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I keep hearing that “summer’s going to look different this year,” and, well, yeah. Here in my personal quarantine bubble, I’ve skipped my usual spring and summer clothes shopping, but I have paid a lot of attention to what I put on my face (protective face coverings included.) If I’m going to be staring at my own Zoom square for the majority of my virtual meetings, I’m determined to make it the most fun-looking face on the screen.
Now is a fine time to get acquainted with your own visage. Of course, summer makeup is really any makeup you want to wear in the summer but, for me, bright and colorful looks are like visual catnip. This kind of makeup is a signal of freer, more playful times—when the days are longer and the nights are warmer, and there’s a buzzy energy around everything. Whether you’re deep into creative makeup or just dipping a toe in, here are a few ways to jump into “unprecedented summer beauty.”
A Strip of Sunshine
Minimal makeup doesn’t have to be devoid of color, I say. Misconception! In fact, a small but decisive swipe of bold color can be more impactful than a full rainbow sometimes—you know, it really gives the eye of the beholder something to snap to. Yellow in particular is one of those pathologically happy colors, and I always associate it with positivity (and bees, but I choose to believe they are optimistic creatures as well).
Luckily, it also happens to be quite easy to execute. ColourPop’s BFF Liquid Eyeliner in Make Luv is a bright yellow that goes on opaquely in one pass. It’s also $8, so even if you never wear it again, you’re good. (But seriously, you should.)
I have a hard time not getting liner on my lashes, so after I drew a modest wing onto my eyelids I swiped on a volumizing black mascara in the form of Milk Makeup Kush Mascara. This makes for a nicely bumblebee-esque contrast against the yellow, I think. I kept the rest of my face neutral by warming up my cheeks with Kosas Sun Show Bronzer in Light and dabbing a blurred matte nude lipstick (ColourPop Blur Lux Lipstick in CA Love) onto my lips. White sundress and hair bow optional.
Abstract Bedazzled Butterfly Wings
If you’ve been itching to try the butterfly eye makeup trend (now available on Instagram) this is a pared-down, abstract version of that. I’m consistently bewildered by the many pastel makeup palettes that always seem to launch this time of year. I find their diffused watercolor-y nature politely chaotic—I mean, yes, they’re more visually interesting than neutral, but they’re also so soft that I question their impact. What better way to anchor a wash of pastel shadows like a couple of well-appointed crystals? Consider it Euphoria-lite.
I used the & Other Stories Calypso Nine Palette to create this look, applying the buttery champagne shade to my inner corners before brushing the pale, matte lilac shadow from the middle of my eyelid to the outer corners, then blending beyond the mobile part of my lid and above the crease. I used a thin, angled brush to line the outer corners of my eyes with a little bit of that deeper metallic purple shade, and then stuck some tiny crystals to the center of my upper lid and inner corners with eyelash glue. (I had a stash of these in a nail art gem kit I’ve had for ages, but you can find them all over Etsy.)
After topping my lashes with black mascara (Maybelline Falsies Lash Lift Mascara is fast becoming a favorite of mine) and dabbing some warm peachy blush onto the plump parts of my cheeks (Maybelline Cheek Heat Gel-Cream Blush in Nude Burn), I swiped on a nude lip gloss (Kosas Wet Lip Oil in Dip). Look fini.
An ode to NYC Summer Humidity
Summer in New York will test you. Let’s consider the humidity, which lends a sultry vibe to all things skin-related. It’s the skin show all season long, like the weather is supplying everyone with a collective dewy filter. It is a damn lewk, if I do say so myself.
A smudgy, smoky eye may read like a meltdown—however, I’d argue that it is a timeless look. It gives evening drama an attitude! And it’s equally at home in a dive bar wearing a black leather jacket as it is on the Met Gala red carpet.
Precision is not as important as the types of products you choose because you want it to be malleable but also to stay put. My go-to is Troy Surrat’s Smoky Eye Baton: it’s a dual-ended pencil that has a gel liner on one end (to line) and a sponge-tipped smudger loaded with a subtle shimmery powder shadow on the other end (to smoke.)
I lined my top and bottom lash line with the creamy liner side and then smudged it all to hell with the blending side, shaping it into a wing. It is truly as easy/messy as that. I then topped with gobs of waterproof mascara (or not waterproof, if you’re married to chaos)—I chose Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Waterproof Mascara—and then dabbed some Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek in Werk on my cheeks for a bit of “I’ve just emerged from a steamy subway platform” flush.
The dewy pièce de résistance is Kevyn Aucoin’s Glass Glow Face and Body Gloss in Solar Quartz, which I dabbed onto my brow bone and around my cheekbones for that glamorously glistening finish. A little goes a long way with this one. I’m also wearing Glossier Cherry Balm Dot Com but any tinted lip balm you have will do.