How do you come up with color combinations to wear?

Lucky for me, it’s usually dictated by what I need to test next! This can sometimes just be using shades from a single palette or just knowing I have these five eyeshadows from this bran and finding a way to apply them together.

— Christine
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

Compare Any Two Swatches

Curious how two shades compare to each other? Type in the shades below to get instant side-by-side swatches!

We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

52 Comments

Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.

Lately I have been using the rows or colors in palettes for color combinations. I also have my trusty face charts if I just want something I can do in 10 minutes. Sometimes colors I choose will be from something I saw on YouTube, and if I’m feeling really adventurous I use some color wheel programs I found on reddit!

A few different factors help me out!
1.) Without being too matchy-matchy, my outfit for that day. I always strive for a harmony of colors between the two.
2.) Nature provides MANY perfect color combo inspirations!
3.) An art background definitely helps me out big time, ie; color wheel. And an artist-like eccentricity comes in handy for the more “out there” combos I sometimes put together!

I usually go with what I feel like wearing that day, which is usually whatever I feel is most flattering on my skintone at that particular point in time, depending on the season. I usually go warm lips, warm cheeks, warm eyes, or a mix of cool and neutral (if I’m fairer, ie in winter). Eye colour combinations, though, I’ve traditionally found quite difficult. I’ve gotten better (more confident) in recent years, but even now I often draw a mental blank when trying to envision eyeshadow combinations. I can be quite limiting in my looks because of it!

I have a MAC palette with all the eyeshadows I need to create any look. I take a long hard look at the colors and see what combinations stand out to me. I try that look on and pull in another color if I need to. I pick what I like. All my colors are neutral or warm so the colors can all be mix and matched. Go figure…I choose my colors the night before. I pick an outfit to go with my eye look.

I have a good idea of what will work for me in terms of types of shadows and their placement so that makes it far easier. So I think knowing your eye shape and what flatters that shape is the key. Still, sometimes I end up with something less than ideal (too flat, too muddy). I know if I have done my job right (blended my shadows properly) I can rescue most looks gone bad by layering something else on top. That being said, I’m mostly into neutrals and not super dramatic or brights so there isn’t as much at stake in the risk department.

I don’t really follow any trends. My combinations are always built around what I’m wearing (it’s fun coming up with entire looks in the AM). I find matching a lip colour bang-on with an accessory or using the colour wheel and contrasting the opposite lip colour with a dress/shirt really works well (example: wearing my light green dress really brings out MAC Rebel or NARS Afghan Red).

Like all great discoveries, trial and error. 🙂 I’ll get tired of an eyeshadow combo, something else I own pops in my mind, and try the pairing. There are fails, believe me.

I’m not sure I ever wear a lipstick unpaired anymore. I’m like addicted to combining colors, whether it be two lippies or a gloss shade over. A really pretty combo I’ve found for summer are actually two Revlons — A Wine with Everything (525) topped with Coralberry (674). What a nice corally, fresh shade that suits me.

Interesting lipstick combos. Would never think of mixing Revlon Coralberry with Wine With Everything. I might try that:) Boy I love that Coralberry though!

I start by looking at my closet or thinking about new makeup I have and realizing what colors will make me feel happy that day. Sometimes that’s constrained because I have to wear a certain thing to a particular place or event, or because it’s almost laundry day, but constraints can inspire creativity.

Once I know what’s going to make me feel happy that day, I need to figure out a way to make things work together, or, if it’s one particular color I want to wear, what other colors/neutrals will complement it. If I have enough time to come up with a new combination, I carry pieces of clothing and accessories over to the window and hold them up next to each other while looking it a mirror, and/or swatch various types of makeup on my wrist/forearm to see how they work together.

I do keep concepts like the color wheel in mind, thinking of monochromatic, analogous, complementary color schemes; and I usually pair cool colors with cool, or warm with warm, but sometimes add a deliberate pop of, say, one warm color to a cool color scheme. But I rely on my eye more than on thought-out color ideas.

I’ll stick with conventional colors (no grey or blue lipstick, for example) for job interviews, funerals, and similar events, but otherwise don’t subscribe to make-up ‘rules’ unless there is an actual dress code; bright lip colors make me look alive and vibrant, whereas most ‘work-appropriate’ shades make me look tired and sick — so I stick with what makes me look good rather than wearing what some book or magazine article says is the thing to do.

Maybe it’s a sickness, maybe it’s a disease, but I frequently go through and swatch various parts of my collection. Sometimes I’ll pull out a few eyeshadow palettes I haven’t worn much in order to spark renewed interest, sometimes I’ll go through and swatch every blush, and I’ve been caught with lipstick swatches running halfway up my arm more than once. =)

Basically, I make a lot of mental notes regarding colors and textures so I can imagine how various products will work together and quickly grab everything I need to create the look I’m going for.

