How to Choose Flattering Seasonal Makeup Colours



How to Choose Makeup Colours

I’ve just been reading the latest issue of In Style magazine which has got me all het up. In the makeup feature, they list the latest fashion colours:

  • Orange
  • Fuchsia
  • Violet
  • Emerald

And then proceed to tell you that everyone can wear them.

Sadly, this is not true. For a naturally enhanced look, your makeup should tone with your skin, not be the feature (which is all very well on the catwalk or in a magazine where they are selling the makeup and want it to be noticeable and the feature). My clients tell me that they just want to look like themselves, only better, not like they’re wearing lots of obvious makeup. They want their eyes to be what is noticeable, not the eyeshadow colour dominating.

Let’s look at these colours and figure out who actually suits them best before you invest in the latest fashion colours.

Orange: Warm people only! Whether orange, peach or coral, these shades are warm and look best on those who have a warm complexion. When looking for a blush colour, you want it to look like you have blushed naturally. If the blush looks obvious, it’s probably the wrong colour (or too dark or bright a shade for you). Start with lighter shades and then try deeper, rather than the other way around for a more subtle and natural look.  Orange can also be a great eyeshadow colour for the warm blue eyed people, as orange is opposite blue on the colour wheel it intensifies the colour of your eyes.
If you have cool colouring and want to wear orange – wear it as a nailpolish on your toes, but avoid it near your face.

Fuchsia: Cool peeps this one is for you. The brighter shades suit those with deeper and clear colouring. The lighter pinks are best for the rest.of us. Hot pink can be worn on your lips if you have clear, bright colouring or a dramatic personality. Pink eyeshadow will make blue eyes look bluer.  It’s also fabulous as a nail polish in summer.

Emerald: This tone comes in both warm and cool versions.  Cooler versions are bluer, warmer versions have a more yellow-green appearance.  It’s pretty bright for a makeup colour, will work well if you have brown eyes as an eyeshadow, it can be fun for a blue eyed person to wear as eyeshadow .   Otherwise stick to it as nail polish or possibly an eyeliner for those fun evenings out.

Violet: I have found  that violet works well for warm people, particularly green eyed warm people (or Hazel eyes) look fabulous with a violet eyeshadow, it really makes their green eyes look greener.  On cool people they tend to look bruised in violet shades (except for as a nailpolish).  It’s too  reminiscent of the blue shades in the undertone of their skin.

What is your favourite makeup colour?


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  • Now I’m not sure what my coloring is. I thought I was a bright and clear, but I have found that I can wear purple eye shadow, as long as the purple is warmer and not a cool violet (like the one pictured above). I don’t look good with any kind of cool blue, purple, or green eye makeup. However I often wear those colors and I think they look good on me. Most warm colors don’t work on me, especially red/orange/yellow. I can wear a few warmer greens, and warmer blue/violets, and maybe a pink here or there. Light colors also don’t look good on me, except for maybe mint and certain shades of gray. I have dark brown eyes, brown/black eyebrows, dark brown hair with reddish tones, and very fair skin with yellow undertones. My coloring is a lot like Anne Hathaway, but with much darker eyes (they almost look black in dim light).

    I like to wear a soft shimmery nude with black eye liner for every day, and then smoky eyes for special occasions, using gunmetal gray or deep, warm violet.

    • Sascha without a proper colour analysis I can’t actually give you an accurate idea of your colours. Anne Hathaway is warm, just not very warm – the cooler end of the warm spectrum.

  • I’ll say one thing, your posted image caught me eye because of the colors but, when I saw the items juxtaposed with the headline about “…choosing flattering seasonal colours…” I wondered what you would possibly say.

    I agree with you. These colors are at the far end of the spectrum, tone-wise. I have medium skin, yellow-olive tone, dark brown eyes & streaked brown hair. When I was young, navy blue looked beautiful on my eyes. I would use navy liner & deepen my lids with navy shadow. It was wonderful. Forty years later, I use it sparingly as a shadow over the lid or a thin liner on the top lid only. Otherwise, it brings out the blue shadows of undereye circles & thinning skin.

