Tips on Mixing Colors For Make-up

Time never slips by as quickly as it does when I sit down to blend colors for my make-up projects. It's a constant delight to experience how many gorgeous hues and tones evolve right in front of my eyes.

Mixing pigments is pretty much an annual thing for me. Above is the palette for what will become this years blushes, eyeshadows, lip tints, and lipsticks.

And below are a few of my best tips on mixing pigments for colored make-up.

Plan ahead

Decide which products you are mixing colors for before you sit down to work (lips, cheeks, eyes or foundation). This way, you will not only choose relevant pigments for the job, you won't be quite as tempted to stray from your set goal. There's many a time I've sat down with one specific color in mind (like foundation), and ended up with a whole array of blushes, lip tints and eye shadows instead.

For this session, I knew I wanted a palette of 'face-sculpting' tones that could be used for both cheek and lip products. Because I had planned ahead (or maybe because I got lucky), I actually ended up having time to do a couple of eyeshadow hues as well.

Split it Up

Experience has taught me not to try and do everything in one session.
I usually split production of my colored make-up into several (equally enjoyable) sessions:

  • preparing base powders
  • making pencil and lipstick base 
  • mixing pigments - eyes
  • mixing pigments - foundation
  • mixing pigments - lip and cheek
  • making pressed eyeshadows
  • making pressed powder foundation
  • making lipstick and/or lip tint

Creating a Palette

It's relatively easy to make a palette of tones if you build from a base color. My base color for this session was a dose of my (previously blended) foundation color mixed with browns and white. You'll find it in the middle of the bottom row in the picture above (the lightest hue of them all).

Above, a lip/cheek color is being coaxed in a 'warmer' direction by adding a bit of bronze and copper red.

Tip: swatch as you go, but don't dip your finger into the mixture. Use a cotton bud or cotton round instead.

Tip: Have cotton rounds and a small spray bottle with hydrosol/tonic at hand so you can clean off the swatched areas of your skin (I am halfway up my arms sometimes in swatches before reaching for the bottle). To remove the swatches, use a hydrosol-moistened cotton round. Leave the work area before using your liquid! You don't want any moisture near your pigments and powders.

Tweaking: Here, an oxide pink is added to tease this mixture in a 'warmer and lighter' direction.

Micas or Oxides

Because I am predominately using micas here, the colors are all sifted together thoroughly. If you use oxides, they will need to be ground together (a mortar and pestle is one option, but a dedicated coffee grinder is ideal for mixing oxides).

If you want to mix micas with oxides, grind your oxides together first, then sift it with your micas.

Here, sky blue mica is added to a blush mixture to create an eyeshadow. Every color in the top picture is a tweaked version of the base color mix.

Storing Your Creations

Have lots of little see-through containers ready to store your finished mixtures, and don't forget to label every one with a production date. You may think you will forever remember when that army green color was created, but if you're anything like me, you won't.

Have fun!


Unknown said…
Thank you for these great tips! I've recently purchased some colored mica and wanted to mix some nice eyeshadow colors and your tips came in really handy
LisaLise said…
Hey there Gospodica Marijica - Thanks for your kind words - best of luck with your eye shadows!
Anonymous said…
Where do you buy mica or oxide pigments from?
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - a lot of cosmetics suppliers carry pigments. Try DIY or - best of luck with it