I’ve been more purposeful about injecting joy into my life lately, and one of the ways I’m doing that is by revisiting my teenage approach to makeup. Instead of covering flaws and enhancing features to conform to beauty ideals, I’m freestyling my looks by introducing unexpected flashes of color and dabbling in studs and stickers. My love for color-shifting products is now an official obsession. Settling for one shade per product seems super basic when you can get two (or even three) on the same patch of facial real estate. If I’m mainlining joy via makeup, I want it to be on steroids — and nothing quite does that like chrome and glitter.
I didn’t realize, however, that my experiments could be boosting more than just my own mood. “It’s so powerful to use makeup as a facilitator of energy transfer,” Shari Siadat, the founder of TooD Beauty said to me in a conversation. That really resonated, and I’ve been on a mission to raise my color-shifting makeup craft to a new level, so I can spark joy in the other blurry-eyed parents at daycare drop-off.
When I reached out to makeup artists for tips, I learned there are two main schools of thought on wearing chrome and glitter. The first is an easy, freer vibe, where the category is Euphoria goes to Coachella. Siadat is in that camp and her motto is, “If you had no one else’s opinion to worry about, how would you express yourself with makeup?”
The second way is to use product very intentionally, for a grown-up, fashion-y feel.
“Chromes on the eyes can feel modern (and even futuristic) when used in ways that reflect where the beauty industry is. So, for shape, think of the fox eye we all loved in 2022, or as negative space similar to the white liners on Ariana Grande,” says Vittorio Masecchia, makeup artist and founder of Vittorio Masecchia Beauty.
Ahead, makeup artists offer the ultimate guide to wearing chrome and glitter eye makeup, whichever way you choose to flow.
Tip #1: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
To truly embrace these textures, the first hurdle we all have to overcome isn’t skill level or technique, but our own insecurities telling us this makeup isn’t for us. “I think glitter is a state of mind,” says celebrity makeup artist Kirin Bhatty. “You can be chic and have just a tiny hint of it in the inner corner of your eyes or as a super thin liner, or you can be full on and go for fully decked out lids,” she says.
Siadat realizes a face full of iridescent color can be intimidating for beginners. “My advice is to do what feels comfortable at first. And then ask yourself, ‘what could I do to go a little bit go outside of my comfort zone?’ You might be really happy and surprised with what you see,” she says.
Tip #2: It’s All About Where You Apply It
“Placement is key when it comes to chrome and glitter looks,” says Eddie Duyos, head of pro education and artistry for North America at MAKE UP FOR EVER. “You want to capture the light in a flattering way, be intentional with your application placement, and keep it simple,” he says. To make your eyes pop, take your favorite glitter or chrome shade and place it on the inner corner of the eyes. “This technique instantly captures the light and gives a glamourous, festive look. Or choose to place product solely on the lower lid, or inner corners to accentuate the eye shape,” he suggests.
Donni Davy — Half Magic co-founder, head Euphoria makeup artist, and high priestess of free-flowing makeup energy — has placement suggestions for beginners. “For an easy-to-achieve chrome look, start by applying color to your lids, extending up beyond your crease, and then diffusing outwards toward your brow bone. Think a glowy orb of chrome around your eyes, with soft, diffused edges,” she says. Davy uses a smaller smudging brush to swipe color along the lower lash line as well. She pairs the look with a clean, airy brow, a tightlined waterline, mega mascara action, a glowy cheek moment, and a rosy brown lip. “You’ll get a little grunge edge, but it will be really pretty at the same time.”
Tip #3: Amplify Your Eyeliner
Lining the eyes is usually one of the first techniques many makeup wearers master. Many of the makeup artists recommend using that to your advantage when you want to approach glitter and chrome. For Davy, the easiest glitter liner look is to line your eyes with Half Magic’s Glitterpill in the shade Money Plz. “Finish with mascara and try lining your waterline with a black pencil. This will instantly add contrast, edge, and polish up the look, especially for a party or night out,” she says.
Bhatty, too, gives her vote to liner. “A great way to start is to draw a wing with black liner. Then trace the wing with a glitter liner over the black. This really is a fun way to add sparkle and punch,” she says.
Tip #4: Freeform Is Fine
If you start thinking about playing with color like art instead of makeup, you free yourself from the traditional thinking that comes with makeup rules.
