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Make up Basics-- Women of Color (Yellow Bones)

08 April 2011
I use the term 'yellow bone' lightly because in black American folklore, yellow bone is used to refer to light skinned--multiracial--black women, however this is a fallacy. "Yellow bones" can also be medium tone and dark skinned, like myself. Women of color like caucasian women have olive or red undertones. Today, I am focusing on those with olive--read yellow--undertones.

1. Beyonce, 2. Chanel Iman, 3. Sanaa Lathan, 4. Gabrielle Union
Yellow bones come in all shades. From light (multiethnic or 2 multiethnic parents) to dark (ethnic blending in recent past or one multiethnic parent). Don't be confused just because you are multiracial does not mean you will have have yellow undertones. It depends on the mix. Native American, East Indian, or Pacific Islander (esp. Filipino) with black will give you red undertones but any multiethnic mixing with European or East Asian blood will most always give you yellow undertones. In order to understand the varying shades in the yellow undertones spectrum here is a chart of Mac Foundation shades in the NC (neutral cool) family. I will be using mostly Mac products because it is the product line that I know best. If you have other products that you like take what I am teaching here and apply it to that line.
Mac Foundation in the NC (neutral cool/yellow undertone) Family
The best way to know if you have yellow undertones is to look at the underside of your arm if the skin there is yellow or gold then you indeed have olive undertones. You can also look at your chest--basically areas that do not get much sunlight.  Another way to tell is to put a foundation on your face that has a warm/red undertone, if after a few minutes to an hour of wearing it your skin starts to turn or look orange--for years I wore NW45 or 43 or Fashion Fair and could not figure out why I was always looking orange because I had the misguided attitude that since I was 'dark skinned' I was obviously a 'red bone'--than you obviously have yellow undertones. And if you are wondering I, like Gabrielle, am a NC50.


The one important thing you must know when choosing your makeup is that you must ALWAYS stick to warm colors. Colors that are more red or orange versus blue or yellow. The reason for this is because we are on the darker end of the gold spectrum using colors that have cool undertones can turn gray on our skin and make us look green--on the lighter end-- or gray on the darker end. 

Well how can you tell if a color is more cool than warm you ask? Look at these two Mac eye shadow colors. One is Star Violet (cool tone) and the other is Plum Dressing (warm). You would use Plum Dressing if you had to choose.

Plum Dressing

Star Violet
I have put together a few makeup inspiration boards for you to look over to see how I choose colors. I hope they inspire you. And do not be afraid to try color. Gold or bronze lipstick or gloss is not considered 'natural.' Who has ever seen any human with bronze or gold lips ever? So, my Mac users who are addicted to Oh Baby, In my tranny voice, "Ima need you to try something new."

I mixed these charts to incorporate looks for women on both ends of the shade spectrum. Again, the charts are just base line suggestions not the law and it really does not matter your shade--its more about application technique-- you can use both charts in both spectrums to your advantage. Enjoy.


Daily Look for women on the lighter end of the shade spectrum


Daily Look for 'Yellow Bones' that are on the lighter end of the spectrum


Daily Look for women on the darker end of the shade spectrum




Bold Lip for Lighter Women



Bold Lip for Darker Women


If you find yourself being more experimental then try these bolder lips.

Flash Mode Luster Glass

Girl About Town Lipstick
Demure Lip Tar

Colorful Smokey Eye


Saddle is the prime color in this selection. You use it to blend out the darker color in the crease
I choose color for a smokey eye to show that you can use color and not just the classic black colors to create a smokey eye. You can also use blues like Deep Truth and Fresh Water or Purples such as Fig 1 and Hepcat.

Deep Truth Eye Shadow Mac

Fig 1 Eyeshadow Mac

Many black women ask me if we can wear red lips. The answer is most definitely YES!! And NO it does not make you look like a woman of the night, to be honest I have never seen a prostitute wear red lips, its too messy. So throw off those old school attitudes and try something new.

When using red you do the complete opposite of the above rules, you choose a blue tone red instead of a orangey tone red. The colors do the opposite. A blue tone red warms up the color in our skin. This is with the exception of Russian Red lipstick--a orange tone red--by Mac. Here are some examples of reds we can wear.

Ruby Woo Lipstick Mac Cosmetics


NSFW Lip Tar

Diva Lipstick, for those who are shy of the brighter red

Vino Lipliner to use with Ruby Woo or Diva for darker hued women not comfortable with the bright color

Good Luck with your experimenting. If there is something that I did not cover don't be shy ask or request it and I will do a blog post on it. Next week I will cover makeup basics for brunettes and black women with red undertones.

Make sure to wear sun screen because despite erroneous popular belief, black people must wear sunscreen as well. We burn easier and quicker you just can't see it. And for the love of sweet lil bunnies, please do not bleach your skin unless it is for treatment of spots and from the dermatologist and not to make your skin lighter. It is detrimental to your skin and self-esteem. Now, stepping down from my soap box! Until Next blog, bon weekend!