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Beauty tips: How to choose the right makeup colours for your skin tone

November 24th 2014 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru

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Are you more of a Cate, J.Lo, Jourdan or Lupita? We asked four top makeup artists for their tips when it comes to choosing the right colours for your skin tone

When it comes to makeup, what colours suit your skin tone best? No one size fits all, so we asked four of the beauty industry’s top makeup artists and Get The Gloss Experts for their words of wisdom for shopping smartly and giving your makeup bag the ultimate makeover when it comes to your eye makeup, lipstick and blusher shades of choice.

Whether you have pale skin, olive skin, medium deep or dark skin, we have all bases covered thanks to these pro makeup ideas for enhancing and complementing your particular colouring. From Cate Blanchett to Jennifer Lopez, Jourdan Dunn to Lupita Nyong’o, take inspiration from these red carpet beauties and clever makeup tips and tricks to ensure you never put a foot wrong again when it comes to navigating your way along the colour spectrum.

Colours for pale skin tones

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Celebrity inspiration: Cate Blanchett, Alexa Chung and Adele.

Makeup artist Michael Ashton shares his top tips with us...

Eyes

“When it comes to eye make up for those with fairer skin tones, it is all about creating definition without looking too overdone.

“The easiest and most effective way to do this is by creating a full and defined brow to frame the eye. One of my favourite techniques is to use a soft brow pencil like MAC Eye Brows in Lingering, £13.50 to give shape and then gently sweep powder eyeshadow over the top, before setting with a clear brow gel.

“Lash curlers combined with a blacker than black volumising mascara is the perfect combination for an eye that is chic and simple but gives just enough drama set against porcelain skin. Try Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, £20 teamed with lashings of Dior Diorshow Black Out Mascara, £24.50.

“Although false lashes have been big on the beauty scene for a while now, many women have still yet to work out how to wear them in a modern way. Instead of wearing a pair straight out of the box, you will often need to either trim the length or maybe double up in the outer corner for extra lash density and a bespoke polish.”

Blusher

“Women with fair porcelain skin tones are often blessed with the classic English Rose complexion which comes with its own natural flush to the cheeks, so the majority of the time I would either use a subtle highlighter on top of the cheekbones only or for a soft hint of colour use a large powder brush to sweep a soft coral blush such as Chanel Crème Blush in Intonation, £28 across the apples of the cheeks.”

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Lips

“To achieve the perfect pout, a little bit of product cocktailing is required.

“Start by filling the entire lip with a lip liner that is the same tone but just a shade darker than the natural lip colour. MyFace Cosmetics High Def Lip Pencil in Nude, £9.99 is my go-to for clients with fair skin. Follow by applying a quick slick of sheer lipstick which will also help to keep lips moisturised - Bobbi Brown do a brilliant colour called Rosy, £19.50 which is universally flattering. To finish, I always recommend adding just a hint of lip gloss to the middle of the lips for added dimension. Sisley White Diamond, £32.50 has just the right amount of shimmer and texture for the job.”

Top makeup tips and tricks: “Less is more when it comes to makeup. Experiment with different looks and products to work out which features are your best and really play on those, rather than going overboard with a ‘Full Face!’”

The best colours: “Neutral soft tones are an ideal colour palette for lighter skin tones. Beiges, oysters, taupes and soft shimmering golds work well to create a fresh and youthful look no matter what your age.”

The colours to avoid: “Unless you are wanting to make a statement at the office Christmas party, I would avoid bright colours and in particular blue eyeshadow! Instead try a red lip for an added pop of colour - either a matte opaque like the classic MAC Russian Red, £15.50 or a softer berry lip stain such as Estée Lauder Pure Color Gloss in Plum Divine, £18.50.”

MORE GLOSS: Contouring for pale skin and other dilemmas...

Colours for olive skin tones

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Celebrity inspiration: Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba and Beyoncé.

Makeup artist Daniel Sandler reveals his favourite makeup tips and tricks...

Eyes

“I love using both Tom Ford and Bourjois eyeshadows and for brows my go-to is Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, £15.50. I adore using metallic shades of bronze and gold on olive skins, which beautifully complement warmer skin tones." Try using the creamy and luxuriously textured Tom Ford Cream Colour For Eyes in Spice, £29 or Bourjois Little Round Pot Intense Eyeshadow in Brun Sienne, £6.99 for a more purse-friendly alternative.

Blusher

“Naturally olive skin tones can cheat their way to a year-round sun-kissed look, like Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Alba, and create a brighter, more radiant appearance. To do this, apply a radiant-finish liquid foundation all over the face and neck to help your complexion look fresh and alive.”

For an all-over glow, try Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturizing Treatment Foundation, £30.50 or YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat, £30.50 for a pump of instant radiance.

“Pop cream bronzer onto cheekbones, the bridge of nose, eyelids and along the hairline to create a sun-kissed finish,” says Daniel. “I use my Instant Tan, £22.50 - a one-size-fits-all shimmer-free bronzer.

“Contrast that by applying a delicate pale shimmer onto your eyelids, highest part of the cheekbones, down the length of the nose and inner eye corner. Only apply a setting, matte powder along the jawline, forehead and on your nose if you are prone to shine. For cheeks I always use my cult Watercolour Fluid Blushers. £15.50.” This rosy pink shade will look incredible.

“As a general rule, warmer skins look best with pink as it adds a freshness to the complexion that can often look a little sallow. Darker skins can use most pink, peach or bronze tones. Fluid or crème blush textures create an expensive look.”

