Archive for September, 2014

Dr. StrangeMauve: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Plum

So sue me, it’s been a slow day…

I had a particularly proud moment this past weekend when I convinced a rather attractive blonde that blue eye shadow could be her friend, too. Now I realize some of you just ran for the freakin’ door. It’s ok. Breathe… because today’s post is all about


Makeup is art. Our faces and bodies really are our canvases. Do not FEAR color. Plus let’s be real here, if you don’t try it you’ll never know and if you really hate it you can wash it off. Really now. Calm yourself 😉

Before we get into the nitty gritty of “Should I wear that?” we’re going to start with some color theory and definitions. Hopefully by the time we get to the end you won’t even need to ask the question because you’ll already know!

For an awesome visual lesson on this topic there is no better video out there than this one by internationally reknown Makeup Artist Robert Jones. It’s 15 minutes of your day and absolutely worth it. Go watch it and come back…

<grabs a snack and waits…>

Welcome back!

So let’s break this bad boy down, shall we?

The Color Wheel

To make any color, anywhere, ever, you only needed five colors: red, yellow, blue, black, and white.

Red, yellow, and blue are our primary colors. Black and white are used to darken or lighten. More on that later.

If you lay red, yellow, and blue out in a triangle and then mix each one with the one next to it you get your next set of colors known as secondary colors: orange, green, and violet.

If you lay those colors out in a triangle inside the original and rinse repeat you get your tertiary colors and end up with a wheel that looks an awful lot like this:

Mmm colors...

Mmm colors…

Complimentary Colors

Complimentary colors are those colors found opposite each other on the wheel. They compliment each other. Reds compliment green. Blue compliments orange. Yellows compliment Elizabeth Taylor.

Now you may be asking yourself where, exactly, that very common color brown is hiding. Funny you should ask that. Brown, for all intents and purposes, is a shade of orange.

Hues vs. Tints vs. Shades vs. Tones

Say what now? A pure hue is one of those twelve lovely colors on the wheel above. Every other color is a variation that falls under tint, shade, or tone. A shade is a hue that has black added to it. A tint is a hue that has white added to it. A tone is a hue that has grey added to it. From these we get every color in the visible spectrum.

Quick marketing lesson: You know those awesome eye shadow quads that every cosmetics company on the planet sells? Comes with four colors? Four? Yeah… hue, shade, tint, tone. It’s not rocket science. Everybody does it.

It would get pretty boring if the only flattering colors for your eyes all fell under one hue though, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t leave much room to play. That’s where…

Analogous Colors

… come in. Analogous colors are the colors to either side of your complimentary color. What this means is that if you have blue eyes your color arc would be reds, oranges, and yellows. If you have green eyes your color arc would be violets, reds, and oranges. If you have brown eyes your color arc would be greens, blues, and violets.

There is of course one exception to this very flexible rule. All of the gorgeous nude colors would normally fall into the red-orange-yellow ranges. However as they are nude they are meant to compliment your skin and not your eyes and they follow a different set of rules. When picking your highlights, smokey darks, and nudes, you need to pay attention to…


Undertones effect everything we put on our bodies, really. Whether it be a blouse or lipstick, this is the one little variable to the equation that spells the difference between you looking like you’re vibrant and alive versus looking like you’ve caught a bad case of jaundice. So what are undertones?

Most often referred to as Warm and Cool colors, colors with warm undertones have yellow in them. Colors with cool undertones have pink in them. Your skin has either warm or cool undertones. You can tell if you are a Warm or a Cool by looking at the veins in your arm. If they appear as green, you have Warm yellow undertones. If they appear as blue, you have Cool pink undertones. Similarly Warm and Cool colors will look best on your skin. Most of you have already determined which undertone you are by the colors you favor and best flatter you in your wardrobe. Warms will tend towards ivory blouses, gold jewelry, wear earthier shades of red and orange, can get away with wearing yellow, and often tan instead of burn. Cools will tend towards white blouses, silver jewelry, wear jewel tones, can get away with wearing pink, and often burn before they tan.

The best makeup example is differing shades of red lipstick. Warms want a fiery orange-red. Cools want a bluish red.

Lady Danger by MAC: a yellow toned red.

Lady Danger by MAC: a yellow toned red.

Ruby Woo by MAC: a blue toned red.