“It's like drawing. I don't plan anything, I allow myself to just play. I draw a line here, draw a line there. If I add some dots, what would that look like?” says Siadat, explaining her technique-free technique. TooD just released four Hypnotic Color Cream chromes which shift color three ways. She wants users to experiment with these as well as the brand’s earth-friendly biodegradable glitters without being tied to a certain outcome. “Build like an artist: paint a little bit, step back, and then add more,” she says.
Davy, too, is a fan of free painting. She often blends two or more colors in different textures like matte, glitter, and chrome. Her Monet-eque Impressionist eye looks are often grounded or contained by eyeliner or decals that takes on fantastical shapes, like spiked wings, butterflies or clouds.
There are endless ways to play if no rules are holding you back. Masecchia suggests hitting the crease, the lash, or even the brows with color. Siadat uses glitter to enhance and draw attention to her unibrow instead of tweezing it away.
Tip #5: Age Doesn’t Matter
“The biggest myth I see regarding glitter is that it’s a young person’s game,” says Davy. Her 70-year-old mother lines her eyes in Half Magic’s Glitterpill in Money Plz, a complimentary copper shade. “She has a really light touch and the look is subtle, but so pretty,” she says.
Siadat’s advice to older women is to not be stuck to attaching age to a trend, or being tied to how glitter has been worn traditionally. “I think older women feel they need to look a certain way to be considered like age appropriate. Age should never define how you wear makeup,” she says.
There are practical concerns, however, that will affect how makeup looks and sits on our skin as we get older. The texture of the eyelid gets crepey as we age, and the eye takes on a hooded appearance. “Instead of applying a chrome shadow or glitter all over your lid, try lining your eye with a glitter or chrome eyeliner,” says Duyos. He loves the idea of using two or three colors within the eyeliner design for added drama.
Davy recommends experimenting with where you normally place eye makeup if you have hooded eyes. “Try focusing your eyeshadow or glitter liner along your lower lash line and inner eye corners.” For crepey lids, she says shimmery and chrome textures don’t conceal the texture, but glitter liner totally does. “Experiment with these finishes because as long as the intention and confidence are there, bold eye makeup looks incredibly badass and gorgeous on wrinkles.”
Confidence is the game, not technique. “No one is paying attention to you not having a perfect line. Everyone's paying attention to your confidence and you being able to pulling off the look,” says Siadat.
Tip #6: Do The Prep
Duyos cautions that glitter can be tricky. “If it doesn’t have a product to stick or seal against, it can eventually fall off or fade away.” He likes using a eyeshadow stick like MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Resist Smoky Shadow Stick. “The texture helps glitter adhere to the lid without it flaking away.” He also preps the skin with a setting spray like MAKE UP FOR EVER’s Mist & Fix Setting Spray. “This seals the skin for longevity and smooths down any texture before a chrome or glitter effect is applied to the skin,” he says.
If Bhatty knows glitter is in her look, she makes sure the skin in that area is not too dewy as the glitter won’t adhere. “Use an eyeshadow primer or a glitter primer before you apply it.” Her go-tos are NYX for glitter primer and Smashbox’s lid primer. To avoid fallout, she prefers liquid, gel and cream formulas, and is partial to Half Magic’s Glitterpill. Davy says she developed the formula after realizing that fallout was inevitable with loose glitter or glitter glue. It swipes right onto the lids with a built-in applicator.
Bhatty makes sure her kit has a roll of scotch tape just for glitter cleanup. She presses a piece of tape into her hands a few times to take the stickiness down a bit, and then presses it gently into the areas where the fallout is, and the tape picks it right up.
Tip #7: Get Sticky
Masecchia and Davy have both figured out that sometimes, the easy way is the best way. Donni has a collab with Face Lace for two sets of face decals. Masecchia just released a range of chrome decals in shapes ranging from the simple to the fantastical for an accessible way to get the chrome look in a flash. “It’s as simple and long lasting as applying a false lash. The compressed thin layers of reflective materials create a true metal, glass, or mirror-like appearance,” he says.
He loves placing them on their own with just mascara, groomed brows, and perfected skin. “However, sometimes after I’ve placed a chrome decal I add some eye gloss or a complementary detail like matching colored mascara or eyeliner that connects the decal to the eye crease or lash line,” he says. For longevity, he sometimes applies a little lash glue to keep the placement exactly where he wants for as long as possible.
There are countless paths to chrome and glitter eyes, from beginner to rocket science level. All you need to do is take a leap and start playing.