Put on your headphones, pull up a ’90s pop hits playlist on Spotify, close your eyes for a hot second and think back on what your pre-teen self really, really loved. We bet you have visions of Lisa Frank pencils and notebooks, those platform sandals made from foam, blue eyeliner, your CD player (with Backstreet Boys playing on repeat) and of course, unicorns.
Often times in fashion and beauty, trends make a 360, coming back into style a few decades after their initial fanfare (yes, you’re getting older, sorry). Such is the case with the latest in makeup trends: iridescent lip shades, eyeliners, face primers and eye shadows are back, and you can thank the inspiration of mythical creatures for their arrival.
“The iridescent look is an ethereal, holographic look reminiscent of unicorns and fairies. It can be as subtle as applying a pastel blush or a full-on look emulating a fantasy creature,” explains Heather Harzold, a makeup artist, licensed esthetician and beauty blogger. “This makeup look is so popular right now thanks to the unicorn craze that has taken over. It appeals to a large demographic of makeup lovers who love the ethereal and shimmery, sparkly look it gives, as well as those who love fantasy, and even carried over into cosplaying. Dressing up as certain popular characters has become a craze on its own and these iridescent, holographic products have made it more fun, and easier to achieve the looks.”
Ready to give this sparkly—yet earthy—look a shot? Here’s how to rock it, according to the pros who know best:
Unless you truly are heading to a music festival, you probably don’t want to pick up groceries, go to a boxing class or meet your friends with a pound of glitter on your face. Moderation is essential to achieve a more grown-up look. “On an everyday basis, it’s best not to douse yourself in glitter,” Harzold says. Instead, use a foundation or primer with light-reflecting particles to lend your face a luminous glow.
Remember that #TBT daydream above? It’s likely that you haven’t considered dipping your eyeliner or blush brush in glitter in quite some time, so you might feel intimidated to try it as an adult. After all, you want to have a bit of shimmer, but not look like you’re coming out of a rave circa 1993. “If you’re intimidated by this type of makeup, start out with one part of your face. For example, try just an iridescent eyeshadow and do the rest of your face neutral or with colors and finishes you’re more comfortable with,” Harzold says. This will help you tap into your inner unicorn without losing your sense of professionalism.
Fun fact? While iridescent is making a comeback from the ’90s, the idea of luminous colors that appear to change in different lights and from varying angles has been around for hundreds of years, according to Jules Annen, a makeup artist and hairstylist. “It’s been said that Japanese women in the 18th and 19th centuries were fond of pairing the very subtle iridescence of the red lip color termed ‘beni’ on the top lip with a bold green iridescent pigment from the stem of a bamboo plant called ‘sasa’ on the bottom lip. Hence the ‘sasabeni’ trend was born.”
You can pay tribute to this page in history by starting with an iridescent shade on your lips that’s subtle but enticing. “Start with an iridescent lipstick that can be worn over any lip color or alone.” This will make any passersby do a double-take when you smile.
While at first thought you might only imagine the iridescent trend in colors of light blue, white and silver, Shreeda Tailor, the owner and artistic director of J. Tailor Salon, says depending on your skin tone you should choose a shade that pairs with your natural, beautiful features. “Stick to complementary colors so that the effect is visually pleasing. If you have a cool skin tone, pick colors that are more cool-toned like blue and green. If you have a warm skin tone opt for pinks, red or yellows,” she says. “True iridescence is a mixture of cool and warm tones, but there are highlighters that are more pink toned or blue/green toned so in those cases choose the one that’s most flattering for your skin.”