Summer’s bronzy or luminous skin could use a pop. MAC’s Gregory Arlt reveals how to pull off three intense color trends
“Every summer I think most people want a very clean face, but there’s always one bold statement,” says Gregory Arlt, director of makeup artistry for MAC Cosmetics. This summer, straight from the runways, “we saw a lot more daring makeup. There was a big ’80s resurgence in makeup—not frightening, garish ’80s, but wearable ’80s—pop, neon colors.” But while runways from Jason Wu to Milly to Vivienne Westwood to Moschinio showed vivid greens, yellows, pinks and oranges that might be frighten the normal woman, there are ways to translate these eye-popping shades into super wearable, everyday looks. “I don’t know if I recommend wearing them all together unless you’re really daring, but for most women, if you’re wearing minimal makeup, you can definitely do with a little pop.”
The “safest” place to put that bang is on the lips, says Arlt. And this summer, that could be in the form of a neon citrus or fuchsia hue—or even an oxblood red, as seen at Donna Karan. For the former, Arlt suggests one of his obsessions, MAC’s Longwear Lipcreme in Good to Go, a bright, bright orange with a 12-hour finish. “If you want a conventional orange, one of my favorites is Morange, and So Chaud is another fun orange. If you want that same formula in a really beautiful, bright fuchsia pink, try Love Forever!—it’s super fun for summertime.” Arlt adds that those with olive skin should wear shades in the blue-undertone family (like fuchsias), while fair complexions should veer toward orange tones. “Mix it up—it’s like an accessory, it doesn’t have to grow out. Keep your eyes really simple. I like a shimmery eye—it’s very luxe and has that beachy, luminous quality—or a little gold undertone with black mascara.”
On the other side of the summer spectrum is the deep, blood-red lip that really made an impact back at the Met Ball on Rooney Mara and Kate Bosworth. “I love it,” says Arlt. “I always get excited when women take chances and try to do something a little different.” He’s not into following rules, which makes this deep lip really adventurous in the sun. A lip shade called Paramount—from the ’90s—was his go-to on a recent shoot. “It’s this deep, beautiful, almost plummy brown and it’s so chic to have that on the mouth with minimal makeup or a really thin brown liner on the top of the lid.” Wine brown “looks unbelievable” on fair skin, while a brick-y red tone is flattering on deeper olive skin. “I think it would be kind of rad if I saw someone walk down the street with a cute little bright sundress and dark lip.”
The third bold makeup risk on Arlt’s summer radar, neon eyes, is perhaps the toughest to pull off. To start, the MAC master suggests wearing the crazy shade as a liner. “Start with it on your top lid as a really thin line with your neon blue or green or yellow and wing it out with a very neutral shadow all over and lots of mascara,” he says. “You see color pop through the lashes and it’s subtle.” An alternative is using an electric shadow under the eye (applied with a soft brush so it has a diffused edge) to make a slightly bolder statement. Try greens on medium to olive skin, yellow with fair tones, and pink on Latina or African American skin. All are complemented, Arlt says, by a “teeny amount of coral on the lip. There’s one I love called Love Nectar and it’s my favorite MAC product ever [because] the color is truly good on anyone.”
While Arlt says his makeup philosophy is always “less is more when it comes to bright makeup, that’s when it becomes an accessory. Think of it as a bracelet or a cute little top because it comes off at the end of the day.” Therefore, don’t be afraid to dive into the world of color.