Sunday, April 17, 2011


By Lisa Doherty

When it comes to buying and applying makeup, one of the first questions that comes to mind is: What kind of makeup will look good on me? As a makeup artist, I have been asked this question numerous times. I like to call this the “Makeup Identity Crisis”. Here are some tips when it comes to finding colours, textures and shades that will best suit your face.

Skin Tone: This is the most challenging aspect to choosing makeup. Often times, we find it difficult to match foundation and concealer to our skin tone. This becomes especially difficult when the seasons change and we go from the natural glow, to a more tanned tone. 

Here are some suggestions when it comes to choosing makeup for your face:

First, you need to find out whether you have a cool or warm tone. To do this, hold gold fabric or silver fabric up to your face. If the gold fabric compliments your skin (get your friends opinions too), you have a warm tone. However, if the silver is the better choice, then you have a cool skin tone. Usually, those with olive or yellow undertones in their skin tend to be warm, and those with pink undertones will be categorized as having a cool complexion. This will make it easier for you to choose your colour. Each brand of makeup has a different way of coding their colours, but all brands provide warm, neutral and cool options.

Secondly, many people have more than one colour in their face. A good rule of thumb is that you should match your makeup to the colour of your neck, not necessarily your face. This will prevent lines and will create a smooth transition from your neck to your jaw. If you are worried about those unwelcome facial accessories known as blemishes, you can cover them up with green concealer as it helps to neutralize the redness.

Eye Colour: A great way to see which shadow or liner will suit you is to use the colour wheel. Each colour has another colour that is at the opposite side of the wheel. This opposing colour is the best one that will suit your eyes. For example, if you have blue eyes, the colour opposite to blue in the wheel is orange. Therefore, shadows with orange tones like copper will help to make the eyes pop. Try to avoid colours with red tones as they tend to make the average person appear tired or ill. “Your eyes are the windows to your soul”, so look at choosing your eye shadow colour as a form of soul searching. Which colour best suits you?

Hair Colour: Hair colour plays an important role when it comes to choosing makeup and if you like to change your hair colour on a regular basis, be prepared to have a large stash of cosmetics. Each hair colour has its own complimentary shades, textures and colours.

If you were blonde yesterday and today you are a brunette and next week you plan to be gray, then you will want to stick to more neutral colours that suit your forever changing hair like neutral browns.

Brunettes tend to stand out with golds, silver, and pastel colours, whereas blondes are usually fair skinned and require darker colours like dark brown, purple, copper and bronze in order to not appear washed out. As for cheeks and lips, both blondes and brunettes can pull off pink, as long as it compliments eye colour. When in doubt, always go neutral.

If you are lucky enough to have some red or orange in your hair, chose colors that will make your eyes stand out but will not clash with your hair. Usually redheads play it safe and stick to neutral shades like warm browns. Having red hair is a unique characteristic so you want it to stand out.

For those ladies with gray hair, less is more. When choosing foundation and concealers, thin and natural looking products are essential. Almost any colour goes as long as it matches your eyes. You may want to stay away from glitter and metallic colours like gold and silver. Having said that, bronzer compliments gray hair nicely.

These are only some tips when it comes to matching colours to your own unique look. Other factors to consider are outfit colour, time of day and lighting (natural light is always best). So, before you head out to the makeup counter, try using these tips. Your face will thank you later.

Lisa Doherty 
Makeup Artist

Images courtesy of: Always New You, Kirsten Style Report, The Makeup Snob

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