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Watercolor-Inspired Makeup Tips and Products That Are Perfect for Summer

Sheer Magic

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The makeup swipes and spills you see here may look thick and deeply pigmented on screen, but on your skin, they stay true to there hues but feel weightless and look diaphanous. The magic comes from both the formulas—lighter than ever, easy to blend, moisture-packed—and the technique you use to apply them.

"It's just like creating a watercolor painting," says celebrity makeup artist Troy Jensen. Rather than dipping your paintbrush in a jar of water, though, “you’ll spritz your makeup brush with a facial mist before applying a sheer wash of powder,” he says. It also helps if you prep your canvas: Smooth a serum or a facial oil like L’Oréal Paris Cell Renewal Facial Oil ($25; onto your skin right before you blend in your makeup. The effect on your face is a bit like how a drop of paint blurs across a wet surface. “It looks gleamy with no hard lines or defined shapes, which gives off a youthful, effortless vibe," celebrity makeup artist Matin Maulawizada says.

And because the formulas go on so sheer, you have a lot of room to play. “You can embrace the bold color trends that are happening right now in a safe way,” explains Tim Quinn, a makeup artist for Giorgio Armani Beauty. “It’s perfect for an active day or a fun summer night out.” Here, a few more pro pointers to help you nail this fresh new face.


Photo: Jonathon Kambouris

Bright Eyes

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First, you’ll pick a color—or two. Models in the spring/ summer Armani Privé Couture show walked down the runway with custom mixes of sea-foam and rose or shimmery sky blue and dove-gray shadows on their upper and lower eyelids. When you’re doing a watercolor eye, even unusual combos can be wearable, says Jensen.

Next, dampen your eye shadow brush with a facial mist, Jensen prefers Dream Organics Rose Water ($22;; swirl it in a powder shadow, then swipe along your eyelid, creating a thin wash of transparent color. For continuity, tap a bit into the inner corner of your eye, too, says Jensen. Finish with a few coats of black mascara for contrast. (Try Meghan Markle's $9 drugstore fave.)


Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Starry Night Blue

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Swirl a damp brush into the shimmery blue powder in NYX Love You So Mochi Eyeshadow Palette in Electric Pastels, then pat along both lids. ($20;


Photo: NYX

Water Lily Pink

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The pearl finish of Giorgio Armani Tokyo Gardens Eye Tint in Rose Reflection makes a pastel hue modern, not Easter egg-like. ($39;


Photo: Giorgio Armani

Gleamy Flushed Cheeks

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If you want your blush to last for more than a hot second, then it has to be a powder formula, says Quinn. Problem is, powders don’t typically give you much of the dewy, watery factor we’re going for here. That’s why you'll want to sandwich your blush with a bit of balm or oil.

After you’ve applied foundation (“I recommend a semi-matte finish; otherwise you’ll just be way too luminous all over,” says Quinn), tap a sheer facial moisturizer (a serum, an oil, even a little Aquaphor) on the apples of your cheeks, and then immediately brush a pink or coral powder blush on top. You can add a touch more of your hydrating formula to soften the edges of the color and up the youthful radiance even more. (Related: How to Apply Blush In 3 Easy Steps)


Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Getty Images

Poppy Orange

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Too Cool for School Jelly Blusher in Red is a fruit-infused powder that blends in like a cream—tap it onto moist skin with your finger. ($20;


Photo: Too Cool For School

Reflective Lips

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Here, you have options: There’s the major gloss look—mirrorlike lips almost dripping with moisture—and then there’s the balmy lip. Super glossy lips are a statement. “I recommend doing that look when you don’t have colorful makeup on the rest of your face,” says Maulawizada.

Try swiping on juicy colors, like watermelon and strawberry; they’re flattering and especially fitting for summer. Or if you’ve gone for colored eye shadow or bright blush, then consider a tinted lip oil or a shiny lip balm. (Here's a DIY lip balm you can make at home.) “These let the skin on your lips show through and offer a subtle reflection,” says Maulawizada. It’s that natural, your-lips-but-better effect.


Photo: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images

Sunset Hue

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Equally transparent and bold: Ulta Beauty Tinted Juice Infused Lip Oil in Coral Punch. ($9,


Photo: Ulta

Purple Glaze

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Tom Ford Boys & Girls in Violet swipes on like the most luxurious balm, giving you hydrated, lavender lips in one go. ($36;


Photo: Tom Ford


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