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Being Color Blind Didn't Stop This Makeup Artist From Doing What She Loves

She's learned to see her color blindness as a unique perspective, instead of a deficiency.

Andria Tomlin has been doing makeup for the past six years. She has worked for brands like Sephora and MAC, and, oh yeah, she happens to be color blind.

Though it's a genetic condition, no one else in her immediate family is color blind. "Neither one of my parents is color blind, but both of them are carriers of the gene. I had a 50/50 chance, and I happened to be born color blind. My biological brother isn't color blind either," Andria told As/Is.
Andria Tomlin

Though it's a genetic condition, no one else in her immediate family is color blind. "Neither one of my parents is color blind, but both of them are carriers of the gene. I had a 50/50 chance, and I happened to be born color blind. My biological brother isn't color blind either," Andria told As/Is.

To hear Andria explain her techniques and see her makeup application in action, watch our video below!

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There are different types of color blindness. In Andria's case, she can technically see all colors, but she can't see many hues and shades of reds and greens.

"I have a red and green sensitivity called Deuteranomaly. I struggle distinguishing reds, greens, browns, and oranges. The easiest colors for me to see are purple, blue and yellow," she explained.
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

"I have a red and green sensitivity called Deuteranomaly. I struggle distinguishing reds, greens, browns, and oranges. The easiest colors for me to see are purple, blue and yellow," she explained.

Andria always knew she saw the world differently, but she didn't get an official diagnosis until she tried to join the Air Force.

"I was officially diagnosed when I was 18 years old, and I had to take the standard dot test for the Air Force. I was always different and didn't understand why people said I had on the 'wrong color' of clothing, or why I struggled to see difference in things like dead grass, or different colors on sports uniforms. I never knew I was 'different' until someone told me that what I was seeing wasn't what everyone else saw. It's like when your stomach hurts every time you eat cheese, and a doctor finally tells you that you're lactose intolerant; you already knew, but now it's confirmed. That's exactly how I felt when they told me I was color blind."
Andria Tomlin

"I was officially diagnosed when I was 18 years old, and I had to take the standard dot test for the Air Force. I was always different and didn't understand why people said I had on the 'wrong color' of clothing, or why I struggled to see difference in things like dead grass, or different colors on sports uniforms. I never knew I was 'different' until someone told me that what I was seeing wasn't what everyone else saw. It's like when your stomach hurts every time you eat cheese, and a doctor finally tells you that you're lactose intolerant; you already knew, but now it's confirmed. That's exactly how I felt when they told me I was color blind."

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So how exactly does a color blind woman become a makeup artist? Well, it all started when she had to step in for no-show makeup artists so brides wouldn't have a meltdown.

"I was a wedding and events planner in Colorado, and quite often, the makeup artist didn’t show up, so I had to learn to do little things to ease their anxiety. Once I moved to the Washington D.C. area, I jumped into retail management and I found a job at Sephora which merged my love of makeup and retail management skills."
Andria Tomlin

"I was a wedding and events planner in Colorado, and quite often, the makeup artist didn’t show up, so I had to learn to do little things to ease their anxiety. Once I moved to the Washington D.C. area, I jumped into retail management and I found a job at Sephora which merged my love of makeup and retail management skills."

Andria has had to develop a process that works for her, and she has learned a few tricks to help her achieve the perfect look.

"I have accepted that I will never be the artist who can look at a picture and recreate it exactly. I'll never be able to pick up a color I’ve never used before and put it on someone without playing with it first."
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"I have accepted that I will never be the artist who can look at a picture and recreate it exactly. I'll never be able to pick up a color I’ve never used before and put it on someone without playing with it first."

For example: she's learned a lot about color theory from MAC, and she knows that by adding red or yellow, she can adjust foundation shades.

"I know that the basic foundation is made of yellow and/or red. You can adjust the color or tone by adding more red or yellow. When I have a client outside of work and I don't have the 400 shades of foundation at my fingertips, I have to manipulate the base color by adding a darker or lighter red or yellow foundation to it to make the color I need."
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"I know that the basic foundation is made of yellow and/or red. You can adjust the color or tone by adding more red or yellow. When I have a client outside of work and I don't have the 400 shades of foundation at my fingertips, I have to manipulate the base color by adding a darker or lighter red or yellow foundation to it to make the color I need."

Andria swatches the custom color on a client's jawline to make sure that it is correct. If it disappears, it usually is the right shade.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed
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She can't see reds very well, but she can see purples, so she swatches the red on top of blue, to be able to tell them apart.

"I don’t try to force myself to see hues of reds the same way most people do; I can’t and probably won’t. Instead, I change the color to something I can see. For red based products, I start out by adding a baseline of blue. I try to get is as even as possible to not skew the results."
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"I don’t try to force myself to see hues of reds the same way most people do; I can’t and probably won’t. Instead, I change the color to something I can see. For red based products, I start out by adding a baseline of blue. I try to get is as even as possible to not skew the results."

"The swatches that turn purple have more of a blue-based red. The ones that turn orange have more of a yellow-based red. If it turns brown, its a healthy mix."

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"I put the colors next to the palette and am able to label them accordingly."

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

And when she struggles with greens, she uses contrasts.

