Ethereal Watercolor Makeup Is This Summer’s Most Striking Look

Photograph by Richard Burbridge

Part ‘80s retrofuturism, part Bjork album cover, part Impressionist painting, watercolor-inspired makeup is here to combat your mid-August boredom—and this summer has provided plenty of inspiration to draw from. Back in July, model’s lids and cheeks were swiped with technicolor shadow at the Dundas’s FW19 couture show. Hunter Schafer’s colorful makeup inspired countless articles on Euphoria makeup artistDoniella Davy, while in real life Alexa Demie shared a picture of Bowie-worthy tangerine and fuchsia contour just last week. Always on trend, a quick scroll through Rico Nasty’s feed will show colorful contouring in every possible hue. Adwoa Aboah offered a more demure take on the trend for 2019’s Met Gala, pairing it with a rhinestone headdress. Admittedly, this expressive technique is nothing new to the beauty world: Devon Aoki rocked more delicate versions of this look countless times in the late ’90s and early ’20s. Rihanna swept magenta all over her temples for 2017’s Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons’ Met Gala, while sweeps of pale pink were applied to the cheekbones of Valentino’s SS2018 show. What sets this iteration apart from prior iterations is its kaleidoscopic use of color and occasional delicate embellishment. Take a peek at Instagram’s boldest takes on this artistic trend, here.


Diane Kendal applied a colorful shadow at Peter Dundas back in July. Courtesy of Instagram.


Tahmina May shows off a full face version. Courtesy of Instagram.


A softer, ’80s-inspired take on the trend by Hayley Kassel. Courtesy of Instagram.


Euphoria might be over, but Alexa Demie’s major makeup isn’t. Courtesy of Instagram.


A pearl-encrusted pairing from Jes Santos. Courtesy of Instagram.


Model @uglyworldwide paired her neon shadow with blue contacts. Courtesy of Instagram.


Ana Takahashi shared a quick snap of a glittery, ethereal version. Courtesy of Instagram.


Rico Nasty used graphic accents to a multicolored eye. Courtesy of Instagram.


London-based artist Lynskiii is famous for her watercolor technique. Courtesy of Instagram.