Ethereal Makeup Is Trending This Wedding Season. Here’s How to Get the Look

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ethereal makeup trend

From burnt orange to Woodland Fairy, we love a new wedding trend. And as summer wedding season swings into town, we can’t help but be enamored by another up-and-comer: the ethereal makeup look. According to a recent report by Pinterest and Zola, search volume for the trend is up a whopping 845 percent this year. Characterized by glimmery, shimmering cool tones, ethereal makeup (a nod to Mermaidcore, perhaps?) will have you glowing at every beach wedding this year. Here, two stylists dish on how to get the look.

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Meet the Experts

  • Jenny Patinkin is a Chicago-based makeup artist, founder of an eponymous beauty brand and the author of Lazy Perfection: The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying. Her brand has created an award-winning line of beauty tools loved by the likes of Allure, Cosmopolitan and Better Homes & Gardens. Patinkin has contributed her expertise to outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show and Martha Stewart.
  • Dani Kimiko Vincent is the founder of makeup brand KIMIKO and a celebrity makeup and brow artist. Her work has appeared in Time, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter in addition to lending her expertise to outlets such as Byrdie, The New York Times and Vogue.

First, What Is the Ethereal Makeup Look?

A quick search for “ethereal makeup” on Pinterest and you’re immediately met by a plethora of shimmer. Shimmery eyes, shimmery cheeks, shimmery lips.

“Ethereal makeup is meant to look otherworldly—softly glowing but not in a conventional way,” Patinkin notes. She shares that unlike “natural” makeup, this look gravitates more towards cool-toned shimmer on the eyes and skin, with an emphasis on unusual shapes and placements that can lend what she calls a “sexy alien feel.”

“Unlike the warm tones in the natural makeup look that’s been so popular for brides over the past few years, cool silver, lavender, blue, green and white ethereal tones are way less earthy and much more reminiscent of the moon and the stars,” Patinkin says.

Vincent also adds that the look is defined by soft, diffused edges and light pastels that give the face an airy, delicate and romantic aesthetic. “There’s an element of escape and fantasy that appeals, and it’s also the youthful antidote to the goth glam trends we saw earlier this year.”

How to Get the Ethereal Makeup Look

The ethereal makeup look is easy to achieve for both beginners and seasoned beauty enthusiasts. Here, a breakdown of exactly what you need to do.

1. Start with a Clean, Hydrated Face

One of the key features of ethereal makeup is a dewy, fresh complexion, so prep your face by washing up before you get started. Next, Vincent recommends applying an emollient moisturizer and primer, such as Charlotte Tilbury’s Wonderglow Face Primer.

2. Use a Lightweight Foundation

Here, you’ll want to go for a lightweight foundation with sheer to medium coverage. "You can also use a tinted moisturizer or BB cream for a more natural finish,” Vincent notes. “Apply a small amount to the center of your face and using your fingers or a makeup sponge, blend it outwards. For an even more natural look, simply use concealer only where needed and blend it seamlessly into skin.” She suggests trying Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer or Lancôme Teint Idole.

3. Highlight Your Cheekbones

Vincent recommends choosing a cream highlighter to achieve a subtle glow. (Her go-to picks are Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter and Chanel Baume Essentiel in “Sculpting.”) Dab it on the high points of your cheek bones, in addition to the bridge of your nose and cupid’s bow. Blend everything in with your fingertips or a small brush.

 4. Add a Pop of Color to Your Cheeks

“A soft, rosy blush can help bring your ethereal makeup look to life and cream blush is easy to blend and work with,” Vincent explains. She advises applying blush to the apples of your cheeks and blending it, either with your fingers or a brush, upwards and outwards towards the hairline. Vincent likes Danessa Myrick’s Beauty Blurring Balm (which she says “has a great payoff and blendable texture”) or Glossier’s Cloud Paint Gel.

5. Naturally Enhance Your Brows

If you want to achieve the ethereal makeup look, leave the bold brows at home. Instead, you want them to look soft, natural and groomed. “Start by using a super fine brow pencil to draw in realistic hair strokes over any sparse or thin spots,” Vincent instructs. “Use a spoolie to soften the color and finish with a lightweight brow gel to lift and hold your brows in place.” Try the KIMIKO Super Fine Eyebrow Pencil and Brow Sensei; the pencil delivers natural-looking hair strokes, while the gel sets your brows in place and provides a dose of peptides and amino acids.

6. Accentuate Your Eyes

“For an easy ethereal look, keep your eye makeup simple and light. Apply a neutral or pastel eyeshadow to your lids, ensure it’s very soft and diffused, and then add a touch of lighter shimmer to the inner corners of your eyes,” Vincent recommends. “You can go a step further and add a soft eyeliner by loading a really fine makeup brush with a darker shadow and tracing it closely along the lash line.”

As for eyeshadow, Vincent goes with Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Dreams and Bakeup Beauty’s Micro Palm Palette.

7. Define Your Lashes

“Mascara is an essential step to defining and lengthening your lashes. It creates an angelic finish to your look,” Vincent says. She advises starting with a lash primer such as Lancôme Cils Booster before applying mascara. Vincent likes pairing the former with Lancôme Lash Idol Mascara. “[When applying, wiggle] the wand back and forth at the base of your lashes as you comb through to the tips to maximize your application.”

And if you want to add extra sparkle in the form of rhinestones, sequins or crystals, Patinkin recommends The Duo Brush On Adhesive Glue. “[It’s] made for lashes, but it's one of the few glues I’ve found that helps rhinestones and other little gems adhere to the delicate skin around the eyes without causing any irritation, and they come off easily at the end of the night.”

8. Add a Touch of Shimmer to Your Lips:

Seal the ethereal makeup look with a kiss. Vincent suggests a lip gloss or balm with a little shimmer, like NARS Afterglow Lip Balm or Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, for a natural, glossy finish.  

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