15 Vibrant Makeup Products That Are Surprisingly Flattering
Whether you’re a makeup junkie or keep your beauty routine minimal, you probably reach for neutral colors nine days out of 10. Pink blush, taupe eye shadow, brown mascara, perhaps a pearly highlighter. Those are the colors that work well on everybody. They’re easy to apply and they don’t draw too much attention to themselves. And they have the added bonus of looking pretty unintimidating in their pan, compact, or tube.
But as you may have noticed while reading about the lip colors that look great on everyone, sometimes the makeup products that look extremely bold can actually be the most flattering. We’re talking about blush that looks bright red or eyeliner that’s a sparkly combination of gold and silver. And perhaps lipstick that looks orange or blue in the tube.
Those all sound like something you’d steer clear of on a typical day. Especially if you’re shooting for a natural look, or one that’s appropriate for the office. But you might want to give vibrant makeup another look. Many of the colors that look bold in their packaging turn into something a lot more natural looking. And some colors that you thought you could never pull off could actually become your favorite shades to wear. Read on to check out some vibrant makeup products that are surprisingly flattering.
1. NARS Blush in Exhibit A
NARS’s blush in Exhibit A, which the brand describes as “brilliant red,” looks pretty intimidating in the pan. After all, a bold, vibrant red isn’t the most typical shade for blush. You’re probably a lot more accustomed to wearing a pink or bronzy hue, but Exhibit A looks surprisingly flattering once you apply it and blend it in. Allure explains the shade “creates the sort of flush one might get from sprinting in mid-February,” regardless of your skin tone. And Essence promises that while “it looks Crayola-bright in the compact,” Exhibit A “adds just a sheer pop of color to all brown skin tones.”
2. NARS Blush in Taj Mahal
Another NARS blush we love despite its very unexpected shade? Taj Mahal. This color looks like a shimmery orange in the pan. Again, not a typical shade when the blush section of your local Sephora is full of pink, but Taj Mahal is a widely flattering shade of blush for a variety of skin tones. Latina says it’s one of the best blush shades for Afro-Latinas who want a “sun-kissed glow.”
Additionally, Tanja Gacic reports for Vogue Australia that she loves Taj Mahal for the “subtle summery glow” it imparts. And makeup artist Malika James tells BET that she uses Taj Mahal mixed with bronzer on Janelle Monáe.
3. Make Up For Ever Star Powder in Yellow Gold
Make Up For Ever’s Star Powder is offered in some pretty bold colors. (Take a look at Yellow Gold, above, or Iridescent Fuschia, Celadon, and Turquoise.) Depending on your skin tone and the shade you choose, you can use these powders as a highlighter, as a pigment to layer with blush or setting powder, or even as an eye shadow. Us Weekly recommends the Yellow Gold shade to copy a glittery gold eye seen on Emma Watson. And WhoWhatWear put the shade to the test as part of a gorgeous look that masterfully demonstrates how you can wear bright eye shadow without your usual eyeliner and mascara.
4. Make Up For Ever Star Lit Powder in Ultramarine
Make Up For Ever’s Star Lit Powder in Ultramarine is a bold shade of blue. In fact, it looks a lot like International Klein Blue — which is a pretty uncommon shade in the makeup store. But this shimmering powder is an incredibly flattering highlighter. A little bit goes a long way, especially in this vibrant and highly pigmented shade. HelloGiggles reports the Star Lit Powder (especially in Ultramarine) will “make you feel like a space fairy.” And YouTuber Ellarie created a gorgeous electric blue smoky eye with the Star Lit Powder. (Which you can check out in a video narrated by her adorable daughter.)
Finally, Elizabeth Brockaway reports for Into the Gloss that a good way to play with pigment,while still wearing a “normal” eye, is to go over “traditional kohl pigments with a hint of ultra marine” at the waterline.
5. Marc Jacobs O!Mega Lash Volumizing Mascara in All About Yves
Marc Jacobs Beauty’s O!Mega Lash Volumizing Mascara is another vibrant product to try if you like International Klein Blue. It’s offered in a shade called All About Yves for another take on the iconic shade. And while you might not think electric blue is a logical choice for mascara, trust us: it’s a gorgeous look.
Fashionista reports, “a swipe of colored mascara can be unexpected and subtle,” and specifically recommends this Marc Jacobs mascara. And Beauty Professor reports this mascara can “add potent length and volume to lashes while also imparting magnificent color.”
6. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Emerald
Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner is offered in a variety of standard shades. It also comes in shades that you probably haven’t considered trying yet, like emerald green and deep blue. Most of us choose among black, brown, and sometimes gray eyeliner, but choosing a blue or green can actually be an extremely flattering way to play up your eye color. Vogue reports emerald eyeliner, specifically, is a great look for spring. “For an unpredictable twist on the cat-eye, swap out your black liner for a matte, mossy hue, like Stila’s waterproof formula.” And the look isn’t just for those with green eyes.
