spring 2019 watercolor makeup trend

6 Ways to Wear Spring’s Dreamiest Makeup Trend

Watercolor makeup is all over the runways this season, and you can achieve the looks for yourself with a few new spring launches.

Although it may seem like we have nothing but months of dreary weather ahead, spring truly is right around the corner. That means your beauty routine can finally graduate from just-trying-to-survive dehydration prevention to full-blown fun with color. Remember color? And if the looks we’ve seen walking the runways during fashion month are any indication, then watercolor makeup is about to be everywhere.

In case you’re not familiar, watercolor makeup is the dreamiest beauty trend we’ve seen in a *long* time, wherein various products are applied to the skin with an effect similar to the soft, blended colors of a painting. Think Claude Monet’s waterlilies or Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstract irises. Your face is the canvas, and your products are the paint. In terms of where the color should or should not go, there are no rules with this style of makeup. Why shouldn’t your peachy-pink eyeshadow trail from your eyelids down to your cheeks? Why can’t you use three entirely different shadow shades on your temples and brows? This is makeup in its best form—beautifully playful with a touch of surrealism.

There’s one makeup artist in particular who has become the tour de force for watercolor beauty—Chiao Li Hsu. “I look at the shape of the face and follow what comes naturally to me,” she says of the six spring makeup looks she created for us. “It kind of just happens. I let my brush guide me.” She cites the colorful makeup of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s as inspiration, and encourages others who are interested in bold beauty looks like these to start small with the product and gradually add more color as you go. “I like when certain spots on the face are a bit more pigmented, to make it pop, and the rest will be more sheer.” In other words, underestimate the amount of product you need to start, and work your way up to rainbow status.

  • Katy Ching Wears:
  • Earrings by SVNR
For this romantic pink look, Hsu combined MAC Powder Blush in Dollymix with MAC Fashion Fanatic Palette in Style & Influence and Shop Shop Shop eyeshadows. A swipe of the new Estée Lauder REVIVE: Pure Color Envy Lip Repair Potion across the lips gives a healthy pink glow, plus a dot of Estée Lauder Hydrate Pure Color Envy Color Replenish Lip Balm in the corners of the eyes catches the light. The Stila Little White Lies Liquid Eyeshadow in Lilac Legend gives the look some dimension and shimmer.
  • Puck Loomans Wears:
  • Earrings by Wolf Circus
  • Dress by Collina Strada
Colorful eyebrows will be huge for spring (did you see Kendall Jenner’s blue brows on her Allure cover?) but if you’re not ready to color in the whole thing, bringing your shadow from your eyelid to the beginning of your brows is equally stunning. Pick your favorites from CoverGirl’s new So Saturated Shadow Palettes, and blend through the base of the brow to just before your arch, keeping the color below the top of your hairs. Use a brow spoolie to help keep the wash of color sheer. Hsu blended MAC Shadow in Chrome Yellow on the top lids, with a touch of Clinique Lid Pop Eyeshadow in Petal Pop for the brows. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Prismatic Amethyst helps open up the eyes (just a quick dot in the corner), and Nars Blush in Misconduct sculpts the cheeks to perfection.
  • Katy Wears:
  • Earrings by Wolf Circus
  • Top by Ganni
This isn’t your average red lip. To get the ultimate shade with plenty of dimension, Hsu layered two different liquid lipsticks: CHANEL Le Rouge Duo Ultra Tenue in Daring Red and Bright Raspberry, plus MAC Dazzleglass in Extra Amps for plenty of high shine. Don’t be afraid to use a rosy blush that complements your bold lip shade. With a medium fluffy brush, sweep the color (Hsu used Bobbi Brown Blush in Coral Sugar) from the end of the lashes out towards the temples, making a C shape across the cheekbone. To give the eyes a hint of shimmer, she applied MAC Highly Pigmented Eyeshadow in Vanilla from the corner of the eyes outward, blending into the blush at the middle of the lid. Try the new MAC Pro Eye Palette for a modern flush of creamy color that is easily buildable.
  • Puck Wears:
  • Earrings by Era
  • Dress by Zimmerman
When you’re edging closer to a rainbow-inspired look, a few complementary colors can brighten up your whole face. A warm coral lipstick like this Surratt Lipslique Lipstick in Lady Bug pop against a blend of Make Up For Ever Artist Color High Impact Shadows. Work the color from the corner of the eye through the crease, then trail across the cheekbone down until the color meets the middle of your cheek. Don’t be afraid of adding a contrasting shade of shadow beneath the lower lash line, and top with an iridescent pink from the new Dior 5 Couleurs Lolli’Glow Limited Edition Palette. Hsu added a quick swipe of CHANEL Le Rouge Duo Ultra Tenue in Shocking Pink on the lips, a subtle cheek contour with Surratt Beauty Artistique Blush in Peau de Pêche, and a combo of Nars Quad Eyeshadow in Tropical Express and Nars Single Eyeshadow in Douro on the lids.
  • Puck Wears:
  • Earrings by Lizzie Fortunato
When you want a full face of watercolor makeup, Hsu recommends the Illamasqua Artistry Palette in Experimental for its variety of vivid shades and exceptional color payoff. She’s a fan of fluffier brushes for application—larger for the cheeks, and smaller for the temples, eyes, and lips—and generally uses powder colors for the majority of her looks (although she does concede that cream is more forgiving of mistakes).
  • Katy Wears:
  • Earrings by Lizzie Fortunato
  • Dress by Maggie Marilyn
The key is to blend, blend, blend to soften the edges of your product so it doesn’t wind up looking like concentric circles of color on your face. Hsu also recommends keeping the rest of your face minimal—no need for mascara or highlight with a look this bright—and to set it all with some loose powder. Nude nails in Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Polish in Radiate and Delicate help elongate the fingers while keeping the focus on your gorgeous makeup.

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