The Rules Don’t Apply: How Anyone Can Pull Off Neon Eye Makeup

Bright ideas.

Neon eyeshadow works on a runway, but can it translate into everyday life? Makeup artist Alexandre Deslauriers says the look is not quite as wearable as your trusty taupe, but it shouldn’t be reserved for costume parties either. “What is very specific this season is that [the neon look] is minimal,” says Deslauriers. “There’s very bare skin, no lip colour, and then this bright pop of the colour on the eyes.”

While we might think of neon as an ’80s trend, Deslauriers doesn’t believe this is a return to disco.  “Neon colours are not heavy like say a dark blue or red would be. They’re so clean, they’re almost astringent,” he explains, “In the ’80s I had a jacket for fall that was purple, orange, and kiwi colour. Those combinations were explosive. This trend is much more using the neon as a brightening touch—one colour, a little twist.”

He suggests a Glossier-like bareness: “Just a touch of oil and some RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up foundation, which is very sheer, to make skin look healthy. If you do a full foundation, it can look tacky. Then a little bronzer and a juicy lip gloss like Kari Gran Lip Whip in Cora Gold.”

Deslauriers also proposes leaving the eyelids bare and adding just a touch of neon colour at the inner corners of the eyes or a line above the iris. And when choosing a shade, Deslauriers encourages you to go with your feelings. “It’s not about a purple eyeshadow that would go with green eyes or an orange that would go with blue. No rules are relevant.”


neon eye makeup

Versace spring-summer 2020 runway makeup.


A few years ago, it was difficult for the average beauty fan to find products that would deliver the same impactful effects that were on the runway, but nowadays, they’re everywhere. Hair and makeup artist Andrea Claire rates the Viseart Eyeshadow Palette in Editorial Brights and Yaby Cosmetics Pre-Set Palette in Graffiti Alley highly for powder products, and M.A.C.’s Paint Sticks for creams. Deslauriers’ favourite neons include the Vibes palette from Violet Voss, and the brighter shades of M.A.C.’s Pigments, which can be mixed with Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Seal to stop it smudging and transferring. And he recommends starting with NARS Eyeshadow Base in the transparent shade, because it doesn’t change the colour or intensity of your eyeshadow.

Feeling daring? Try applying a coloured mascara—even making your own by mixing pigment with NARS eyeshadow base. Otherwise, Deslauriers says, leave the lashes bare—black mascara adds too much darkness around the eye. Deslauriers believes the neon trend is a rejection of uniformity. “In the past, everyone on the runway looked the same, then it changed to incorporate different makeup looks, and then picking strange models and customizing makeup just for them,” he says. “You start to have diversity—and now in society, all the young kids don’t want to be the same. There’s a cool factor in individuality.”

Claire thinks people are getting more playful with beauty in general. “I think it’s a combination of timing—people are just tired of the natural beach-glow look that we’ve been seeing forever, though it’s still my favourite. And TV is definitely having an influencing moment for hair and makeup,” she says, referencing shows like Euphoria, Russian Doll, and Schitt’s Creek.

Is this a look that’s reserved for under-30s?

Absolutely not, says Deslauriers. “Those old ways—let’s do day makeup, let’s always add mascara, let’s obey the rules—they’re getting broken more and more. If you want to wear a three-rope of pearls to do your laundry, do it! Use what you want when you want! I see these older ladies who are retired and they decide to put some purple pieces in their hair. I see in them a feeling that says, hey, it’s not because I’m 70 that I can’t be fun and I don’t feel young and cool and daring. Maybe society would say you’re an older person and can’t do this. But they say, I’m still a person.”


Oscar de la Renta spring-summer 2020 runway makeup.

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