How to Use a Color Wheel for Professional-Looking Makeup Results

by Lisa Ledoux
Make up application, woman with false Eyelashes. Cosmetics, Beauty. Close up

Every woman knows the importance of a good makeup routine.

But what happens when you want to take your look to the next level?

That’s where a color wheel comes in!

Using a color wheel can help you choose the perfect shades for your professional-looking makeup results.

Why Use a Color Wheel?

Knowing the color wheel theory is essential in finding the perfect shades for your skin tone, hair color, and wardrobe (not to mention interior design and all things color!).

Understanding which colors complement each other and are most flattering for your complexion helps create a beautiful, eye-catching look.

With knowledge of the color wheel, you can easily match eyeshadows, lipsticks, blushes, and other makeup products without spending time and money trying out different shades.

And, it can help you mix and blend colors to invent new looks that suit your preference.

What is a Color Wheel?

A color wheel is an essential tool for any artist, such as interior designers, artists, and make-up artists.

It helps to visualize how colors interact with each other, demonstrating the relationships between different hues and explaining the principles of color theory.

The color wheel is typically a circle that displays various shades, ranging from primary and secondary colors as well as tertiary ones in between.

vector illustration, infographics, color wheel, warm and cold colors

While there are different variations of a color wheel, they all share one common element: their purpose of helping artists recognize harmonies when blending or applying make-up that brings out the best in the wearer.

By understanding the interactions between colors and their proportions, the possibilities of adding depth to any work of art become endless.

How Do You Use a Color Wheel?

Understanding which colors complement each other and look best on your complexion helps you find flattering shades and tones quickly.

See below “Choosing a Make-Up Color Scheme” for more concrete examples.

What Are Warm Colors?

Warm colors are those belonging to the red-yellow-orange spectrum of the visible color wheel which also includes also browns, pinks, and mauves.

Seasonal Color Analysis Palette with Cold and Warm Color Swatches for Skin Colors, Neutrals, Shades, Gold and Silver

They represent energy, passion, fervor, and emotion; they also tend to stimulate conversation and attract attention.

What Are Cool Colors?

Cool colors belong to the greens-blue-purple spectrum of the visible color wheel but may also include grays, lavenders, and pastels.

Cool color shades tend to have a calming, relaxing, and tranquilizing effect on the viewer.

What Are Primary Colors?

Primary colors are the colors we observe when light is broken apart. The three primary colors of light are red, blue, and green referred to as RGB in the digital world.

Mixing two primary colors together creates secondary colors such as yellow, orange, and purple.

What Are Secondary Colors?

Secondary colors are the colors that are created when two primary colors are mixed together.

Red and yellow create orange; blue and red create purple; and blue and yellow create green. These colors create a harmonious balance between warm and cool tones, making them perfect for adding depth to any palette.

Choosing a Make-Up Color Scheme- So Many Choices!

Understanding and using complementary colors can help you create beautiful makeup looks that are perfect for your eye color.

Working with a color wheel can give you insight into which shades of eyeshadows, liners, and mascaras will best enhance the natural tones in your eyes.

Set of colorful and crushed eye shadow isolated on white background
  • Red: Red’s opposite is green.
  • Orange: Orange’s opposite is blue.
  • Yellow: Yellow’s opposite is purple.
  • Green: Green’s opposite is red.
  • Blue: Blue’s opposite is orange.
  • Purple: Purple’s opposite is yellow.

The above example is crucial when it comes to choosing concealers.

For example, if you have rosacea, or reddened skin areas, its opposite- green, will help correct the red.

If you have purple-brown undereye circles, its opposite, yellow, will make a great concealer stick option.

And by using the opposite colors on the color wheel (the ones directly across from each other) you can create balanced looks that flatter your overall look without overpowering it.

  • Blue Eyes: Complimentary colors for blue eyes include shades of orange, peach, and yellow.
  • Green Eyes: Complementary colors for green eyes are mauves, purples, and violets.
  • Brown Eyes: Complimenting colors for brown eyes include shades of pink, coral, and bronze.

But don’t stress, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach – everyone has different needs when it comes to color choices for make-up but this is a pretty good place to start.

Find the Right Colors for your Skin Tone and Hair

Choosing colors that are flattering for your skin tone, eyes, and hair can be tricky.

That’s why it’s important to know the basics when it comes to finding the right shades for you.

Start by considering your skin tone: cool or warm? Then pick colors for your eyes and hair that complement your overall complexion.

Finally, use an online palette guide to choose a range of colors that best emphasize these features.

With a bit of research and practice, you’ll soon be able to nail the perfect look with ease.

Fashion guide chart with analysis of color type, skin type, hairs, eyes, makeup palette
  • Black Hair: Complimentary colors for black hair are gold, silver, nude pink, navy blue, and bright red.
  • Blonde Hair: Complimentary colors for blonde hair include shades of brown, taupe, berry, and mauve.
  • Brunette Hair: Complementary colors for brunette hair are golden hues, navy blue, deep green, and dark purple.
  • Red Hair: Complimenting colors for red hair include muted pinks, peaches, and oranges.
  • Grey Hair Color: Complimentary makeup colors for grey hair are soft pinks, purples, and blues.

