How to Make Pastel Makeup Look Cool
Two pro makeup artists on how pastel makeup can be chic, elevated and anything but childish.
Cloud skin. Balletcore makeup. Coquette beauty. Today’s biggest beauty trends feature blurred edges and cotton-candy hues. They swap the eclectic for ethereal, the defined for dreamy. The end result? Looks that could have been plucked straight from a Sofia Coppola film. And at the centre of this romance renaissance is pastel makeup — think mint green, baby pink, lavender and powder blue. But after a decade of refining our razor-sharp winged-liner application and nailing sculpted contour, perhaps our soft-pastel technique could use some perfecting. After all, we’re not talking about an annual spring fling with pink blush. Pastels for winter? Groundbreaking.
“We’re seeing a shift away from makeup defined by seasons and structure,” says makeup artist Veronica Chu. “When it comes to wearing pastels, look for products that are long-lasting. Because these are softer shades, you want them to last and not fade throughout the day. Eyeshadow primers are a great way to ensure this.” To pull off the look, Chu suggests sticking to one or two pastel eyeshadows at a time. “These soft shades can easily blend together and turn into a different colour entirely.”
A common concern with pastel makeup is how quickly and easily it can go from soft to juvenile. (Remember your first makeup kit from the toy store? Pastels galore.) To ensure that the look is elevated, not elementary, opt for matte finishes, says Violette Serrat, a makeup artist and Guerlain’s creative director of makeup. “A shimmery pastel can veer toward childish territory, while a matte finish looks more mature.” For some contrast in textures, opt for ultra-dewy skin. And Serrat recommends finishing any pastel eye makeup look with mascara. “Otherwise, you can erase your features,” she says. “So, black mascara — always.”
Chu cautions that “pastels with shimmer can accentuate fine lines or wrinkles and may actually make your eyes appear smaller or create a shape you may not desire. Poppier pastels with no shimmer will look cleaner and more modern.” And because no makeup look is complete without blush, both pros suggest (what else?) pink blush as the cherry on top of your sweet-as-pie look. “I love pink blush and pastel eyeshadow together,” says Chu. “There’s something very angelic about the pairing.”
Shop these pastel-hued eyeshadows and eyeliners to add some softness to your look this winter.
Gucci Stylo Contour Des Yeux Long-Lasting Kohl Liner in “Céleste”
With its creamy texture and waterproof finish, Gucci’s Stylo Contour Des Yeux Long-Lasting Kohl Liner in “Céleste” allows you to head out for the day and not worry about your baby blue liner slipping and sliding around all day.
Freck Beauty Shadow Slide Long-Wear H20 Shadow Stick in “Algae Babe”
Leave it to Cool Girl beauty brand Freck (the company behind our OG fave faux freckle pen) to come through with the green eyeshadow stick of our dreams. Blend it out over your whole lid, tap it along your lash line, or swipe on a green cat eye; the Freck Beauty Shadow Slide Long-Wear H20 Shadow Stick in “Algae Babe” is as versatile as it is eye-catching.
Glossier No. 1 Pencil Eyeliner in “Ochre”
Glossier’s beloved No. 1 Pencil Eyeliners come in many gorgeous pastel shades (like lavender and light teal—plus classics like black and brown, of course) but we’re partial to this show-stopping canary yellow hue.
Annabelle Waterline Matte Kohl Eyeliner in “Lavender”
Live out your ultimate cotton candy dreams with Annabelle’s Waterline Matte Kohl Eyeliner in the shade “Lavender.” Formulated specifically for the waterline, you can apply this pencil without worrying about watery, sensitive eyes, or smudging and running.
Guerlain Ombres G Eyeshadow Quad in “Majestic Rose”
Prefer to slowly ease into the pastel eyeshadow trend? The shade “Majestic Rose” from Guerlain’s Ombres G Eyeshadow Quad is a foolproof bet. The soft pink shade is the perfect way to dip a toe into the wonderful world of pastels.
Nyx Jumbo Eye Pencil in “Macaroon”
Nyx’s Jumbo Eye Pencils are bright, versatile, blendable and available in 16 shades. Our pick? “Macaroon,” a stunning mint shade that will add a pop of colour to any look.
This article first appeared in FASHION’s Winter 2024 issue. Find out more here.
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