Lighten Up!

Editor’s note: A version of this article originally ran in the March 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine. All rights reserved.

  • Colors for spring and summer 2013 are breathing new life into color cosmetic and makeup options for the season.
  • Lips are tending toward more nude hues, while warmer blushes and a clean complexion are creating a very natural vibe.
  • A range of colors abound for the eyes, with combinations of more neutral tones paired with darker or more vivid shades to give a pop of color for a brighter spring look.

Like a twist of lemon in your iced tea, spring is the season for consumers to renew and refresh their looks. “It’s time to open up to the possibilities, to express yourself in a new way,” says celebrity makeup artist Emily Katz. As clothes lighten up in texture and tone, so do lips, eyes and cheeks. Clean, bare skin will be an important focus this spring, with light and bright pops of color to bring attention to one feature, such as the eyes or lips.

The spring palette from Pantone mixes dynamic brights with novel neutrals to create a harmonious balance. This allows for unique combinations that offer practicality and versatility, but at the same time, demand attention.

“It’s almost as if fall’s deep, rich colors have been left outside to be bleached by the sun,” says KJ Bennett, celebrity makeup artist. “It’s a nice progression into summer—very beachy, light, crisp and clean.” The palette flips from the usually smoldering Miami summer to the cool side. “It’s a nice contrast, colors that are saturated but not heavy,” Bennett continues. “They have depth, and are refined and sophisticated.”

The softer, muted and pretty color choices also allow consumers to focus on soft natural beauty, according to makeup artist Rachel Wood. “Real beauty is back,” she says.

Barely There

Fall featured heavily made-up skin that was lush, dramatic and beautiful. “We’re switching it up for spring with a very clean face,” says Bennett. The look is nude and natural, featuring minimal lip color and little-to-no foundation, with an option for color-blocking on the eyes with architectural brows.

Not even a lot of bronzer or a sun-kissed effect is on trend, according to Bennett. “But that doesn’t mean you have to leave the foundation at home,” he explains. The key is soft luminous foundation that looks like bare skin. Bennett suggests a good concealer that won’t cake or be heavy to spot conceal any skin issues. Then, if needed, a silicone-based moderate-to-sheer foundation that will not penetrate the skin. “It won’t cake and provides coverage and a protective barrier for those with acne or texture issues,” he says.

Creating a barely-there face means an emphasis on skin care for spring. “The canvas has to be right,” Bennett says. He recommends avoiding tinted moisturizers and suggests serums instead of moisturizers. Hyaluronic gel serums or primers can prep skin for makeup by pulling moisture from the air for an immediate smoothing effect, while polysaccharides or sugar derivatives hold that moisture in. Silica is another key ingredient for leveling texture and diffusing light.

Katz also recommends using blotting papers to counteract drag from a powder product on top of a creamier product and circumventing caking as the weather warms up. “It’s key to have a flawless look without looking over- or under-done,” says Katz.

The more natural, stripped down face means blushes are stronger, however. Katz is seeing a lot of coral and nectarine for naturally warm, but sculpted, cheeks. “Find what makes the face a little brighter and go from there,” she recommends.

Truly Nude

Lips will have a rosy tone that emulates lip color to continue the nude look for spring. Bennett recommends taking extra care of the lips, conditioning and exfoliating them well. “By ensuring lips are in good condition, all that’s really needed is balm,” he explains. “The look for spring is not super glossy, but something more satin.” Bennett also recommends a nude lip liner, preferably waterproof, to shape imperfect lips.

“A very nude lip is on trend,” agrees Katz. “The caveat is if she can’t pull off a nude lip, don’t do it.” Katz recommends a nectarine lip gloss over a darker lipstick. And Wood adds, “Nectarine and poppy red for lips is super fresh—very cherubic.”

A bright cherry red lip also can be on trend, if the rest of the face is neutral. To update the look, blot down a bright red and put a pinkish gloss over it or mix a coral color with a more brown lipstick to wear as a stain. “There are ways to transition from fall without having to give up tried-and-true favorites,” says Katz.

Color Blocking

Bright pops of color give an otherworldly look, which was popular on the runways for spring. The colors for eyes are not as vivid as years past, but are softly muted, dustier tones that are saturated but not intense. For color blocking, Bennett suggests first applying a stronger color only to the lid. Blend it to the crease. Then, apply any contouring, as well as liner and mascara. The color will be diffused a bit into more of an accent. The other option is to use a black gel eye liner to exaggerate a thick line, then blend it really quickly before it dries. “Layering a strong color on top will diffuse the color, giving the freshness of color blocking without it being super saturated or vibrant,” says Bennett.

For those consumers who are more colorphobic, this makes it more sophisticated and wearable. “Use smartly bright—not neon—colors,” suggests Bennett. The look also works easier with pearlized or shimmering colors over the base to catch light and add dimension. “Matte colors look hard, which is dramatic but can appear cartoony,” he continues.

Light and bright can also be balanced through the use of mineral pigments. “If the color is too intense, consumers cannot control the product,” explains Shawn Towne, global educator for Jane Iredale. “By using luminosity, you can sheer a color without taking away its intensity.” If that’s still too much, use a strong color as a liner instead. “Keep it to the top lid only,” suggests Bennett.

Katz agrees. “Many of the colors are not wearable for most people on an average day,” she says. Her advice this season is to use the colors conservatively as a shadow or a liner inside the lower lid to kick up the usual look a notch.

