Monday, November 11, 2013

Blue Veins? Cool or Warm Toned Skin? Why Makeup Color Theory is Bunk

Since the days of Color Me Beautiful of the 1970s, women have tried to figure out if we're cool or warm toned in order to choose the correct colors for our natural coloring to look our best. So the theory goes, and the color chart we're told we should follow looks something like this (found at every makeup retailer):

Cool (pink, red or bluish undertones)
Warm (yellow, peachy, golden undertones)
Neutral (a mix of warm and cool undertones)
(From Stylecaster)

We take such info for granted as being true, but did anyone else know that pink and red are warm colors (pink is light red), and only blue is cool?

According to makeup color theory, the definitive way to tell the difference between cool and warm comes down to the color of our veins as seen through our skin: green or blue. Since most people aren't pale enough to be considered "blue-blooded," this system lets the fairest people in the world feel dissimilar from the rest of the world consisting of a great, great, great many colored folks. Furthermore, even green-veined light gals can take psychological refuge in knowing that they are at least less pigmented with unwanted colors (mainly yellow which turns blue veins green) than certain other folks who are so far away from being fair, they really aren't blue-blooded at all.

Except all the green-veined gals are lumped together as being warm. Well, has anyone else noticed that green is a cool color, closer to blue than pink or red? In fact blue and yellow are its parents.

If both blue and green are cool colors, what's the difference between skin tone that appears either blue or green-veined? Blue is cooler in relation to green. Likewise, pink is cooler than orange, making pink a cool color in relation to having yellow in it. Red is warm unless you subtract yellow and get a purple red, or pink, a color that only cool-toned gals can wear! The absence of yellow makes a color cool. The whole theory in a nutshell is just that.

What sets one apart from the other as being able to wear certain colors (generally the bright and pretty ones)? The zero mark on the makeup color wheel appears to be set where green breaks from blue-toned green to yellow-toned green. That's why green can fall into both cool and warm spectrums on a modified color chart like this one:

Actually, red marks the spot where the reason lies. Notice how the chart breaks it down between cool or warm toned red. That means the chart is based on yellow as the marker between colors fit for blue-bloods and non. It's not enough to dissuade certain gals from wearing pink, but it's a start. (Edited to add) Notice too all those brown shades where orange should be. Brown can't be made by mixing red and yellow, you know, but that's one way to fill up the warm color chart, since all the other colors are taken.

You see, the makeup color theory is based on comparisons to other people and their skin color, not a true color theory used by scientists. The interesting thing about color temperature theory is that the cooler color is a hotter temperature, evident in the color of a blue flame. You'll also see the color spectrum is not a neatly structured manmade wheel, a system designed to make color biases simpler to visualize and explain.

"Color temperatures over 5,000 K are called cool colors (bluish white), while lower color temperatures (2,700–3,000 K) are called warm colors (yellowish white through red). [1] This relation, however, is a psychological one in contrast to the physical relation implied by Wien's displacement law, according to which the spectral peak is shifted towards shorter wavelengths (resulting in a more blueish white) for higher temperatures." From Wikipedia: Color temperature