Be Colorblind, Don’t Be So Shallow

I think one of the most enduringly interesting subjects in the “field” of makeup is how different it looks on different skintones. It’s something I keep bumping into, and I’m fascinated every time.

I’ve seen MAC’s black eyeliner Smolder (click here for a swatch) turn green on a gorgeous mid-toned Indian woman. Last Christmas, I tried to buy my mother-in-law a few lipsticks — and even though I chose shades that I knew were too dark for me, they were still too light, too sheer on her.

Anyway, it happened again when I saw the lovely Karen’s lip swatches of Nude Rose and Blood Red over at Makeup and Beauty Blog. I LOVED the lipsticks of MAC’s DSquared collection, and when I saw her pics, I had to say, “woah, that’s not what those look like on me.”

These pictures are reposted with her permission, to illustrate the point.

Blood Red: If you saw Karen’s picture, you might wonder how they chose that name.
MAC, DSquared, Blood Red, swatches, lip swatches, NC35My version — and I think it even photographed a little lighter than what I see when I look in the mirror.
MAC, DSquared, Blood Red, swatches, lip swatches, NW20Nude Rose: Not my favorite shade on Karen.
MAC, DSquared, Nude Rose, swatches, lip swatches, NC35But I love it!
MAC, DSquared, Nude Rose, swatches, lip swatches, NW20How different are Karen and I? She’s about NC35; I’m maybe NW15-20.

Thank goodness bloggers come in all skintones! I feel like I still have so much to learn about how shades change on different skin, but what a beautiful subject to study.

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23 Responses to “Be Colorblind, Don’t Be So Shallow”

  • lexi920 says:

    >Thanks for this post. I always go by reviews of my favorite bloggers – Karen is definitely one of them and I also know her brother. There are very few things I have ran out and bought online – like eyeshadow but for lipsticks/gloss I have to sample in person. Also my lips are super sensitive and are prone to dry out or break into a rash with certain formulas. I'm a NC45 and so the colors would look even lighter or ashier on my skintone!

  • Monica says:

    >Great post! And what a difference these products look individual skintones.

  • OneGreatSmile says:

    >You've just illustrated a terrific point.

    It's not just skin tone, it's also body chemistry, as illustrated by foundations that turn orange. That's caused by oils in the skin. Two people that are the same skin tone can have different oil levels and that will affect the color, too! Part of the trick is to find a blog-swatcher that has your skin tone and skin type, too!

    Maybe the title of your blog should be, "The Next Best Thing to Trying it On Yourself, if you're an NC-15/20 with (insert skin type here) !!!"

  • Kristina says:

    >Augh!!! Oh, if only the DSquared lipsticks had looked like that on me! XD

  • makeupmag says:

    >You have beautiful lips, K!

  • Princesa Livia says:

    >Karen, your lip swatches look great! :) Based on my lip swatches on these lippies, Blood Red looks like a hot pink on my lips, whereas Nude Rose looks similar to your lip swatch! I'm NC25-30. xx Livia

  • HT says:

    >I love this post. It's definitely true– I've bought many a lip color (and even blushes, too!) based on how it looked on someone online only to realize it looks completely different on me. It's kinda crazy and cool, actually. The two lipcolors you wrote about are interesting… I've tried both. Blood red on me looks the way it looks on you. Nude Rose, however, looks on me the way it looks on Karen (which, by the way, was a major disappointment). I wish Nude Rose looked the way it looks on you!

  • KateM says:

    >Actually, one of the reasons I love your blog (aside from the obvious) is that any color I gravitate towards on your arm tends to also look good on me. We have very similar skin tone!

  • Beck says:

    >See, I'm NW15-ish and so this blog is like makeup heaven for me :) I think bloggers do a great service by swatching, even if they're bound to what colors look like on their own skin. For every time I've seen swatch photos of something that made me grab my bag and run to Sephora, there have been two more that made me say "Whoa, that is NOT the color it looks like in the pan! Do not want!"

  • idressyou says:

    >Remarkable difference. Were the photos taken by the same camera, at the same time under the same lighting?

  • Lizzard says:

    >the difference is unbelievable!

  • BarcelonaChair says:

    >I think you should do more lip swatches. Your lips are stunning.

    I think colours read differently based on lip pigmentation as well. A NC15 can have dark lips and a NC 40 fairer ones…and vice versa.

  • Catherine says:

    >I love Karen, Temptalia and Lina for this reason. Your swatches are gorgeous and often much higher quality, but theirs show me how the colors will likely show up on my skin. Karen has pigmented lips like mine too, which really helps me pick lipstick colors.

  • All The Pretty Things says:

    >I love that you address this issue!

    I am NC25-30 and I use your foundation swatches as a guide for my colors: I move to the yellow based-spectrum and 2 shades down, and voila! there it is. :)

    Case in point: in Chanel, I'm Cendre 2.5 In the dead of winter, I'm 1 shade lighter.

    Lips are harder though – as others mentioned, pigmentation is an issue and varies from person to person. On me, MAC Nude Rose would give me a green tint to my skin.

    Please keep working with this, and if you ever need a swatch helper with my skin tone, I'll gladly chip in. Love your site~!

  • yummy411 says:

    >fab post! yes i always take into consideration that karen has a more pigmented lip, (not just her skin tone) so her swatches will look totally different. i am nc40 (by mac standards) and my lips are rather pale (within reason lol) so some colors show up on me that won't usually show up on other people.

  • keerthamina says:

    >That's a great point, and those pictures illustrate it wonderfully! I love Karen's lip swatches for that very reason – I'm ~NC40-42 with pigmented lips, so her pictures give me a good approximation of how colors will show up on me. That said, I love your swatches as well, as they show the various collections so well!

  • EmLa82 says:

    >Good lipswatches, always different on skintypes.

  • Khymm says:

    >wow the shades really look different!

  • Fitri says:

    >I think its not juz about different skintones but its that we all have different colored lip or lip pigmentation which directly affects how the color of the lipstick will show.

  • badfish says:

    >Whoa! Amazing, thanks for the info!

  • Sakara says:

    >Oh brilliant post! really shows how a colour can look so different on different people!

    lol thats why i popped a note on my blog to say what kind of skin i had…ive seen some products i love on me reviewed badly by someone else as they looked totally different on them!

  • happy2be says:

    >So so true! Amazing how the colours come up so differently. Which is why it's so important to head to a counter (where possible) and try-before-you-buy.

  • My Beauty Bunny says:

    >Great post! Amazing how different the colors are!

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