Metallic Makeup: Exactly How to Wear It

No doubt there are various shades of gold, silver, rose gold or bronze (perhaps even a mixture of some or all of these) currently occupying real estate on your neck, wrists and ears, so why not add those same hues to your makeup repertoire?

Metallic tones can help highlight the features you want to accentuate and provide a way to add some pop to your look without the use of bright colors. To eliminate any fears of looking like the Tin Man’s stunt double, though, we asked the pros how to do it right.

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1What Works For Your Skintone

There are some general guidelines here, but it’s makeup we’re talking about, not a tattoo. If you try something and don’t like it, wash it off! New York City makeup artist Maribeth Madron breaks it down like this:

Fair skin with cool undertones: pearl or pale pink shades.
Fair skin with yellow undertones: soft gold
Medium skin with cool undertones: rose-gold metallic
Medium skin with yellow undertones: peachy-gold shades
Olive skin: reddish-copper
Dark skin with cool undertones: bronze
Dark skin with warm undertones: copper

2Heavy Metal Nails

For metallic newbies, nail color is a good place to start, since it looks great on everyone. Try Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Nail Polish in Gilty Party, or if your’e feeling a little more daring, opt for Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish in Swagga Like Us, an oxidized copper teal shade with a mirrored chrome finish.

MORE: Nail Art Trends You Can Do Yourself

3Enhancing Your Eye Colo

If you’re daunted, your orbs are a good place to ease into the metallic thing. Madron says to do it in a subtle way by placing shadow, like Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow for Eyes, Rimmel London Scandal Eyes Eyeshadow Stick, Mally Beauty Evercolor Shadow Stick (or smudging a liner like L’Oreal HiP Studio Secrets Professional Color Chrome Eyeliner) across the lash line up to the crease and into the inner corners, paired with black liner and mascara.

“For a more dramatic look, choose a metallic cream eye color in a complementary shade—purple for green eyes, blue for brown eyes, orange or gold for blue eyes—and paint around upper and lower lash lines in a cat-eye shape, exaggerating the outer corner,” she says. Try Lancome Color Design Infinite 24H for a variety of glimmery, colorful options.

4Balancing Act

Rebecca Restrepo, Elizabeth Arden Global Makeup Artist, says the best way to balance metallic accents is to make sure that there are elements of definition; think several coats of black mascara and a dark eyeliner, and full yet groomed brows.

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5Play Up Your Skin

Starting with a smooth canvas is key. Madron says to exfoliate, moisturize and prime your skin before doing anything, since those luminous metallic particles can be especially effective at exaggerating flaws like fine lines and dry patches.

A creamy formula, such as NARS The Multiple, is the perfect way to highlight the cheekbones, brow bones and cupid’s bow; the idea here is to use the makeup’s shimmery effect to draw attention to—or help create the illusion of—great bone structure.

Restrepo says to avoid looking like a sparkle-happy tween by toning down the glow elsewhere. She suggests pairing metallic accents with matte or satin skin, a creamy and non-shimmery blush, finished with a natural or matte lip color.

6Shimmery Metallic Lips

For the cosmetics-adventurous among us, here’s a chance to boldly go where few have gone before. Madron says while that a metallic lip for most of us non-supermodels can be hard to pull off, it’s truly not an utter impossibility. Here are her suggestions:

1. Choose a shade of lip color you would normally wear, but with a metallic finish (try MAC Viva Glam IV).
2. Keep it modern with a glittery metallic effect, as opposed to a 1980s-style frosted finish.
3. Again, be sure to exfoliate and moisturize before applying, and keep your other makeup at more of a minimum.

MORE: The Best Bright Lips for Your Skintone