Anything and everything old is new again, from scrunchies and tie-dye to the Beverly Hills 90210 reboot. Add neon makeup to that list, too, because brights are back in a big way. “I’m a fan of the neon makeup trend because it allows color to become another accessory to your look, and you can make it as minimal or as dramatic as you’d like,” says makeup artist and beauty expert Neil Scibelli. And while retro vibes are totally in, there’s still a way to ensure that your electric pink lip or bright yellow shadow comes across as 2019 — not 1989. Here, the pros share tips on how to sport this colorful trend, plus some of their favorite product picks to pull-off each look.
One thing all the we spoke to agree on: Today’s neon makeup is not the neon makeup of decades past. “In the 80s, color was everywhere on the face and applied in a very heavy-handed way,” says celebrity makeup artist Bryan Cantor. “There were also less product options and a narrower range of colors, so neon makeup back then was limited to shades of pink and magenta. Today we have a much wider range of colors and just about every shade of neon,” he adds.
The placement is also much more focused. “80s neon blush went all the way up to the temples, and the bright eye shadow went way past the crease, but the modern application is more targeted,” points out Scibelli. Not only do we now have a plethora of options available when it comes to neon colors and finishes (product picks to come), we’re also wearing it in a much more streamlined, clean way.
To that point, the key is to practice restraint. This is a case where less is most certainly more: Apply your neon makeup to one area of your face and keep it simple, advises Cantor. A smoky neon eye or bold neon lip on an otherwise bare face will make much more of a statement than neon all over the place. And if you want to amp it up even more, try experimenting with texture. “There are plenty of great formulas on the market that can add an extra spark to your neon look, whether it’s making it more metallic or shimmery. Play around with it and find what works for you,” says Scibelli.
Below are a few wearable neon makeup looks to try.
Neon Cat Eye
This is a fun and easy way to start, and if you feel comfortable with it, you can then build up to all-over neon shadow, says Scibelli. He suggests the Urban Decay Glide 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil ($22; ulta.com), which comes in a wide array of neon hues. Consider opting for vibrant yellow or orange, which look particularly pretty on darker complexions, or a cool blue or green, which is flattering on paler skin. To apply, create the cat eye shape, adding a wing at the end, and then simply color it in.
Money-saving tip alert: Pick up a neon shadow palette, so that you can use the color all over your lid if you want, or dip a liner brush in a drop of water to transform the powder into a liner, he adds. Scibelli likes the MAC Art Library It’s Designer Eyeshadow Palette ($48; maccosmetics.com).
Poppy Pink Lip
Neon pink is a surprisingly wearable lipstick shade, and easy way to quickly make a bold statement. Cantor likes the Marc Jacobs Beauty Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon in Flaming-oh! ($26; sephora.com); Scibelli recommends Maybelline New York Color Sensational Vivids Lipstick in Pink Pop ($5; walmart.com). To keep the bright color from feathering, try lining your lips first.
As a general rule of thumb, yes, it’s best to keep neon to one feature, but if you want to break the rules, pair a neon blush with a neon eye or lip. (Plus, this makes it clear your blush choice was intentional.)
Cantor says the Surratt Beauty Artistique Blush in Se Pomponner ($32; barneys.com) is a foolproof option that will complement any other neon tones, but also looks equally pretty on its own. Just keep the blush saturated right on the apples of cheeks.
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