When it comes to choosing makeup, far too many women operate on autopilot, sticking to the exact same products year after year. Even ladies who may be tempted to try something new often find themselves overwhelmed by the virtually unlimited array of colors and products found in the average makeup aisle. While it may seem easier to stick with familiar tones to avoid a makeup disaster, you could be missing out on that perfect shade of lipstick to brighten up your smile or an eye shadow that will make your peepers pop. If you're looking to break out of a makeup rut, try these five simple tips that will help you expertly coordinate colors and make your makeup work for you.
Work With Your Skin Tone
Before you break out the makeup brushes, take a close look at your face to identify your natural skin tone. This means looking beyond the color of your flesh to explore the hidden hues you might not spot at first glance. To determine whether your natural coloring is warm or cool, put on a white or neutral-colored shirt and stand in front of the mirror. Those with warm skin will spot undertones of gold, green, yellow or chocolate brown upon close examination, while cool-toned people will find undertones of pink or blue.
Choosing makeup shades in the same family as your natural coloring gives your skin a healthy glow, and helps to draw out the subtle highlights in your hair. Working against your natural skin tones, on the other hand, can leave your flesh looking sallow and washed out. Women with warm skin should look for makeup in warm shades like gold, red, orange, yellow or brown. Those with cool skin should stick to tones like blue, gray, silver, pink or purple.
Learn Your Way Around a Color Wheel
Unless you went to art school, you've probably never come into contact with a color wheel, but this simple device can make a big difference in your makeup-matching skills. Colors located directly opposite each other bring out the best in one another, while adjacent hues tend to clash. For example, blue and orange are situated across from each other on the wheel -- so blue-eyed girls can highlight their peepers using eye shadow in shades of orange and copper. Of course, this doesn't mean ladies with baby blues should head out and pick up a pot of bright orange shadow. Instead, look for blue or brown shadows with orange flecks or orange undertones for a more neutral way to make your eyes pop.
Complement Your Outfit, But Don't Match It
Just because you can find a lipstick that's the same color as your dress doesn't mean you should actually apply it. While it's perfectly fine to match your lipstick to your outfit when you're wearing a traditional shade of red or pink, it's generally a bad idea to match lips to dresses in bright jewel tones or darker hues.
Coordinating your makeup to your outfit doesn't mean wearing the same color from head to toe. Instead, look for makeup tones that complement your clothing, rather than matching it exactly. Pairing a deep purple dress with dark plum lips will only draw attention away from your clothes. Instead, choose clear lip gloss with a slight violet tint to pull your look together while keeping the focus on your dress. You can also look for makeup colors that naturally complement your clothing, such as a rich green eye shadow paired with a red top or a gorgeous pink lipstick worn with a seafoam gown.
Pair Bold Shades With Neutrals
From turquoise eyeliner to bright fuchsia lipstick, it seems like every season brings a new must-try makeup trend. The secret to pulling off these bold shades in the real world lies in wearing only one eye-catching color at a time. Choose one feature to show off, then stick to neutral, subtle shades for the rest of your face. Go ahead and apply that daring chartreuse eye shadow, but be sure to pair it with a more subdued pink or clear lip gloss. Dying to try that hot new tangerine lipstick? Balance out your look with neutral or pale pastel eye shadow. From seductive smoky eyes to classic red lips, be sure keep this one rule in mind: The more you play up one facial feature, the more you should play down others to avoid a potential makeup meltdown.
Stick to a Single Color Family
Does trying to coordinate your makeup every morning leave you feeling overwhelmed? Keep things simple by choosing all of your makeup from the same color family. Of course, that doesn't mean using the exact same shade on lips, eyes and cheeks. Instead, choose variations of the same shade to highlight different features.
Play up blue eyes with a rich copper eye shadow, then add peach blush and orange-red lips. Brown-eyed girls can start with violet eye shadow, brush purple-pink blush onto the cheeks, then choose a sheer lip gloss with just a hint of plum or purple to finish off the look. Make green eyes pop with garnet eye shadow, then add rosy blush and a neutral red-brown lipstick. If you're not used to wearing much makeup and want to take things slow, you can't go wrong choosing neutral shades in the pink and brown color families.
When was the last time you cleaned out your cosmetics? HowStuffWorks talked to an LA-based makeup artist for advice on how often we need to toss it.
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