Crazy Colors Made Wearable: A Question of Balance

Published in: Guest Post, Makeup Tips/How To

Wearable Bright Makeup

MAC Lipstick in Heroine ($17) on my lips

If you know me (and chances are you don’t yet, but I do hope we get there!), then you’ll know that I love color, especially when it comes in the form of a TF-engraved bullet — but I’m not one to underestimate the power of purple eyeshadow or teal liner either.

Yet the comments I get the most on my blog are when I wear natural, classic looks. Which got me wondering… How’s that even possible? Can you wear colorful makeup and still look natural?


Well, as a matter of fact, YES, I think you totally can! As with everything in life, it’s a question of balance.

Which simply means that if you play something up, you should play something else down. So, if you’re using bright shades on your eyes or lips, in order to get well-balanced, natural-looking makeup, my main suggestion is to go very minimal with your base and brows. Let me explain this in more detail…

Wearable Bright Makeup

Maybelline Master Drama Chromatics in Magic Magenta (LE) on my eyes

Start with a light base

Even though I often have quite a few blemishes to conceal, I usually like to apply a lightweight foundation (my oily skin loves Chanel Perfection Lumière Velvet, because it’s matte, yet luminous), and then use a full-coverage concealer only on my problem areas, so that the end result is very natural and not mask-like at all.

Contour subtly with powder products

Since cream contour can often look too heavy and harsh, I recommend opting for sculpting powders, which are not as easy to overdo.

Wearable Bright Makeup

Laura Mercier Crème Eye Liner in Canard ($25) on my eyes and BITE Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick in Palomino (discontinued) on my lips

Skip the highlight

I know highlighters are all the rage these days, but in my opinion the very shimmery/metallic ones can look pretty artificial. If you feel like your complexion looks too dull and flat, try using something more understated like the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders or a highlighting blush.


Keep your brows as natural possible

I think this is really crucial to balance out those crazy hues. Very strong, sculpted brows can easily make you look overdone, so my suggestion is to either use a tinted gel to define and set in one single step, or a pencil to very lightly fill them in (for a softer look, try using the side of the tip rather than the point).

Wearable Bright Makeup

Thrash and Urban from the Urban Decay Electric Pressed Pigment Palette ($49) on my eyes and Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil in Dark Brown ($23) on my brows

Ditch those falsies and black liner

Although your Instagram or Pinterest feeds are probably suggesting that makeup isn’t complete without falsies and thick black liner, I personally disagree. In my opinion, if you’re going for a colorful, yet fresh-faced look, you can just skip them altogether. OR, if you find that lashings of mascara aren’t enough to define your eyes, I suggest adding a very thin line with a little flick and/or individual lashes.

If you’re someone who’s always been attracted to colorful makeup but have never dared to wear it in public, you may wanna give this pared-down version a try.

Most people won’t even notice! The other day, while I was wearing this lime green and purple eyeshadow, in chronological order I met:

  • A delivery man who didn’t bat an eyelash, even though I had only one eye done (why do they always come to the door at the worst possible time? WHY???). You might be thinking, that doesn’t count, since he’s probably seen things that we humans wouldn’t believe… Fair enough, just let me go on with my list.
  • My downstairs neighbor, the sweetest 90-year-old to ever walk this planet (and possibly the best cook in town. She always makes her landing smell divine!). I don’t know if lime green eyeshadow even existed back when she was born, but the smile she greeted me with was the same as any other day.
  • The owner of the produce store around the corner. With the ridiculous amount of avocados I buy from him, I might very well be his best customer, so I don’t think he’d give a damn even if he saw me enter his store wearing one of Lady Gaga’s earliest makeup looks and outfits, as long as I keep visiting his store. I’ve never really tried that, but I can assure you that he didn’t give me any sidelong glances for wearing lime green and purple on my eyes.
  • The fourth grader I’m teaching English to. She’s the only one who actually noticed my colorful shadows (and funny-looking hair) and said that I resembled one of the Winx Club fairies… Trust me, she meant it as HUUUGE compliment.

None of these suggestions are unbreakable rules. I firmly believe that when it comes to makeup, there’s no right or wrong, only what you do and don’t like. So experiment, play, have fun… After all, isn’t that what makeup is really about?! 😉

Carolina Braina

Hey, ladies (and gents), it’s Carolina here, reporting live from Bologna, Italy, to bring you the latest and greatest in beauty from the good ol’ continent! For an extra dose of that timeless Italian glam with a touch of humor and self-irony (because, you know, laughter is the best makeup), come say hi at and Instagram.


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So far, 41 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Kwmechelle says:

    Your writing voice + this post = I’ve made a new friend! Completely agree with everything you wrote. And, personally, me thinks being told you look like a Winx Club Fairy is the highest form of flattery. My 8 year old niece (and me) would totally approve of this PSA! 😉

  2. Jessica says:

    Love this post! I am one who also enjoys color… And I do think that the majority of women are afraid of colorful makeup. Thanks for sharing your tips. 🙂

  3. Chelsea says:

    Being compared to a fairy due to makeup is always a good thing in my book!

    I love a good liquid cat eye sometimes, but I’m kind of over doing it every day, as I used to when I worked at a makeup counter. I do more subtle liner most days now.

  4. Icequeen81 says:

    shimmery purple and indigo shimmery blue are options I want to try some day

  5. Julene says:

    Carolina, you’re hilarious! I love your writing style. The tone and detail of your entries are fabulous….. like you!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Wow, I have an almost teenage boy so I have no idea what the Winx Club Fairy is but it sounds like an enormous compliment.