I do it with nail polishes, too, but I only go through and swatch all of them once a year. Sometimes I’ll buy a new polish and it’s not quite what I’d hoped it would be, but I can mix it with an older polish and create a new, unique, wearable color.

Lol we have to be related. I just spent the better half of my day. Swatching eye shadows and trying out various combinations. It feels good to discover a new color in a palette. I love my nude shades too

At times, my insomnia has been so persistent it’s a wonder I haven’t hit pan on a few shadows just from swatching alone! And I have done a full face of complex makeup at midnight or later… 😀

I can relate! I currently have eight blush shades running up the inside of my left arm (actually, I forgot about them until I read your post.) One of my favorite things is to play with my makeup and I often come up with ideas when I see things swatched.
FYI; Madly, Nude Pop, Exposed, Tonga, Jersey, Sex On Fire and Pink Buttercream. 😉

I definitely come up with new ideas when I reswatch my makeup. I’m constantly adding new pieces so swatching the new with the old helps me see how they’ll work together. It’s great when a new product works best with something I’ve had for a while. 🙂

My eyes are usually my focus, so I almost always start there. I keep my mattes stored separately from every other finish, and I start by picking a color that’s non-matte; sometimes I choose by color, just as often by the name (I mostly buy from indies and they tend to have more unusual names, so I’ll go by my mood “Cry Innocent,” “Pupils Dilated,” “Homemade Death,” “Quiet in the Dark,”etc.). I swatch a bit on the back of my hand, then I look at my mattes to see what I think will complement my initial choice, swatch those. Look at my eyeliners, swatch those. If I’m feeling very dramatic, after I choose my non-matte, I’ll swatch it over colorful bases (paint pots or cream eyeshadows) to “nudge” — or completely alter — the overall tone.

For blush I usually layer (or ombre) two colors, and those are dependent on what I think works best with the eye look, or what averages the eye look with my skin tone (if that makes sense).

If my eye look is very strong, I’ll often go with bare lips (with balm). If I haven’t completely overdone my eyes, I’ll go with something that coordinates with my eyes, or is neutral relative to both my skin tone and eye look. On the occasions that I choose a lip color first (which I only do if the color is dominant in some way — e.g. bold, vibrant, daring (red, deep purple, gray), then I go with a neutral eye look, but I’ll nudge the overall spectrum depending on the lip color. What I mean by that is, my standard neutral eye look involves mustards and yellow browns because they work very well with my skin tone and eye color, but if I’m wearing grey on my lips, mustard eyes make me look dead, so I’ll go with something with more skintone pinks and peaches in it so I don’t look so bloodless.

It’s a lot more complicated to type out than to actually do. I really enjoy this approach because it keeps me interested, keeps me thinking.

My approach to eyeshadow is the same except for picking something by name. Have you ever rushed out the door with waterproof eyeliner still on the back of your hand? Because I do that 7/10 times I do my makeup. :-/ Thank goodness I mostly use neutral liners!

I’m quite boring, I guess. I always wear cool colors — some combination of champagne, pink, berry, plum, purple, grey, and black. No yellows, oranges, greens, blues or browns. Ho hum.

If it’s any consolation, you’re more exciting than my oldest daughter. She wears the same three colors every day and has done so for at least the past five years.

As soon as I read the color wheel comments, I got online to research the color wheel. Then I ran downstairs to check my Kat Von D Mi Vida Loca Remix palette, and sure enough, it is a color wheel! This is going to help me so much, especially with picking beautiful complementary lipstick and blush shades for my eye looks (eye looks rule my make up plan on any given day). I generally don’t like neutrals so I can get into deep/bright color conundrums pretty quickly, especially now in the middle of summer, when I turn my focus to my brightest palettes, such as Mi Vida Loca Remix, Viseart’s Boheme, and Urban Decay’s Electric Palette. This is also going to help me with choosing my blouses in the morning, as I am often wondering what blouse will work with a specific eye look I’ve created. Thank you, ladies!

This is going to sound needlessly complicated and I only do this for special occasions, but I have 2 apps on my phone that I use for color matching. If there’s a particular color I want/need to wear, then I find the HTML color code, plug it into the Coolors app and go through a bunch of palettes built off that color until I find one that I like. I’m doing my sister’s makeup for her wedding next weekend and her colors are mint gold and green, so I used the app to try and figure out the best blush/lip combo for those colors.

If I have an eyeshadow or lipstick or something that I can’t find the exact right HTML code for, I use the Sip Color app to capture the color and get the code, then take it back to the Coolors app for a palette.

