How to Choose Makeup Colours that Flatter


choosing makeup colours

The first thing you want to think about when choosing makeup colours – from eyeshadow to blush, bronzer to lipstick, is will they flatter your complexion.

You will find that when a colour doesn’t suit you, the colour of the makeup is noticeable, whilst when it does flatter your colouring, you are noticeable and you just look like a more glamorous version of you, rather than someone wearing lots of makeup.

How to Choose Flattering Makeup Colours

If you have had a colour analysis this makes it really easy to choose makeup colours, as you can just be guided by your colour swatch.  As you can see in the photo below, in the top picture, the swatch below each of the palette relates to the colours in the swatch, whether it’s the blush colours or eyeshadow colours.

choosing makeup coloursVersus where I’ve swapped the swatches around, when you look at the bottom photo (in the picture above) you can see that the cool swatch colours don’t relate to the warm palette of makeup, nor do the cool makeup colours relate to the warm swatch below them.

Warm colours:                     Cool Colours:

Peach                                             Pink

Coral                                              Rose

Golds                                              Silver

Bronze                                             Grey

Olives                                               Blue

Camels                                             Cool Mushroom Brown

Choosing Blush Colours

  1. Choose a blush colour that is not too dark and appears natural on the skin.
  2. Warm complexions need a soft peachy blush or can use a bronzer.
  3. Cool complexions look best with pink or rose tones but I’ve never yet seen a bronzer that looks natural on a cool skin.


Choosing Eyeshadow Colours

Eye shadow should enhance the eye colour, rather than compete with it.  Your eye intensifying colours are those that are either complimentary, split complementary colours (opposite or almost opposite on the colour wheel) or within the opposite side of a triad.

Eye Colour             Warm                                          Cool

Blue eyes                    Bronze, Gold, Brown                   Pink, Cool Brown, Grey, Navy

Brown eyes                Olive green, gold, bronze             Blue, navy, Silver, Pink, Forest Green, Teal

Green eyes                Warm Mauve, bronze, camel        Lilac, pink, Cool Brown, Deep Forest Green

Hazel eyes                 Warm Mauve, bronze, camel


Choosing Lipstick Colours

So the first thing to consider is – do the pinks in my swatch relate to the blush colour I wear?  Do my eyeshadow colours relate to the colours in my swatch?  If not, then you may need to choose other colours that do harmonise.

Lip liner colour should blend with the lips.  It shouldn’t be significantly lighter or darker than the natural lip colour.


choosing Lipstick coloursWhen we’re looking at lipsticks – you can see there are cooler and warmer lipstick colours.  Again, these colours need to relate to your colour swatch.  Just remember that as lips have an underlying colour, that will change the way the lipstick looks on your lips, as compared to the back of your hand, or on a piece of white paper!  And I can tell you that I’ve seen the same lipstick look pink, brown, red and mauve on different lips!

lipstick and colour choice


But as your starter guide compare your lipstick colours to the burgundies, reds and pinks in your swatch (even on the back of your hand) and see if there is harmony there.

Warm                                                                      Cool

Bronze                                                                           Pink

Mango                                                                           Burgundy

Peach                                                                             Maroon

Soft  Browns                                                                Cherry Red

Rusty reds

Orange red

Get more tips on choosing lipstick colours here.

One of the things I do for my clients is sell a makeup range so that I can choose the colours for them that I know flatter as I’ve made sure already that they work really well with their colour swatch.  If you’re interested in getting a personalised makeup palette do please contact me.

For some more advice why not check out these posts:

Choosing a foundation colour

How to Choose a Red Lipstick – and more here

How Long Should You Keep that Makeup For?

If you’d like to discover your ideal colours, that colours that work with your skin, hair and eyes, you can get a personal colour analysis as part of my 7 Steps to Style program (it’s just one of the 7 Steps) and you can then use your swatch to choose your ideal makeup colours and stop wasting money on makeup you never wear.


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Get the right foundation color first……..test the foundation colors on yourself! Once you find that, you can rely on the rest. They may put you in the wrong category (warm/cool). That happened to me a few times. And you are stuck with a foundation ( and clothing color choices ) that are totally wrong for you. Make them put a thick swatch on, and go outside and check it. I’m pretty much neutral, to the pinkish side. But I got quite a few makeup people put me into the yellowish side, which made me look quite ill. Take the color testing into your own hands, insist if you must. 🙂

  • I need color swatches. Where can I buy the best swatches. There are no PCAs in my area and I don’t feel comfortable with the online assessments.

  • Hi Imogen,
    I have been selling make up for 40 years this year. My top tip is to try lipstick on the ball of your finger as this is closest to your natural lip colour. When applying make up, do it in the light you will be seen in. Make up applied in natural light looks quite faded under fluorescent light.
    Thanks for all you do.

  • Lots of useful information! Am I correct to assume that there isn’t a cool version of hazel eyes? Or that cool colours of eye shadow don’t go with hazel eyes?

      • I’m confused. Have you seen someone with cool coloring and hazel eyes? Wouldn’t the warm shadow look out of place with the rest her coloring?

        • Occasionally someone with warm hazel eyes when they go grey may end up with cool skin and hair and so need to swap to cool makeup. And no it doesn’t look out of place when you choose colours in the mauve range or browns which go both with warm and cool

  • I’m curious as to what eyeshadows bring out blue eyes. Do you have a post on this? I tried searching. I know orange is the opposite of blue, but I have cool coloring and can’t wear orangey eyeshadow. I love all of your color posts, I’ve learned so much!

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