(I’m fully aware it’s Wednesday. I was knee-deep in edits on Monday and I didn’t want to break my momentum!)
Color Me Beautiful was a 1980s phenomenon. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book and find out my season. The book promised to determine what group of colors would be best for you and grouped them by seasons. I was pretty young at the time, but I was colored less than impressed. First, I came up as a Fall. Then a Winter. Then maybe a Summer? I don’t remember. I walked away from Color Me Beautiful like Ralphie in the Christmas Story after he gets his Little Orphan Annie Decoder.
Now, the book is much like jackets with giant shoulder pads and hairstyles that required a can of Aqua Net to execute. It was a good idea at the time, but it didn’t help make me look my best.
Fast forward thirty years. I’m obsessed with color. I was lucky enough to study makeup under Marvin Westmore, who is part of the famous Westmore makeup family. His ancestors innovated movie makeup. (Mackenzie Westmore on Face Off is his niece). Our mornings were spent painting. Marvin made sure all his students understood color theory. We learned grayscale, color values, and how to match foundation using nothing but the primary colors and black and white.
Color is powerful. It can evoke emotion and help deliver a message. Did you know that many restaurants use red in their decor because it stimulates hunger? That businesses use yellow to signify a sale because it encourages us to take action quickly? That only the top economic groups respond positively to colors like forest green?
Okay, I’ll stop geeking out and get back to makeup. Here’s one of my favorite tools in my kit: the color wheel.
Colors that are next to each other are called analogous colors. They match well and give an air of serenity. Colors that are across from each other are complimentary colors, and this is where the magic happens.
Check out these two examples:
Neither color stands out.
When I do a woman’s makeup, 99 percent of the time she asks me to make her eyes stand out. Add to that, about 75% of the time, she also wants to look natural. I use color to give the lady what she wants.
If you have blue eyes–you should use earth tones to make them stand out. Taupes, golds, and browns are your friends. If you want a more subtle look, soft pinks and purples will do the trick.
I see a lot of ladies in the 50s and 60s with beautiful blue eyes wearing blue eyeliner. I beg you, STAHP! I understand this was the style when you started doing makeup in the 70s and 80s (most of us stick close to the style of makeup we learned to do as teenagers–true story), and this is how you’re used to seeing yourself (which is why we stick with our original moves). But your eyes are getting lost like the blue on blue example. Humor me. Try brown. Just try it.
If you have brown eyes–pinks and purples will make them pop. Earth tones are also beautiful.
If you have green eyes–purples and pinks are your friend.
If you’re of African descent–
And your skin tone is lighter, follow the above recommendations for your eye color.
Have darker skin? Purples and blacks will give a subtle pop. Jewel tones will give you drama.
Sorry Color Me Beautiful, but you can really wear any color. It depends on the result that you hope to achieve. You can use color to bring features forward or push them back to a supporting role. All of us have undertones in our skin. Caucasians usually have pink or yellow undertones. Some are olive. Darker skin has red and blue undertones. If your skin is pink, for example, pink makeup is not going to make your features stand out. A friend of mine asked me why her coworker said her pink and purple eyeshadow made her look tired. She’s Irish, fair skinned, and super pink. That eyeshadow that looked gorgeous in the palette was making her fade into the background.
All of us have undertones in our skin. Caucasians usually have pink or yellow undertones. Some are olive. Darker skin has red and blue undertones. If your skin is pink, for example, pink makeup is not going to make your features stand out. A friend of mine asked me why her coworker said her pink and purple eyeshadow made her look tired. She’s Irish, fair skinned, and super pink. That eyeshadow that looked gorgeous in the palette was making her fade into the background.
So why do certain colors not look good? It’s too close to the undertone in your skin. If you look sickly in yellow? You’ve got yellow undertones and you’re blending into your shirt. Red a bad move for you? What’s up, pink undertones.
Remember my claim that we stick to the style of makeup that we learned as teenagers? (Even I am guilty of this. I’ve updated the colors, and I like to think I’m a little better at the application, but I’ve been doing a variation the same thing for thirty years.) We’re used to looking at ourselves a certain way and we’ve already established a relationship with color whether we realize it or not. What you think doesn’t look good may actually look unfamiliar. That’s why other people will insist they love your new look when you are just not feeling it.
You may have seen color correctors–green primers, for example. It won’t make you look like the Wicked Witch of the West.
If you have a lot of pink in your skin, such as rosacea, the green will help neutralize the red. Pink primers help sallow skin. And if you’ve seen salmon colored concealers, they’ll neutralize the blue in dark circles.
**a note on concealer** I’ve seen YouTube videos encouraging the use of lipstick as undereye concealer. Please DON’T do this. Not all reds used in lipstick are FDA approved for use around the eye area. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
Phew! That was a lot of information! Have fun playing with color and until next time, stay beautiful!