The magic of makeup

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Badass rocker chick, innocent angel, ’80s prom queen, smolderingly sexy…whatever look you want to channel a certain day, makeup can do it all!  Women have been using makeup for decades to slightly spice up their look or completely change how they look.  Here’s a link to a slideshow from glamour.com on how different the same person can look when you tweak a few things about their makeup.

So, how do certain makeup techniques and colors work to make you look scary or sexy or innocent?  Let’s look at a few and try to see the effects certain colors produce when used on your face:

a) The romantic, pretty, cheeks flushed pink with love look:

English: Makeup before attendance. Српски / Sr...

Image via Wikipedia

  • big, bright eyes with long, luscious lashes
  • rosy cheeks
  • pink or red shiny lips
Your cheeks naturally turn pink when you start blushing after someone gives you a compliment, or if you talk to someone you’re smitten with.  The rosy blush mimics this effect.  Batting your lashes is one of the most easiest and foolproof ways to flirt with someone and hold their attention.  Lashes are obviously best seen when they’re long and dark, and it’s also a sign of youth and health if you have nice lashes, compared with elderly people whose lashes are brittle, short, and maybe white, too.  Lips naturally turn red or some type of rosy when you’re aroused and attracted to someone.  And shiny lips look better than dry, cracked, pale lips, which can be more reminiscent of a feverishly ill girl or a zombie…
b) The badass rocker chic-I-don’t-give look:
  • black, black, and lots of black around your eyes!
black and green eyes

Image by Adriana Chira via Flickr

We all know that black is the color of badasses all around the world.  Black is worn by vandals, biker gangs, members of the occult, villians, anyone who doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks of them, who have too much testosterone and an impulse for debauchery.  Eyes are the windows to your soul and what better way to tell people that you’re not all sparkles and pink bows than to layer black upon black upon another swipe of black eyeliner then smudge it all into a dark vortex into your soul?  Black is the opposite of pink–not on the color wheel but in meaning–so it makes sense that a color that’s used to convey that you’re this damsel who radiates beauty and warmth is not used in a look that’s supposed to convey the opposite vibe.
Below is a podcast I made about this if you’d rather listen than read:

The Detriot Lions…harboring a demon on their team?

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So while watching the football game between the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, I noticed something that made me go, “Wait, what…?!”

What I saw…was a pair of red eyes.  Yup, a pair of completely red eyes on a big, burly, bald dude with only a goattee…scary.

Kyle Vanden Bosch

Image by Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

I of course went to my computer to google what the hell was going on and found out that this guy is Kyle Vanden Bosch–defensive end for the Detriot Lions.  It turns out that Bosch wasn’t celebrating Halloween early nor is a devil or albino, like many speculated, but that he was actually wearing amber-colored sports contact lenses made by Nike that increases contrast so that it’s easier to see balls.  For any of you who’s interested, below is a video taken from Youtube explaining the science behind how this works.

So this made me wonder, “Is he allowed to do that?” because doesn’t he gain an unfair advantage from this?  Is this on the same level as chugging energy drinks before a game or taking protein supplements?  Or is it more like the advantage gained by taking steroids?  I’m not too sure about how unfair of an advantage this is, but nevertheless, it’s definitely got to be intimidating being a player running across the field then suddenly coming face to face with a vampire.  That’s definitely an advantage–being able to freak out guys who are 6′ 5” and weigh 300 pounds.

Either way, it’s definitely not new news that red eyes are creepy.  They conjure up images of evil, Dracula, being possessed, demons…but where does our correlation between red eyes and diabolical intentions come from?  I think it’s because red is a color that has been associated with rage, anger, violence, power, anything that lets you know that something is up and you need to be on alert.  Red symbolizes fire, which has to power to destroy things on a great scale, being able to burn down whole villages and forests, and burning people alive.  Red is the opposite of blue which symbolizes water, without which nothing can grow and there can be no life on Earth.  That’s my opinion on Bosch’s surprising look, but here’s a Storify I made that shows the media’s and other people’s views on Kyle Vanden Bosch’s red eyes.

[View the story “Kyle Vanden Bosch’s red eyes” on Storify]

red eye tree frog

Two sides of the same coin

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English: Chinese funeral Nederlands: Foto. Chi...

Image via Wikipedia

The color of happy brides, innocent babes, cleanliness, and new beginnings, white is associated with all things untainted, safe, and peaceful.  But, did you know that in Eastern parts of the world, white is the color of death and mourning?  In Japan, a white carnation symbolizes death.  In China, Vietnam, and Korea, white is worn instead of black at funerals.  Why?  Because white is associated with the winter time, during which nature is dead.  The cold snow blankets over everything, snuffing out life.  Nothing survives in the winter, everything must die and come to an end.

Color symbolism varies dramatically between different cultures around the world who see colors in different ways, and have come to prescribe different meanings to it due to the completely different situations and environments that a culture is part of.  What one culture might see as the color of harmony and trust, another might see as the color of greed and evil.  Below is what I thought was the most interesting difference in connotations of color in non-Western cultures I picked from about.com’s page on the topic.  (You can check out the full list of other colors’ meanings by clicking on the link.)

