Are you an artist who knows color theory is important, but really just uses it in the most rudimentary of ways — the occasional dark circle or red blemish — or are you a color theory master who relies on this skill to triumph over a host of makeup-related hurdles like bruises, challenging undertones, and the dreaded HD neon lips!  If you’re the former, let’s talk about all the ways that color theory can save your behind in a pinch!

Let’s get right into it, shall we!  Let’s talk about five ways an advanced knowledge of color theory can help your applications!

1.  Tricky Complexions

You can feel beads of sweat roll down your back and you hope that they aren’t popping out on your forehead, totally revealing the level at which you are currently panicking as you frantically mix foundations on your palette.  First swatch on your client’s skin:  “Oh, definitely not.”   You add a deeper foundation.  Swatch 2:  “Nope.  Too dark.”  You add some white to lighten it up.  Swatch 3:  “What the …”  Ok, maybe yellow? Some green? A touch of red? Maybe some of this peach cream blush?  What if we just thin it out a lot?  Anything!  Your client exhales loudly through her nose and on the inside, you’re all like:

Via Giphy.com


Clients with tricky skin tones can be nerve wracking to color match.  True olive skin tones can be a challenge, as well as the palest of pale clients who have almost a blue cast to their skin.  In almost all of these cases, foundations need some major adjusting in order to work.  Say you sit down to groom Mr. George Hamilton.  Girl — not a cosmetics line in the world makes Mr. Hamilton’s particular shade of red + tan + a dash of safety orange.  You’re gonna have to mix.

The only thing that’s gonna get you out of this alive is your color wheel …. 


When you understand how foundations are made and how they can be adjusted to fit any skin tone on the planet, you can carry less stuff and never panic again!

2.  Wicked Discoloration

Under eye circles are the most common form of discoloration we’re correcting in makeup BUT every once in a while, you talent shows up, sits in the chair and they’ve got a black eye or a port wine stain or some other severe discoloration that needs correcting.  In this case, you’ve got two options:

Via Giphy.com
Via Giphy.com


3.  Something Isn’t Quite Right

Ever tried 13 different lip shades on a client and not one of them is exactly what you need?  One’s too cool and another is too orange and it makes her teeth look yellow or she wants this pink one but “less pink — like nude but not nude.”  Color theory can help you out here by giving you a road map to your end goal.  It’ll give you the confidence to mix your own shade or adjust what you’ve already got.

Rose Lipstick:  Often referred to as “you know, kinda pink but nude but a little red.”


4.  Forgot Something?

Have you ever opened your kit and realized you don’t have one godforsaken lipstick in your kit or your entire blush palette is at home on your desk because you were cleaning it and forgot to put it back in your kit?  Maybe you were supposed to pick up a blue lipstick for a character and … well, that didn’t happen.  Never fear!  With a color wheel and an understanding of how to create those colors you’re missing, you can McGuyver anything you may have forgotten!


5.  Quick Changes & Adjustments

There are times when things just don’t go exactly as we hoped they would OR when we have to make quick adjustments.  This happens a lot in video work when shooting in HD or higher formats.  Sometimes, you get your talent on screen and his lips look like he’s literally eaten 30 of those red Icy Pops from when you were a kid.  In person, they look fine but on screen, they are too pink, too red, or just too pigmented in general.  How do you fix this?  Slap some green chap stick on ’em.  His lips might look a little dead in person, but on camera, they’ll look great!

Ice pops are how the Joker got those scars …. 




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