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Lips

“Team the above with one of my latest nude lip colours, which are perfect for olive skintones. If you favour a lipstick finish try my Matte Lipstick in Audrey, £13.25 or for a high-octane gloss effect, try my Luxury Lip Gloss in Suede.”

Looking to make a statement? Channel your inner J-Lo and go for a bold summer orange such as MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger, £15.50. It makes for a more adventurous and fun alternative to a red lipstick.

Top makeup tips and tricks: “I advise all of my clients that choosing colours to complement a skin tone is not the only consideration. Someone with olive skin may be blonde, brunette or even black-haired. They may also have blue or green or brown eyes. So, I suggest women try makeup and photograph themselves. If they like what they see then job done. Sometimes it’s fun to tear up the rule book and makeup really allows women to do that!”

MORE GLOSS: 10 beauty products that you shouldn’t waste your money on

Colours for medium deep skin tones

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Celebrity inspiration: Jourdan Dunn and Halle Berry.

Makeup artist Caroline Barnes reveals the contents of her kit bag...

Eyes

“Think about choosing colours as if you are painting on a white canvas. If you use pale colours they’ll show up more however, if you have dark skin, you have to use colours that are full of pigment and that have an abundance of colour in them.

“I love the new Max Factor Excess Shimmer Eyeshadow in Bronze, £7.99 and also Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Bark, £20. Illamasqua do beautiful ones as do Make Up For Ever. MAC Pigment pots, £17 are great as they’re so strong. On skin, they keep their true colour. Others that are cheaper or have a higher percentage of talc can end up looking grey.

“My rule of thumb is to keep colours warm and avoid icy cold-toned finishes such as pastels and soft white shimmery colours like lilacs and pale greens which can look almost powdery and ashen on the skin. Go for rich colours.

“The more money you spend on products, the more colour payoff you’ll get on them. Those with dark skin are very fortunate as they can use a huge amount on the colour spectrum. Provided the colours aren’t cold-toned or have white shimmery finishes, you can choose any colour you like.”

Blusher

"Deep plums, burgundies, fuchsia pinks or primary colours like red all work really well. Otherwise, you end up not getting a strong enough colour payoff - just a wash of colour, but it depends on the look you want.

“NARS Blushes are fantastic and Illamasqua do a great range of cream blushers too.” Try plum and raisin shades such as NARS Blush in Seduction, £22.50 or Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Seduce, £21.50.

“Anything with gold in the base will suit a mid-tone skin colour such as something with coral or coffee tones - as long as there’s warmth in it, it’ll be complementary and not jarring against the skin. The whole trend in makeup at the moment is makeup that fits and connects well with the complexion - it enhances and doesn’t look like an extra layer.”

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Lips

“I use nude colours that I wouldn’t necessarily use on pale skin tones - ones that are more the colour of liquid chocolate instead. MAC do a great sheer brown lipstick called Touch, £15.50 which looking at seems deep, but on dark skin looks invisible.

NARS Lipstick in Jungle Red, £19.50 and MAC Russian Red, £15.50 work great on dark skin tones. They can have a play of everything as long as it’s not anything cold-toned or white-based. You could put those types of colours on the centre of the lip, but I would avoid doing so in order to make the look more contemporary.”

MORE GLOSS: How to shop for your undertones and find your perfect foundation

Colours for dark skin tones

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Celebrity inspiration: Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell and Alek Wek.

Makeup artist Ruby Hammer shares her colour match tip offs...

Eyes

“When it comes to eyeshadows, nothing beats dark rich tones whether they're blues, greens or purples. They can’t be wishy-washy pastels or chalky colours. Anything with a bit of intensity will look great.

“A girl’s best friends would be a black mascara or a black pencil to anchor the eyes with - anything soft and strong with intensity. Go for a black mascara - not greyish black and a rich pencil such as Urban decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, £15 or NARS Night Series Eyeliner in the purple Night Bird or khaki Night Porter, £19. For mascaras, go for anything that’s pitch black - Dior and Charlotte Tilbury do great ones and I also like Urban Decay Perversion, £17.

“There are some great eyeshadow palettes from Dior, Lancôme, NARS, MAC and YSL. As long as you pick one that has richness and great intensity, that will be great. Dark skins can carry off blues and greens like Lupita beautifully - she’s the best example of it.

“Naomi tends to stick to more Kim Kardashian-looking neutral colours but uses them to define. They aren’t garish-looking, rather she uses them to add intensity and they’re always well-blended.”

Blusher

“Alek always uses some sort of blush. Dark skin tones need a blusher that has enough richness and intensity. This is where reds or fuchsias come in - ones that would make anyone else look like an alcoholic will look amazing on these ladies. NARS do amazing colours in cream and powder formulations - just a wash of it will look really good. NARS Matte Multiple in Siam, £30 and Blush in Exhibit A, £22.50 are great as is Revlon Photo Ready Cream Blush in the orange Coral Reef, £7.99.”

MORE GLOSS: The top blushers for dark and olive skin tones

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Lips

“Lupita uses quite an array of different colours, Naomi goes for more neutral shades and Alek goes for more dark colours that verge on black or burgundies,” explains Ruby.

A nude lip: "Naomi wears lots of nude colours which have a tiny bit of a browny base so they’re not ashy and they have a little bit of a pearl in them too. I would recommend going for bronzes or something golden and warm as opposed to chalky. You can create your own neutral by mixing a lip pencil and lip balm together."

Pout prep: "Rich tones such as maroons, burgundies and vibrant colours also work well. What will let you down though is scuzzy lips, so condition them well,” Ruby recommends.

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