Color Theory for the Makeup Lover, part 3

The Final Lesson: Choosing Colors with Color Theory

Welcome back to part three of my Color Theory Series. In part one, I taught you the basics of color theory; during part two we discussed the controversy surrounding undertone and how to find your undertone using color theory. Today, I’m teaching you how to use the color theory knowledge learned in the previous posts to choose lip, cheek and eye shadow/liner colors.

I don’t know about you, but I love color. Yet, everyone, including myself at times, is afraid to apply color to her (or his) own face. Let’s face it; color can be daunting when it comes to cosmetics.

That striking woman wearing bright blue eye shadow with pitch black mascara..she must be a little crazy to being seen in public wearing that eye look. Is she really? Maybe she has the confidence to pull it off, and pull it off in style, because she knows Itten so well.

The point is you can wear any color in the world as long as you know your complimentary colors, contrasting colors, your undertone, and, of course, the Itten color wheel.

Complimentary colors are colors that lie on the same side of the color wheel (i.e. blue and purple; red and orange; blue-green and plum, etc.) Contrasting colors are colors that lie on the opposite side of the wheel (i.e. purple and yellow; red and green; orange and blue.) For this, you may need to look at a bigger color wheel. Sometimes twelve tertiary colors doesn’t cut it!

When I go to choose makeup colors, especially lip and cheek colors, I keep two things in mind; my undertone and the color wheel. Do you remember those three posterboards I talked about in part two to help determine undertone? Cut a 1 inch square of each color and take them with you to the counters – it will help you determine which cheek and lip colors are warm and cool.

Remember when shopping to pick only colors with an undertone that suit your undertone (the chip that flatters you.) I try not to pick anything too warm, like orange lipstick, as it tends to wash me out. Sometimes, even a color that’s in your undertone just isn’t going to flatter you.

However eye makeup is my favorite place to shop, and for a good reason; this is the place where any color suits a person. For instance, I’ve found yellows that suit me (scary, I know.) The only rule here is to stick to your undertone when you’re shopping for eye makeup.

If you have a hard time with purple, try bringing the blue, yellow and red chips, and holding the chips to each purple to find a purple that may be a match for you.

When you get home from shopping, try some combinations with your newfound goodies. Who cares if they are crazy? Remember, you can pick colors on one side of the color wheel or opposite of the color wheel. Purple and blue, orange and purple, purple and green. Try them out and see what they look like. Makeup isn’t a tattoo; it washes off at the end of the day.

So color theorists, here is my final assignment. In part one, I had you choose between fields; in part two, I had you look at three poster boards; in part three, I want you to use a color or a color combination you’ve always wanted to try, but were too scared to apply. Remember to use everything you’ve learned in these three posts. Was it as horrible as you thought? Or, was it surprisingly flattering?

we heartsters – have you learned anything new from the Color Series Post? Share your thoughts and assign your experimental look a grade in the comments.



Guest author Kate guides us through the mystery of color in this post series.

Latest posts by katezena

5 thoughts on “Color Theory for the Makeup Lover, part 3”

  1. katezena

    Yay, the LAST part! All my hard work is online! I’ll post one of my crazier eye looks online on my tumblr for y’all to see. I can’t not do my own homework. I have to figure out how to take eye photos on my camera though (so hard!) Maybe I’ll do purple for you. ;)

    Have a dare for me, @stef or @tyna ?

  2. stef

    @katezena – purple was a good example to use. That’s one of the hardest shades for me to pull off. It has to be EXACTLY the right hue to work on me. And I would imagine, a lot of people because it straddles the line between warm and cool (literally – it’s right there on the color wheel!)

    Thanks for submitting this series – we learned a lot.

  3. katezena

    @stef – I didn’t even think about where purple stands on the color wheel while I was writing it (I used that color because it’s my favorite color and you have a problem pulling it off), but you’re right! I’ll have to do some purple eye looks for you with arm swatches.

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