Colour, Context and What Pantone’s Color of the Year Means for Your Makeup Choices

Colour affects us immensely. And while you may like or not like the whole Pantone Color of the Year thing, I think it’s an interesting marker of the zeitgeist. 

In fact, I just wanted to highlight a few of my recent make-up favourites, but the post got out of hand when I started thinking about colour psychology…

Looking back at Pantone Color of the Year since 2016, we see an interesting pendulum swing: in 2016, Rose Quartz and Serenity, a cool and soothing duo of powder pink and baby blue ruled supreme – colours of “compassion and fluidity”, as Pantone have put it. Personally, I saw the 2016 duo as something stronger than that, namely as a desire for innocence in a brutalised and cynical world, a demand for more love and care (two colours instead of one – if that’s not a symbolic cry for love then I don’t know what is), but I suppose this would be too dramatic for a press release.

Last year it was Greenery, a nearly unwearable green as far as make-up or fashion go, symbolic of renewal and our growing consciousness for all things natural. It certainly wasn’t a flattering colour for many, but it was a great pick for packaging, décor and all things home. Our collective subconscious wanted more Nature in 2017, it seems, and a lush green home.

Cycle of zeitgeist colours: from a duo of blue and red to green and back to violet (red + blue)

Now in 2018, we’re presented with a blend of red and blue again. The pendulum swings back, full circle, and we meet Ultra Violet.

And this is how Pantone see it:

“Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality.”
Pantone Institute

Violet and purple (a cultural remark for colour geeks: while the Anglo-Saxon purple lends more blue, for German/ French artists purple is redder per definition, compare how it even makes the French book title “Les Rivières pourpres” and the German translation “Purpurne Flüsse” sound more enigmatic, more grave than the stark “Blood Red Rivers” or “Crimson Rivers” for the movie title in English) have always been connected to mysticism, to higher vibrations if you will, to wisdom and to the mysteries of a cosmic, universal order. Violet and purple are Jovian colours, colours of prosperity and abundance, but also of generosity and idealism. In more down-to-earth terms, purple/ violet are the colours symbolic for gay rights and feminism. So, does the zeitgeist call for more wisdom and more fairness? Were we blind and now we see? At least, one can dream.

Wear your violet and let it remind you to stand for more education and less emotion, for more compassion and for less hysteria, for more wisdom and for less populism, for more equality and kindness, for more generosity and decency.

For those of you wanting to make a statement: violet in fashion is a very flattering colour. You will find shades of violet in all colour wheels for all “colour types” if you’re into that, but even if you aren’t, give the colour a try. Maybe the colour flattering you will be less or more saturated than Pantone’s pick (my best violet is definitely less powdery, and has more red, like the Lanius number I was wearing here), with more or less red or blue.

Recent favourites: Dr. Hauschka Teint Powder (Limited Edition Purple Light) for a gently bronzed look with just a hue of purple shimmer; ayurvedic khol in densely pigmented ‘Aubergine’ (found at Waschbär), my favourite “eye colour enhancer” 100% Pure Maracuja Oil Mascara in ‘Blackberry‘, and an older Dr. Hauschka Lavender Dreams eye shadow quartet.

In terms of colour make-up, I have to yet find an eye colour that is not flattered by violet or purple! Blue – check, green – bingo, grey – wow, brown – amazing, black – intense. Tightlining, smoky eyes, eyeliner, mascara: try what suits your eye shape best, and trust me, it will look amazing. Lipstick is harder to pull off for me personally, so I have no personal favourites there, instead may I suggest you check out purple lover Wonderlusting Lynda’s Instagram #100lippydays for colour inspo.

Fancy more Purple/ Violet Goodness?
Click the images to see more colour-themed beauty, fashion and even food:



Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)