How to Use Metallic Finish Makeup


Metallic finish makeup was made popular by celebrities who wore gold eye shadow on the red carpet.
Metallic finish makeup was made popular by celebrities who wore gold eye shadow on the red carpet.
Peter Holst /The Image Bank/Getty Images

Metallic makeup isn't anything new; it was used by fashion designers as early as the 1960s to create dramatic runway looks. But this high-sheen style has never been as popular among the rest of us as it is right now. The current trend likely began when stars like Charlize Theron and Scarlett Johansson rocked the red carpet wearing metallic gold eye shadow. Metal then moved to the fingernails, with gold, bronze, silver and gunmetal nail polishes.

These days, you can score metallic makeup in applications for the face, cheeks, lips and even body, and demand is so high that cosmetic companies are scrambling to get metallic makeup of all kinds on the shelves.

Metallic makeup products are made by blending tiny specks of metal throughout the mixture. These flecks reflect light, creating a shiny, glittery appearance. Makeup with a high concentration of metallic flecks results in a more intense, often opaque metallic effect. Makeup made with flecks that are finer and sparsely infused will provide a subtler shimmer.

While you can still find typical metallic shades like gold and silver for eyes and nails (and even hair), manufacturers now infuse more traditional colors with metallic effects as well. It's easy to find blue, brown and mauve eye shadows, for example, that give you intense metallic drama or introduce just enough flecks to catch a little light. The same is true for nail polishes. You can go heavy-metal with pure metallics, or trade in your old pink, peach, red and dark-colored stand-bys for the same shades with a hint of glitter.

With so many options and such a wide selection, metallics can work for anyone. You just have to stick with the color palettes that already look best with your skin tone and eye color. Women with dark complexions typically need darker, richer shades for impact. Those with fair skin should try medium shades or pastels. For eye shadows, look for hues that are opposite your eye color on the color wheel. For blue eyes, the opposites are brown hues. For green, go with purples and mauves. Brown? Go blue.