The Science of Spring 2014 Beauty Trends

Fashion Week is known to offer up some pretty kooky hair and makeup ideas, but designers gave us a break this season by showing lots of wearable looks that won’t confuse or offend our grandmothers. From screen siren lips to classic soft waves, the science of beauty has never been more at play. We explain how these fresh-off-the-runway trends are scientifically proven to make you appear more attractive.

1Trend: Gilded Lids

Seen at: Jason Wu, Calvin Klein, Jenni Kayne, Donna Karan, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana

Gold lit up eyes at Fashion Week’s most sumptuous collections. Our favorite version was at Jason Wu, where lead makeup artist Diane Kendal used Lancôme Color Design Eye Brightening Palette in Bronze Amour as a base, topped with loose gold glitter and lots of black mascara. “It looks like light reflection from a summer sunset,” said Kendal. (While stunning, we recommend using a pressed gold powder shadow instead to prevent blinking glitter flecks for the next week—we’ve been there, done that.)

Applying an illuminating color like gold close to the eye makes your whites appear lighter for a more well-rested look. Sleep not only makes us healthier, but it makes others perceive us as healthier, too. Studies reveal that people nearly always pick subjects who have had the most sleep as more attractive than their counterparts. And this just in: Poor sleep will actually make your skin age faster, since it’s hypothesized that low melatonin levels associated with poor sleep interfere with essential skin regeneration processes.

2Trend: Orange Lips

Seen at: Nanette Lepore, DKNY, Donna Karan, Prabal Gurung, Christian Siriano, Rag & Bone, DKNY, Creatures of the Wind

Orange may be the new black—and this spring, it’s also the new bold lip. The cheery hue dominated runways, where it was most often paired with bare, mascara-free faces. Makeup artist Charlotte Willer blended Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids Lipsticks in Electric Orange and Neon Red for the perfect mandarin jolt at DKNY, where she advised, “An orange lip is very 1950’s Hollywood glamour. Keep it matte for a vintage feel by powdering and blotting, or use a shiny shade for a more modern feel.”

A vibrant, warm-toned pout is actually an important signal that all is well with your health and circulation. Pale lips can indicate a long bout with illness or a condition like anemia (low red blood cell count) with a blue tint from lack of blood oxygen. It’s no wonder women have been painting their lips with berries since ancient times. While some shades may flatter more than others (err, remember that 90s brown?), tangerine sure adds an undeniable flush that is hard to ignore.

3Trend: Deep Side Parts

Seen at: Reed Krakoff, Rodarte, Stella McCartney, Charlotte Ronson, DKNY, Band of Outsiders

When it comes to hair, nothing owns drama quite like a deep side part. At Rodarte, stylist Odile Gilbert for John Frieda Hair Care prepped hair with mousse and used a big round brush to blow-dry and lift deeply parted roots for a come-hither vibe, while stylist Eugene Souleiman took the opposite approach at DKNY with smooth, flat-ironed hair that slicked into polished low, side ponytails. “Any woman can easily change up her look for the day just by combing in a side part,” he said.

This part is flattering on virtually all hair types and face shapes since it naturally softens features and draws attention away from inconsistent proportions. While much has been written about how we find symmetrical faces most biologically attractive, symmetry actually doesn’t reveal anything about someone’s current health, and no one is perfectly symmetrical anyway.

4Trend: The Cat Eye

Seen at: Dennis Basso, Tracy Reese, Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott

From Sophia Loren to Brigitte Bardot, cat eye makeup has long been the signature of the seductress. Classic black liquid liner gave the models at Tracy Reese an authentic 60s feel, while NARS Eyeliner Pencil in Kalisté made for a more edgy teal version at Marc Jacobs. At Stella McCartney, lead makeup artist Pat McGrath said you could even rock a cat eye during the day, just by changing colors: “Use a muted charcoal gray instead of black—it feels more rebellious than flirtatious,” she advised.

The long flick of liner that is the hallmark of this legendary look elongates the length of the eye. Large eyes on a female is an evolutionary cue that suggests she has low androgen (male) hormones and high estrogen, both signs of youth and robust fertility. And studies reveal that babies look at a face three times as long if there’s a reciprocal gaze, as it implies the type of mutual adoration we love as social beings. The eyes have it—and clearly, anyone looking to win a heart should start with the windows to the soul.

5Trend: Glowing Skin

Seen at: Philip Lim, J. Mendel, Christian Siriano, Balmain, Zac Posen

Skip that mid-morning powder touch-up; skin glimmered and even toed the line with “shine” this season. At J. Mendel, makeup artist Gucci Westman called the radiance “glamorously rich,” and said the secret to keeping it chic is to add bronzer. She swiped Revlon Skinlights on the cheeks, forehead and bridge of the nose with a wet sponge. Meanwhile, at Christian Siriano makeup artist Polly Osmond created skin lit from a sunset by blending Hourglass highlighters and bronzers on the ridges and hollows of cheeks.

Your skin communicates immediate messages about your vibrancy. A complexion that is cloudy often has a buildup of dead skin and oil, and is also one of the first areas to reveal dehydration by becoming wrinkled and flakey. Plus, as we age, skin cell turnover rates naturally slow down, contributing to dullness. Skin also shows when we’re replete with nutrients and healthy antioxidants from a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, which makes us radiant both on the inside and outside.

