This New Take On Monochrome Makeup Is About To Be Everywhere

Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage.
Monochrome makeup is a trend that's not going anywhere — and in a beauty landscape in which every look has its 15 seconds (remember barbed wire eyebrows?), we think that’s something to celebrate. More than a year after the matchy-matchy makeup started gaining steam, it’s become an instant classic, sharing rarified air with supercharged highlighters as something we keep coming back to.
But its latest iteration may be the coolest take on the look yet: Sheer monochromes showcase barely-there pinks, peaches, and sandy shades, for a cool-girl vibe that's flattering and purposeful but effortless and low-key. If the look has a poster girl, it’s Yara Shahidi, who, thanks to looks created by makeup artist Emily Cheng, has stepped out in glossy nude, faint rose and dusty peach versions in the past few weeks alone. Who knew such a subtle look could stand out so much?
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Ahead, Cheng gives her tricks for nailing Monochrome 2.0. (A hint: It’s not just about repeating a complexion-flattering shade, but introducing texture as well.) And if you’re the kind to sidestep fleeting makeup trends? You'll still want to master this one — because sheer monochrome is going to dominate red carpets and celebrity Instagram feeds for a long time to come.
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Glossy eyelids look so pretty in pictures — but the shine can migrate as you wear it throughout the day. “With each blink, the gloss will slightly move and change,” Cheng notes, referencing this look she created on Yara Shahidi. To ensure makeup doesn’t look like a total mess at night’s end, Cheng suggests using just a touch of shine. “I take the smallest amount of gloss and gently tap onto the eyelids,” she says. “I don't spread it too much because it will do that on its own.”
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Using translucent, complexion-warming shades, Vanngo gave models Lais Ribeiro and Jasmine Tookes a gorgeous glow. To help set sheer makeup without radiance-dimming powder, Cheng suggests spraying a Beautyblender with a face mist and pressing it into skin.
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Cheng says that sheer monochrome makeup “really gives the face a fresh, harmonious feel, whether you want to balance a ornate outfit or just keep things casual.” Here, Beyoncé’s bright Coachella costume is complemented by subdued washes of pink on her lips, eyes, and cheeks.
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Zendaya makes the look part of her off-duty glow with a faint pink shade on cheeks, lips, and eyes. “An easy way to try the sheer monochrome vibe is to get a product that does it all,” says Cheng. Creams like NARS The Multiple, powder-gloss combos like Chanel Poudre À Lèvres, and gels like Glossier Cloud Paint all make easy work of achieving the effect.
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Though Awkward star Brigette Lundy-Paine wears pink on pink on pink makeup in this look by makeup artist Kelsey Deenihan, the vibe is anything but boring, thanks to the use of gloss, shimmer, and matte textures. “Introducing various textures to a makeup look allows you to add a fun, artistic element to your makeup without always going over the top,” Cheng notes.
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When in doubt, reach for a compact that boasts several shades and finishes in the same colour family. Makeup artist Patrick Ta used the wallet-friendly NYX Cosmetics Ultimate Multi-Finish Shadow Palette in Warm Rust on Shay Mitchell for an eye look that echoes her lips and cheeks.
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Thanks to an ombré wash of pink on eyelids and an even paler sweep of pink on the lips, Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch and makeup artist Alex Byrne show sheer monochrome is anything but one-dimensional.
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Vanngo used warm peach tones with transparent elements to contour Emily Ratajkowski's cheekbones and emphasise lips.
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Solange shows that sheer monochrome isn’t just for pastel shades by opting for tone-on-tone hues that match her complexion.
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By combining dewy skin with opalescent eyeshadow, matte blush, and satin lipstick — all in very slightly different hues of peach — Vanngo makes Selena Gomez’s sheer monochrome look dynamic and fresh.
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Orange-tinged pink helps intensify Joey King’s green eyes, while a sheer pink balm plumps lips in this look by makeup artist Jamie Greenberg.
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