There are a lot of pretty eye shadow, blush and lipstick colors out there. But which ones best complement what skin tones? Lori Taylor, pro lead artist for Smashbox Cosmetics, spoke to eHow about the basics of identifying your skin tone and choosing the colors that best flatter you. Taylor has worked with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Los Angeles and the MTV Video Music Awards, and has given her expert tips on shows such as “How Do I Look?,” “Extra!” and “Good Day LA."
Eye shadow, blush and lipstick represent some basics of the makeup counter and part of the morning routine. But you don't to just apply any color and hope for the best, which begs the question: Which shades best complement different skin tones? Know the basics to understanding your skin tone and pick the colors that flatter you best.Getty Images/Brand X
Color is great and it may be what attracts attention, but it is not the only thing that sells. You must think about the tone. A red lipstick and be a show-stopper but be sure to find the red that is right for you. Think of one with a blue base tend for fair or light skin tones while darker skin tones can use a warmer red.Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Without getting too deep -- we are just discussing skin tones -- there are four basic categories. Those are fair, light, medium and dark. Sure, you can get nutty and further sub-divide any of those, but from there you should be able to find some guidelines for color matching.Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images
You want to think of offsetting your basic skin tone. A girl with a with fair skin tone might have a lot of pink or red in their skin. If she were to opt for a very bright pink color that would only magnify that tonality. A better choice would be to go with something warmer, like maybe a golden undertone for a nice complementary look.Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
Your eyes and hair cannot be overlooked. Fair skin can be topped with a variety of hair colors from red to dark so keeping that in mind while choosing makeup colors is important.Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
Gray and yellow are two color shades that get mistaken for neutral tones when the reality is each could make a big statement. Blond hair, fair skin and a bright yellow? Maybe not. But a yellow matched with a medium skin tone can be striking. When in doubt, play with your colors.Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
Before launching into a full-blown color, makeover, think of starting with one portion of your face like an eyeliner or the lips, Maybe if you have fair skin, you opt for some softer colors before blowing out something bold. Deeper skin tones can experiment with bolder colors. Also look at price and spring for the less expensive brand if you're on the fence.Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images
With summer and warm weather, take a few risks. Skin has some warmth to it which will play even in fair skin tones. Metallics, golds, coppers can all heat things up. Swap black liner and mascara for a bronze or gold shade. And don't shy away from a bronzer for the face or bolder lip colors.Paul Tearle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Rich, brown and coppery shades tend to complement those with lighter skin tones while the darker, more metallic ore colors flatter those with darker skin tones.Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Think orange or golden tones in warmer weather. Fair skin tones can use a natural, warm blush while darker-skin-toned girls rock colors that lean more burnt orange or coral.Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Very fair girls should avoid anything with too much red, especially around the eyes or around the cheeks. If your skin leans to light to medium, stay away from anything too neutral. You will need something with richness and luminosity for your skin. Darker skin-toned girls shouldn't look bruised. That means avoiding anything that’s too dark. Your color choices should enhance your natural skin tone.Getty Images
eHow: What are the myths about picking colors to match your skin tone?
Lori Taylor: It’s not so much about the color, but about the tone of the color. There is a red lipstick out there for every skin tone. For example, tones that have more of a blue base tend to work best with fair or light skin tones. As we move toward darker skin tones, we look for a warmer red. Reds that lean toward burgundy or Bordeaux look best on women with medium-dark to dark skin.
eHow: So there's a color tone out there for everyone?
LT: Definitely. I think we’re used to people saying, ‘Oh, you can't wear this,’ or ‘Oh, you can't wear that,’ but there are so many different tones now in shadow, cheek or lip, that there is the perfect pink and the perfect red [for anyone].
eHow: What are the main categories of skin tones?
LT: Skin tone is generally broken down into four categories: fair, light, medium and dark. From there you can go into sub-categories and sub-sub-categories. But to keep it simple, focus on the basic four.
eHow: Do hair or eye color also dictate what colors look best?
