Here’s What It’s Like To Do Makeup When You’re Color-Blind


– If there’s not another
color blind makeup artist, then I’ll be the first one. (bossa nova music) My name is Andrea Tomlin, and I’m a makeup artist who happens to be color blind. The type of color blindness that I have is called deuteranomaly, and it is a red-green weakness, so I tend to confuse red, green, orange, and brown colors. I’ve kinda always known that there was something different about me. As a child, I was definitely bullied. I really tried to be like everyone else, and tried to wear certain matching colors. I could never quite grasp why everybody else was looking a certain way, and they didn’t look at me the same way. I joined the Air Force when I was 18, and I was diagnosed with color blindness after we did our color blind test. And they did tell me that I would never be a pilot. When I left the military, I went into wedding planning, and unfortunately a lot of the makeup artists never showed up, so I had to learn how to do makeup. I came to DC and I got hired as a manager at Sephora. I was terrified. I accepted the job, and I really loved how they taught me a lot about color theory. One day, I was talking
to one of my trainers, and he was talking a little bit about the color balance that I had for eyeshadows that I was wearing. I was really trying to
put a lot of colors on, and they weren’t quite meshing. I told him. I said, “You know, I’m color blind.” He was like, “What? You’re colorblind? Tell me how that relates
to what you do here, “so that I can help you.” I went home and cried, because I was so happy that I wasn’t made fun of, no one was judging me, and everything from that point was, how do I grow? How do I work with what I already have, and make it what I want it to be? I started really telling people, hey listen, I’m a makeup artist and I’m color blind. And now the reaction that I get is like, wow, you’re color blind? I never knew that. I’m really grateful for all the people that were supporting me in my life. The people that were teasing me? I’ll do your makeup. The colors that I typically tend to either confuse, or I can’t see all of the hues, are reds and greens. When I open up an eyeshadow palette, or if I look at a lip palette, sometimes I see five colors when there’s really 12. When it comes to red, I could sit there and look at a red or several reds and do my best to figure it out. But, I can’t make myself see something that’s not there. I’m very good at seeing purples. So I know about color theory, I’ll add blue to turn it purple. And when I mix it with several of the lipsticks, I see which ones darker and which ones lighter. I see which ones going to be brighter, more bold, and I also see which ones going to be deeper. The one that turned purple is a true red. The one in the center is turning brownish, so that’s going to be closer to an orange. And then this one is a little bit deeper, but not quite a purple, and not quite a brown. So that’s going to be more of like a terracotta, salmon, that type of color. When it comes to eyeshadows, and when it comes green its a little bit different. Because green is already a secondary color. I rely a lot on textures, so I have a lot of matt greens. I have a lot of shimmers, and I tend to not put the two together. If there is a customer or a client that really wants a matt monochromatic green eyeshadow, I rely more on my knowledge of brushes. And I will diffuse it and make it look like its several different colors of green when its really just one eyeshadow. I would use my camera filter on my cellphone. I’ll definitely put it to a color that I can see, I switch to several different filters. I take a picture and cycle through the different filters. If the foundation match that I’ve done matches in all of the filters, then its a good match. But if its off in one or two of the filters, I know that I need to change the shade. We kind of collaborate, and we really make it a project that we’re both invested in. People are already nervous about getting their makeup done. So just involving them, having fun, having them relax, and just telling them, listen, its just makeup. Everything that I do is really customized for the person that’s sitting down in front of me. I don’t consider color blindness to really be an obstacle that can’t be overcome. It is definitely something that’s going to be more of a challenge. But its not something that you have to say is going to limit you from being in the cosmetic industry. I am self taught, I never went to cosmetology school. I wish I had. But that’s okay, I literally kinda jumped in it. Going into Sephora with zero makeup background, I’m like set up for failure
right there. (laughs) Whenever I punched out and went home, I had homework to do. I made sure that I studied. What our products were, what’s going to give me the best color payoff, what I’m going to put on a deeper complexion customer. What I’m going to put on somebody that’s a lighter complexion. What am I going to put on somebody that’s red? What am I going to put on somebody with a yellow undertone. I had to sit and figure out, how am I going to blend these colors that I don’t see? I literally put on makeup every single day. Every single day. Because its not just me doing makeup. Its not me being vain, its not because I can’t go out without makeup on. Its because this is my craft, this is the art form, and I have to practice. I would like to have a cosmetics line that is super pigmented. So even people like me can see the colors. I would like to have some type of product that doesn’t have to be one solid color, you can play with it and turn it into something else. I’m excited that its not the same beauty industry as it was fifty years ago, or ten years ago, or even 5 years ago. Or 3 years ago. Its including so many more people. Its just showing people, the more creative you are, the more free you are. Don’t worry about if this person’s going to be upset, or this person’s happy, or this person’s sad. It is your life, and if you don’t start embracing the differences that you have, and really just going for it, later in life you’re going to say, “(sigh) I really wish I
could have done that.” Just say positive, there’s always a rainbow, and there’s always a pot of gold at the end of it. Even if you can’t see all the colors of the rainbow. – So you might’ve noticed
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