I'm 34 years old, and somewhere along my cultural development, I learned that women my age are expected to tone themselves down. I'm discovering that in one's mid-30s, social pressures to conform to respectable beauty standards are so real — especially when it comes to makeup. Suddenly, my family is intimating that I should "think about" more muted tones, while sales associates at cosmetics stores are leading me toward brands that specialize in neutral colors.
You know what I say? Eff that.
Respectability politics manifests in a lot of different ways. When it comes to beauty expectations, respectability polices appearance through an ageist lens — your cultural value is highest when you're young, and in order to preserve that value, you need to hold on to as much of that youth as possible — but don't look like you're trying to look young. And wearing neon makeup is precisely the definition of trying.
Neon makeup is fun because it's so visible. It's a middle finger to subtlety, a way to visually declare your existence and inject brightness into a world that feels lonely, depressing, and unyielding most of the time.
For me, neon makeup isn't about recapturing youth — to quote Girls, you couldn't pay me enough to be 24 again — it's about defining what my 30s mean to me. My 30s, thus far, have felt like Saturn never left its return, and what better way to cope than wearing teal stuff on your face?
ColourPop sent me its End of the Rainbow collection to play with, and, despite some reservations about the product formulas (more on that below), the fun, bright shades were balm for my nihilistic millennial soul.
I started with my usual base face.
Before I got started with ~crazy colors~, I needed my base look. When wearing brightly colored makeup, I focus heavily on ensuring even, glowing skin to really make the colors stand out. It takes me about 10 minutes in total to do this routine.
Foundation: Makeup Revolution Conceal & Hydrate Foundation ($12). Makeup Revolution sent me this foundation to try out, and I was so impressed with it that it has now replaced my go-to Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Foundation ($58) for everyday. I prefer light to medium coverage, and use the dot method to taper the coverage across my cheeks with a Beautyblender ($20). My secret to thinning out this foundation into super-sheer coverage? I let it warm on the back of my hand and apply the dots with a tiny bit of facial oil on my fingertips.
Cheeks: Zoeva's Basic Moment face palette ($19) is a total game changer. The blush and bronzer are wearable colors that enhance your natural inner glow. I never travel without it. Contouring is not my thing so much; I just blend a tiny bit of bronzer on my temples and under my cheek apples.
Eyebrows: Since I wear glasses, eyebrows are where I spent the most time on when doing my makeup. I want to make sure they aren't visually washed out behind my glasses, so I used the Revolution Pro Volume and Sculpt Gel ($10), which is my favorite drugstore-priced eyebrow gel. I brushed the color through with a spoolie, and the formula sets nicely in a few minutes.
Lips: Kept it simple with Too Faced Lip Injection Lip Gloss ($23). One tube has lasted me approximately 1,000 years.
Look at this magic!
The ColourPop End of the Rainbow collection is truly a sight to behold. It contains:
•Mad About Hue, a kit of five white makeup brushes ($20)
•She's A Rainbow, a 24-pan palette containing pressed powder eye shadows, pigments, and pressed glitters ($40)
The BFF Crème Gel eyeliners caught my eye (ha!) first.
I was most excited to play with the Over-Chromatic eyeliners. My brain soared with visions of wearing bright eyeliner in socially "inappropriate" settings, like neon green winged eyeliner to meet my (nonexistent) significant other's parents, or safety barrel-orange to Passover dinner. I couldn't wait to swatch the liners. On my hand, the colors are:
•Crssd, a neon yellow
•Piggy Bank, a bright violet
•Puppy, a neon red-orange
•Electric Daisy, a neon lime green
•Prance, a baby blue
The liners swatched admirably on my hand, as you can see above. On my eyes, not so much.
Unfortunately, the liners were a mess.
The liners crumbled as soon as they touched my lids. By the time I finished, my desk was littered with tiny pebbles of eyeliner in neon colors. It was oddly cute, but it also represented a significant amount of wasted material.
The diameter of the liners were also too thick to get a precise line. The liners don't include a sharpener, so I wasn't able to get a finer point either.
I attempted two different techniques: drawing a long continuous line in one quick sweep, and tiny flicks to create a line slowly. On my right eye, the flicks provided better color payoff, but caused the most breakage. On my left eye, I tried the long line technique, but the thick rounded tip made me look like I applied it while drunk (I was not drinking, despite my family watching college football in the background). (Our team won. Go Bucks!)
