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How is the Sunlight Affecting Your Makeup?

nlight tbuHave you ever left the house feeling really good about yourself, only to get in the car, look in the mirror, and be less than thrilled with what you see? It’s not that you missed covering up a blemish or that your makeup was accidentally wiped off without notice, it has to do with the lighting. The tricky part is, natural light is ever-changing, it shifts with the hours of the day and the seasons of the year, which can cause the coloring of your makeup to change in appearance. The key is to learn how your makeup can work with the light, but in order to do this, it’s important to understand how color and light interact.

The visible light that radiates from the sun is a continuous wavelength, or frequency, of colors—ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). As this light travels through the atmosphere it is either transmitted, absorbed, or reflected. Only the colors that are reflected are perceived. For example, if a piece of paper absorbs OYGBIV and reflects R, the piece of paper would appear red.

Colors are associated with temperature, so when the air and atmosphere change, so does the frequency of light. This causes different colors to be transmitted, reflected, and absorbed, thus allowing us to see colors differently. Certain light colors are more flattering than others i.e. the yellow light from your bathroom, compared to the natural light from your car. If you know what type of light you’ll be working with, you can do your makeup accordingly.

White light is the easiest type of light to work with, as it is the most versatile and can be reflected by any color. This type of light is given off by the sun year round. It’s a what you see is what you get type of light. If you put on ruby red lipstick, it will look like ruby red lipstick.

Now let’s take blue light, a light you’ll see more often during the winter months. Blue light tends to be less flattering since things like red spots and under-eye circles absorb it. This causes the area to darken and bring more attention to what you want covered. To avoid appearing blotchy and tired in this light, you can use highlighters and light-reflective foundations.

Yellow light, like you’ll see during the sunset and sunrise, or in your bathroom, is the opposite. Yellow light has very little blue light in it, which means your complexion will look more even-toned and clear. However, since there is a lack of blue light, any blue tones in your makeup will be diminished.

Are you starting to see why makeup artists get paid for what they do? They have a vast understanding of how light and color work together, what colors compliment each other, and what colors they can use to compliment your positive attributes.


“Light Absorption, Reflection, and Transmission.” Light Absorption, Reflection, and Transmission. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.
“How Do We See Color?” Color Think Tank –. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

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