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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.

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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.

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Use neutral metallic finish eye shadows during the day and more colorful shadows for nighttime events.
Use neutral metallic finish eye shadows during the day and more colorful shadows for nighttime events.
Regine Mahaux/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Metallic makeup can be applied almost anywhere -- face, body, lips, eyes and even hair! But unless you're headed to Mardi Gras or auditioning for a sci-fi series, it's best to curb your enthusiasm.

Some metallic makeup is just too much for daytime wear and definitely not suitable for the office. Metallic body makeup, for example, is best for drawing attention to great collarbones and bare arms for an evening event. It's typically applied as a powder or a mist, and you can control the intensity by how much you apply.

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Metallic hair, achieved by applying a temporary spray, is also too edgy for sunlight. Unless you work in a fashion-forward industry, such as modeling or clothing design (and even then, use caution about how you present yourself), shelve the green metallic hair spray until St. Patrick's Day.

That said, the one place you can have some fun with metallics, day or night, is the eyes. Metallics give a whole new meaning to eyes that sparkle!

Your choices for everyday metallic eye makeup are eyeliner, shadow for the lid and shadow for the crease. (While there are metallic mascaras, let's reserve those for special occasions and evenings.) Metallic eyeliner generally comes as a liquid applied using a wand. Metallic eye shadows usually come in powder form; use a darker shade in the crease to give your eyes depth, and apply the lighter shade across the lid.

For evening wear, almost anything goes. How much metallic eye makeup you apply on the lid, in the crease or as a liner will depend on the event. For clubbing, you can be quite daring. For a more formal event with your husband's co-workers, for example, you may want to tone down the intensity of the metallic in each location by applying it sparingly. Or, choose just one place to apply it, such as in the crease of the eye, and use regular, non-metallic products on the rest of the eye area.

Selecting just one area for metallic eye makeup and applying non-sparkle to the rest is sometimes recommended for daytime as well. But that doesn't mean you can't try several metallics together, anyway! Soft, subtle shimmer in muted shades on both the upper lid and in the crease may look great day or evening. Try applying it lightly during the day and more heavily at night.

Finally, don't be afraid. Don't worry about your age, and don't avoid metallic makeup just because you've never tried it. Shirk the rules and experiment until you find the metallic makeup look that's just right for you!

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Sources

  • Style.com "The Look -- Metallics." (June 20, 2012) http://www.style.com/beauty/thelook/Metallics_121208/
  • BeWild.com. "Temporary Spray In Hair Color (Green)." (June 21, 2012) http://www.bewild.com/tespinhacog.html

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