Learn How To Combine Makeup Colors Like A Pro

The color wheel is a visual tool that helps us understand the principles of color theory. This applies to makeup, too. Learn how to combine makeup colors and can change your entire look.

Are you a makeup beginner? A makeup beginner has many questions related to makeup and how to use some products. What foundation can I use for oily skin? Do I have to use eye primer? What eyeliner is better and lasts longer? And, how do I learn all of this?

I was a beginner, too, and joined a Facebook group about makeup. I love Google and the internet. Every time I have a question about anything, I google it.

But, let’s get to the point. I’ll teach you how to combine colors when doing your makeup. How? Just by looking, reading, and interpreting a color wheel. The color wheel is a visual tool that helps us understand and apply the principles of color theory.

It applies to other areas as well. For example, when you want to decorate or design a house, create art or combine clothes and accessories; in other words, everything relates to color.

The application of the color wheel creates an emotion that ties us to the image, art or design. That is why, when you see certain artwork, you say that a piece of art looks harmonious.

Color wheel

color wheel

The original color wheel chart was created by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. He was interested in the nature of light and color. The chart was obtained from his experiments with sunlight and a prism, and the prism produced red, blue, yellow, green and cyan.

However, the color wheel that we know today, which contains 12 colors, was developed by German theorist Johannes Itten in the mid-1900s. He based the color wheel on the primary colors and was inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s hypothesis of the emotional value of colors.

I bet that you have heard that blue is associated with coolness and red with warmth. However, we give individual meaning to colors, too. For example, we say that if that people who like red must be intense, passionate and strong while those who like yellow are joyful, energetic and intellectual.

I’m a very colorful person and, in some way, my favorite colors describe my personality.

Color theory

The purest and most basic form of a color is its hue. We all know the three primary colors: blue, red and yellow. When you mix these three colors, you get the three secondary colors: orange, purple and green.

If you then mix a primary and a secondary color, you create of the six tertiary colors: red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange and red-orange. The mix continues.

There is an infinite number of colors that can be obtained from this sequence. In other words, hues are the basic colors that do not have black or white added to them.

Then you have tints, which are created by adding white to a hue while shades are created by adding black to a hue. Lastly, tones are created by adding gray to a hue.


Color harmony

Remember when I talked about harmony earlier? Well, it’s time to know how to achieve it. First, you have analogous colors; they are three colors found side-by-side on the color wheel.

They are colors that blend well together. For example, red, red orange and yellow orange. Then, you have complementary colors, which are two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.

When you combine them, they make each other pop. For example, red and green.

As you can see, you can create an infinite number of combinations with this color wheel. It’s impossible (and would be boring) to write them all here, so I’ll focus on three types of looks that you can create using the color wheel as a guide.



This look is the simplest and, for some, might be described as boring. To achieve it, just add a hue and different tones, shades and tints of that hue. It is the easiest way to match your makeup, but it is not my favorite.

For example, choose a red color, and then you have three options of that color to choose from like pink, wine, or pinky red. The first hue can be for your lipstick, then use varying tones and tints of that hue for your eyes and cheeks.

A great example of this look is makeup style of the 90s.



An analogous look is created by using two or more colors that are next to each other or side-by-side on the color wheel. Like I said before, they blend well together and this is the option followed by most people.

For example, use your lipstick or a neutral eyeshadow as your starting point, and then pick a hue that is next to it on the color wheel when you do your blush.



This look is my favorite. I’m a very colorful person, but combining colors is not my strength. If you use a triadic look, you are going to impact people. A triadic look involves three colors, but you probably guessed that.

To choose the colors, simply draw a triangle in the middle of the wheel, and use the colors that the three points of the triangle land on. Can you imagine the many variations that you can obtain from spinning the triangle around the wheel?

There are so many combinations like yellow, aqua and light purple.

You can use any color you want, but the color wheel is a great tool if you’re looking for a harmonious or special look or if you plan to do makeup for others or go for a more traditional look.

Remember that’s it’s also possible to use black and still be happy; the colors you wear don’t define you.

Finally, if you’re looking for a faster way to create monochrome, analogous or triadic combinations (among others), Adobe’s Kuler website is fantastic. It’s a great tool for inspiration and will help you to get started and how to combine makeup colors.

About the author

Dianne M.

Dianne is a DIY frugal minimalist autodidact gypsy girl. She studied Journalism even though she doesn’t like the University. Also hates routines and is not a morning person. Her true passion is dance. Maybe she was a spinning top in another life. And her best advice is never sell yourself short, never. A goal or dream? To be a digital nomad.

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