Sunset Season


This season, makeup moves from leaving skin in the bland background to giving it a showcase look, and the eyes, lips and cheeks follow with color signatures all their own. So prepare to settle into the cool season of autumn with a bevy of enriching shades and tantalizing finishes.

“I think fall is an interesting season this year,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of More Alive with Color (Capitol Books, 2006). “What we’re finding is that there is a new feeling, and it’s a little different than what we generally see in the fall.” Bringing that new feeling into cosmetics, Todd Taubman-Walker, makeup artist and founder of the Bay Area Makeup Academy located near San Francisco, says, “Everything is really clean, crisp, fresh and tailored.”

Alphonse Wiebelt, makeup artist, co-founder and vice president of development for Being TRUE Cosmetics, explains there will be a more simplistic look to makeup that doesn’t necessarily translate to the colors. “Many American designers were working in these somewhat recession-resistant colors—the crimsons, chocolate browns, aubergines and hunter greens,” he says. Eiseman sees the continuing trend of cool tones. “You’re still seeing the whole blue and purple story. It’s not all your typical fall russet tones.”

The bold colors come from the tradition of boosting hues with a richness when things turn colder. “When the season changes and things go more gray, the makeup gets a bit stronger,” notes Philip Luque, a makeup artist with Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics. “There’s also a sense of warmth, opulence and luxury that comes with fall.” And to match the luxuriousness of the colors, there will also be some very luxe finishes. “Eye shadows will feature brown, apricot and green, lip colors in red and rose, then pencils in brown, rose and natural, and the finishes will be extreme—either feather or metallized effects,”says Christian Mas, marketing director of Sothys.

Makeup artist and beauty expert Candace Corey sums up the look as, “Being able to still look nice and healthy, but also adding more richness and sexiness.”

Centerpiece skin

Healthy, glowing skin takes the spotlight for the season, providing a great palette for any color or hue, and helping the woman herself to shine through. “Skin is usually the first thing people notice about a person, and if skin looks great, you just use the makeup to accentuate that,” says Luque. “So you need a good, even complexion and foundation that has great, natural finish—skin that looks very healthy and taken care of.”

To get just the right luminosity, it’s a must to employ proper skin care. “Skin is definitely going to be much more fresh-looking,” says Wiebelt. “One of the most important summer-to-winter skin-transitional rituals that should always be practiced is to shed that summer-skin look using a product to brighten and one to even skin tone.”

Erika Bosley, marketing manager for Sormé Professional Cosmetics, also offers the reminder that exfoliation is an important preparation step to cleanse pores, smooth and sweep away dull skin and also adds that applying a makeup primer can protect and smooth the skin for an even foundation application and flawless finish.

However, to really enjoy a lovely complexion this fall, hydration is the key. Taubman-Walker explains, “Making sure you are keeping the surface of the skin hydrated complements the texture in makeup, and hydrating before a makeup application is great—foundation goes on a lot more evenly, and it really helps minerals go on and stay on.” As Corey affirms, “It’s just that natural sheen to the skin—skin that is really hydrated, not powdered down and cakey. And with the color on the eyes or the lips, that sheen on the skin is important for it to be healthy-looking.”

Of course, proper protection from the sun is also always a good idea. “I find over and over again that, going into fall, people start thinking they don’t need sunscreen anymore. But you really do still want that peaches and cream complexion, and to get that great, soft palette, you need to use plenty of sunscreen,” says Taubman-Walker.

Eye the prize

Highlighting the facial features, autumn’s rich colors will once again be used, and deepening hues will be a staple on eyelids and in eye liners, with Luque saying, “I’ve been seeing a lot of richer jewel tones—deep greens, rich golds, purples, sapphires and smoky slates. Fall is always a little bit more dramatic and has more of that kick.”

Even with the deepening colors coming though, eye techniques from seasons past are continuing to be the trend. “We’re still hanging on to the smoky eye look going into the fall, only now it is more clean and defined,” Taubman-Walker says. “Where last fall and spring it was kind of a messy smoky eye, this time its going to be really refined and sharp. And the colors that will be big are a soft charcoal and plum.”

Laura Craig, a licensed esthetician and makeup artist with von Natur, agrees, saying, “A lot more people can wear plum, rather than the usual black or dark gray for the smoky eyes, and you can even sort of fake the smoky eye with a blue or deep green shade.”

Bosley also notes, “The best smoky eyes are not just black and gray, but updated with olive or safari green and golden brown shadows, and they’re dramatically lined with black, dark navy, teal, burgundy or gold.” And when going with the bold colors on the eye, incorporating a lighter touch on other areas can be a good idea. “I’m seeing everything from a cat-shaped eye to a heavier smoky eye in rich colors of bronze, brown and charcoal,” says Corey. “Though with mascara, I’m not seeing too much heaviness. It’s more of the natural-looking lashes, even with the smoky eyes.”

Autumn’s lighter colors are also giving lids a sweeping touch, and it’s the finishes are providing them with a new glow. Bosley comments that soft honey gold, cocoa brown, copper, bronze and ivory will be appearing on eyes this fall, and Wiebelt adds, “There are a lot of variations of gold, taupe, chocolate brown and colors in that palette with more shimmer. With the shimmer, that can be very forgiving and very easy to wear.”

That sparkle of shimmer is also helping to bring an extra touch of drama to the eyes. Eiseman notes, “You can easily experiment with all the textures—the incandescent, the glitter, the shimmer. People are fascinated with shimmers, gleams, glitters and metallics, and their changeable qualities. Its something where people have to stop and look, something they can’t ignore.”

