Primary Makeup Colors

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Our color section on this site involves 3 pages :

This page talks about shades, tints and tones of the primary colors.

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Basic RYB Color Wheel with Shade, Hue and Tint

Makeup colors explains the 3 models in use today - RYB, RGB and CMY-K.

Primary colors explains the real life versions of the primary colors ie actually dealing with the pigments.

Secondary makeup colors further explains the RYB model (used in makeup) all the way to the quinary blend.

Reading all 3 sections will make you understand where the varios models fit in to our daily lives as well as make you understand where and how to get yourself involved in color mixing.

Please remember that we always refer to the RYB color scheme, unless otherwise mentioned.

The educational color wheel

The following 4 pictures show you the stages whereby the 3 primary makeup colors are mixed and finally evolve into the 12 color hue (range of colors)

Primary Colors


Secondary Colors


Tertiary Colors


Basic RYB Color Wheel

RYB Color Hue

The RYB hue are the purest and brightest colors from which you will further add other colors to create an almost infinite amount of color schemes.

As the secondary makeup colors explains what happens when you further divide the color wheel, the next section explains how to get your shades, tints and tones.

Every single color can be altered in 3 ways by varying the quantities of black white or grey.


Shades are simply created by adding black. From your 12 main colors, add a little black and the color mixture becomes a shade.

Be careful not to add too much black. It has the potential to overpower your color completely.

RYB Color Wheel with Shades


Tints are created by adding white. With white, you can create a very pale color by adding more white or a very bare tinted pure hue by adding only a little white.

Tinted hues create a soft, smooth and youthful color scheme and is often one of the larger color ingredients in mineral foundation formulas.

RYB Color Wheel with Tints


Tones are the most interesting color alteration becuase it has the ability to add a complex depth and subtleness to the color wheel.

These effects are more pleasing to the eye becuase they adjust the intensity of the pigemnt.

This means that if you have a bright color that you like but it just looks a little too "loud", then add some grey to adjust its "value".

Almost every color that we see today has been toned down.

To create a tone, simply add grey or once you are more experienced, you can add different quantities of white and black.

So, to summarise, any color that this greyed down, then you can consider it to be a tone.

RYB Color Wheel with Tones

How do these colors work in makeup

The 2 videos below provide good "insider" industry tricks that makeup artists use to perfect their tones of the primary makeup colors for their clients.

For example, add a little blue for a cooler tone or add a little yellow for a warmer tone. 

This is a resourceful video showing how the RYB color wheel is used to create makeup colors as well as cool and warm tones. It also shows you how to use the wheel to select a blush and eye color for specific facial effects.

Take a few minutes to watch the videos.

This video has some great tips on how to identify your skin tone based on several techniques that you can do at home.

Identifying your correct tone will help you order on-line products, such as foundations, that correctly match your skin.

These days many makeup sites will offer samples. Once you have an idea of your skin tone, you can order 1 or 2 tones above and below your expected skin tone.

Sometimes a combination of 2 tones will be an exact match and also offers the flexibility of adjusting the color slightly for summer and winter.

Of course, don't be afraid to make your own powder cosmetics. All this information may feel a little overwhelming at first but take your time and go over all the articles a few times and then start to experiment. 

Use any cheap powder pigments that you can find to "learn the ropes". You will be amazed how quickly you will figure it all out once you start trying.

The effects of makeup colors on your skin

Use the following image as a guide to select the right color for the effect that you are looking for.

Makeup Color Skin Effects

Summary of the primary makeup colors all in one box

RYB Shades

Shades (add black)

RYB Tints

Tints (add white)

RYB Tones

Tones (add grey)

Enjoy and happy color mixing. The worst thing you can do is make a little mess ... there are worse things in life.

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