How Do You Determine Your Skin Tone?

Determining your skin tone is an important factor in choosing the most flattering makeup, hair color, and clothing.

To determine if you have a warm or cool skin tone, look at the veins on the underside of your wrist.

If they appear blue in color then you likely have a cool skin tone, while greenish veins indicate that you likely have a warm skin tone.

  • Fair Skin: Fair skin is typically characterized by having pinkish undertones and is prone to sunburns.
  • Medium/Olive Skin: Medium or olive skin has neutral, yellowish undertones and tans more easily than other skin tones.
  • Dark Skin: Darker skin typically has a deep, brownish tone and is less likely to burn in the sun.

You can also see what type of jewelry looks best on you – cooler skin tones often look best with silver or white gold while warmer tones look better when paired with yellow or rose gold.

Check to see which type of clothing color palette looks more natural and compliments your complexion; warm skin tones generally will look better with creamy tones, oranges, golden yellows, and olive greens, while cooler complexions can rock blues and purples, pinks and mauves.

Bonus Tip- Regardless of Skin Tone!

Foundation Smudges, different skin shades samples on a white background..

Light-reflecting makeup is designed to make the skin look brighter and more even-toned by deflecting light away from any blemishes or discoloration.

It contains light-reflecting particles such as mica, which helps create a natural-looking glow on the skin without using harsh products.

Light-reflecting makeup can be used in foundation, concealer, blush, and highlighter to create a flawless complexion that looks healthy and radiant.

Bonus Tip- Regardless of Eye Color!

Dark makeup on the eyelids can be used to add depth and definition to the eyes.

It can be applied as eyeliner, eyeshadow, or even mascara to create an intense and captivating look.

Dark makeup is perfect for evenings or special occasions when you want to make a statement with your eye makeup. Be sure to use it in your eyelid creases only, if using dark eyeshadow.

Dark makeup can also be used to define the shape of your eyes, give them more impact, and enhance their color.

Experiment with Different Makeup Looks

Experimenting with different makeup looks can be really fun, and it’s a great way to find out what works best for you.

Over the shoulder view of woman using Lipstick Color Makeup Simulation App on cellphone

Start small, with something as simple as trying out new lip colors. Look up examples of different styles you want to try, such as dark matte lips, then experiment until you find one that suits you.

Try contouring and highlighting your face, play around with eye shadow palettes, and add some false eyelashes for some drama – the possibilities are endless!

You can also use an online makeover tool to help give ideas on how to create different looks.

From then on decide if you want to stay subtle or try out more daring makeup looks.

Have patience and don’t be afraid to take risks, mistakes are part of the process of finding what works best for you.

For Example:

Your lipsticks and lip glosses may look something like this:

Three shiny lip gloss swatches on pink background.
  • Fair Skin: If you have fair skin, opt for shades such as peaches, light pink, and coral.
  • Medium Skin: For medium skin tones, warm pinkish neutrals, mauves, and roses look great.
  • Olive Skin: For olive skin tones, berry-based lipsticks work best. Try out shades of plums, wines, and deep reds.
  • Dark Skin: Rich tones such as browns or chocolate hues look amazing on dark skin. For a bolder look, there are beautiful rich colors like fuchsia and purples that flatter dark skin tones.

And similarly, your blush may look something like this:

Pretty black young woman with clean skin holding  blush brush posing in front of brown background
  • Fair Skin: For fair skin, try shades such as peaches, pinks, and corals.
  • Medium Skin: If your skin tone is medium, look for mauves, plums, and berries.
  • Olive Skin: Olive skin tones look great with apricots and oranges.
  • Dark Skin: For dark skin, look into golden bronze or bronzy copper tones.

For more information on make-up (especially exciting if you are renewing or reinvigorating yourself and your routine) please check out these other awesome, easy-to-follow, makeup-related articles:

Look Fabulous at Any Age: Make-up Tips for Women Over 40

Essential Cosmetic Tools: 14 Makeup Must-Haves

The Best LED Make Up Mirrors

Discover the 11 Best Make-Up Subscription Boxes for Every Budget

Essential Cosmetic Tools Checklist

In Conclusion…

  • It is important to remember that makeup should be seen as an enjoyable pastime and not a chore. Have Fun!
  • Determining your skin tone allows you to choose the most flattering makeup, hair color, and clothing for you, but there are no hard and fast rules with makeup!
  • Experiment with different colors both on the color wheel and in makeup looks until you find what suits you best, and don’t be afraid to take some risks and try something new.
  • With patience and practice, you can create unique looks that reflect your individual style!
young pretty diverse woman posing cheerful together on brown background close up

Thanks for Reading!

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