One of our favorite parts of summer is that every type of makeup you can imagine suddenly becomes available in neon. As the temperature rises, so do the bold, in-your-face makeup shades that are synonymous with poolside parties or a long, luxurious beachfront vacation to Rio. And this change in color palette comes at the perfect time to pull us out of a long winter funk.
“When spring gets here, everybody is so sick of the weather being so dark and all of the fall colors being winey and earthy,” says celebrity makeup artist and Mark Beauty Expert Jamie Greenberg. “I think everybody is just excited for a change.” When you compare it to nature—greener grass, brighter sunshine, bluer skies—it makes sense that the season brings vibrancy to the makeup world, too. “It just goes with the vibe in the air,” Greenberg says.
If you’ve picked up a magazine or scrolled through Pinterest lately, you know that neon lipstick and eye color are both huge right now. Think they’re too bold for you? Think again. All you have to do is consider your skintone and eye color to make these neon shades totally wearable and flattering on you.
Going Bold On: The Lips
If you have olive-to-dark skin, you can get away with bolder colors and even tricky ones like orange will be flattering. (There’s a reason Lupita can do no wrong!) If you’re more fair-skinned, blue-based pinks are your best bet. “A very pale girl can rock a fuchsia lip like no one’s business,” says Greenberg. “But an orange won’t meld in with her skin as pretty and naturally as the violet undertones in fuchsia.”
When it comes to undertones, it’s about matching. Ladies with warm undertones will look great in orange, and cool undertones look great with colors like the fuchsia that are blue-based.
If you are fairer and still want to try orange—because, let’s be honest, there shouldn’t be any rules in makeup—Greenberg suggests just wearing it a few hues lighter to tone it down a bit. Dab the color onto your lip with your finger so it’s more of a light wash of neon.
NYX Butter Lipstick in Hot Tamale, $6
Topshop Sheer Lips in Pleased as Punch and Nuclear, $16 each
Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Fuchsia Flash Matte and Play With Fire, $20 each
Nars Semi Matte Lipstick in Schiap, $26
MAC Pro Longwear Lip Creme in Good to Go, $18
Going Bold On: The Eyes
Using neon eye makeup is also a surefire way to make a bold statement this summer. Whether you want to experiment with bright shadows, fun, colored eyeliner, or are daring enough to go all the way with colored mascara (we had some fun with it ourselves), following the rules of complimentary colors is key.
Generally, blue eyes look really good with a neon purple accent, green looks really pretty with purple and fuchsia, and brown eyes go with everything (as always), Greenberg says. But when it comes to oranges and yellows, things can get a little tricky yet again.
“Yellow makes someone who’s more fair look a little sallow,” she notes. “The more tan you are, the better it will look,” but it’s truly those with very dark complexions that will be able to rock it. To make this jarring shade flattering, she suggesting just dabbing it in the corner of eye with another color as the main focus. Try using a bright purple all over the lid, then wetting the yellow shadow and applying it as an underliner to add just a pop of brightness. You can mix and match colors with this type of two-color look, but just remember to stick to colors that are complementary for the most compliment-worthy combos.
Another trick Greenberg suggests is using a neon eyeshadow as eyeliner. Wet the shadow pot and apply with a thin eyeliner brush. That way, you’ll get that pop of neon without feeling like you went overboard.
Going Bold On: The Nails
And you can never go wrong with your nails. “This is the time to do it,” says Greenberg, because once fall and winter roll back around, we’ll be back to vampy purples and oxblood. Embrace the color while you can. Plus, nothing looks more vivid and electric against tan toes than a bright neon polish.
If you’re more of a beginner with this kind of stuff, Greenberg recommends choosing one facial feature to be the star. But if you’re a regular scientist when it comes to makeup, have at it. Just keep complimentary colors in mind. For example, try a neon orange lip with bright blue eyeliner. “If you’re more adventurous, I love doing three neon colors on your eye to go out at night. It’s just really fun,” says Greenberg. Try something different, and make your makeup your brightest and boldest accessory.
Remember: There are no rules. Don’t be scared to experiment with color—makeup should be fun, and neon colors certainly are proof of that.