Colour theory is the “science” of colours. Knowing how it works can help you with just about everything that has to do with combining colours - from art to clothes and, of course, make-up.
In make-up stores, the amount of products and colours is often overwhelming. Whenever you see a product that is a pretty colour, don’t just buy it! You’ll be disappointed when it doesn’t work on you, so it’s best to study up on colour theory first. And we’re here to help you do just that.
The basics of base products
There are two aspects of colour theory that are particularly important in the make-up world - telling warm and cool shades apart, and knowing how to combine colours.
Foundation might not seem particularly colourful, but don’t let that deceive you. When you’re on the hunt for new base products, always be mindful of your skin tone and undertone.
Your undertone can be warm, cool or neutral. People with a neutral undertone are like people that never gain weight, no matter what they eat - we’re all secretly jealous because everything fits them.
One of the easiest ways to determine your (under)tone is to look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. If they look blue or purple, your skin tone is most likely cool. If they lean more towards green or yellow, you’re warm. Can’t decide? You’re probably neutral.
So why is this even important? Well, knowing your undertone can make a world of a difference when you’re choosing your foundation. Yellow-based foundations look better on warm tones, while pink-based products work best with cool tones.
P. S.: There are a quadrillion options available in stores, so even knowing your undertone might not get you to your perfect foundation. There’s also texture, formula, coverage… a bunch of other things to think about! Keep that in mind.
Choose a concealer following the same logic as you would with a foundation, but go a shade lighter. To cover up spots pick a concealer that is the same shade as your foundation.
Keep in mind that the skin under your eyes is extra sensitive, so make sure to pay attention to the formula. If your under-eye area is prone to dryness, go for a more hydrating formula and don’t use too much setting powder.
Pro-tip: If you love a particular formula, but want more coverage, let the product sit on your skin for a minute. That way you let it sink into your skin a bit, which means more product will actually stay on when you start blending it out.
Colour correction: Less is more
Breakouts can magically appear over night and they happen to literally everyone. Pouring an entire bottle of foundation on your face might seem like a good idea at the time, but it’s so much easier (and less frustrating) to colour correct first and use less foundation.
Colour correction works on the principle of complementary colours - colours that, if mixed, cancel each other out, but put them side to side and they become much more pronounced.
In more basic terms, this means that colours that are positioned opposite of each other on the colour wheel will either mix together to make grey, or turn into a colourful masterpiece when put next to each other.
Green correctors can help cancel out any redness in your skin, which helps you save a bunch of foundation. Green is also ideal for any spot concealing. For the under-eye area you can use a salmon/orange shade to neutralise the blue and purple tones.
Pro-tip: It’s important to know the difference between a concealer and a corrector. Think of a concealer as a more concentrated version of a foundation, which is meant to lighten up certain areas of your face. Correctors usually have different undertones and can be used under concealers. Concealer can be used on top to even out your skin tone.
Eyeshadows & lipsticks
Eyeshadows and lipsticks come in a much wider range of colours, so it’s even more difficult to find something that actually works for you.
The best way to go about it is to think back to your skin tone. The idea is the same as with foundation, but this time you have more colours to choose from.
Wearing a shade that doesn’t fit your skin tone can make you look ill, which really isn’t what make-up is meant for. If you’re cool, pick blue-based reds or nudes that lean towards pink. Warm skin tones work well with more orange-based corals, nudes and reds. With a neutral skin tone, you can get away with just about anything.
Eyeshadows can also be warm, cool or neutral, but for more colourful looks you have to know about complementary colours. Keep in mind that if you mix orange and blue, green and red or yellow and purple, you will end up with a grey mess. To avoid that, keep those colours separate.
To really make your eyes pop, you can choose an eyeshadow that complements your eye colour. Blue eyes light up when you use orange-based pigments, while green eyes love more red-based shades. Brown eyes are trickier because there is no brown on the colour wheel. We recommend you take some time to play around and find what works for you.
Pro-tip: Neutral eyeshadows are the absolute best solution if you’re feeling a bit lost. They work with just about any skin tone and are the easiest to work with. They usually contain shades that range from light to dark, which makes it easy to create a wide variety of looks. Plus, you don’t have to think too much while you’re at it!
- MAC Burgundy Times Nine eyeshadow palette
- Catrice HD Liquid Coverage foundation Sand Beige
- Bourjoise Radiance Reveal concealer 02 Beige
- Sleek eyebrow stick 718 Dark
- Kryolan Faveliner lip pencil no. 32
- YSL Rouge Volupte Shine lipstick no. 44
- L'Oreal False Lash Superstar mascara
- Laura Mercier Bronze Glow stick
- YSL Kiss & Blush no. 4
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