Many of us live our lives in a bizarre fear of color. We know it’ll make us happy and brighten up our day, yet often it’s far too tempting to head back down the road of neutral browns and beiges. It’s so silly! While color can be intimidating, it’s really nothing to fear—and it can actually be easier to integrate than you might think. By going for a pop of neon brightness on your eyes, lips or cheeks while keeping the rest of your look more neutral, color can actually be cool. Here are the bright and neon makeup products to know.
In my opinion, the gold standard when it comes to neon is the Viseart Editorial Brights Palette. It’s a pricey one, sure, but the quality is second to none, and the fact that it gives you every bright color you could possibly need makes it worth the purchase. My personal favorite is the chartreuse shade, which looks surprisingly subtle as a wash of color across the lid.
If you want a similar effect but are balking at the cost of the Viseart, a reasonable alternative is the NYX Cosmetics Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette. It’s a little less smooth, pigmented, and blendable in the formulation, but for the relative cost, it’s well worth it—particularly if you’re just dipping your toe in color for the first time and not sure about a big investment.
More affordable still are the L’Oreal Paris Infallible 24-Hour Eyeshadows. These are a true unsung drugstore gem and are often found suspiciously low down at the bottom of the display. But they’re worth squatting for—they’re a cream-powder hybrid that can be smeared on with a finger for a foiled effect that lasts all day. While the range is neutral heavy, there are usually some limited edition brights which are totally worth scooping up.
Another drugstore gem? The NYX Vivid Brights Cream Colors. If it’s bright shades you’re after, this is the range for you. They’re essentially little tubs of paint, which can be applied to eyes, lips, or cheeks for an opaquely bright effect. The shade “Sugar Rush” is a uniquely beautiful pastel lilac, while “Get Money” is a stunning grass green. Honestly, there isn’t a dud in the whole collection, and if it’s color you’re after, you could do a lot worse than bagging the whole lot.
The NYX Cream Colors tend to be matte, but if you want a neon shimmer, check out the Milk Makeup Eye Pigments. Again, these have a paint-like effect—they even come in cute little tubes. They’re completely opaque in a single swipe and last forever (or at least until you go in with an oil to remove). The shade “Mermaid Parade” is a perfect vibrant green, while “Rave” is a royal purple.
If you want to introduce color to your makeup but are feeling scared of opaque shades, you might want to consider going for a glitter. And if you’re going for glitter, there’s little better than the Lemonhead Spacejams. They tend to be more neutral and metallic in tone, but there are two color options that are amazing for beginners to the bright makeup scene. “Seapunk” is a beautiful seafoam green, and “Paradise Cove” is a bright warm gold with rainbow sparkles throughout. The best part, though, is how easy these are to apply and remove—a rarity when it comes to glitter.
Another fabulous way to subtly introduce a hint of color to your makeup look is through a kohl liner. You can draw a subtle wing across your lid for a barely-there flash of brightness that’s far more low-key than a full neon shadow look. The Glossier Play Colorslides have something of a controversial reputation, as they’re harder and less “glidey” than some other bright kohl pencils. But, in my opinion, this is to their benefit, as it means once they’re on, they aren’t going anywhere. “Early Girl,” a unique duck egg blue, and “Nectar,” a mustard yellow, are amongst the most unique shades.
Of course, color need not be kept solely on the eyes. A fun way to introduce some brightness to an otherwise more “natural” makeup look is through a wash of bright blush. Two fabulous formulas to achieve this subtle neon flush are the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes, and the Nars Blushes. “Dollface” and “Captivating” by Tarte are the perfect bright orange and pink respectively, but if you want something a little more daring, Nars’s “Exhibit A” (a matte, fiery red) is absolutely incredible.
There are an abundance of bright lipsticks on the market. In my opinion, though, the Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Lipsticks offer some of the most unique shades. On top of this, their formula is truly out of this world—somehow simultaneously matte and long-lasting but still flattering and comfortable.
However, you needn’t really drop a dime on a bright, matte lipstick. Among the best on the market are the Wet ‘n’ Wild Megalast Lip Colors. At around $2 a pop, they’re an incredible way to build up a brighter lipstick wardrobe without having to spend too much. They’re similar in formula to the Fenty, too—though a little dryer and more draggy to apply, they offer comparable lasting time and comfort.
If you’re looking for an offbeat way to add some color to your look, though, consider a temporary dye. The L’Oreal Colorista Wash Out shades have options that can even show up on darker hair. Changing up your hair color can make you feel (temporarily) like a whole new person—and these offer the option without too much commitment.
While color can be intimidating, taking small steps to integrate can make the process easier. Sticking to just one colorful aspect can help you avoid slipping into “clown” territory and ensure you still look cool—just a little bit brighter!
By Annie Walton Doyle