"She had a blue/green tint to her hair, and I needed to determine which blush would be better for her. I put the two blushes that I couldn't distinguish between, next to her hair to see which one stood out more. The one with more red would stand out more than the one with less red. The one with less red would read more pink."
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"She had a blue/green tint to her hair, and I needed to determine which blush would be better for her. I put the two blushes that I couldn't distinguish between, next to her hair to see which one stood out more. The one with more red would stand out more than the one with less red. The one with less red would read more pink."

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And sometimes, like everyone else, she relies on technology for help.

"The filters in the camera for smartphones allows me to adjust between warm and cool tones. There are a few filters that look identical, but I look for a balance in most of the filters."
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"The filters in the camera for smartphones allows me to adjust between warm and cool tones. There are a few filters that look identical, but I look for a balance in most of the filters."

Despite the obstacles, Andria is proud of herself for being able to do what she does.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"My work is literally walking around, all my my work is on my client's faces, that's my reputation. Being able to do it, and love it, that's what I'm most proud of."

And she has learned that her color blindness is a unique perspective, instead of a deficiency.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"People really do see colors differently, and as a society we call that personal preference or perspective, but when I see it differently, its called a color deficiency. If you treat everyone who has any type of deficiency as if they have a different personal preference, or different perspective, then we foster creativity, individuality, and tolerance."

Andria doesn't believe being color blind has hindered her career, but being in denial about it probably didn't help.

"Had I embraced and accepted that I was color blind earlier in life, I could have learned adaptation techniques sooner and would be further in my career," she explained.
instagram.com

"Had I embraced and accepted that I was color blind earlier in life, I could have learned adaptation techniques sooner and would be further in my career," she explained.

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Though her work speaks for itself, things aren't always easy for Andria, and sometimes people don't trust her with their makeup.

"I’ve had a few clients refuse to let me do their makeup when they found out I was color blind. It hurt at the moment, but I got over it. I could have argued to them to judge me by my work and give me a chance, but I let them be. If they weren’t willing to give me a chance based on that, there’s nothing I could say to them to change their perception of me or my work."
instagram.com

"I’ve had a few clients refuse to let me do their makeup when they found out I was color blind. It hurt at the moment, but I got over it. I could have argued to them to judge me by my work and give me a chance, but I let them be. If they weren’t willing to give me a chance based on that, there’s nothing I could say to them to change their perception of me or my work."

And there have been plenty of times when Andria has second-guessed her talent, but she always finds a way to keep going.

"I never feel that my work is good enough and I always want to be better. I overcome that feeling by being open to feedback and being willing to learn and grow. Every artist is their own worst critic, and the minute you stop finding ways to improve is the minute that you lose your passion for the art," she said.
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"I never feel that my work is good enough and I always want to be better. I overcome that feeling by being open to feedback and being willing to learn and grow. Every artist is their own worst critic, and the minute you stop finding ways to improve is the minute that you lose your passion for the art," she said.

She also has to deal with people asking her ridiculous questions about what being color blind is like, but she has learned to have fun with it.

"The funniest thing was when someone asked me how I can tell the difference between black and white people. It was innocent, so I laughed and explained that there are many more factors to someone's race other than their skin color, and kind of left it at that. People always ask me what color they're wearing, I used to get offended, but now I have fun with it and I tell them that their clothes are blending into their skin and they actually look naked to me. The looks on their faces are priceless, until I tell them that I'm joking!"
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"The funniest thing was when someone asked me how I can tell the difference between black and white people. It was innocent, so I laughed and explained that there are many more factors to someone's race other than their skin color, and kind of left it at that. People always ask me what color they're wearing, I used to get offended, but now I have fun with it and I tell them that their clothes are blending into their skin and they actually look naked to me. The looks on their faces are priceless, until I tell them that I'm joking!"

Thankfully, Andria has a lot of support, especially from her husband, who also happens to see the world differently.

"My husband is my biggest supporter. He helps me practice, encourages me to keep going, even after I make a mistake, and he understands my struggle. He has a prosthetic eye and was told he would never be a chef, and he's one of the best in the area! We literally see the world differently and encourage each other to always give 110%, and not to let what others say about us impact how we feel about ourselves and each other."
Andria Tomlin

"My husband is my biggest supporter. He helps me practice, encourages me to keep going, even after I make a mistake, and he understands my struggle. He has a prosthetic eye and was told he would never be a chef, and he's one of the best in the area! We literally see the world differently and encourage each other to always give 110%, and not to let what others say about us impact how we feel about ourselves and each other."

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Andria dreams of creating a makeup line for people who want to break the mold and be different.

"My dream is to one day have a cosmetics line for people who don't want to fit in a box, and don't mind being different. I would want the line to be 100% customizable, so people aren't forced to work with colors that they're afraid of using. I would also want to incorporate some kind of technology to assist them with selecting complimentary and contrasting colors."
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"My dream is to one day have a cosmetics line for people who don't want to fit in a box, and don't mind being different. I would want the line to be 100% customizable, so people aren't forced to work with colors that they're afraid of using. I would also want to incorporate some kind of technology to assist them with selecting complimentary and contrasting colors."

Andria, you're truly an inspiration!

If you'd like to know more about Andria, make sure to follow her work on Instagram by @colorblindmua1.

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