NEW YORK — Too tan is a beauty no-no, but sand — or at least sand-colored cosmetics — can give you a wearable and flattering fresh-from-the-beach look.
There is no hard line drawn to define these neutral shades, offering almost endless options to women of varying skin tones and style types — and that's part of the appeal, says Jenna Menard, global color artist at Clinique. "Depending on the sand, the color changes."
The broad definition can mean a hint of shimmery champagne-colored eye shadow on one person, to a strong smoky brown eye liner on another. There are countless neutral-hued lipsticks, some with the bit of coral you might associate with a tropical beach. Others are more brown like the New England coastal dunes.
Menard often uses brown mascara instead of black during the daytime, which is softer and more relaxed looking. "You want ease, not high maintenance."
However, she adds, your best colors might change as the summer moves along, especially if you are getting any natural tan. "Be aware of your skin tone," Menard says. "If you are pale and fair, then soft brown isn't nude on you — it can be a very strong color. ... When I'm tan, even a light brown will look very different than it does in the winter."
For those with darker skin tones, she recommends moving into more golden shades.
On the cheeks, you can go with a beige blush or even a bronzer, but use a light touch, says Menard. "A lot of people get scared when they hear 'bronzed' look, so 'sandy' is a good twist."
There is the risk of a one-dimensional appearance with a toned-down palette, though. Celebrity makeup artist Ricky Wilson steers clear of a very matte look. He likes to blend complementary colors that remind him of glistening wet sand — a look that's tonal but not monotone.
"You want neutral, not boring," says Wilson.
He adds: "So many people associate summer beauty with oranges, blues and corals, but that's not always the thing most women want to do. Women like browns and beiges."
Romero Jennings, a MAC Cosmetics senior artist, says he's into mineral makeup right now — especially the brand's Mineral Mode shadow — which has natural reflective qualities. "It's beige but not just beige, it'll be beige with gold or silver or white or copper."
One swirl of the brush in that sort of mixed shadow, and you have a rich, interesting lid look without working too hard, he says. It also works to add a layer of simple, sheer gloss over a honey-colored lipstick or even over a pencil-filled lip, which will last.
And, even if the colored lip begins to fade, the shadow gets rubbed in or bronzer loses a little luster, there is no rush to reapply because the colors really should be blending in with your skin and lips.
Wilson uses a beige lipstick (he'll use Dior Route No. 298 if model Jessica Stam hasn't taken it out of his bag) as a base, layered with Dior Addict Lip Glow, a "mood" lip balm with SPF 10 that changes in intensity of color depending on body heat.
"In the summer, you don't want a feeling of a heavy matte lipstick, but you don't want clumpy lip gloss streaks on your cheeks when the wind blows, but really neutral beige lips are hard, too. Most people have a natural rose tint to their lips and you just want to enhance that," Wilson says.
The whole idea is to create — beach day or work day — that just-flushed glow you get from fun in the sun, he says, without, of course, getting any sort of real burn.
For the evening, it's just a simple freshening up of the same colors — maybe using an eyelash curler to add a little drama without more makeup, recommends Jennings. "You want to look like you just came from the pool and just picking up a few things at the local market even if you're going to the office or out to dinner. It's easy-living, approachable makeup."
Soft colors are inviting; they don't send the same message as, for example, bright red lips or charcoal-gray smoky eyes, he adds. "This is a look that people can walk over to you and say, 'You look great.'"
That easy appearance is the real beauty of summer, says Menard.
She's even more no-muss, no-fuss when she goes to the beach: "For the beach itself, I wear sunblock. I'd stay away from any powders and shadows there. If you do go in the water, they will get cakey."