Baby blue. Lilac. Fairy-wing pink. These are the colors of Easter eggs, cotton candy and, well, fairy wings, not the hues of A-listers ready to hit the biggest red carpet of the year. Or so we thought, until we saw star after star — including those who never shy away from bold shades, like Lady Gaga and Lucy Boynton — march down the Oscars red carpet wearing faint pastel eyeshadow across their lids.
Then something strange happened: The more subdued shades of makeup we saw flood the carpet, the less we began to miss the typical trademarks of sexy (smokey eyes, saturated lips, contoured everything). Is the new power lid the shade of our childhood bedspread? If Hollywood's leading makeup artists have anything to say about it, yes.
The trick to keeping cloudy hues from washing out skin or looking too preteen, according to makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown, is to reach for shadows in creamy textures to build with impact. "Apply a sheer, diffused wash over lids, then pat a strong final touch right in the center of lids for a nice color kick that will make your irises pop," says the pro, who draped actress Letitia Wright's eyes in pastel shades for the Oscars.
Another way to render soft shades with a dose of grown-woman kickass? "Pair shimmery pastel shades with black eyeliner — thick or thin — and loads of mascara to define the eyes," suggests makeup artist Mai Quynh, who gave Awkwafina the iciest iteration of gunmetal lids for the night.
Pastels perceived as milquetoast? Never again. See how Hollywood is painting subdued shades as super cool, ahead.