Ruby Woo by MAC: a blue toned red.

Once you start paying attention to colors, and you start swatching colors on your skin when you are choosing, you will start to recognize the warm and cool undertones and know which will be most flattering on you. Another example is eyeshadows. Even when dealing with nudes, sometimes especially when dealing with nudes, the undertone is important.

Crystal Avalanche by MAC: a yellow toned nude.

Crystal Avalanche by MAC: a yellow toned nude.

Blanc by MAC: a pink toned nude.

Blanc by MAC: a pink toned nude.

If you are using these colors as the all over lid color to start your eye makeup with, the undertones will skew your end result based on how well they compliment your skintone.

All The Pretty Colors

So earlier in this post I was using words like “red”, “orange”, and “yellow”, and in response you were using words like “WTF?!?” and “Are you mental?”. No, I do not expect you to put fire engine red eye shadow on your face (even though you could, if you wanted to). You have to remember we’re using makeup-speak here. Remember our tints, shades, and tones. One easy example is that all of the colors we would consider “gold” fall under yellow. All of our browns fall under primarily orange. Rusts and ruddy plums fall under red.

So while you may not flock to this red:

Passionate by MAC

Passionate by MAC

You may adore this one:

Girlie by MAC

Girlie by MAC

And while I’d prolly not walk outside wearing this:

Chrome Yellow by MAC

Chrome Yellow by MAC

I’d think nothing of wearing all of these:

Nylon by MAC

Nylon by MAC

Ricepaper by MAC

Ricepaper by MAC

Gorgeous Gold by MAC

Gorgeous Gold by MAC

One note to end today’s post regarding reds. Reds can be gorgeous. They can also be troublesome. I will post more later on what colors to wear where to achieve different effects. However for this lesson please keep in mind that if you have more mature skin, if you often have redness around the eyes, or like me you have a red complexion due to acne, rosacia, etc, you want to avoid wearing red around the eyes. It will make those other reds you are trying to conceal look even redder. This includes your pinks, your mauves, your rusts and ruddy plums. Even some of the brickish browns are culprits. While I defintely want to see people experimenting with color I don’t want to see people looking like they are inflamed and bleeding from the eyeballs.

Unless it’s Halloween and that was what you were aiming for.

I think your... um... face is running...

I think your… um… face is running…

Stay fabulous!

Foundation Oxidation, or “How Not To Look Like An Oompa Loompa”

Hello fabulous people 🙂 It has been a month of crazy project after crazy project at work. Today I finally have a chance to stop spinning for a little bit so we’ll see if I can get this typed up!

In my last post I mentioned something called oxidation. Now when you see this word, most people think of the green patina on copper or, less attractively, rust on iron. While these are certainly different materials, the mechanism here between the very green Statue of Liberty and your foundation are similar. What this means, in summary, is that the various metal oxides that make up your makeup (ha!) are reacting to the sebum and natural oils on your skin and shifting color. This behavior isn’t exclusive to foundation but it’s certainly the one that is most obvious. Oxiation is also known to make blush and other colors muddy and grey. I have the particular joy of having found some conclears that turn a muddy grey when applied which does me such a great service when I’m trying to conceal dark spots.

“But Wendy, if it was as simple as that then everyone would have this problem. Why can my friends wear this foundation and look great, but if I wear it I look like a tangerine?”

Well that’s because nothing we do with, to, or on our bodies is ever that simple. We have to take our own personal body chemistry into account. While some foundations are notorious for oxidation (I’m looking at you, M·A·C), for the most part it is more likely an issue between your personal body chemistry + the chemical make up of your makeup + the oxygen in the air around you.

Everyone’s skin forms what is called an acid mantle. This mantle is a protective barrier made up of sebum and sweat.

Quick biology lesson: sebum, from sebaceous glands, are the oils that protect your skin. If you have too much you are battling acne. If you have too little you are battling dry skin. The only place you don’t have these glands are on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.

The next player in this game is pH. You hear this term a lot but it’s not always clear what it even means.

Quick chemistry lesson: pH stands for potential Hydrogen and is scale from 1 to 14 that gauges how acidic a substance is. On that 1-14 scale, the natural pH balance of skin is 5.5. This number is effected by our own natural body chemistry, the time of the month, what we eat, the weather, you name it.

I rather appreciate that they used "wine" as a value...

