Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts on Choosing Colors

As I applied my face from my jars this morning, I thought about makeup colors, and how we choose which ones to wear. I think a lot of us probably, at one point, read about or were told about being "cool" or "warm" or that they were a "spring" or "winter" or whatever. And at that point, we probably chose some colors and have stuck with them, varying a little within whatever color "family" we were defined as belonging to depending on whether it was day or night.

For many of us, we do that because it works pretty well, especially for eye colors. Even that redheaded vixen waving at you from the hot tub (that would be me) originally went with browns, golds, olive greens, and peaches most of the time, because the warm red hair and green eyes "dictated" it. (Foundation was another story - it has literally taken me twenty years to find the right color with that!) As for colors like blues, bright greens, pinks and purples -- I saw so many beautiful ones, but I was positive I could not wear them. I'd pick them up lovingly, watching them sparkle...and then put them back on the shelf with a sigh and head over to the browns yet again.

Then something happened when I hit my mid 30s - or, I guess I should say, a NUMBER of things happened when I hit my mid-30s. First of all, all those words I'd read over the years sort of congealed in my mind, and I finally paid attention to the concepts of color theory. Second, the self consciousness the developed in my teens and took most of my 20s to lessen finally went away, and I found that my I-do-what-I-want attitude now extended to my apppearance. I began testing things out - color theory suggested that purples and plums would make green eyes pop, so I began experimenting. And it's true! With the right plums on, my eyes are so green that putting in a green-colored contact lens makes no apparent difference! And the right plums do NOT clash with my hair, as I'd thought before.

And finally, I discovered Aromaleigh Cosmetics and its owner, Miss K - the sassy attitude and incredible colors this company has are just irresistible, especially since generous samples of just about everything Miss K makes can be purchased for around $1-$2. Aromaleigh's Rocks! Sonic Collections are so amazing, so bright, so... COOL that I had to buy samples of a few (okay, of a lot). And these days, you'll find me with chartreuse, or sky blue, or shimmering fuschia lids in addition to my more neutral palettes. By sampling things, I found a lot of colors that work for me... yes, there have been a few that really didn't work at all, but most have. With some good brushes for blending, a lot of colors can work, especially when paired with other colors.

The thing is, you can break the makeup rules. You don't have to stay in your "warm" or "cool" shades. You'd be surprised how often I find that a "cool" shade works for me. For example, today I wore some browns, but not the warm golden sort I exclusively owned before - these are browns with a cold grey undertone, like moon rocks or tree bark. The contrast between the cool grey undertones in these browns and my warmer coloring makes my eyes just pop.

My point is - if you love a color, wear it! Experiment and find a version of it that works for you - I'd say about 95% of the time you will find one. Don't be afraid to break the mold. Makeup is supposed to be fun, not this horrible drag chore you have to do every day. Makeup is art, and art is freedom. You can paint your self portrait, each and every day. Some days you can paint a demure girl or a very professional woman, but other days, let yourself paint that wild rockstar that is screaming to get out.

You'll thank yourself.

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