This makeup journey has really been a lot of fun for me. I just love it. When I started out, I was all about color and shimmer and glitter. Actually, I'm still about color, glitter, shimmer. But now, I have a much better appreciation of structure and the architecture of a look. And I've learned that structuring the face and the eye can only help the color and shimmer effects look better.
While still using the boutique brands (such as Sugarpill), that I fell in love with at the start, I've come to rely more and more on pro brands. In the beginning, pro palettes just mystified me. But as I've learned more about color and shape, I now appreciate the structure and organization that they represent and can understand why the professional makeup artists I've met adore them.
I'm going to take a few makeup palettes from my current favorite professional brand, Viseart, and talk about how they are organized and how you can use them.
One of the most successful makeup pallets in history is the Viseart Neutral Matte palette. Introduced in the mid-90s, it remains their best selling palette. They are so popular and so relied on that pro makeup artists will often have two or three of them in their bags to make sure they never run out of them. Here's a picture:
I've added my own color descriptions to this. You can see how it is organized. The top row gives the base shade for the person you are working on. These are the shades you would start with, laying down a base over the eyelid up to the eyebrow. The lower two rows' shades are essential shades of brown, grey, and taupe. These can be used as they are, but it's far more common to mix them. For example, combine the chocolate brown with the sienna to get a warm reddish-brown, darken the soft taupe with the deep grey, etc. Once you understand the almost infinite possibilities provided by this palette, the sky is the limit. You can do smokey eyes, a nude eye, you can age your actors. The possibilities are really unlimited. It is no surprise that this palette has become so influential.
A later Viseart palette builds on this model by introducing warm mattes:
Once again, these are not just a random selection of colors. They are chosen and arranged to make sense to the makeup artist. Like the neutral matte palette, the first three columns reflect different skin tones. In the far right column are the familiar skin undertones. Understanding this, you could build a look for a fair-skinned person using the three colors in the fair skin column. The top color could be placed on the lid, the middle color could be placed in the crease, and the bottom color could be used in the outer corner to give the eye structure. (Of course, other looks are possible, this is just an example). And you could intensify this look by mixing in the appropriate undertone from the far right column.
One of the most unusual and exciting palettes Viseart has introduced deals exclusively with eyebrows:
As you can see, in this palette, rows correspond to hair color. The ingredients in the first column are actually colored waxes, not shadows. You can use these waxes to fill in in any sparse areas in the clients' eyebrow. Then you would select an appropriate shade from the same row to fill in the brow. Rather than use the wax, I prefer to use a pencil because looks more realistic. With a pencil, you can use short strokes to simulate the look of real hair. But I always finish with shadows, and having these particular shadows available is lovely. Eyeshadows are too pigmented to make a genuinely realistic brow, but this palette's shades are just right.
The tremendous success of these and the other Viseart palettes have led the company taking a chance on more ambitious palettes. Initially announced as special editions, they have been so well received that they are now considered part of the companies core collection.
The first, called the Grande Pro Volume 1, is a greatly expanded version of Viseart's matte palettes.
Each row is given its own undertone in this palette, and the undertone selection is greatly expanded. It is hard to imagine a situation where you couldn't find a color match for any person from any location in the world with this palette! And as you can see from the picture, moving to the right, each color grows deeper, with their suggested functions given below the palette.
The next palette, the Grande Pro Volume 2, is a real departure for Viseart. This is a texture palette with every column containing a different texture.
I will touch on a few key points. The prismatic-metallics are a form of liquid metal and can be used by themselves or, to great effect, with a transformer. Many companies sell transformers, including Viseart. I favor Inglot's Duraline.
Neither the chromatic foils nor the lux metallics have glitter or particles. The lux metallics are a vibrant form of a traditional makeup look.
The 5th row contains duo chromes. Duo chromes are particles that have different colors on each side and also allow light to pass through them. This gives an effect similar to a butterfly's wing. You can see different colors from the same object depending on the angle of the reflected light. They can be used with or without a transformer.
The sixth column is for creating significant glitter looks. A transformer is highly recommended if you want to avoid glitter falling down on the rest of your face.
For our final example, we take the newest palette, the Grande Pro Volume 3. This is a wonderfully colorful palette and remarkably complete. It is very possible to do a full makeup look using only this palette.
It is organized based on color theory. The first three columns are cool colors, while the right three columns are warm colors. The rest of the palette is based on combinations of the three primary colors (Red, Green, and Blue) in their secondary and tertiary forms. To understand this palette completely, I suggest looking at a color wheel and reading a bit about color theory.
I hope this quick look at several pro palettes has helped you understand how pro-makeup products are organized. Whether or not you would want to purchase these is another question. Viseart also has consumer-level palettes. These are less complex with many fewer choices. But it allows people to focus on just the colors they need for their own situation. The consumer palettes will also mix matte shades with shimmer and glitter shades, which is never done in pro palettes. (Photographers object stringently to the slightest speck of glitter when it is not wanted. Mixing shimmers with mattes could cause contamination, not a terrible thing in a consumer palette, but a disaster in a photo session).
Even though we have focused on pro-palettes, consumer palettes can have similar types of organizing principles. Have a look at some of your own palettes and see if you can discover why those were arranged in just they way that they are.
I hope this was helpful! As always, questions, comments or anything friendly can be sent to me on Twitter