6 Bright Makeup Looks You Can Actually Wear

Bright makeup: Fun to look at, but not so easy to pull off IRL. Which is a shame, because we were positively hypnotized by the Day-Glo eyes and lips that dominated the spring runways. Michael Kors,Peter Som, Kenzo, Dior — after seeing models strut their stuff in sunny graphic liners and saturated pouts, we wanted nothing more than to adapt those vibrant shades into our own routine.

To help us achieve our Technicolor dreams without looking like we fell face-first into a makeup counter, we asked primping pro Munemi Imai for her sage advice. Here, she shows you the right brights for your skin tone, plus the best ways to wear them on your eyes and lips. Better bust out those sunglasses, because we’re about to light it up.


A bright, saturated lip combines femininity with a touch of fun for a look that has a bold, playful appeal. “It reminds me of things like flowers and lollipops — something that makes you feel uplifted to just look at it,” says Imai. “Bright lips are the perfect way to start a new season in a happy mood.”

Ladies with dark skin, like the lovely Nyamuoch here, have it easy in the bright lips department — there isn’t really anything they can’t wear. “The bright and bolder, the better,” says Imai. Now, many of you have told us before that you just can’t wear a bright lip, but we’re here to tell you that is the opposite of true. It’s all about confidence — you need to realize the reason that everyone is staring at you is not because you look weird, but because you look amazing. #truth

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To get this look, Imai prepped Nyamuoch’s skin with her Mun No. 1 Aknari Nighttime Dream Youth Serum to create a dewy complexion that complements the high-voltage pout. When you’re wearing a saturated color, too much foundation can make your look heavy, so try to keep the cover-up to a minimum and instead focus on a radiant, bright, smooth finish.

Imai lined the lips with MAC Lip Pencil in Redd, lining the outer edge and then filling them in. She then layered MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger over top. Nyamouch’s eyebrows were filled in with Jouer Brow Definer in Ebène to create a groomed, full look.To finish, Imai lined the eyes with MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder along the top lash line and the inner bottom line, then applied one coat of mascara to the top lashes only.


To best complement a medium complexion, be sure to pick one that flatters your undertones — for yellow undertones, that would be tangerine or pink; for peachy undertones, try coral or red.

Imai — just like pretty much every other makeup artist we’ve spoken to, ever — says the golden rule for a bright lip like this is to make sure the rest of your makeup is pared down. “Keep everything else simple and clean, so it looks more stylish and the bright lips really stand out.” 

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For Yenny’s shimmering eyes, Imai applied a sweep of silver shadow (try Make Up For Ever Eyeshadow in 170) across the lid, then lined eyes with Shiseido’s Automatic Fine Eyeliner in Brown, winging the shape out slightly at the outer corner of the eyes. Pairing the brown with the silver seemed a bit wonky to us, until we saw how great it looked on Yenny. Using brown eyeliner instead of black lets you define the eyes without it being too stark, and it helps warm up the icy shadow.

Imai used Victoria’s Secret Lip Liner in Tickled Pink to line and fill in the lips, then applied MAC Lipstick in Candy Yum-Yum.


Fair-skinned ladies look best in shades of bright red (if they have yellow undertones to their skin) or coral if they have a peachy or pink undertone, according to Imai.

When choosing a lip hue, Imai says to opt for a matte texture — the color comes out more intense, stays the longest, and is less prone to bleeding. To keep it in place, she suggests dipping a small brush in concealer and lining the outer edge of the lip to prevent feathering. It’s also a good idea to line your lips first with a liner to create a perfect base — liners are less creamy than most lipsticks, so they stay in place and will help intensify the color. Finally, Imai suggests that after you apply your first coat of lipstick, blot the color with a tissue and then apply a second coat. 

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Snag Kristi’s adorable look (anyone else have freckle envy?) by applying Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in 13 over the lid, then swipe on a thin line of Dior Crayon Eyeliner in Intense Brown across the top lash line.

Imai filled the lips in with Shu Uemura Drawing Lip Pencil in Brick Red, then layered on Make Silk Cream Lipstick in Scarlet. Who says redheads can’t wear red lipstick?


Pairing two bold elements — like graphic shapes and Crayola color — seems like it would result in disaster, but as we saw at the spring shows, it’s anything but. “While a regular liner has a feeling of classic sophistication, graphic liners tend to have more thickness and hard shapes that give your look a feeling of boldness and playfulness,” says Imai.

Once again, dark skin tones really can’t go wrong in the color department, looking smashing in pretty much every hue of the rainbow. Imai is a big fan of electric blue, since it’s such an unexpected shade. 

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Imai created this brilliant blue by layering the blue shade of NARS’ Mad Mad World Duo Eyeshadow over top of a light blue pencil (tryUrban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Electric). “We’re creating a hook shape here,” says Imai. Use the pencil to line your upper lash line, extending it out past the edge of your eye. Tilt your chin down and look in a mirror to determine where you want the upper part of the “hook” to end. Make sure the color is far up enough that it is showing when your eyes are open, says Imai. Mark that point with a pencil, then draw a line from there to the outer corner of the eye, meeting up with that first line you drew. Using an angled brush, go over the line with the blue shadow, pressing it into the skin.

Finish with a coat of mascara on the top lashes, and a sweep of sheer burgundy gloss like NARS Lip Gloss in Coup De Coeur.


To complement a medium skin tone, Imai recommends shades of purple and green. Mint green is a particularly fresh choice, as you don’t see it on the eyes as much as jade or teal.

Determining the perfect shape for your graphic line is really up to you, as they can all be tailored to work with your specific eye shape. The key, says Imai, is to make sure you open your eyes and look straight into a mirror when you apply. That way you can see how much of the color will actually show, and determine if you need to extend or heighten it. 

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To create this blocky, seafoam green eye, Imai used NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner in Barrow Street (available April 15), applying it first along the lash line, then gradually building it higher until it was halfway up the lid. She then curled the lashes to open up the eye and added one coat of mascara. Lips were given a slick ofChanel Lèvres Scintillantes Glossimer in Calypso.


Have light skin? While pretty much any hue will pop against your pale visage, Imai says she loves lighter brights like yellow, orange, and pink. 

Imai says the most important thing to remember with the graphic liner trend is not to despair if you don’t get it right away. “The beauty of makeup is that you can remove any mistakes and redo it. Take your time and build up the color and the shape little by little until you get used to it. And don’t be afraid to go thick and bold — it’s a fun look.” To help make clean-up easier, Imai says to have some Q-Tips on hand — regular sized and the skinny Precision ones — and dip them in a non-oily makeup remover. Any time you make a mistake, grab your cotton swab and “erase” it. Then reapply until you get it exactly how you want it. You won’t get it perfect every time, she says — it’s about being patient and adjusting.

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The classic cat-eye gets a pop art update with this eye-catching look. Imai used a brush to applyKryolan UV Aquacolor Eye Shadow in Pink along the upper lash line, extending it up and out in a cat-eye shape. To make the color stand out even more, she then applied a white liner on the bottom inner rim. Lashes were curled, a coat of mascara was applied lightly to top lashes only, and a nude lipstick finished off high-impact the look.

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