I rather appreciate that they used “wine” as a value…

So what we get here is a combination of the various metal oxides in your makeup reacting to the acids in your natural sebum and further reacting to the oxygen in the air around you.

Some folks will argue that last part saying that isn’t as big of a factor. In my own personal experience, when I’m seeing a foundation oxidize, it gets significantly worse as soon as I step outside. I’m going to go ahead out on this limb here and suggest that while that is not the primary cause, it certainly doesn’t help.

Now what do we do about it? There are some options. Not all foundations are created equal. Different brands, lines, and formulas are going to have different chemical make up and will react differently to your skin. This leads us to a point I can’t possibly stress strongly enough:


Any cosmetics shop or counter worth their salt will let you try a foundation sample (or three) to see if you like it. USE THIS PRIVILEDGE. Do NOT buy a $30-60 bottle of foundation without test driving that bad boy! You are putting this stuff ALL OVER YOUR FACE. Don’t feel bad about trying it out and not buying it until you know it’s right! A happy client is a return client. It’s better to take a few samples and come back to buy the one that was best rather than buy something that doesn’t work and come back to return it. Anyone in retail knows you are far MORE likely to make additional purchases and return in the future if you are happy with the product. Most people aren’t making additional purchases if they are returning a product they were unhappy with and if they’re really ticked off they aren’t coming back at all. Especially if they are returning a product that they wore out in a social situation and they suddenly realized they looked like Snookie.

Although I think in this case it’s a lot more than just her foundation…

Color matching is of course important. A makeup artist will select 2-3 shades closest to your skin tone and apply streaks, normally near your jawline, to swatch the color on your skin to find the best match. Also, if you are near a Sephora, they have a fancy little machine called the Pantone Color IQ which determines your Pantone color code and is pretty awesome. HOWEVER, once you find the right color and apply the foundation the oxidation begins. Now to be clear, most foundations rely on natural oxidation to achieve a more perfect color match. Many of them are very much geared this way, especially when you are looking at something like a BB or CC cream where there are only a small number of color options (often light, medium, and dark) to choose from. What we are looking to avoid here is when the oxidation goes too far and you suddenly look like an extra for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Why do you keep asking if I used a primer?

Why do you keep asking if I used a primer?

One thing to keep in mind here is that even your favorite foundation can color shift at times due to changes in your body chemistry. So how do we deal with that?

Primer. Specifically a silicone based primer.

“But Wendy, I thought we used primer to keep our makeup in place?”

We do. The function of the primer is to form an even layer on top of your skin that locks your makeup in place. Reread that line… form a layer. That’s right. The primer is forming a protective layer on top of your skin, creating a barrier between your acid mantle and the makeup. This simple step will greatly reduce the oxidation in your foundation.

You can help this along a bit further, as well. While you should always start with clean skin when applying makeup, beginning any makeup routine with an antioxidant moisturizer will further limit oxidation. Antioxidant… oxidize… get it? Got it? Good 😉

Some things to note…

Oxidation is more likely with cream and liquid foundations, however it will occur in any foundation type, including powders.

Oxidation is not usually an immediate reaction. It can take a half an hour or a few hours. This is why it’s important to test drive it home.

The color shifts can be subtle depending on lighting. Give yourself an hour or more after application and then check in fluorescent light, incandescent light, natural light, and my personal fav, the rearview mirror of the car. This may seem like overkill, but you can hit all of these points between the store, walking outside, getting in your car, and getting home. If after a few hours you’re still good to go, awesome!

If you are finding a foundation oxidizes on you, check the ingredients. Write down any of the oxides. If you keep doing this you may be able to pinpoint which oxide doesn’t agree with you and save yourself some time and effort in the future by knowing not to bother with foundations with (insert oxide here) in the ingredients.

If you find yourself between two foundation shades, ALWAYS go with the lighter shade. I realize that the bronzed look is in right now. That is what bronzer is for. A rule of thumb is that you can always go darker from lighter but it is very difficult to go lighter from dark. Wearing a too dark foundation is difficult to correct. Or, in short, you look foolish. Honestly, this one could be its own post.

 And that is my crash course in How Not To Look Like An Oompa Loompa!

I hope to see some of you Sunday at 2pm for Princess Farhana‘s Exciting Stage Makeup workshop!