Pastel makeup has made a big splash this year – here's how to wear the trend without looking like you're in primary school
This week saw Meghan Markle make a surprise TV appearance on CNN's annual Heroes TV special, which honours people who have made a difference in the year; in her first TV appearance in months, Meghan made a departure from her usual nude makeup and smokey eye, instead opting for a pastel lilac makeup look with purple eyeliner and a violet / pink lipstick.
“Lilac is an exceptionally flattering colour for almost all skin tones, but especially on warm or olive-toned skin like Meghan’s because it brings warmth and glow to the complexion," says Olivia Devey, national beauty expert for Guerlain. "Brunettes and those with brown eyes suit lilac because it’s a very harmonising pastel with those colourings. Meghan used it as a subtle accent on the eye with a complementing lip which is a great way to incorporate lilac into your makeup because matching a lilac eye with another lip colour can be tricky. For that perfect monochromatic look apply your lilac shadow to the eyes, pair with a soft pink lipstick or gloss and then tap a little of your lilac eyeshadow over the lipstick to bring some of the colour to your lips.”
Meghan looked flawless as ever, but at a time of year when people normally go for sultry plum or bold red shades, where did the decision for pastel makeup come from?
Earlier this year, Rihanna's makeup artist Hector Espinal named pastel as one of the biggest beauty trends for this year at the launch of Fenty Beauty's palettes. "When I showed the Fenty pastel palettes to the editors in New York they loved the shades," he said. "They're what got everyone talking.”
We last saw pastel eyes in the Sixties and Seventies. So where has the new love for them come from?
“The trend for pastel makeup comes from the rise of Gen Z pop culture including the TV show Euphoria and celebrities such as Ariana Grande,” says Urban Decay ’s global MUA Danielle Roberts. She’s right; Ari is often seeing looking like a goddess in a wash of lilac eyeshadow and Hailey Bieber’s not immune to the trend either, gleaming in pastel pink makeup at the Met Gala last year.
As Meghan showed though, pastel makeup isn't reserved for those under 30. “Washing one pastel shade across the lid gives a subtle pastel vibe for more mature people,” says Danielle.
“Ignore the rules that say older women shouldn't wear colour,” says Hector. “I'd use peach, lavender or even subtle blue shades on older skin.”
Fenty Beauty isn’t the only big-name brand to launch pastels this year – Huda Beauty brought out three pastel palettes and Glossier’s matte eyeshadow Sky Wash came in the most gorgeous baby blue (I looked a bit Twiggy in it, but Jemma on the GTG team rocked it perfectly). Freck Beauty also debuted pastel eyeliners for a subtle take on the trend.
How to wear pastel eye makeup
I have fairly pale skin so was apprehensive about adding more light shades to it, but Danielle explains it’s not about perfection when it comes to pastel. “The beauty of the pastel trend is that it’s so experimental and doesn’t follow old school beauty rules; in 2020 makeup is less about beauty and more a form of self-expression, making a statement and showing the world who you are.” Hard to show the world who we are when we can’t leave our home. But at least we can show Instagram.
How do you know which is your pastel for your skin tone? I asked Remi, founder of Freck Beauty.
“The real key to pastels is knowing the undertones to your skin and what kind of look you're going for, but a real basic guide is pastel green on blue eyes, pastel blue on brown eyes, pastel pink on hazel and blue eyes, pastel yellow on brown eyes and pastel purple suits everyone.” Sorted.
If you’re wondering what lipstick to wear with pastel eyeshadow, you could go full '90s with a frosted pink, or complete the look with a hi-shine lacquer style gloss for a super sweet soft finish.
The best pastel eye make up
This is the palette Hector said had the US beauty writers going wild, and there’s something about them that sounds ever so glam (rather than just the American version of myself), so I was excited to try too. These shimmer shades feel buttery soft and are buildable so good if you want to go full pastel princess or just highlight the eye a little.
These are so lovely I want all three - Lilac, Mint and Rose. I love the variety of matte, shimmers and textured shadows in this little compact. Never have nine shades appealed so much. The metallic jellies and the shimmer swirl in the lilac palette are begging to be swatched while the Mint collection looks good enough to eat. Rose also houses peach and yellow shades to suit each and every skin tone. We also spied these in makeup artists Mary Greenwell's collection.
Start by building up your base with the matte shadows, use your finger to pick up one of the metallic shades and lightly press onto the lid in small, circular motions for a high-pigmented pop of powerful shimmer. Then go for an ultra-glossy, high-shine blink by sweeping one of the metallic jelly shadows with pearlescent glow across the lid.
These aren't available currently in the UK (find them on Beauty Bay and ASOS) but they’re worth the wait - or order in from the US, where they're available. Freck is best known for the fake freckle makeup but these liners are equally lovely. They create a super fine line of pigment-rich colour - the lilac is my top choice.
Chalky yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not charming. We reviewed this on site on launch day , all that’s left to say is it’s the perfect shade to dream about wearing in a meadow on a spring evening. In a summer dress.