Get a natural look by playing up an earth-tone makeup palette with a single splash of color.

December 09, 2019
Workspace with cosmetics, lipstick and fall leaves
Credit: Carol Yepes/Getty

Do the Bright Thing

There's a reason most of our makeup bags are filled with burnt-sienna blushes, desert-pink lipsticks, and smoky-quartz eye shadows—neutrals look natural, and they're virtually impossible to screw up. But by sticking with a Grand Canyon color scheme, we miss out on a whole other world. "We think of earth tones as dirt, clay, mud, or sand," says Tina Turnbow, a makeup artist based in New York City, "but tend to forget that within nature there are flowers, trees, and birds—all of which have plenty of color to play with." Yes, bright hues can be daunting. But Turnbow's approach makes it easy: Simply choose one feature—lips, eyes, or cheeks—and highlight it with an unexpected tint. After all, whoever said looking natural had to mean blending into the background?

Lip Love

A bright lip looks best with even-toned skin, says Turnbow. Red shades can highlight ruddiness or acne, so go for a standout lip color on a good skin day. Pay attention to the finish—matte is subtle and good for daytime, while an eyecatching glossy coat adds a sparkle factor just right for night.

Flip the Lids

Sometimes a little drama is a good thing. To tone down a strong color or make the shade more office friendly, blend the bright shadow or liner with a neutral shade. At night, go for a rock-star effect by adding a touch of color on the lower rim and then smudging it out some.

First Blush

A bright cheek color is one of the easiest trends to pull off because all it involves is simply brushing on or rubbing in a little more product than you usually wear. Aim for just enough to make cheeks look the way they do when you come in from the cold. "Smile," advises Turnbow, "and then, starting at the apple of your cheeks, blend outward."

Bare Necessities

Applied skillfully, earth tones can make skin look flawless. They also provide a neutral base, perfect for backing up brights. Begin by identifying your skin tone.

Color Theory

These saturated hues can go several different ways—just one coat gives you a pretty, light shade. Want to up the intensity? Add a few more layers.


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