Back in the '80s, neon hues were all the rage. Madonna wore mega-watt green eye shadow and Grace Jones, errr, graced the cover of Essence wearing coordinating electric purple and pink pigments. Thirty years later, the eye-catching trend has resurfaced – and in some cases taken on a new, multi-dimensional edge – in a way that seems unachievable to those of us who aren't YouTube stars. Not the case says makeup pro, Ashleigh Ciucci, who enlightened us about the ease of use with neon shades – even with the advanced applications like a black light cat eye. "This look seems super complicated but it's easier than you'd expect," she said.
Neon Eyes: From Neon Eyeliner to Neon Eyeshadow
Pick a single neon shadow:
Like your entry into the world of wild shades, dusting an orange, green, or pink shadow onto eyelids for everyday wear will help you warm up to the color palette. When sporting the stand-alone hue, be sure to keep other makeup neutral and use a primer first to ensure a budge-proof finish. Try Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.
Let your liner shine:
Swap that ho hum black liner for one that’s neon. Or, do both! Liquid liners deliver the richest orange and yellow shades for a sunset-inspired gaze. Try NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Brights Liner in Vivid Delight. For advanced users, draw a line on top of your lashes with one shade, and then trace the second shade in a fine, but brilliant path on the waterline.
Double up on electric shades:
Ok, now we’re getting fancy. Are you ready? Consult the color wheel to find BFF shades like orange and blue, or purple and green. Apply one of the pair in a powder eye shadow onto eyelids with a light hand (you can always up the intensity with a second coat). Then bring in the companion shade as a liner strategically placed just above lashes. The power-duo creates a look-at-me work of art.
Try florescent fringe:
You’ll want to bat your lashes extra hard once they’ve been painted with a frisky neon. Wear completely neutral makeup on lips, cheeks, and eyelids, and then pop a bright blue mascara on for daring flare. Try two coats of NYX Professional Makeup Color Mascara in Blue.
Rock the black light effect:
The glow-in-the-dark look has been making its rounds on Instagram, and it’s surprisingly easy to achieve explains Ciucci. Start by creating a classic smoky eye with black and gray pencils, smudging the dark color along the lash line with a cotton swab or sponge, and then blending the charcoal hue through the crease. “Using a pointed cotton swab and eye makeup remover, cut through your crease, creating negative space,” she added. In the bare path, draw on a florescent pencil like Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Freak, followed by a white pencil in the center of the line for added dimension. Amp it up even more by smudging a bit more of the neon shade into inner corners and under the inner half of lower lashes.
High-Voltage Neon Cheeks
Pick a peach:
“IRL peach is the most universally flattering cheek color. So, when it comes to neon, it translates to hot coral,” explains Ciucci. Pick a sheer cream texture that won’t leave chalky or blocky streaks of blush on your apples. Try YSL Kiss and Blush Summer Look 2017 in Orange Intrepid.
Get all matchy-matchy:
What Grace Jones mastered all those years ago was a monochromatic eye and cheek color pairing. Cop her style by choosing a neon shadow and similar rouge (read: a bright mauve cheek if your lids are hot pink, or a muted blue if your eye shadow is electric turquoise). “After applying your liquid foundation or BB cream, dip a duo fibre brush into a cream blush and blend onto the high apples of the cheeks,” Ciucci says, adding that this placement prevents it from looking too doll-ish.
Use a neon for definition:
Want higher-looking cheekbones? Swipe a single coat of sheer hot pink color at the bottom of your apples outwards (like you would for contouring). Then, using a large fluffy brush, dust powder highlighter along the top of each cheekbone. What this does is make the bottom of your cheek more prominent, while the shimmer draws the eye towards the top your smile. Try Giorgio Armani Beauty Chinese New Year Highlighting Palette.
…Or as an accent color:
“If you apply a sheer cream or powder peachy colored blush onto the apples of the cheeks, you can tap the opposite textured (powder for cream or cream for powder) neon onto the high apples of the cheeks,” instructs Ciucci. “This will create a neon ‘highlight’,” she says. The contrast in textures keeps it modern.
Since festival-chic is still en vogue, recreate one of the most commonly spotted neon trends this year: cheek streaks. Using sticks of pink, orange, and green, paint a single – or double – line below each eye for a fresh look that can be worn to see the band, or for any fun outdoor soiree. A shadow wand like NYX Professional Cosmetic’s Full Throttle Shadow Stick will get the job done.
Use a one hit wonder:
Apply a single, bright shade for lips that wow. "If you're a lipstick maven, use a matte or cream formula," explains Ciucci, adding that if you're nervous about wearing such a hot shade, pick a gloss or glaze. "And pair your bold lip with a fresh clean face with tons of lashes, bronze cheeks, and polished brows," she continued.
Feeling bold? Try a two-toned neon lip. "There are two ways to rock an ombre neon lip," said Ciucci. "You can either apply your darker shade all over the lips in a cream or matte texture, and finish by tapping a highly pigmented neon lacquer in hot red or coral to the center of the lips," she says. Or "apply the glossy lacquer all over the lips in hot pink, and complete the look with a fuchsia cream lipstick applied to the center of the lips," adds Ciucci. Try Maybelline New York Superstay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick in Romantic.
Draw the line:
Of course, we're talking about a complementary neon lip liner that pairs perfectly with your lipstick. Apply a purple lip liner around the outside edges of your mouth, and fill the center with a gorgeous pink lip tint. Try Lancôme Le Lipstique in Mauvelle.
Keep neon centered:
Dab a small bit of hot pink, orange, or purple in the center of the top lip as an accent or counterpart to the same shadow shade. The gist is to gloss up lips with a clear hue, and then apply a small bit of color using your ring finger (it's the softest of all the pads) right below your mouth's peak for a seriously subtle pop of neon.
Mega-Watt Neon Hair
Go for a bright dye job:
Full disclosure: getting this look is easier if you’re starting with blonde or light hair. Use pink, purple, green, blue, yellow, etc., hair colors as an allover shade or applied in sections. Once completed, curl sections à la beachy waves to really show off the effect. Try Matrix Color Graphics Lacquer.
Try a spray-in version:
Think about it as the trendy look above, without the commitment. Brands have answered the need for out-of-the-box mane tones with spray on, or paint on, temporary color. Saturate just one chunk of hair with a vibrant shade (or several) for neon dimension.
Opt for ombre:
Like the blonde or light brown version, vivid green and blue allows you to dip into the trend without going all the way. Plus, it looks pretty cool when hair is swept up into a neon ponytail.
Get sneaky with underlights:
From the front, it’ll look like everything’s pretty standard atop your head. But underneath lives a layer of multi-colored strands. It’s like a party in the middle! Separate your hair into a top section and a bottom section. Color the top layer of the bottom section in bright neon shades. Use one or stripe in several. Try Redken’s City Beats at salons in Times Square Teal, East Village Violet, and more.
What’s your favorite way to wear neon? Tell us in the comments below!