7. Urban Decay Razor Sharp Longwear Liquid Eyeliner in Space Cowboy
Urban Decay’s Razor Sharp Water-Resistant Longwear Liquid Eyeliner is another eyeliner to try out if you want to move beyond your usual black or brown. The line includes options for green, blue, purple, peach, and pink. And it also includes some gorgeous metallics. The shade called Space Cowboy, for instance, is a light champagne with silver sparkle — a color that’s a lot easier to wear than you might imagine. Check out A Beautiful Mess for a tutorial that uses this eyeliner shade. Or, look at Keiko Lynn’s rundown of different eyeliner styles using a variety of colors from the Urban Decay liquid eyeliner line.
8. Rodin Luxe Lipstick in Tough Tomato
Rodin Olio Lusso’s Luxe Lipstick in Tough Tomato looks pretty bright in its clear plastic tube. But this richly pigmented lipstick offers a creamy, matte texture and a brilliant color. An orange red might not be the first shade that you reach for, even if you’re a big fan of red lipstick, yet it’s a surprisingly flattering shade that strikes just the right balance between retro-inspired and gorgeously modern. NY Mag’s The Cut says it goes from “matte cream to a stain over the course of wear,” which works great for this 1950s-esque color. And PopSugar reports Tough Tomato and the other lipsticks in Linda Rodin’s line “may just be the best-smelling, most luxurious lipsticks out there.”
9. Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor
Lipstick Queen’s Hello Sailor lipstick is another shade that could intimidate even the most devoted makeup junkie if you only see it in the tube. That blue looks pretty bright, but the color applies as a sheer wash of a blackberry shade. The cool tone is incredibly flattering as a berry stain, or can be layered over another lip color for a punchier look. The Cut says this “deceivingly royal blue bullet magically paints your pout in a wash of blackberry,” leaving behind just the right amount of color while also moisturizing your lips.
10. Milk Makeup Blush Oil in Crave
Milk Makeup’s Blush Oil is offered in some colors that look pretty bright, like the peachy Crave. The color looks pretty bold in the tube. And in a product with a different formula, those colors might actually be too bright. But since the blush oil can be blended out so smoothly, each shade can look natural and subtle. Or, you can layer it on for a more vibrant look — which is much more flattering than you might expect. According to Marie Claire, less is more when you’re applying this blush oil, since it’s a little trickier to blend than a powder blush. But the formula is great if you want a natural flush, and Musings of a Muse reports Crave applies as a “pretty pinkish coral” with a finish that “feels more like a cheek stain than an oil.”
11. RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Diabolique
RMS Beauty’s Lip2Cheek is a multitasking formula that’s a favorite among natural beauty devotees, and Diabolique is a particularly bold and vibrant shade. The company describes it as a hue with “rich burgundy coloring and intense depth.” Bare Beauty says, “Lip2Cheek is really low-maintenance, even in this deep shade. It never bled, got on my teeth, or dried out.” And makeup artist Marisa Anhaltzer tells Violet Grey this multitasking formula is great if you want a little bit of shine on your lips and cheeks.
12. Make Up For Ever HD Blush in Blackcurrant
Make Up For Ever’s HD Blush in Blackcurrant looks pretty dark in the compact. But the formula is designed to be “ultrablendable.” Which means that even this vibrant shade blends out to a gorgeous and natural wash of color. You can use it over or under powder, depending on your routine. Blogger Alison Elle writes she opted for Blackcurrant despite usually choosing peach and pink blushes, saying,”you can blend it into the skin for only the lightest flush, as I did, or keep layering if you want to build on more color.”
13. Tom Ford Lip Color Matte in Black Dahlia
Tom Ford’s Lip Color Matte in Black Dahlia is a bold hue that’s surprisingly flattering on a wide range of complexions. In fact, it made our list of lip colors that look great on everyone. It has a slightly cool undertone, with just a bit of warmth. This means, if you want a bold color that will look great no matter your skin tone, Black Dahlia is a strong contender. As makeup artist Robin Black tells Elle, Black Dahlia is universally flattering. So much so that each of the six models that Black tested it on purchased their own tube while still at the shoot.
14. Bite Beauty Gold Crème Lip Gloss
Bite Beauty’s Gold Crème Lip Gloss doesn’t look like the kind of lip product you can swipe on for a regular day at the office. And it’s definitely not the gloss to reach for if you want a subtle look. You can layer it over another color or gloss, or you can wear a thicker layer for a look that’s pure gold.
Allure reports, “The gilded gloss looks opaque with just one coat and has a high-shine, foiled finish.” And HelloGiggles notes, “This is a pigmented gloss with a foil effect that’s all kinds of glorious.”
15. Guerlain Météorites Illuminating Powder Pearls in Dore
Guerlain’s Météorites Illuminating Powder Pearls look pretty unlike all of the other powder options at Sephora or at your local department store. The container is filled with spherical pearls in colors that are designed to correct flaws and illuminate your skin. They look pretty boldly pigmented in the pan, but they blend out to a shimmery and flattering finish. In a review of a limited edition colorway, The Cut notes the “original Meteorites are much loved for their ability to cast white light and simultaneously soften and brighten facial features.” Sounds good to us.