The Nineties trend for silver eye make-up is making a comeback, and this new generation of metal has lost none of its shine.
When it comes to metallic make-up, silver can be notoriously difficult to pull off. The Nineties equivalent of baby blue eyeshadow, back then we copied Spice Girl Mel B’s Say You’ll Be There look and piled layer upon layer of silver onto our lids – but re-examining the photos it didn’t look quite as cool as we thought.
Over time, the shiny shade became dated and old-school formulas packed with chunky glitter made it difficult to achieve sophisticated nonchalance. Instead, rose gold and bronze hues took precedence in our make-up bags and we cosied up to a cocoon of warm, flattering tones.
But fast forward to the new season and the popularity of futuristic silvery tones is skyrocketing after commanding the catwalks at the a/w 2018 shows. Frosted inner corners looked surprisingly modern at Tommy Hilfiger, models at Delpozo wore gunmetal eyeshadow reminiscent of beautiful oil slicks, and at Carolina Herrera eyelids were coloured in blue-tinged pewter.
In the UK alone, Pinterest has reported a 334% rise in searches for silver eyeshadow.
New technology is partly responsible. Pigments now contain glitter that is milled finer than ever before, with an increasing number of brands releasing environmentally friendly biodegradable options. Meanwhile, eye crayons boast creamy formulas that scribble seamlessly onto lids.
Then there are the eye brightening effects. “Silver eyeshadow is illuminating,” explains Nars make-up artist ambassador Andrew Gallimore. “It can widen eyes, make them appear bigger and adds modernity to a look.”
But some variations of silver – from crisp platinum to glossy gunmetal – suit certain skintones better than others. Turn over to find the best shade for your complexion.
For an of-the-moment look, swap flat greys and dirgy browns for pewter the next time you’re assembling a smoky eye. “Pewter is a slightly darker, bluetinged silver, so it looks more defined and creates a contrast against fair and paler skin,” explains Gallimore. “It can be more of a statement, more obvious and less about mirror-like shine.”
Create definition by adding a dash of pewter across your lash line. “You can turn any silver eyeshadow into a metallic liquid liner by mixing it with Illamasqua Sealing Gel,” advises Pablo Rodriguez, the brand’s director of artistry. Smudge the edges out with a fluffy brush for a smoky effect and the end result will look far more modern than an old-fashioned Fifties-style sharp point.
Christian Louboutin Metallic Eyeshadow in Andalusite
BareMinerals Shimmer Eyeshadow in Drama
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Jeweled Pewter
Illamasqua Sealing Gel
Urban Decay Moondust Eyeshadow in Moonspoon
Crisp tones of icy platinum breezed across the runways this season. At Fendi and Versace, models had frosted inner corners, which creates a pool of light, according to make-up artist Florrie White, who has worked with celebrities such as Emilia Clarke, Anna Kendrick and Lily James. “It draws light to your eyes, opens them up, enhances the colour in your iris and accentuates your lash line,” she adds.
Formulated to stand out, platinum pops against medium skintones. As Gallimore explains, “The contrast is higher between a medium skintone and an icy silver. They magnify each other.” Apply silver to the inner eye corners using a small shadow brush or a cotton bud then blend to disperse the light. Swipe on one coat of mascara and let all attention remain on the inner corners.
Bourjois Metal Edition 24HR Liquid Eyeshadow in Iron Woman
Zoeva 237 Detail Shader Brush
Nars Eye Paint in Interstellar
Mac Pigment in Silver Fog
Sleek Lifeproof 12 Hour Wear Metallic Eyeliner in Up To No Good
It’s the most adaptable shade, but the purple green tinge of gunmetal silver looks especially good on medium to dark skintones. Follow Delpozo’s lead and swipe slicks of shadow across the lids for a wet look. Use a silver pencil or gel liner to create a base – it will intensify the colour pay-off, explains Gallimore. Or slightly dampen your brush before dipping it in the shadow for a shinier molten look.
Next, Rodriguez advises piling on black mascara: “Silver can make you lose definition along your lash line because it reflects light.” Keep the rest of your make-up pared back – if you must wear lipstick, make it matte so your eyes are the only part that pops. Dusky pink lips look great with silver eyes.
C.Y.O Made To Mix Pigment Paints in Dark Silver
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Clarins Iridescent Eyeshadow in Silver Grey
Fenty Beauty Kilawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Diamond Ball-Out
Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Eyeshadow And Liner in Crystal Grey
While glitter might remind you of school discos, the sparkly flecks have had a grown-up resurgence, making a star turn at Sadie Williams, where glitter lined models’ eyes, while make-up artists at Preen blew glitter onto models’ foreheads. Glitter shows up especially well on deeper skintones; the play of light and dark creates an embellished contrast.
When applying glitter, approach with caution – it’s easier to build up than to take away. “Either press it onto a similar-coloured eyeshadow, or mix into a glitter glue gel. That way you can be very precise,” says Gallimore.
To amp up the sparkle, pat glitter onto glue while it’s still wet. Be warned: it can get messy, so use a tissue or Post-it Note (yes, really) to protect areas where you don’t want glitter to fall.