks with ease.
When a ray of light is passed through a prism, you see the seven basic colors. Each and every color in existence, falls somewhere within this spectrum of light. In the 20th century, Johannes Itten created the color wheel that showed the primary, secondary and tertiary colors and also introduced color matching.
Different Kinds of Colors
In the color wheel, the three basic colors, red, blue and yellow are known as the primary colors. They cannot be created from any other colors. Every other color is derived from one or more of these primary colors.
The primary color blue is the strongest color and is associated with coolness. Red is warmth and adds fullness, Yellow has the least strength and it is both warm and cool.
The strengths of various primary colors are an important aspect to remember. To equal the strength of blue, you need three times as much yellow and twice as much red and so on.
Secondary colors are derived from a mix of two primary colors in equal proportions. For example, yellow mixed with red gives orange, red mixed with blue gives violet (purple) and yellow mixed with blue gives green. These are the three secondary colors.
Tertiary/Intermediate colors are created when a primary color is mixed with a secondary color falling next to it on the color wheel. A tertiary color may be named with two color names such as yellowed brown. This means that yellow has been added to brown.
Complementary colors are those that are right opposite each other on the color wheel. Mix them together and you get browns or grays. When complementary colors are put next to each other, they brighten the look and intensify each other. In facial makeup, complementary colors have the best effect when used on different areas rather than when placed right next to each other.
Analogous colors are right next to each other on the color wheel. These colors generally fall in the same family and harmonize well. They serve to highlight each other perfectly without setting a jarring note. That is why you will find so many analogous colors in your eye shadow palette. The darker colors are used to define the eye shape and add depth while the lighter ones highlight the eye perfectly.
Yellow, red and orange are the warm colors while blue, violet and green are the cool ones. Colors that have yellow/red/orange undertones are also warm. They are brighter and tend to draw attention to the area of the face they are applied on. Cool colors or colors with blue/violet/green undertones are soothing and tend to give you an understated look.
When applying blue, violet or green concealer on specific areas of the face they impart a receding appearance. In other words, it covers imperfections. Blue concealer can be used on excessive tanned skin, violet/purple concealer on yellow areas such as pigmentation marks and green concealer on red areas such as pimples. We will discuss the use of concealer in a later chapter.
Learning about transparent and opaque colors is also critical for a makeup artist. Transparent colors are the ones that darken with more volume while opaque ones do not change no matter how little or great the volume applied.
Using the Color Wheel
The properties of color describe the color’s basic characteristic. They are the following:
Hue: The true color of the primary, secondary or tertiary colors you have mixed together is called their hue. These are the most intense and basic colors you can get. By adding black, white or grey to these, you can vary the brightness and density of the palette. If you need pastel shades or muted colors for your makeup then this is how you get them.
Tone: Adding gray to a pure hue gives you a toned color. While you may not use this extensively while applying makeup, it may be required for corrections.
Shade: A pure hue plus black gives you shades of the original true color. For example: Adding black to red gives you a deeper, richer red.
Tint: When you add white to a pure hue, you tint it. For example, adding white to purple will give you lavender.
The Shade and Tint Color Wheel shows you the various tints and shades that you can derive from various colors. The tints are achieved by adding white to the basic color. The shades derived by adding black to the basic color.
Now you understand how having a good grasp of the color theory can help you in these areas:
• Knowing what colors to use together
• Understanding which colors accentuate or neutralize which
• Knowing how to correct flaws in the skin by using correct color combos
• Understanding how different colors, when used in combination, result in different ‘looks’
Before you pick out a color to use in your makeup take into consideration your eye color and skin tone. Of course your wardrobe choices also have to be factored in. By saying this, I do not mean that your eye shadow should match your clothing. Rather keep your eye shadow and clothing in the same color family or complimentary family.
Eye Makeup Ideas
Shades that softly contrast with your eye color are great for showing off your eye perfectly. Avoid colors that exactly match your eyes as this will make them unremarkable. At the same time, you may want to avoid sharp contrasts unless you are going for a dramatic, ‘set the stage on fire’ look. Remember that green eye shadow and red lips do make a stunning ‘out there’ fashion statement but not many women can carry it off with confidence.
Trendy colors look forced unless they are set off by other balancing tones. There is also the risk that these colors will quickly go out of fashion. Stick to simple natural colors for your daily makeup and you can never go wrong.
Analogous colors used in conjunction with others over your eyes let you highlight and add depth with ease. Otherwise choose different colors that blend together well. Dark colors will make your eyes appear smaller while lighter shades make them look bigger.
Colors that go well with all eye colors are navy, charcoal and powdered blue. The navy or charcoal will be used to define your eyes, while the powdered blue will be used for highlighting. If you cannot make up your mind about what to wear then stick to these tried and tested universal eye makeup favorites.
Many women use widely varying colors for day time wear and night time wear. During the day it is best to stick to natural looks with matte shades. Late evening or night time is the perfect time to try out colors with sheen and sparkle. The smoky look with dark shades and the contrasting bright look can both be carried off very well at night time.
Complementary colors make your eyes pop! If you want to make a statement, you should try complementary colors out. For example, green eyes with pink tones are an excellent way to grab attention.
One important point to remember is that matching your eye makeup colors solely to your clothing may make for disastrous results. Always ensure that your eye shadow choice goes well with your eye color (and skin tone/lipstick/blush etc). That said, it is fun to experiment with eye makeup so don’t hesitate to try out various combos until you find the ones you like best.
Choosing the Right Colors for your Skin Tone
What looks great on one woman may look just ordinary on another. One of the reasons for this could be that they have different skin tones. It is very important for you to choose your makeup colors in line with your skin tone for the most stunning effects. The undertones of your skin impact how your makeup colors look when applied to your face. Here is a quick look at the undertones different skin tones may have:
Fair Skin- yellow, gold, reddish or rosy, pale peach, pale pink
Olive Skin- Yellow, Yellow- orange, yellow- red
Dark skin- red, red- brown, blue, blue- black, ebony, orange- brown
Very important when starting with your foundation is that the color should blend in with the rest of your skin. Choose three colors that are in a similar shade but ranges from light to dark and apply it directly underneath each other on your cheekbone. The one that blends in with your face is the correct color to apply. For those of you who have a very active lifestyle, you may want to skip the foundation and go with a tinted moisturizer for a more natural look.
Women with fair skin can use a foundation that is a shade warmer than their skin tone. This gives your skin a glow. Blue- reds and pinks are best for the lips while softer shades like pale pinks or peach looks great. Fair skinned women should avoid extreme colors over the cheeks as this can be too excessively vivid. If you do want a dramatic look, you may use dark colors but make sure you take all of your eye makeup, lipstick shades etc. into consideration for you to get the perfect look.
Olive skinned women can carry off the bronze shades and brighter colors best. You can even add an extra shimmer to your look by using a bronzer over your cheekbone/brow bone areas. Gold, coral, orange- reds look great on the lips. A rule of thumb is that medium colors give you an understated look that is close to ‘natural’. Lighter and darker shades give you a bold look.
With dark skin tones, the challenge is to look attractive without getting an unnatural paleness. Avoid pale shades and opt for burgundy or red-browns. For your lips choose purple, mahogany or shades of brown. Dark colors make for the understated look. With medium colors the makeup is more evident but still looks elegantly attractive in a subtle way. Brighter colors need to be chosen with great care otherwise they appear too vivid to present a cohesively made up look.