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Blonde Ambition: go beyond cliché makeup

Written By: Brigitte on June 28, 2013 5 Comments

Creating the right makeup for a blonde is deceptively challenging. Why? Because it’s so easy to overdo it.

To begin with very few women are real blondes, so finding their real color story based on skin tone and hair color demands some expertise. Is the skin yellow-based, pink-based, tan or olive? Or, since her hair color has been altered and is now a light, reflective halo around the face one can’t just do a “paint-by-numbers” routine. You have to use a light touch and be subtle.

an iconic blonde: Michelle Pfeiffer

Two of the many looks I’ve done for Michelle Pfeiffer
hair by Richard Marin

As a makeup artist, color is only half of what I need to figure out. Style is just as important.

The stereotypical blonde we first tend to think of is a Pamela Anderson type. She puts a heavy emphasis on “sexy” with pre-requisite over-teased hair, black rimmed eyes and an erased lip. But there are many other types and styles of blondes: classy Charlize Theron, chic Scarlett Johansson, impossibly hip Kate Moss and unparalleled Tilda Swinton. Do any of these women look the same and wear the same makeup? Absolutely not. The style determines the look.

Greta Gerwig as a 60's bombshell

Greta Gerwig as a classy bombshell

Here is some general advice for a blonde:

  • Do not use a darker foundation to look tan. The makeup would get immediately look heavy. If you want to go the tan way, “frame the face” with a bronzer (see blog post Tip: how to balance your tan) which will give a sunny glow while keeping the skin looking fresh.
  • Do not use a black eyeliner and eyeshadow as a default mode. Black tends to look quite hard on blondes and can make the eyes look smaller. Unless you are going for a sophisticated evening look, stick to dark brown, dark grey, gunmetal and navy, which will look dark and deep but act softer than black.
  • Don’t do a strong lip AND a strong eye. If it’s badly done it will look cheap and if it’s it’s well done it will just look retro. If that’s the theme you’re going for that’s fine.
  • January Jones in my version of retro-glam

    January Jones in my version of retro-glam

  • If you need to turn up the volume on the Glamo-meter, rather than make a heavy, dark statement on the eyes, try playing with texture. A shimmery eye, or a high-shine gloss can achieve just as dramatic an effect and still look chic.
  • In general, avoid blue eye shadow just because it’s such a cliché. There are many other shades to choose from so try and expand your horizon. Dove, lilac, suede, pewter, peach are great options.

The do’s:

  • Think of a head of blonde hair as a luminous frame for the face, and work to pick up even more light with the makeup: use highlights on the skin and shimmery finishes on the eyes.
  • If you’re fair use a palette of soft pastels for anything on and around the face:
    baby pink, dove grey, apricot, blush.
  • If you are tan, choose brown, camel, sienna, copper and gold.
  • a tan Dianna Agron wearing burnt sienna eyeshadow

    a tan Dianna Agron wearing burnt sienna eyeshadow

  • Vivid and deep lip colors look great on blondes. Just make sure to ease up on the eye makeup and style your hair so it’s the lesser dominant. Pulled away from the face in a ponytail or a fashionable bun is the way to go.
same girl - contrasting looks

same girl – contrasting looks

all makeup by Brigitte Reiss-Andersen

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5 Responses to “Blonde Ambition: go beyond cliché makeup”

  1. janyne on: 29 June 2013 at 2:29 pm

    love love love this

    any tips for a platinum blonde with green eyes?

  2. Brigitte on: 4 July 2013 at 11:52 pm

    My dear, you are in luck! Platinum blondes can literally wear anything they want and look great. Just beware of using too soft and muted shades = beware of blandness. But then, of you have platinum blonde hair, you are not into blandness anyway. Choose bold shades of anything: cobalt eye shadow, fuchsia or mandarine lips. Have fun!

  3. Nancy on: 18 September 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Great article!

  4. PlatinumBlonde on: 3 March 2014 at 1:24 am

    Being a platinum blonde with quite geometric haircut and light green eyes, for daily (work) purposes I go for a mild brown or gray smokey eye, and for evening makeup – well, I tend to go crazy! Base is usually black eyeliner and charcoal V (outer edge of eye and a bit of crease), with the rest of eyelid being shaded in live colors – pink, coral, various shades of green, blue and gray – basically, anything that matches my outfit/accessories. I always went neutral on my lips, idk why… Probably should experiment…

  5. admin on: 9 April 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Hello Platinum Blonde,
    Yes, I recommend you to experiment freely. Your hair color gives you a major advantage and a passport for using color. If you are uncertain, start with just a wash of color as opposed to a big statement. Good luck!

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