    Thanks for these great tips. I really love the look of brightly hued eyeliner or eyeshadow but I’m so bad at trying it myself. These are good tips so maybe I’ll give it a go.

    P.s. I, too, buy all the avocados. I like to eat them as is but I also love them with lettuce and a slice of cheese on multi-grain bread.

    Finally, you’re in Italy right? Does your neighbor make cookies? I collect Italian cookie recipes. Italians make some of the very best cookies in the world.
    Jennifer recently posted … How to Make the Best Cookies

  7. Holly says:

    It’s so great to see your pics & hear your ideas; this style is pretty much my go-to look! In fact, I recently picked up a pot of Maybelline’s 24 hour tattoo cream in turquoise. I wore it yesterday as my eyeliner & only one person noticed/complimented me. I usually wear purple or green liner & keep the rest of my makeup understated, much like yourself. Thank you for a great post!

  8. Erin says:

    I agree with you about no falsies, less liner, or less brow. These are more “European” ideals for wearing strong color. Having cool toned skin, my palette is slightly more limited in scope but I love a bold liner and I’ll go crazy on the lips!
    Erin recently posted … Juliette Has A Gun Not A Perfume

  9. jessica says:

    I am a color junkie- I will (and do) wear anything. I will rock my UD Electric palette at the office. Intense colors must be balanced with neutrals. It is absolutely possible to wear anything without being tacky or garish. I never wear falsies.

    color is fun…I feel weird without it.
    jessica recently posted … Little Bird

  10. All about colors here as well, and you are right, no one really cares or even notices. A similar lime green and purple combo was one I wore out after an “Inspired by…” look to the playground with my daughter and no one really cared.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Oskia Renaissance 360 anti-ageing & brightening supreme cream

  11. Marcella Yakalis says:

    Carolina, I love these colors! I have personally abstained from anything this bright (bad memories of Hot Topic’s bright green and pink eye stains #emokidforlife) but these are making me wish my bathroom wasn’t stocked with smokey and nude colors! Loving it.

  12. Lulle says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! The bright eyeshadows + false lashes + heavy base + sculpted contour + metallic highlighter + drawn on brows + bright matte lipstick is all good for Instagram, but in real life it just doesn’t work – unless you work at Sephora or MAC maybe!

    Personally I also love to emphasize ONE feature by using bright happy colors (eyes or lips) and keeping everything else very neutral. I do however feel like I need to work on my base carefully when I do that, because I’ve noticed that sometimes brights can make the redness and imperfections on my skin more visible.
    Lulle recently posted … Maskology Vol I: an introduction to sheet masks.

  13. Rachel R. says:

    Welcome, Carolina. I love this post. I’m hugely into brights, and it makes me sad whenever I read comments from women who want to wear them, but are afraid to. These are great tips for making the prospect less scary.

  14. Michaela says:

    Ciao Carolina! I have to agree with you that in order to play something up, you have to play something down. And I’m really bad in not doing that…like I’ll wear like a shimmery blue with a bright pink lipstick. I guess you’d might say, too much color. I do remember that people tend to compliment my eyes if I have a almost natural lip or compliment my lipstick if I wear more neutral, brown tone eye shadow. I have to remember that next time. But I have to realize I’m not in my 20’s anymore! ha ha!

  15. Allison C says:

    I love your teal flicked liner – I will definitely give that a go. And I like how you paired it with a bright lip. I think it definitely worked! And I enjoyed this post a lot

  16. Anna Oh says:

    Such awesome and creative looks! Thanks for sharing all the cool ideas…

  17. Fran says:

    I love the looks you did here, Carolina! I love to wear colorful makeup on eyes and lips, too. I think it’s a matter of knowing what works on your own face. At almost 60, I find that strong liner and brows, especially if dark, tends to look harsh/aging on me personally — but if my complexion/hair were darker, it probably wouldn’t. And I shy away from strong blush because of my rosacea — but, if I was uber-pale, I might feel that I need more color on my cheeks. I’m especially pleased that you did a look with color on both eyes and lips, I hate the “rule” that you shouldn’t use color on both — it’s all in how you do it, like you said, a matter of balance 🙂

  18. Efrain says:

    Hi Carolina!

    After our trip to Bologna and this I know we could be friends. I agree with you about bright colors, in fact I prefer something really bright instead of an Instagram face (complete coverage, false lashes, super defined brows, contour/strobing/etc.)

    And yes is a compliment to be told you’re a fairy.
    Efrain recently posted … Review: Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion

  19. Katrin says:

    Ciao Carolina!
    I very much agree to your suggestions of playing with colourful make up. It sounds kind of familiar to me, als we here in Europe do not use highlighter/ falsies/ and a bold eyeliner in such an excessive way. May be I should try more colour in my life – I love your purple eyeliner 😍
    A presto, abbraccio

  20. Kim says:

    I like your pops of color with the liner; I think most people could pull that off, regardless of age. I’m quite color-shy, myself, because I don’t find it flattering on me (I find color can be tricky on people over 30). However, I have a coworker in her mid-60s who still wears blue liner and shadow that really compliment her face and she still looks very professional. The only way to know what works for you, is to try it! 🙂

  21. Astrild says:

    Great post!!!! I have Heroine lipstick and I’ve never wear it out of my house. It’s so bright and different that I haven’t find a look to wear ir comfortably. I’ll try your tips to wear it. It’s so beautiful that I really want to use it.

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