The Science of Fall 2013 Beauty Trends

It’s fall—the time of year when makeup palettes turn rich and hair makes a statement as our wardrobes transition into sumptuous layers. “To see what’s happening next in hair and makeup trends, you have to look to the runway—the clothing determines the beauty looks we create around the collections,” explains celebrity stylist Patrick Melville, who was a fixture backstage at Fall 2013 New York Fashion Week.

Creativity may be in full force, but so too is science. From polished ponytails to army green nails and diffused lips, even the most artistic beauty trends are grounded in science. Read on as we dissect and illustrate.

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1Trend: Popsicle Lips

Seen at: Dior, Marni, Kenneth Cole, Fendi, Derek Lam

Fashion sure loves a bright, bold lip—and this season, pouts diffused from dark edges to vibrant centers for a creative rendition that resembled the colorful aftermath of eating a popsicle. At Kenneth Cole, MAC makeup artist Romy Soleimani lined lips in black burnt burgundy and finished the center in cherry for an “edgy, hard” take on the classic seduction shade. “The ombré affect makes your lips look super luscious and full,” Soleimani said.

It’s no wonder the bee-stung look has remained iconic, from Marilyn Monroe’s red to Angelina Jolie’s nude; turns out, the fuller your lips, the higher your estrogen hormones, which means you’re more fertile. This is also why lips lose volume and thin with age as youth slowly fades. But today, you need not despair: There’s an endless array of lip products on the market that claim to plump your pucker instantly.

2Trend: Coiled Chignons

Seen at: Houghton, Bibhu Mohapatra, Anthony Vaccarello, Rag + Bone, Jason Wu, Peter Som

Ladies-in-waiting stepped out this season, with exquisitely wrapped chignons that emit an August Grace Kelly and Catherine Deneuve-like cool. At Bibhu Mohapatra, coils were inspired by “twists of a honeycomb —a complex layered structure that speaks to the sophisticated tone of fall’s clothing,” said L’Oréal Professionnel stylist Amit Abraham.

3Trend: Coiled Chignons

Take note: Chignons are a secret anti-aging weapon. Unlike ballerina buns and other tight updos that can appear rigid and make an aging face look harsh, chignons are loose and forgiving—and even lend themselves to teasing volume at the root and pulling a few age-defying wisps out around the face.

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4Trend: Coiled Chignons

Coils also crowned chignons at Peter Som, where Wella Professionals stylist Christopher Dove said, “The simplicity is both minimal and yet strikingly strong.”

5Trend: Bangin’ Braids

Seen at: Rodarte, Alice + Olivia, Christian Siriano, Viktor + Rolf

“Rock ‘n roll princess” was the look at Rodarte, as John Frieda lead stylist Odile Gilbert connected two braids on the back of the head with a rosette over a cascade of soft waves. “This is super easy for anyone to do at home,” she said.

6Trend: Bangin’ Braids

At Alice + Olivia, chunky milkmaid braids wrapped around the head to accent the romanticism of the collection’s feminine dresses. “To give it a more natural street look, I loosened the braids with my fingers and pulled out some wisps,” said lead stylist and Moroccanoil Artistic Director Antonio Corral Calero.

7Trend: Bangin’ Braids

Research has shown that people find symmetrical facial features to be most attractive. If you have areas of disproportion (and just about everyone does!), styling braids into your hair can actually make your features appear more compatible since the alternating pattern won’t draw attention to asymmetry in the same way a center part or round bun does. “If you have large features, try thicker braids, and smaller features look best with more delicate braids,” says New York City salon owner and stylist Mark Garrison.

8Trend: Nude Nails

Seen at: Jason Wu, Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera, Derek Lam, Alexander Wang, Rag + Bone

Crisp, dark nails of seasons past made way for refreshingly lucent tips at countless runways. Beachy sandstone inspired matte nails at Alexander Wang, while sheer cream nails at Jason Wu served as the perfect backdrop for ornate hand jewelry. “Nude nails are very elegant in a minimalist way—they make your fingers look longer,” said Jin Soon Choi at Derek Lam, where she painted nails in beige shades of Estee Lauder’s new Nudité and So Vain lacquers.

Nude nails also mimic the consistent color of naturally healthy nails if you pick the right shade for your skintone. (The wrong nude can have the polar opposite effect.) Cool skintones should look for shades with a hint of pink, while warm skintones look best in beige-yellow undertones, says celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann. Olive skin can match a shade similar to complexion color, and deep skintones sizzle in bronzed hues.

MORE: The Best Nude Polish for Your Skintone

9Trend: Peach Cheeks

Seen at: Moschino Cheap & Chic, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Gucci

At Carolina Herrera, “classic 1940s femininity” was the inspiration for the soft bloom of cheeky peach. “It’s all about enhancing the model’s natural beauty,” said MAC makeup artist Diane Kendal.

