Cosmetic Color Theory: Color Families

In this article, we will explore color families that are common in the cosmetic world. This post will focus primarily on lip and cheek colors.

When you walk through a large cosmetic store like Sephora or Ulta, you might notice that it all starts to look pretty similar. This is because almost ever cosmetic line carries certain color families. In no particular order, these families are:

Reds: The boldest color, this category includes warm (orange) and cool (blue). Although red lipstick is very common, red blush is more rare.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 12.18.12 PM

Peaches: Sometimes called tawnies, this category of peachy-pinks lends itself well to natural looking makeup, since it mimics the natural flush most women have.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 12.23.45 PM

Pinks: The softer side of the makeup world, pinks can range from sheer to ultra-bright, but almost always make for a very feminine look.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 12.24.00 PM

Plums: Plums are unique in that they can run either warm or cool, depending on how the shade is formulated.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 12.24.50 PM

Berries: Almost always cool-toned, this collection of colors are usually deep, blue-based reds.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 12.24.12 PM

When trying to create a simple makeup look, the easiest technique is to choose products that are in the same color family. This will give your makeup a harmonious look that can range from natural to dramatic. Use this technique with care- consider muted, soft tones, rather than saturated hues to avoid looking clownish.

Alternatively, consider wearing colors that are analogous- next to each other on the color wheel. This helps you avoid the “match-matchy” feel. This is also a great method for working with a bright lipstick when you don’t want the blush to match.

The colors below are all analogous. Consider wearing any two colors next to each other to create your own makeup color scheme.

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Watch for the next article in this series, in which I’ll show you how this applies to real life makeup!

Note: All color schemes were generated from and color


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