Colour Theory Workshop

Happy Monday lovelies!

One of the most common beauty questions I get asked is ‘Which make-up colours will suit me?’. The answer to that involves a few factors, so I’m going to do my best to explain some basic colour theory to get us all looking pragtig.

Let’s start with the basics: What is your undertone?

So your skin is a colour (obv), like Fair, Light, Medium, Deep, etc. Your undertone is the colour beneath the skin that affects its colour. An undertone can be Cool (pink or bluish undertone), Warm (yellow or golden undertone) or Neutral (a mixture of warm and cool undertones). Your undertone is going to determine what colours look natural on you and what stands out. To work out your undertone:

– Look at your inner wrist, are your veins more bluish (Cool) or greenish (Warm)?
– Do you burn (Cool) or tan (Warm) more easily?
– Do you look better in silver (Cool) or gold (Warm)?

If you’re still not sure, pop into MAC and ask the lovely ladies there what they think. MAC sells foundation in NW (Neutral Warm) and NC (Neutral Cool) so they have a pretty good understanding of undertone.

So now that we know this information, what do we do with it? To put it simply, make-up colours will also have a warm or a cool undertone and you can either match the same undertone to your skin (this will look more natural) or choose a colour in the opposite undertone (this will stand out). The only thing I’d suggest is to use a foundation with the same undertone as your skin, it’s going to look much better!

To illustrate the difference, here’s Beth (who has a warm undertone) and me (very cool undertone) wearing a warm orangey lipstick…

Mich---ambition Beth---ambition

See how much it stands out on me and how much more natural it looks on Beth? Now for the cool-toned lipstick…

Mich---viva-glam Beth---viva-glam

Weird right? So there are no rules when it comes to choosing colours with different undertones, it just depends on the effect you’re after.

Next, lets look at Complementary Colours

Complementary colours are colours opposite each other on the colour wheel. They make their opposites look richer, so green makes red look redder and vice versa. The same goes for blue and orange, and yellow and purple. (This is called simultaneous contrast, for all you nerds out there)


Complementary colours can be used to make eye colour pop. If you have hazel or green eyes, red-toned eyeshadow or liner is going to make them look greener. I did a red smokey eye, but purple is a less vampiric option.


Brown eyes can carry most colours really well, but you can have a look at their tone to see what will contrast best. Jodi has warm brown eyes, and so bright blue makes their golden tone stand out.


Jess has blue yes with a tiny bit of gold in the centre. Blue contrasts best with orange, so bronzey colours are going to show blue eyes off beautifully.


I hope that helps you all feel more comfortable when experimenting with colour. Remember that it’s just make-up and you can wash it off, so have fun :) And send us pics at @smudgedbeauty!

Have a great day my little rainbows,



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