LT: Yes. Also keep in mind hair and eye color. For example, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara are both fair-skinned, but Nicole has red hair and Rooney has dark hair. This affects what colors look best on them. It’s something to keep in mind when choosing colors.
eHow: How can color help or hurt your natural complexion?
LT: For example, girls with fair skin tone tend to have a lot of pink or red in their skin. You have to pick something to offset that color. Let's say you have more pink in your skin tone -- then you want something warmer, with maybe a golden undertone versus a very bright pink, rather than choosing a tone that magnifies the redness and pink in the skin.
eHow: Are the rules of color and skin tone steadfast?
LT: There are no rules. Rather, there are suggestive things. Generally, if you are fairer, you use softer colors. On the flip side of that, I like to see someone who is very fair and blond go with a bolder lip. It's all about your attitude and how you feel best.
eHow: How are colors broken down?
LT: This is where there are so many options. One example is gray. Certain grays can be neutral, while others are considered a bold color. Same with yellow. Would a woman with fair skin and blond hair wear a bold marigold yellow? Probably not. She would pick something a little bit softer, with a champagne tone. Now, someone with medium skin tone could rock a very bright, bold yellow. However, don’t put too many parameters on it. If you over-categorize this, you almost lose the thing that makes makeup fun, which is playing with colors.
eHow: With so many options, how do you shop for makeup without spending a fortune on products that won’t look good on you?
LT: There are several things you can do. If you have fair skin, start with colors that are softer and build up to bold colors. Also, start with one area of your face. Perhaps it’s an eyeliner or maybe something for your lips. Women with deeper skin tones have more options to explore deeper, richer colors like rust, orangey gold or even true gold. Also, it’s fortunate that we have drugstores where you can get budget-friendly brands. Another option: Instead of trying a blue in a $35 eye shadow, start with a liner that is less expensive in the same tone.
eHow: What’s the best lighting for testing what looks best on your skin?
LT: I like getting as close as physically possible to natural lighting, even if you spend most of your time indoors or at the office. If you are used to putting on makeup in your bathroom, take a mirror to your living room and check yourself out in natural light.
eHow: What colors are best for spring and summer?
LT: Summer is a good time to experiment because skin has a warmth to it. Even women with fairer skin will have more warmth in their skin tone. This is a time to play with colors that you normally wouldn’t. Metallics are great. Gold, copper, ore…anything with a warmth resembling metal is really hot for the eyes. If you normally wear black liner and mascara, go for a light dusting of a bronze or gold shade this season. Summer is the perfect time for shimmer and bronzer for the face. Lipstick is making a big comeback. And now is the time to play with bolder lip color because your skin will have that warmth to it.
eHow: For this metallic trend, which colors best complement different skin tones?
LT: The more rich, brown, coppery shades are good for light-skinned girls. Darker, more metallic ore colors are good for darker skin tones.
eHow: We have seen a lot more options in terms of playing with color on cheeks. What looks best on different skin tones?
LT: My favorite color for spring and summer is always something that has more warmth. I love a color that has a slight more orangey or golden tone. For fair girls, you want a natural, more warm blush because their skin tends to have a red undertone. The warmth of the blush can actually counteract some of the redness in the skin. Darker-skin-toned girls will always look great in something that has a little more burnt orange or coral tone.
eHow: What about lips?
LT: I love more golden, soft and neutral tones for this time of year. I would pick a warm pink for fair women, not Barbie or bubble-gum pink, but something that has some warmth to it. Light to darker skin tones would look great with a more berry color.
eHow: In general, are there any colors to stay away from?
LT: For very fair girls, stay away from anything that has too much red in it, especially around the eyes or around the cheeks. If you have light to medium skin, stay away from anything too neutral. You want something that adds a pop, richness or luminosity to your skin. For darker skin tones, you don’t want anything to make you look bruised, so stay away from anything that’s too dark. In general, avoid shades that don't do anything to enhance your skin.