Wednesday, 11 September 2013

How I use colour theory in my make-up looks.

Remember a little while ago, when I showed how to combine colours to make interesting and flattering eye looks? If you do, wonderful! If you don't, here's the article to refresh your memory. Last time I explained a few different colour schemes, and this time I thought it would be fun to show you guys how I put that theory to practice.

When you know a little bit about how colours work, it becomes much easier to combine them and to create looks. I'm not just talking about how to match your eyeshadow to your eyes, but also to your lipstick, your hair, everything really! I usually try to create balance in my looks so that they're still appealing, even when I make them quite strong and dramatic.

I'll just show you a few examples of looks that I made and then I'll explain to you why I made certain colour choices. Also in the end I'll give a few quick tips and tricks so if you don't feel like reading the whole thing you can skip right to the bottom.

Do you remember this look? It was my first tutorial for an eye look! I made use of a few different colour schemes here. First there's a complimentary colour scheme going on with the purple and the golden colours which are opposite eachother on the colour wheel. The purple also contrasts with the yellow in my eyes, making my eyes appear greener. There's also pink in the look, which is the complimentary colour to the moss green of my eyes. The eye look is also overwhelmingly warm, so there's an analogous scheme going on with my red hair that is also warm, and my eyes which are made up of mostly warm tones. Last but not least, there's also a bit of light v.s dark contrast with the darkness of the liner versus the whites of the eyes and my pale skin. It also made my medium eye colour appear lighter and brighter.

This look is almost completely analogous (where the colours are next to eachother on the colour wheel) and monochromatic (using the same colour but darker or lighter), thus making it a very harmonious look. All of the colours are warm and most of them are neighbours to eachother on the colour wheel or even different hues of the same colour. I kept the look from becoming too uniform by using a peach lipcolour that wasn't too orange and black eyeliner to give the look a bit more light and dark contrast. I also used a pink blush, using a more peachy or orange tone would match the colours too much and make it look too much of the same.

In both of these pictures I made use of a warm/cold contrast. The lip colour being a cool shade of fuschia or pink, contrasting with my warm hair colour. Since warm colours actually tend to suit me better, I made sure to use brown to get a bit of warmth back on the eyes and to use a warmer coloured blusher so that the cooler colours wouldn't make me look gaunt. Making use of a warm/cold contrast can be very striking, since I isolated the lip colour as the only cool tone in both pictures it made the lip colour stand out a lot.

In this picture I made use of an analogous colour scheme as well as a complimentary contrast. I chose the same colours eyeshadow as the colours that my eyes are actually made of, creating a harmonious effect. The green eyeshadow contrasts nicely with my red hair, whereas the shimmering copper eyeliner is almost of the same colour and neutralizes the look. The pink lips create a warm/cold contrast with the hair, but also a complimentary contrast with the green eyeshadow and eye colour which in turn makes both colours look stronger and more vibrant. In all fairness, I think this look could have done without the pink lipstick and it would have looked very flattering, but I guess I wanted it to stand out a bit more and added the pink for a more powerful look.

Whereas this look is not very wearable, you can see that I went for a dark/light contrast so that my eyecolour would really jump out and appear much more vibrant. Also note that I kept my lips very light so that the dark eyeshadow would be accentuated even more.

Another example of a dark/light contrast. I tried to maintain balance by keeping the rest of the look very light and vibrant, whereas the lips would become dark and overwhelming. My skin would have looked too gaunt without any blusher, so I applied the lightest pink to make the green and yellow in my eyes appear brighter and to take away the sallowness that the black would have caused.

This is both a dark/light contrast, the dark eyeshadow contrasting with the whites of my eyes and my pale skin, making my eyes look lighter and drawing attention to them, but it's also a complimentary contrast. The dark purple contrasting with the yellow in my eyes, making them appear lighter and greener. Also note that the purple I used is quite warm, so that it resonates with my warm skintone and doesn't contrast with it. I wanted the contrast to be solely with my eyes, not with my skin.

Tips and tricks

Always look for balance: When you want to make a dark/light contrast for example, it almost always looks nicer if there's one small thing dark and you keep the rest light, or the other way around. This makes it exciting. This also goes for warm/cold contrasts and complimentary contrasts. You want one colour to strengthen the other, you don't want them to compete for the spotlight. 

Learn the colour wheel, or keep it at a place you can see: Knowing where the colours are and how they react to eachother really helps with knowing how to combine them. 

You can pull off a lot more than you think you can: Really, there are an infinite amount of combinations possible! You can play up the colours with eachother or with any feature of your face. Most people seem to think they have to play up their eyes, but there's so much you can do. If you have light hair for example you could try a dark lipstick, or if you're a brunette try a light one. See what happens! 

There doesn't always have to be a heavy contrast: I love using colours that don't exactly make my features pop, but just play together with it very nicely. Analogous and monochromatic colour schemes are so very flattering and easy to learn and will give you a break from using the same neutrals every time. Try using colours that are close to the colours of your eyes or just a few shades from it, or from your hair, or choose a random set of colours that are just a few shades away from eachother in colour and darkness. 

Last but not least, have fun! Just play with make-up when you don't really have anything to do or anywhere to go, and don't get angry with yourself if you fail. Everyone fails! I fail often trying out weird stuff and trying to make it work, but I don't always manage to make it look good. That's okay! I've learned more stuff from my failures than I've ever learned from my successions. Knowing what doesn't work for you is just as important as knowing what does. 


  1. heel handig! ik vind denk ik diegene waar je haar naar achter zit het mooiste effect geven

  2. Dankjewel! Die is ook een favoriet van mij haha, zo veel liefde voor die kleur oogschaduw!

  3. This looks like it took a lot of time and effort and it totally paid off. This was so informative!