If we’ve taught you anything about basic color theory, you’ll already know which pigments are primary—red, yellow, and blue. But apart from a knockout red mouth or bright blue eye liner, many makeup users don’t really know what to do with the primaries in their kit. A scarlet eye? A lemon lip? Editorially stunning, but not exactly work-appropriate. We’re here to tell you that these shades are classified as primary for a reason; they’re the puppet masters of the color wheel! When two of these shades are subtracted from one, red, yellow, and blue form the entire circle, including secondary and tertiary combinations. Knowing this, you can effectively use these three hues to color-correct virtually any makeup look.
On its own, red looks drastic on the lid, but mixed with an sapphire pigment? You get a brilliant violet! Or maybe you want to neutralize an olive skin tone? Blend a tiny (and we mean tiny) dab of red or pink pigment into your base—congratulations, you just custom-mixed a foundation for your naturally verdant undertones.
Blue typically gives an icy, fresh finish. A sheer sapphire glaze enhances the pink undertones on your lips, which in turns whitens your teeth. The same principle works with eye makeup. You can cool down any shade of yellow eye shadow—think khaki and olive—with a light overlay of blue pigment. A blue-tinged face primer also reduces strong yellow undertones in the skin.
Is your foundation too pink? A lip color tinted too cool for your complexion? A primary yellow warms up the skin, and can color-correct any makeup that’s leaning too blue or red. Blend a dab of yellow pigment into your foundation, or mix a bit with your lipstick. Voilà—a perfect, slightly sunnier shade.