Whisper soft

When moving to apply color to the lips this autumn, there is a definite contrast from the palette for the eyes. “There’s either really soft colors, almost no lip at all, or a really rich lip, like a stain patted on,” says Corey. “If the lips are really strong, then there’s not much definition on the eye, and vice versa, where if the eye is dark and strong, the lips are barely there, like they’re just wearing lip balm.”

Wiebelt sees the lighter shades too, saying, “The lips are going more with a nude or even a mouth-tone color. There will be more of that crimson shade for the holiday season, but overall, it is a very clean look.” Intentionally done to let the eye shades shine, Luque explains, “With the paler lips, the eyes can make more of a statement.” But that doesn’t mean the lips have to completely fade out, as Corey notes, “I’ve seen the beigy, skin-toned lips done with a gloss, which was very pretty and had a nice sexiness.”

A dressed-down mouth during the day, however, can swing to a bolder look in the evening hours. “There is a lot of that natural, pink color for fall, but the lips for the night look also have a richer darkness,” says Craig. Bosley echoes this idea, noting that brown-red and burgundy shades are appearing as common nighttime lip hues, and that copper, plum and coral are also being used to make a statement.

Taubman-Walker encourages women to try out the darker shades in red or plum as well, but notes that the finish is still a little more neutral. “Where before we were seeing lips either really matte or shimmery, this time it is a true, creamy, moisturized look,” he says.

Wiebelt adds that the creamy lips aren’t just limited to the darker colors, noting, “There really isn’t a lot of shine this season. We’re seeing a creamy finish for the mouth—a more matte stain—in everything from soft beige to the more natural lip tones.”

Barely there cheeks

To complement the colors of the eyes and the lips, the cheeks are also toned down for fall, giving way to the fresh look of healthy skin. “This season, a big difference I’m seeing is that there is hardly any blush, so the whole face doesn’t look overly done,” says Corey. “And because everyone’s not so heavily made up, it goes with that whole relaxed feel.”

Bosley says that any touch of a hue should just be hinted at. “The neutral, flawless finish is a must for the season,” she explains. “Brighten up cheeks with a pink or light berry-toned blush, but sparingly.” And with the pale dusting of color, Taubman-Walker adds, “Cheeks are a really soft powdery pink, and we are getting into doing a lot of contouring and emphasizing the cheekbones with that.”

“In terms of blushing and contouring, it’s a very monochromatic look,” comments Wiebelt. “If you are using warm colors on the rest of the face, you should pair that with something warm—a soft taupe or bronze on the cheeks—to match the gold tones. If you are going cool, use maybe a cranberry to match the cool undertones.”

Craig also urges the need to keep things simple on the cheeks. “The complexion is lighter going into the fall and generally fall colors are warmer anyway, so you don’t need as much blush,” she notes. “Just a natural touch of blush will be perfect, with just a kiss of a more pink shade for nighttime.”

What to wear

Of course, cosmetic needs change with the occasion, and because this autumn’s hues are so plentiful and diverse, often giving a color a bolder touch or a deeper line can help it in transitioning from a workplace feel to an evening-on-the-town touch. “The day and night looks can be adjusted with each collection by the type of application one creates,” Mas says. “We create a variety of looks by using the shades of color in ways that accentuate a woman’s eye color, skin color and hair color. The versatility is key.”

“I think people are tired of playing it safe and are ready to experiment a little more this season,” says Corey. “For a long time, we’ve been keeping things pretty safe, and so the rich colors are a great way to add more interest to the face. Still, it’s not complicated, so people who don’t have a lot of time for makeup can still look in-the-know without having to work too hard to do it.” To that end, Wiebelt suggests, “The easiest way for a woman to transition her makeup from day to night is to put on black eye liner. Or she could choose to put on a more predominant lip color. Things are just being kept to one bold color, though. It’s simple—there aren’t a lot of layers.”

It’s most important to remember, however, that makeup should be made to work for the woman, allowing her to look her best and making her feel the most confident. “Use the look, and adapt it to your comfort level,” says Taubman-Walker. “If you are not comfortable wearing a deep burgundy, of course you don’t have to. Maybe just lighten it up at bit.” And Mas agrees, saying, “For a woman, beauty is about being confident and comfortable in her own interests. For some women, timeless selections are chosen, and for others, being aligned with the trends of the season are important.”

However, Taubman-Walker does encourage adventure. “Even if you think you’d never wear that dark of a color, try it. You might be really surprised,” he says. “The season’s colors are really flattering on almost anybody.”

In fact, just sampling touches here and there may even be enough to perk up a normally drab routine. Luque says, “I tell women to just take a little bit of the fall look and personalize it for themselves. The average woman doesn’t wear that much makeup, and a lot of them tend to get stuck in a rut, so I suggest they take one or two of the colors or elements from the season, and add it into their own collection. Then they can personalize the color to their comfort level, and it helps spruce them up.” (More on autumn's hues and color personalization.)

Color collection

With fall’s rich palette of greens, blues, purples, reds and golds available in shimmery hues and creamy finishes, as well as the freedom to be distinctively glamorous or nearly natural, this season provides great cosmetic options for anyone. Whether available to clients as an add-on at the end of a session or offered as a standalone service, makeup options are a great way to provide that perfecting touch at the end of a spa visit, and focusing on the skin plays right into a spa’s forte.

Craig notes, “We are really seeing that natural, healthy look in play. You don’t want to cover your face and not be yourself, and there is definitely a sexiness there, just being more comfortable in your own skin.” Wiebelt also adds, “This season, it’s not so much about a lot of color or makeup; it’s more about having really great features stand out—the well-groomed brows, lashes and skin.”

“It’s a good time to show people how they can use some of their favorites, but give them a twist,” says Eiseman. “This is a great opportunity to be creative, be artistic, to layer the colors and use them to interject some novelty into a look—and makeup artists are in a great position to show people how to use these new colors.”

More in Makeup