Research shows that blushing is especially feminine—as the phenomenon happens much more often in girls than boys, and is also more common among the young. Cheeks flush when there is heightened blood flow, which scientists associate with good health, passion and sexual excitement. And as with many good things, the enticing ability to flush fades with age.

10Trend: Peach Cheeks

A natural flush may fade with age, but that’s what makeup is for. Peach cheeks stole the show at Moschino Cheap & Chic in Milan, where lead makeup artist Tom Pecheux used all crème makeup products to accentuate the dewiness of skin.

11Trend: Undone-Done Hair

Seen at: BCBG Max Azria, Altuzarra, Vera Wang, DVF

Bed hair is a classic cool-girl staple at Fashion Week. This season, it takes on the more wearable guise of napped-on hair, like the “luxe-grunge” texture at BCBG Max Azria.

Melville says it’s a cinch to achieve at home with the help of a hair powder like Aveeno Pure Renewal Dry Shampoo. Simply spray at the roots and then roughly blow dry with your fingertips for texture that doubles to help you skip washing for a day, or two…or three.

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12Trend: Undone-Done Hair

Glamorously touchable tousles at Vera Wang.

13Trend: Bare-Faced Beauty

Seen at: Balmain, Theyskens’ Theory, DKNY, Chloé, Dries Van Noten, Jenny Packham, Derek Lam

Maximalist was the keyword at Balmain, where lead makeup artist Tom Pecheux countered big and flashy 80s-esque designs with a bare face that “doesn’t compete with all that’s going on with the clothes.”

14Trend: Bare-Faced Beauty

Studies show that skin clarity trumps even a lack of wrinkles and sagging when it comes to perceptions about healthy and youthful skin.

15Trend: Bare-Faced Beauty

People have been found to rate even-toned skin as the most beautiful of all.

16Trend: Bare-Faced Beauty

At Theyskens’ Theory, makeup artist James Kaliardos for MAC also opted for a bare face to balance galactic designs, but said, “It takes quite a bit of product to make it look like no product was used!” In fact, Kaliardos used over five different concealer and coverup products on professional models to achieve an attractive “natural” face that was bright in areas like the under eyes and lids that can otherwise look dark.

17Trend: Grape Lips

Seen at: Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Cynthia Rowley, Derek Lam, Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang, Anthony Vaccarello

From a nearly black-like vamp shade to a luscious berry stain, grape was the statement lip color of the season. “It’s a combination of a chic retro lip and a punkish look,” said Chanel Creative Director of Makeup Peter Philips backstage at the Fendi show, where models donned a Marlene Dietrich-like lip that competed for attention with fox fur Mohawks; this trend is not for the subtle-minded.

Provocative lipcolor with deep blue undertones like grape, red and fuchsia, are known for making teeth appear whiter. Yet New York cosmetic dentist Lana Rozenberg, D.D.S. says our cultural obsession with white teeth has only to do with its association to youth, and that like wrinkles, yellow teeth really have no connection to well-being. “Yellow teeth can be just as healthy if not even more healthier than white teeth—it’s just our perception,” she explains.

18Trend: Polished Ponies

Seen at: Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Alexander Wang, Lacost, Lanvine, Jenny Packham

Who doesn’t love a ponytail? The instantly pulled-together style can be counted on to save the day, from the gym to a last-minute dinner. “Skipping a part makes a ponytail flattering on anyone, since it brings out cheekbones,” said lead hair stylist Guido backstage at Alexander Wang, where he fashioned cognac-colored extensions into a two-toned ponytail.

MORE: Get Smooth, Healthy Hair

19Trend: Polished Ponies

A high ponytail is one of beauty’s best age-defying tricks, as it lifts the temples and eyes for a non-surgical boost, say experts. The trick is to fasten the pony at exactly the right spot—the occipital bone that lies in the middle back of the head, advises celebrity stylist Rodney Cutler. Add some tail flip with an iron for even more gravity-defying youth.

MORE: What’s Your Ponytail Personality?

20Trend: Polished Ponies

Ribbons at Jenny Packham felt Alice-In-Wonderland girlish.

21Trend: Polished Ponies

At Michael Kors, bondage tape bases gave high ponies a commanding feel.

22Trend: Army Green Nails

Seen at: Prabal Gurung, Nicholas K, Nicole Miller

Moody polish shades have dominated recent seasons, with the latest incantation an army camouflage shade of green. Jin Soon Choi for Sally Hansen filed nails into a gently rounded shape backstage at Prabal Gurung before applying a coat of Loden Green polish and then painted a gold “V” down the center in the golden Coat of Arms (both polishes available at drugstores in September, $8 each) to create an illusion. “The longer and thinner the ‘V’ shape, the longer the nail appears,” explained Choi.

Nails are harbingers of health, with the size and shape of the nail plate potentially revealing conditions like anemia (indicated by a concave shape) to even abnormalities in the lung and heart (associated with nails that curve over the fingertips). Choi’s trick to make nails appear long and strong subconsciously communicates the message that the wearer is blessed with the health and vigor with which to grow them.