Hmmm, I always choose my lipstick first so depending on my lipstick color, my eyeshadow colors are then chosen unless I do a specific eye that doesn’t match with the lipstick then I change the lipstick but thats rare.

What I wear depends on a few key factors. The season, my clothes, the occasion, and often my mood will combine to determine what makeup I will wear. I have a few color combinations in my head that I stick to, but sometimes I will change up one or two just to get a bit of variety.

For me, it all depends on my mood. I don’t usually match my outfit (except on rare occasions). I like to experiment. Sometimes things just click in terms of the color combos and textures, and sometimes it’s just meh. I’ve never hated a look I have done enough to wash it off and start over, but there have been some I won’t use again. There are definitely color combos that I am drawn to but overall, I just let my creativity flow! LOL! Having knowledge of the color wheel definitely helps, but I don’t let that limit me either.

The basics is a matte highlight color for the brownbone, a shimmer highlight for the innercorner, a matte transition color, a light or medium tone color for the lid and a darker color for the outer V. The color combinarion for that depends of my mood haha

Makeup combo is usually dictated by what I’m wearing. Silly, I know. I’d do a reversal if there’s a product I wanna try out or a make-up look I wanna try for an event or something.

I do that, especially with nail polish, which I am keeping on for a week. I pick the colors and then pick clothes that look good with the beauty products. Lucky for me, I wear a lot of black 🙂

It’s more art than a method. Most of the time, I just go with my gut. I have a good sense of color, and I’ve been wearing makeup for 35 years, so most of the time I don’t have to think about it. I’m often inspired by a color or two from my clothes, without being completely matchy-matchy. For eyes, I use palettes a lot, so I’ll pull combinations from those. If I’m doing really intense eyes, I’ll go more muted or nude with blush. If I’m wearing a gray, green, or blue lipstick ( i.e., something that can give me “corpse face”), then I’ll use a warm blush or bronzy makeup to warm my face back up. I coordinate my blush with my lipstick most of the time.

Like Nancy – I look at what I am wearing to help me co-ordinate my colours. The season also has an influence, as I tend to wear different hues in autumn/winter than I do in spring/summer.

I agree on the colors changing with the seasons, although I tend to try to be ahead. So if everyone seems to be doing brights, I do neutrals and vice versa. I hate looking like I’m following the crowd. Example: Usually by Christmas time, when everyone else is dong reds and other jewel tones, I’m doing icy pastels.

I was inspired by emilynoel83’s recent “Singles Cruise” video on YouTube. I numbered all my eyeshadows and use random.org to choose a light, medium, and dark shade. It’s a lot of fun and helps me get out of doing the same looks every day.

I sometimes draw my inspiration from fashion advertisements in magazines. I usually change one or two techniques to make the look more tailored to myself.

Hmmm. Sometimes it’s from a look I’ve admired or a palette I like. Sometimes it is colors in nature or colors that just make my eyes happy. Sometimes it’s a happy accident. I don’t always know.

I’m big on the complimentary color combinations. I really like to choose something like aubergine and accent with lime green, or accent cobalt blue with a vivid orange. I often will wear emerald green eyeliner with bright purple lips. Or I’ll just go with a vivid color and a lighter shade of that color.

Just whatever I like. If the palette is already assembled, then I use what’s near each other first, just to see how the colors look on my skin, then I start using the ones I loved in whatever combos I feel like. I also tend to use one new or colorful product at a time, with tried and true basics on my other features so there’s no clash and I can judge the new product on its own.

I’m influenced by art and art theory. Color Wheel and how to break the rules a little here and there without a total clash!

For me there’s 3 variables.
1. Whether I’m testing new eyeshadow color or blush for a YouTube video I’d like to do. OR
2. Trying out a YouTube or Instagram look. OR
3. Or simply what I’m wearing that day which I usually plan from the night before as who has time for that in the morning! Lol! I like to be well prepared from the night before as I’m too foggy in the morning and I don’t want to waste time choosing. Time is precious, I gotta GO!! Lol!! So I’ll try to match my shadow color with my outfit to some extent. And sometimes I’ll go through my eyeshadow stash the night before and either add the colors to my eyes to experiment before washing all my makeup off or I’ll do some hand or arm swatches to see some nice color combos. I’m all about the color. No basic neutral’s girl for me! Lol! ??

Hello Temptalia!
I have palettes of eyeshadows, lipsticks, & blushes. I know what colors do and don’t work for me. Sometimes I will add just a little pop of color with whatever I am wearing in my eyeshadow palettes. Then I’m all ready to go! ?

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!