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

COLOR!

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

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!

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