Color Theory

Color is a word that can spark many emotions.  It can affect our emotions, our ability to think, our ability to study or relax, and it can even stimulate or repress our appetite.  Color is a powerful thing in our lives.  But how many people really remember what colors represent or even how we get the colors we see every day?

We are going to take it back to elementary school art class.  Do you remember anything about the color wheel?  For some of us it may have been awhile since we have looked at the color wheel, but don’t worry today we will refresh our memories on a little color theory!

We will start from the beginning.  In the beginning there were three colors. These three colors are called the primary colors.  All color we see originates from these three colors.  They are red, yellow, and blue.  You can’t have any other colors without these three. They are the most important on the wheel.

Next on our color wheel is the secondary colors.  There are also three of these.  Secondary colors are made from two primary colors that are mixed together.  These colors are green, orange, and violet.  For example you know that yellow and blue mixed together in equal parts make green.

The last category is tertiary colors.  There are 6 of these colors.  They are made when one primary and one secondary color are mixed together in equal parts. These colors are red-orange, yellow-orange, blue-green, yellow-green, red-violet, and blue-violet.  The name says exactly what is mixed together.  To make red-orange you take equal parts of red and orange together.

Now that we are refreshed with the color wheel, let’s talk about a few words that you hear when people talk about color.

Complementary color- These colors are direct opposite on the color wheel (red and green; yellow and violet; orange and blue).  For example green and red are direct complements.  These colors tend to go well together and both colors can make an impact when wearing them.  Complementary colors cause each other to be the brightest they will ever appear when they are side by side. When layered on top of each other in equal parts, complementary colors neutralize or cancel each other out.

Monochromatic – Means one color.  It can include all that single color’s value, including tint, tone, and shade.  For example the darkest brown to the lightest beige.

Tint – tint is adding white to dilute a color

Shade- shade is adding black to lower or darken a color

Color can also have symbolism.  Each color can invoke feelings and can make someone that comes in contact with that color change their mood.  Here are a few colors and what they have grown to mean.

•          White – purity, innocence, peace

•          Black – sophistication, gloom, mystery

•          Gray – maturity, modesty, dignity

•          Red – love, passion, vigor

•          Yellow – youth, hope, and intellect

•          Blue – harmony, honor, dignity

•          Orange – danger, daring, energy

•          Green – nature, faith, stability

•          Purple – royalty, drama, wisdom

•          Brown – sensitivity and dependability

So why are we talking about color theory on a beauty blog? Knowing color theory is a vital tool for makeup artists, hair stylists and even fashion designers/stylists. Finding the right colors for your clients can make all the difference in the final look.

It is important to use colors that spark positive emotional responses for your client. For example, if your client hates the color yellow and thinks it looks bad on them, would it be a good idea to put yellow eyeshadow on them? Probably not. Just the eyeshadow color alone could cause the client to dislike the entire makeup application.

Also, using the color wheel properly can help enhance positive features and diminish negative features. Take the complementary colors for instance: if my client has blue eyes and I want them to be the focal point of the face, applying orange or an orange-based eyeshadow will cause the eyes to pop since orange and blue are complementary colors. On the other hand, applying a green concealer over a red blemish will neutralize or cancel out the red tone of the blemish making it easier to hide.

Next time you’re applying your makeup, think about the color wheel in order to ensure a successful, put-together makeup application.