How to Wear Spring’s Pastel Makeup (Without Looking Like a Teenager)

With the spring season now upon us, lighter colors should start making their debut in your cosmetic collection. Soft, sheer shades are relatively easy to master, but the world of pastels can be a little trickier… Most of us graduated from baby-blue eyeshadow in middle school, and never looked back.

But washed-out pastel tones can make a big impact in your adult life. Just check the runway. Pastel color-play on eyes, lips, and cheeks (with minimal makeup elsewhere) was found at Lanvin, Dior, and Altuzarra, among others. Now, you can nab it, too — without looking like a teenager playing in mom’s makeup drawer.

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Avoid yellow or green; embrace pinks and peaches
“Stay away from pastel yellow or green,” says celebrity makeup artist Marni Burton. “These are colors that tend to wash you out, and they’re tougher to pull off.” Fail-safe pastel families are hues in the orange and pink range. Burton says blue and violet are also fair game, although a bit stronger statements, so they work best for style risk-takers. “But pastel orange and pink are easiest to kill the look,” she says.

When in doubt while matching colors, remember the number 2
Doing too much, even with light colors, can overpower your pretty face. You can match eyes and cheeks, eyes and lips, cheek and lip, but don’t match all three, says Burton. Stick to just two locations — and in colors that are two shades away from each other. “If you ‘match’ the lip and eye, the trick is to go two shades lighter or two shades darker to either to the lip or the eye,” she explains. So if your color family is orange/coral/peach, Burton suggests a pastel orange eyelid with a pastel peach lip, pastel orange eyelid with pastel peach cheek, or pastel orange cheek with pastel peach lip.

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Create definition
Since pastel shades are very light, a little definition elsewhere can keep you from looking washed-out in one color. “The trick to having pastel makeup look on point is to sculpt both the eye and the cheek with a taupe tone powder,” Burton says, noting that this technique will lightly create definition “without obviously showing another color on the face.” Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder ($44) can help with this trick, says Burton, who also suggests thinking about a nude lip. “It is always a bold and beautiful look to use pastels on eyes and cheek, and leave the lip with a deeper, skin-tone nude.” HOURGLASS Femme Nude Lip Stylo ($30) has a range of nudes for your perfect shade.

Mix up your tricks with your age
Although pastels can be pretty on anyone, Burton likes to vary tricks across the spectrum of ages. “In your 20s, you can draw a light pastel eye, and bring the color almost up to the brow,” she says. “In your 30s, you can pull off the same — but add a shade darker color along the lower lash line for more life.” In your 40s, Burton suggests that you contour the eye at the crease with contour powder, use pastel to paint the lids, and a color two shades lighter to fill in under the brow bone. In your 50s and beyond, try a pastel cheek for a playful kick of color.

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