6Trend: Flower Power

Seen at: Zac Posen, Honor, Anna Sui, Dolce & Gabbana

Be still, our hearts! At Zac Posen, stylist Odile Gilbert created stunning twisted updos that she accented with white silk petals, while mini flower stickers were tucked into the sides of ponytails at Honor for a splash of whimsy. And in Italy, Dolce & Gabbana’s tousled updos were bedecked in resplendent crowns of blossoms and gold coins, where lead stylist Guido shared: “Delicate flower accessories are very old world and romantic, and are flattering on most women.”

Ornate hair isn’t just pretty but also functions as a status symbol to communicate the luxury of time and resources to work such a stunning ‘do. In the 1st Century B.C., ancient Roman and Greek women of status powdered ornate braids in gold to add highlights to their hair, which was curled and fastidiously attended to by slaves. In these modern times, women can still attest to the time—even hours—needed to wash, blow-dry and style hair into a lavish look that garners compliments on that special occasion.

7Trend: Nearly Naked

Seen at: Theysken’s Theory, Zac Posen, Monique L’huiller, Helmut Lang, Honor, Kenneth Cole, Thakoon

Manicures were as light as soufflé this season, bypassing even ballet pink and pearl for the sheerest of nudes. At Theysken’s Theory, lead nail artist Julie Kandalec mixed Essie polishes in Allure and Good to Go for ladylike sophistication. “To pick a truly sheer shade, open the bottle and look at the brush—if you can see the bristles through the polish, it’s sheer,” advises Kandalec. At Zac Posen, an ombré rendition transitioned from frothy pink to milk nude, proving yet again that anything can be ombre’-ed.

Transparent polish puts a spotlight on healthy nails, which in turn announce you as a choice mating partner. That’s because the nail plate can reveal your health condition and age, from streaks that may indicate vitamin deficiency to misshapen curves of illness, to the brittle and dull surface that can come with age or stress. Sheer polish helps “good” nails look even better by adding gloss and uniform color while still allowing the natural nail bed to show through, and provides a little cover for the less blessed.

8Trend: Almond-Shaped Nails

Seen at: The Blondes, Brian Lichtenberg, Honor, Cushnie Et Ochs, Jeremy Scott, Milly, Elie Tahari

Cruella de Vil may have put pointed nails on the map, but fashion has softened the femme-noir look into an elegant almond that exudes class. At Honor, celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann for outfitted pearl nails in Swarovski crystal art that looked ethereal, and The Blondes also showed a pearl nail with encrusted jewels. Elsewhere, the shape appeared in hues like stiletto red and chic black. “An almond nail shape is incredibly feminine, and makes nails look longer,” said Lippmann.

To achieve an almond shape, your nails need to grow long and strong. Weak nails can signal health issues ranging from a thyroid condition to protein deficiency. That’s because nails are composed of very small cells called onychocytes that look like layered roof shingles under a microscope, and are made up of highly absorbent keratin. (This is why your nails get soft and bendy when you take a bath.) By showing off an almond manicure, you’re revealing that you’re both strong and resilient—literally.

9Trend: French Braids

Seen at: Rachel Zoe, Oscar de la Renta, Giles

It’s back! The Parisian plait that first emerged in the Victorian Era and then saw resurgence in the 80s and 90s has returned with modern sensibilities. At Rachel Zoe, stylist Antonio Corral created a messy Bohemian take on the French braid—great news if you’re not exactly a DIY pro. And at Oscar de la Renta, stylist Orlando Pita designed a sleek Frenchie that coiled into a chignon with nary a hair out of place. “I didn’t intend for you to be able to create this at home,” he said. Well, we appreciate the honesty.

Styles like the French braid that lift the temple area can actually make mature faces with sagging skin appear younger. (But don’t pull too hard—studies have shown that tight braids can cause hair loss over long-term wear, particularly among African American women.) And in similar fashion to the way a deep side part helps balance out facial asymmetries, the alternating braid texture can soften your features. For a version you can do yourself, try French braiding the front section of your hair to one side, and securing into a ponytail at the nape of neck, suggests New York stylist and salon owner Mark Garrison.

10Trend: Wistful Waves

Seen at: Diane Von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang, Anna Sui, BCBG, Creatures of the Wind

It’s time to put down the flat iron—loose waves are in full swing this season. At Anna Sui, stylist Garren used a triple-barrel curler on sections for more structured crimps, adding, “I didn’t use any product in the hair so that the waves are floating and nearly falling out.” Meanwhile, Alexander Wang showed a “cool girl” take with morning-after bedhead waves, which stylist Guido created with a rough blow-dry and dusting of Redken Powder Refresh 01 dry shampoo on the scalp for added texture.

Studies have found that starting around your fourth decade, strands begin to grow in with a rougher feel and visibly less shine. Combined with the natural decrease in scalp oil production as we age, hair simply looks and feels older with the passing years. Yet no matter your hair type, the undulating pattern of waves capture and reflect light, making hair appear both softer and smoother, which in turn, makes your mane look younger and fuller. Hand over that curling iron, please!