I found Electric Daisy to be minimally chalky compared with the rest of the BFF liners. With Crssd, it seemed like the pigment was breaking up as I drew a line; it pilled, as though the formula contains ingredients that are chemically incompatible. This occurred on my hand swatch as well. Puppy and Piggy Bank were the most evenly pigmented. I especially loved Puppy and would definitely repurchase if I could figure out how to stop breaking the liner tips!
All this said, I am also perfectly willing to concede that my technique is total trash and that I suck at eyeliner. In the interest of fairness, I probably pushed too hard on the tips. Steadier hands would make easier work of these beautiful liner babies.
The She's a Rainbow palette was much, much better.
The eye shadow palette and colored mascaras were lovely. I opened the palette and, upon seeing the cute colors, I yelped in delight like a small woodland creature. Like ColourPop's Build Your Own Palette, the pressed shadows come separately packed with magnetic backings. Placing all the shadows into the palette was soothing in a way I can't describe, and I spent a good 10 minutes arranging the colors in various satisfying configurations.
I immediately got to work playing with the shadows. For this look, I used Sunkiss'd, a bright matte orange, all over my lids, keeping the color below the crease. This keeps the look more wearable for my taste. For a wash of color, the small tapered brush gave me the right amount of pigment.
Next, I used the small shader brush to lightly line three-quarters of my bottom waterlines with Right Tempo, a dazzling lapis blue. The remaining bit of waterline and my inner corners were given a flush of the gold Origami Jelly Much eye shadow, heavily blended out to keep it sheer and light.
I topped it off with the teal BFF Mascara, which I will probably use every day forever. Technically, mascaras should be ditched within two months, but I rejuvenate my dried-out mascaras with eye contact solution and they're fine. Don't judge me! I haven't gotten an infection yet.
The sad BFF eyeliner experience was also solved with the palette. I used mixing medium with the shadows and the slanted eyeliner brush from the Mad About Hue brush kit. I picked up the shadow colors onto the brush, then dampened it verrrry lightly with the medium, and voilà! The palette becomes 24 potential eyeliner colors.
There's lots of mixing mediums on the market, and most of them are great, but my personal favorite is Make Up For Ever's Aqua Seal ($21). Seriously, this stuff is alchemy — with just one drop, your favorite eye shadows are transformed into watery formulas that will survive the collapse of the Anthropocene Epoch.
This is definitely more of a going-out look.
Sure, watching Euphoria makes me feel like I'm so old, like my back is going to give out at any minute, but the makeup is brilliant. I tried out a Euphoria-inspired makeup look with purples and blues, colors I love wearing with my green eyes.
My favorite bright makeup trick is blending color right below my eyebrows. I like to place a line of color with a small detail brush under the arches, and blend it out with my fingertips down to where my glasses begin. I used Seeing Stars, which has a very slight shimmer when the light hits it just right.
On my lids, I used Tide Pool, a shimmery cerulean blue, and blended it to just underneath my crease. The inner lids were washed with Hold Me Down, a metallic violet, that I extended up through the crease for more depth. I also lightly lined my waterlines with Hold Me Down, keeping everything smudgy and light.
In the inner corners, I also placed Tide Pool in there to bring it all together, and dusted extra shimmer in there from Right Tempo. I topped it all off with the BFF colored mascara in Purple Prose. The color payoff was slightly disappointing; I had hoped that it would be noticeable with the blue inner corners, but the mascara read more blue-gray when it set. I didn't use any white mascara primer, though, so take that into consideration.
All said, I really enjoyed the ColourPop End of the Rainbow collection and would recommend it (other than the eye liners) to anyone, regardless of age. Those who frequent music festivals or perform onstage would especially like the set, as it offers a ton of choices for artistry and drama. For regular degular schmegular folks like me, it's a lot of fun to play with. Keeping bright, colorful makeup handy is useful for when the everyday blues creep in — a reminder that there is still beauty left in the world, and you can put it on your face.
Revelist was gifted products by Makeup Revolution, Zoeva, and ColourPop brands free of charge, but that in no way influences the way we comment on or review them.
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