Natural and Reflective

The prevalence of green this spring is undeniable. Similar to the many shades in natural surroundings, this season’s greens offer a backdrop for all other hues.

Expect to see Pantone’s color of the year, Emerald, continue through to fall, as well. “Emerald is such a great universal shade that works on all skin tones in all different ways. It feels so mysterious and empowering, it’s the perfect tone to reflect the women of 2013,” says Kate McCarthy, GlōMinerals national makeup artist. Emerald reads beautifully on both warm and cool undertones. “For those on the cooler side, look for greens with a blue undertone, and for those on the warm side, look for emeralds with more of a yellow/golden undertone,” McCarthy suggests.

The vibrant yellow-green Tender Shoots is invigorating and cheerful, like the first signs of spring. It looks very cool when used as an accent color on dark brown eyes. Tender Shoots can be used for color blocking on the outer eyelid area as well, just above the lash line and below, then the crease of the eyelid for a flash of color, according to corrective makeup artist Donna Mee of Donna Mee, Inc.

Grayed Jade, a subtle, hushed green with a gray undertone, is more reflective, rounding out a palette of spring greens. “It’s a perfect color for blue/green or eyes that are shades of gray,” says Mee. She recommends dusting a sheer layer of this shade on the lower lid or using it as eyeliner under the lower lash line to enhance the eyes. Combine this neutral green as a shadow with a cool, radiant green, such as Emerald, as an eye liner. “This adds an unexpected, bright pop of color to a daily look,” says Whip Hand Cosmetics founder Riese Lauriat.

Unexpected and Vibrant

Exotic African Violet is a statement color that brings a touch of intrigue to the palette, as purples often do, and can be incorporated into many unexpected combinations. Katz always has loved lavender and violet. “Those colors look good on most skin,” she says. This shade works especially well on women with yellow undertones, as well as women with dark skin tones, according to Lauriat. “There are even purple blushes on the market that can produce unexpectedly stunning results on yellow complexions,” she says.

Mee suggests using African Violet on a dark brown eye, incorporating it into the eye shadow on a small eyelid or used as eyeliner on the lower lash line for larger eyes. A lip gloss in African Violet also can create fantastic colors when layered over lipsticks that are too warm or too bright to wear alone, according to Mee. Try pairing violet with exuberant Poppy Red, a sensual and celebratory shade. “This is a great basic staple for most women as a true red lipstick and looks especially nice in contrast with dark hair,” explains Mee.

And Nectarine, a bright, effervescent citrus orange with coral undertones, is a transition from last year’s Tangerine. If Nectarine lips or eyelids are too bold, try using an orange blush on the apples of the cheeks. “The orange shade works well as blush and lip colors on cooler skin tones and will enhance a blue eye even when worn on lips and cheeks,” says Mee. “Nectarine is always a great shade on most redheads [as well].”

Katz recommends cheerful Lemon Zest to really open up an eye that is very deep set to make it pop, especially when paired with black or deep brown. “Loose shimmer shadows in Lemon Zest look great when dusted over the iris—the center of the eyelid from crease to lash line,” adds Mee. With its spritely greenish cast, Lemon Zest is especially appealing on hazel and green eyes. The color also works wonders on neutral or pink undertones, but women with yellow or olive undertones should opt for a deeper, warm, mustard version.

Versatile and Practical

Signifying the time of day when everything starts to wind down, Dusk Blue offers a calming sense of serenity, and the softened cornflower blue is a favorite of Bennett’s: “It is absolutely beautiful and very soft.” For an unexpected mix, pair Dusk Blue with the intensity of Nectarine. For a fresh look, soften the eyes by smudging Dusk Blue over gray or charcoal eyeliner. “Use just a little,” says Mee. “Eye shadow or eyeliner of this color applied on the inner eye corners can brighten a light eye.”

A warm neutral, Linen is light and airy, providing a nude like basic that is a must-have for spring. “This cool beige tone works fabulously as a sheer shimmer eye shadow on fair to medium complexions,” suggests Mee. “It can be used all over the lid for a fresh look, dabbed at inner eye corners to make eyes look less close set or under the brow bone to enhance a perfectly groomed eyebrow.” Linen as a lipstick offers the nudest nude lip look this spring. Try pairing Linen with Grayed Jade or Dusk Blue.

Katz also recommends a combination of Linen and taupe with black or dark brown eye liner and a pink lip to offset the Emerald and Tender Shoot fashions consumers might be wearing. “Don’t shy away from pink because it’s not on the spring palette,” she explains. “Pink is still an appropriate color for lips or eye shadow this spring, absolutely.”

Monaco Blue also is a classic shade that offers both stability and depth to the entire palette. It truly does complement all complexions, hair and eye colors. “Consider using it on your lids,” says Lauriat. “Use it to brighten up the traditional smoky eye, or blend it with a darker, dusky blue for an office-appropriate wash of color on the lids.” Katz suggests creating a smoky eye with a golden bronze-brown with a deep, warm blue as an accent or shadow underneath the eye for more daring trendsetters.

“Monaco Blue is beautiful when worn as eyeliner for deep blue or dark brown eyes,” adds Mee. “It’s also a fabulous color choice for mascara. It is dark enough to enhance the lashes but gives a slightly softer appearance.” She also notes that Monaco Blue actually will lessen the appearance of tired, red eyes, so it is great for women with allergies or for those mornings following late nights.

Sara Mason is a freelance writer based in the Chicagoland area. She was previously managing editor of GCI magazine.

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