    I love coral on my cheeks in Summer and rose (with a blue tint) in Winter. Sometimes I blend the two for in-between. They’re cream blushes. Wild colors can be worn at night but not during the day. Nail polish is always an option.

  • I have pale warm skin, brown eyes, and dark brown hair. Pretty high contract, warm colouring.

    For eye shadow, I usually wear either nude+brown for a natural look, or pink-sheen+medium-maroon, or brown+warm-purple, or nude-sheen+sheen-gold. I have a blue eyeliner that looks pretty good, too; I realized recently after another post of yours that blue indeed goes well with brown eyes. I avoid blue eye-shadow as it reminds me of the 80s and/or country style. I have some green eye shadow, too, but it looks kind of odd, and I hardly ever put it on. Recently I got curious about combining gold+purple.

    For nail polish I wear either clear or a warm purple for special occasions.

    Rest is just cover up, so as little of foundation as I can get away with.

  • I’m intrigued by the idea that wearing violet makes us cool people look bruised because it’s too close to our undertones. When I wear violet I look like I’ve been crying.

    However, the idea runs counter to the whole idea that we should “wear ourselves” and choose colors from our bodies. Why would violet be the wrong color then? I know that it’s not right for me (sometimes I think my skin tone is purplish!) Is it because the vein=blood=bruise?

    Just when I think I have this color stuff down…

    • Robin – it’s to do with when we get too close – completely replicating can actually be come cartoonish – as I was taught – reminiscence not caricature. The violet it too much, but a navy will work or a pink will work, the colours on either side of the violet. It’s like putting a round face in button earrings – too much replication. But put that round face in a square earring and it will also make the roundness more pronounced. Put on an earring with a softly curving line, not straight, not round and you have the balance.

  • Hi Imogen!

    I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago. I’ve been pouring over all of your wonderful advice since then, and all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to share your expertise and insights! Your explanations, images, and videos make it so much easier to understand, at a glance, the differences between flattering and unflattering looks for people of different proportions, body shapes, colouring, etc. You have answered so many of my burning questions about how different types of clothing and accessories work together, and you’ve drawn my attention to many aspects of style that had previously been outside of my awareness. In particular, understanding signature colors is so helpful!

    In your previous posts, you’ve explained how our foundation choices may more closely match our skins’ overtones than their undertones. For hues that we apply to our eyes, lips, and cheeks, though, should we be paying more attention to our undertones (so that folks who have pink/cool undertones and who look better in cool colors should also wear cool-hued eyeshadows, blushes and lip colors)?

    I have dark chocolate hair with milk chocolate glints in sunlight, and milk chocolate eyes that have some areas fading to taupe as I age. I definitely have warm overtones, but I seem to look best in colours featured in your “Dynamic” or “Cool and Clear” palettes (medium value, neutral-cool is better for me than really cool), along with dark chocolate and milk chocolate, so I think I must have cool undertones. However, I discovered many years ago that I liked the look of peach eyeshadow alone or blended with brown for a natural look. Now I use a toasty pink that is just a tad lighter than my natural coral-pink lip color, and this also looks very natural, I think. I occasionally try a cooler pink or purple, or charcoal, but I’m never enchanted with this, and keep reverting to my peachy-pink, with or without brown. Does this seem counter to what you’d typically expect? I wonder if I should be trying warmer or cooler greens, browns, etc.

    • The rest of eyeshadow and makeup selection – cheeks and lips, relate to your undertone, so if you are cool, rose will look better than peach on your cheeks. Pink not peach on your eyes. Brown eyes and hair can be either warm or cool, so without actually doing a colour analysis i can’t give you any specific advice.

  • I have recently come across your site and find it makes so much sense. You have described everything so well and I would love to come and see you but am in a different country! I have been trying for years to find the correct make up for my colouring and spent a fortune!
    I used to wear browns and black eyeliner when younger which admittedly looked awful especially since I have been told I am cool light summer. My hair was always highlighted ash blonde and now has gone more naturally white! My skin is pale but rosy and my eyes greeny-blue. I have recently reverted to pinks and plums for eyes and found them okay but in my search for the best I have tried pinks and greys but not sure whether grey looks strange on me because of the green in my eyes. Do others have this problem and if so any suggestions would be most welcome.

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