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  • Candie Renee

Makeup 101: Color Theory in Makeup Artistry

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

Hello, and welcome to my makeup blog. My name is Candie and I am a professional makeup artist. Today I am going to be going over basic color theory with you so that you can understand not only how to color correct but also choose the right colors for your skin tone, hair color and eye color.


Understanding how color works is essential for make up application. In color theory there are primary, secondary and tertiary colors which make up warm, cool and complementary colors as shown on the color wheels that I will be providing you today. Once you understand the basics of color theory you will be able to determine which colors are best suited for your skin tone hair color and eye color.


Primary Secondary and Tertiary Colors

Primary colors are the fundamental colors of the color wheel. These colors are the colors you can mix together in order to make secondary colors. Primary colors are yellow, red and blue.


Secondary colors are a result of mixing equal parts of two primary colors. For instance, yellow mixed with red makes orange, red mixed with blue makes purple and yellow mixed with blue makes green.


Finally, tertiary colors are formed by mixing equal amounts of a primary color and its neighboring secondary color from the color wheel. These will be colors such as blue-violet, red-orange, yellow-green etc.


Complimentary Colors and Color Correction

For those of you who are interested in learning more about color correction for things such as blemishes, birthmarks or skin imperfections such as scars, you might be interested in learning more about complementary colors. A complementary color is the color directly opposite the color wheel from the color that is presented on the skin. When mixed together these colors cancel each other out. When complementary colors are place next to each other each color makes the other brighter resulting in a greater contrast. It is important to understand complementary colors so that you do not apply the wrong one therefore enhancing your imperfections. An example of how to use a complimentary color would be covering up blemishes, bruises and dare I say....hickeys. Depending upon the color that is presenting on the skin you will want to choose the color opposite the wheel to cancel it out. If your bruise is a couple of different colors you may want to adjust your color corrector to cancel out each color presented. For red use green, purple use yellow and blue use orange. This technique can be great for hyper pigmentation and moles as well. To cover brown you can use red (see my comment below about reds with orange and blue undertones) or peach to counter and cancel out.


Warm and Cool Colors

Moving on to warm and cool colors. Learning the difference between the two is essential to make up application. Warm colors have a yellow undertone and range from yellow and gold to orange, red and even some yellow-greens.


Cool colors have a blue undertone. Cool colors are primarily dominated by blues, greens, purples and blues reds.


Not many know this but red can both be warm and cool. If red is mixed with an orange base it is considered to be warm. If it is mixed with a blue base it is considered to be cool. Have you ever tried on a Red lipstick and it makes you look so weird that you’re like “eww I’m never putting that on again!” But then another brand or another color of red somehow magically works better for you. That is probably because the base of that red lipstick either compliments your facial undertones or does quite the opposite.


Please check out my next blog post in regards to choosing eye make up colors that match your eye-color and skin-color.


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