Green:
  • China: Green hats indicate a man’s wife is cheating on him
English: Fedora hat green

Image via Wikipedia

After doing some research, I found that the reason green hats have this meaning is because the term for “cuckold” in Chinese, dai lu mao, literally translates to “wearing a green hat.”  Pretty simple, huh?  But there’s a story that goes behind this, dating back to the Ming dynasty, which is told on this language blog:
“there was a businessman with a very beautiful wife. The businessman travelled often, and missed his wife. Unbeknownst to him, while he was away, the beautiful wife kept herself entertained with other men. When he came home, he told her how much he missed her. She made him a green hat, and told him to wear it to remind him of her. He went off happily, wearing the hat, while she and all the neighbours knew what was really going on.”
Another blog’s opinion differs a little bit, and it says that the story is from the Yuan dynasty instead.
This goes to show how big of a part language plays in cultures and if you come across some curious oddity or superstition, there’s almost definitely a reason and a history behind it.  Do any of you guys have funny or interesting superstitions in your own cultures?  Let me know by commenting below!

So you think you know your colors?

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If someone gave you a bunch of things and asked you to identify the color of each one (you don’t have to say the exact specific shade, but just the general color family) you’d think, “Piece of cake!  I’ve only known what colors are since kindergarten…”  So, when you look at the bottom picture on this visual design blog, what color is the little square on the left, and what color is the one on the right?

I thought that the square on the left was orange, and the one on the right was brown.  But… they’re actually the exact same color!  Try pasting the picture into Paint or Photoshop or something and comparing them…I promise I’m not lying!  Colors are not all as they seem…a lot of things affect what color we perceive something to be– in this example, the surrounding colors, or the context a color is in changes what we see.  This is called “simultaneous contrast”.

Try out another really cool experiment taken from colorcube.com that shows you a chromatic adaptation illusion…

 

Amazing, isn’t it? Our eyes really are little tricksters…and to think about how much we rely on them for everything!  Here’s a bunch more illusions— you literally won’t believe your eyes!

But, our eyes aren’t oblivious all the time!  See, I wonder how it is that we can look at a picture like this one:

English: Preparations for a hot air balloon ri...

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

…and know that the green on the top is the same as the green on the bottom? They obviously look different, we clearly see that the green on the top looks darker than the green on the bottom, but our brain tells us that they are, in fact the same color?  This is because our brain subconciously knows that shadows can make things look darker, so we automatically take that into account when seeing pictures like this.  This “color constancy” lets us realize that even though a green apple might look lighter and whiter during the day in the sunlight, it is indeed the same apple that looks darker in the moonlight.

 

Although most of the population may get tricked into believing optical illusions are real, studies show that schizophrenics aren’t fooled by an optical illusion called the “hollow mask” because connections between the conceptual and sensory parts of their brain don’t function normally– there is an imbalance between bottom-up and top-down processing.  Here’s a video taken from Youtube that let’s you test out the “hollow mask” illusion yourself:

Below is a chart I made using Google Docs that shows the results from a study conducted by Danai Dima and Jonathan Roiser from University College London in 2008 of 13 schizophrenia patients and 16 healthy control subjects exposed to the “hollow mask” illusion:

Va va voom

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Think of a fitted red dress.  What kind of person is the first to pop up in your mind wearing that dress?  Probably a seductress, or some kind of steamy, sexy woman?  Why do most people think sexy when they see a red dress?  Because red is associated with passionate love, overflowing power, lust, excitement, liberation, emergency, blood- all things that make your heart race and your blood pressure rise (which red has actually been found to do!)

The colors that someone wears affects our perception of them.  Movies realize this and have dressed their characters accordingly.  For example, think of Jessica Rabbit in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”   She is the image of a sultry vixen, with her voluptuous figure highlighted in a flashy, sequined red dress that’s more a second skin than a dress.  She can’t walk past any man without having their jaws drop to the ground and steam pour out of their ears.  In the “Matrix,” Neo is distracted by a captivating woman in a red dress during a simulation.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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Two University of Rochester psychologists, Andrew Elliot and Daniela Niesta, found in a study that the color red makes men more attracted to women.  In their experiments, they showed men a photograph of a woman and asked them to rate her attractiveness.  In some photos, the woman was wearing a red shirt.  In others, the same woman was wearing a blue shirt.  The woman in the red shirt was consistently rated more attractive and sexually desirable than the same woman in a blue shirt.  Guys were also more interested in dating the red-shirted woman, as well as wanting to spend more money on her in a date.  When the men were asked if the color of the woman’s shirt influenced their decisions, none said it did.  This shows that color indeed influences our opinions in a subconscious way.

But, there might be a more primitive reason for red being attractive.  Research shows that male primates are particularly attracted to females who display red.  Female baboons and chimpanzees turn red when they’re nearing ovulation, sending a clear sexual signal to attract males.  Another theory is that back in the day of cavemen, red signaled that you were healthy and still had blood pumping in you- that you weren’t dead.  It signaled that a cave-babe wasn’t sick and capable of being a healthy mother.

But, it’s not only men that are more attracted to red.  A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows that women found men in red clothing more attractive and desirable.  Ladies subconsciously saw men wearing red as having a higher status and earning a good salary.

Whether conjuring up thoughts of pouty red lips, police sirens, fire, or a matador’s cape, it can’t be denied that red attracts, repels, elevates, and enrages.  Try wearing red or bring it into your home or accessories and see how differently you feel and the world reacts to you!