Technique: coordinating lips, cheeks, and eyes

So, sometimes this happens intuitively—you just finish those sultry, smoky eyes, and say “this NEEDS contoured cheeks and nude lips”.  Other times, you  just stare at that funny aqua, and say “what on EARTH would match this without looking garish?”  The general rule is ONE dramatic feature, and keeping the others minimal,but in reality, there’s MUCH more to a well executed look than that.

Now, we all have different styles and ways of approaching things.  I had  a LOT of art and performing arts background, so I tend to analyze and match things far more than many makeup users.

First things first, take a good look at what you want.  If you REALLY want to use a certain lip color, think of it BEFORE you do the eyes in a completely different one.  If you don’t know your undertones, now’s a good time to figure it out.  If gold jewelry looks best on you, as do earthy colors, and the veins in the inside of your wrist appear green, you have yellow, or warm undertones.  If you wear silver jewelry best, pinks and frosty or pastel colors, and those veins appear blue, odds are you’re pink, or cool undertoned. If you’re still confused, another easy test is holding fabric up to yourself, with your hair back, and seeing which colors make you look alive.  White, cream, silver, and gold, are best for contrasting/complementing the skin for this test.   I’ve also heard that you can tell by eye and hair color too-that cool tones tend to have dark hair, blue eyes, and that warm tones tend to have blond or reddish hair, and green/hazel/brown eyes.  How much of an indication it is, I’m not really sure.  I’m dead center neutral, with blue wrist veins, cool auburn/strawberry blond hair, blue/green eyes with hings of hazel and gray.  So I’m REALLY not a good example to say if that works.  I’d just stick with the other methods of figuring it out. It’s much more reliable looking at your closet, or holding up fabric swatches.

Now, back to our makeup application.

If you’ve already done the eyes, think about them.  Are they REALLY dark and dramatic?  What are the undertones, and do they contrast with your skin’s undertones?  If you have strong yellow undertones, and do a cool, gray look, you may want to pair it with warmer cheek and lip colors, so it blends better with your skin.  Similarly, if you have pink skin, and do a warm antique gold smoky eye, you may want to avoid additional brown or gold colors on the lips and cheeks.  A pink-coral blush would set off the gold, and complement the pink in your skin a bit more.

If your eyes are very dark, you don’t have to go completely nude on the skin, but you SHOULD keep it fairly simple.   For nude eyes, you can wear almost any lip color or blush.  Similarly, nude lips match almost any eye style, so long as the undertones match.  Gold/brown eyes will look odd with a frosty pink lipstick, for that reason.

Red lips can be difficult to match.  You don’t want the cheeks to be bright enough to detract from the lips, but you DO want there to be some contour and flush.  I like MAC Mineralize Blush in Gleeful for red lips, but you can use almost any brick red, or plum.  Apply it sheerly, and make sure it’s blended.

Find a few shades of blush you REALLY like.  I don’t think you need a HUGE selection of blushes,  but a few tones will serve you well for different looks.  Try to pick out a nude pink, a nude coral, and neutral rose, at minimum. You may also want a deeper brick and plum color for matching stronger lips, or a browner color for bronzing/contours/warmer skin tones.  If all else fails, you can always apply your lipstick as a cream blush—if you do this, I find it works best to apply some of the lip color on the  back of your hand, and rub your brush in THAT to pick up and disburse the color.  Apply to the cheeks, and, if needed, do additional layers to build up the intensity.  Set with a translucent powder, and you should be good to go!

Probably the most logical way to practice developing an eye for coordinating elements of your look, is to practice.  Look at photos, and notice what the artist did, even in non makeup media.  When you’re picking out products, practice analyzing which undertones they match.

I’ve taken pictures of some of my looks, before, and after, adding the lips and cheeks(Not that you notice, on me. I blend my blushes down a lot, so it’s not very visible in photos).

Example 1

This one is from a previous tutorial, Rhapsody in Blue.

Please excuse the funny face.  If we examine the eyes,  we’ll note they’re pretty dark, very cool, but the aqua in the inner corner has some gold to it, and is a little warmer.  So, we probably want fairly subtle lips and cheeks.  Maybe with a bit of rose to them, since my skin is pretty neutral, but the blues bring out the pinks in my face.

Add a dusky  mauve cheek and lipcolor, and a faint mauve shimmer.  Doesn’t that look better?

Example 2

OK!  Next example.  Another dramatic eye(Hey, this IS me!!!)  I don’t think my shot really got the orange in the eye, so here’s a closeup too.

So, the eye is mostly cool, except for the pop of orange….. which is DEFINITELY a warm element.  Seems like the orange is the element that lips and cheeks are most likely to clash with if we do this wrong.  My response was to match the coral, with a soft peach blush, and layer a bright coral lipstick with a nude, milky gloss.

Example 3

And now, for something slightly different. A bronzey nude!  It’s smoky and dramatic, but still in fairly neutral tones.

Ideally, you could make a lot of different things work with this-nude lips in either undertone, classic red lips(if you wanted to be REALLY dramatic), natural rosy lips, or dark plum or bronze lips, for fall.  Looks like this are fun for choosing lips—but cheeks can be tricky.  If you pick a cool, bubblegum pink, it’ll detract from the eyes.  Same with a true coral!  Stick to neutral colors,  that match the undertones in your lipstick.  Since I wanted to do dark bronze lips, I chose a warm berry blush, and applied it LIGHTLY, so as not to overwhelm the elements.  Otherwise, this would be a nice occasion for your neutral rose blush.

Example 4

Now, for a muted cranberry eye. It’s a bit smoky, not really neutral, but not incredibly bright.  The tones are slightly warm, but not extremely so.

This one might be a little bit of a dilemma.  It’s a generally held truth that you should focus on ONE feature, and tone the others down, to avoid being overwhelming.  I don’t usually like that on my face, and a lot of the most beautiful makeup art I’ve seen is on people who ignore that rule.  I’ll leave it for you to decide whether or not you like it.  I chose to use a warm pink blush, and a berry lip color.  It’s not as bright as I could have done, but it’s not a particularly quiet color either. If it’s too much for your taste, it’s easy enough to use a paler gloss, or to use a berry stain with a clear gloss, for a lighter effect.

Example 5

Next, we’ll look at a slightly-cool eggplant smoky eye.

On my skin tone, or tones with more pink in them, you’ll have a bit more leeway in choosing lip color. For the sake of argument, I’ll pretend my skin has more yellow in it, and this look on its own is slightly too cool to blend well on me.  How do we compensate for that?  By avoiding further cool tones, and choosing a neutral lip color with some slight warm tones.  I chose something with a bit of color, but I didn’t wear an especially bright shade, since the eyes are definitely fairly eye catching on their own.  I think that this bubblegum pink with a hint of coral does the trick nicely.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. spidergirl
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 11:28:42

    Great post, I actually learnt quite a lot from it!

    Reply

    • dolcearia
      Nov 09, 2011 @ 09:09:45

      I’m glad! The aesthetics of matching looks, and even being able to work against your natural undertone has always fascinated me. If there’s an unflattering color, I want to know what to pair with it to make it look GREAT!

      Reply

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