The Colour Wheel – How to use it for maximum makeup application!

The colour wheel – the dreaded term you hear floating around online and in the beauty columns of all the magazines, but have absolutely no idea what it means! Well no need to worry, it doesn’t make you any less of a makeup enthusiast if you have no idea what the colour wheel is all about!

I am here to explain how it works and how to use it to maximise your makeup application, so that you are nailing it all day every day! Once you understand how it works, it will transform how you look at doing your makeup and will definitely make your life 10x easier.

What is the colour wheel?

The colour wheel is a diagram that will change the way you approach your makeup routine. It shows the relationship between colours, and is a handy instrument to help you pick which shades will work best with your skin’s undertone, on your face, eyes and lips.

What on earth is an undertone?

Your skin’s undertone is the colour underneath the surface. You can have the same skin colour as someone else, but have completely different undertones, and I’ve got just the way to figure this out.

First things first, understanding what undertone you are.

This is the basis of how you should pick the colours you apply to your face, whether it be through foundation, eyeshadow, lipstick, or any product of makeup that has a colour. The easiest way to check what undertone you are, is the wrist check.

The wrist check

Simply flip your arm over and look at the underside of your wrist. If the veins you see are green, you have warm undertones, or if they are blue, you have a cool undertone. If you can’t decipher as you see both colours, you have neutral undertones. Easy!

The colours associated with each undertone are also pretty easy to work out.

For example:

  • Warm undertones are associated with reds and oranges– any colour really when you think of the sun or heat.
  • Cool undertones are associated with greens and blues – colours that you might think of when you think of the sea or ‘cool’.
  • Yellows and purples fall under the undertones that can actually go either way. You can have a red-purple or orange-yellow that fall under the category “warm’ or a green yellow or blue purple that’s ‘cool’.

Ok, but how do I work out what colours go with each other?

The second step to understanding the colour wheel and being able to use it appropriately, is knowing which colours compliment each other.

It’s simple! Pick any colour on the diagram, find the opposite colour on the opposite side of the wheel, and these are the two colours that compliment each other. Using red as an example, on the colour wheel green is opposite to this, therefore, this is its complementary colour! Why do you need to know this? All will be revealed!

When it comes to makeup, there are 3 main categories that the colour wheel helps us out the most. That is; concealing, picking your foundation, and choosing which colours to really make your eyes pop!


Concealer can be a real lifesaver. Many a time I have woken up late, given myself zero time to get ready, so I just chuck on some concealer and I look alive again! However, sometimes using concealer alone doesn’t always do the trick.

Have you ever looked at yourself after a heavy night out and thought “there is no way I will be able to cover up these dark under eye circles!”. You’ve layered up on copious amounts of concealer, but for some reason nothing is really working!? Well now that is nothing to worry about. I have the perfect tips and tricks to make sure you never struggle with this problem again. It’s called colour correcting, and it all links back to the colour wheel.

Earlier, I mentioned complimentary colours being opposites. Well this is exactly how we are going to tackle those under eye circles, those pesky spots that won’t leave us alone, and any other inconsistencies’ you find on that beautiful face of yours. All you have to do is determine the colour of that on your face, find the opposite colour in the wheel, and away we go.

So, for example if you have any spots or redness on your face, you need to find a green concealer. Mix that in with your normal concealer and apply a small amount to the area, but make sure it doesn’t go too green. Then apply your foundation over the top of it, and that redness is at bay!

The same goes with dark under eye circles. If you have blue toned darkness, the opposite to blue is orange, so mix a peachy-orangey concealer with your normal concealer. Then once again, apply a small amount of foundation over the top and you can say goodbye to those dark under eye circles!

Choosing a foundation for your skin tone

Most foundations have different undertones, in order to compliment the undertones in your skin. I spoke earlier about the vein test, but there is another way of determining your undertone, and you’ve probably done this already and not even realised. You’ll be surprised to know that jewellery is yet another way to discover your undertone!

If you find you tend to suit gold jewellery more, then you are ‘warm’. If you tend to lean for silver more regularly, you are ‘cool’. If you wear both? Well aren’t you lucky, you’re neutral!

Once you’ve determined what undertone you are, to really get the most out of your foundation, it’s a good idea to read the description of your foundation, as more often than not they will tell you what tones they have in them.

If you are a warm undertone you will want to lean away from foundations with pink undertones, as that obviously won’t balance your skin tone. On the other hand, if you are a cool undertone you will want to lean towards pink undertones, to counteract the cool green/blue hues of your skin. Most brands usually lean for more yellow tones for ‘warm’ undertones, and pink tones for ‘cool’ undertones.

With all this new information, you now have a better idea of what foundation to pick to balance your skin out, and how to get the most natural and perfect match! You’re welcome!

Making those eyes POP

The easiest way to make your eyes stand out, is to use colours that compliment them. But how do we know which ones complement your eye colour? The colour wheel of course!

When working out what colours are best to use on your eyes, approach the same way you would for concealing. You want to use opposite colours again for best results. If you have blue eyes, earthy tones, browns and coppers are your best bet to get that wow factor. Pinks can also look beautiful on lighter blue eyes, as they can really make them sparkle.

If you have green or hazel eyes, your go to colour to really make a statement will be purples or rosy tones. If you have brown eyes you are in luck, as pretty much anything will complement them, as brown is a neutral colour. But, if you really want your eyes to be the focal point and you’re feeling experimental, try blues, purples and golds!

Final thoughts

Overall, understanding the basis of the colour theory is the best way to work out what colours will look best on you. I hope this has shed some light on the colour wheel theory, and has given you some inspiration and knowledge for your makeup application! Got a question? Comment below, I’ll be happy to help!