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Style and Beauty

Holographic Makeup: Embrace Your Inner Unicorn

By Catherine Tse, 22 May, 2018
  • Holographic Makeup: Embrace Your Inner Unicorn


For those who strive for a subtle, “lit from within,” no-makeup makeup look, this is not the makeup trend for you. But if your goal is to look like a unicorn, this is your time to shine. Literally.

Have you noticed the disproportionate number of shimmer and highlighter products out, each new release more intense in effect than the last? If you assumed this trend had reached its saturation point and was about to diminish, take another look. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any glow-ier, enter: holographic makeup.
For those who strive for a subtle, “lit from within,” no-makeup makeup look, this is not the makeup trend for you. But if your goal is to look like a unicorn, this is your time to shine. Literally.
Technically, however, holographic makeup is near-impossible to achieve. True holographic effects produce 3-D imagery with incredible depth, and in the beauty world often include the full rainbow-spectrum of colours. But what we’re seeing on the shelves and at counters are mostly examples of colour-shifting, iridescent, duo-chrome and even rainbow-chrome products – not true holographic. 
That’s not to say they’re not extraordinarily beautiful or don’t produce desirable effects. Just be realistic when buying “holographic” makeup. While the packaging often truly is holographic, the contents inside are not.


There’s nothing more mesmerising than the flash of glitter and light with every blink of the eyes. Stila’s Shimmer and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in Cloud ($31) is a dreamy, foiled lilac base with warm gold shift particles. This product sets quickly, so work on one eye at a time, blending the edges before it sets. But because it does set so quickly and so well, this lasts forever even without primer.


Again, the holographic trend is an extension from highlighters, so face colour products might be the easiest way for someone to dip their toe into this trend if they’re intimidated by holo.
Sephora Collection’s Holographic Face & Cheek Palette ($35) is a generously-sized palette containing three matte blushes and three corresponding pearlescent transformers. Add the colour-shifting toppers over the blush to instantly morph cheeks into something more light-catching. The blush transformers also make for very pretty eye shadow toppers. For an other-worldly glow, Milk Makeup’s Holographic Stick in Mars ($34) is a pinky-peach stick with multidimensional shimmer that’s best applied with warm fingers helping to melt this onto the high points of your face. For an all-over unicorn glow, Cover FX’s Shimmering Veil in Halo ($34) is a multi-purpose product that can be added to your foundation for all-over glow or tapped directly onto cheekbones, eyes or lips for some serious, celestial shimmer.


Holographic lip products range from barely-there shimmers to high-shine, chrome-tastic opaques. These products contain light-reflecting pearls in different textures that are whimsical but wearable. Whatever you choose, you must do two things before application: exfoliate and moisturise. Because the holographic effect is dependent on light-reflective properties, having a smooth surface is key. So give your lips a light scrub and then put on a lip balm while you apply the rest of your makeup, then wipe off the excess before putting on your lip product.
For a sheer wash of iridescence, Dior’s new Dior Addict Lip Glow ($41) comes in two holographic shades, pink and purple. This is going to be the most subtle and sophisticated way to participate in the holo trend. It’s also a cinch to apply making reapplication easy on the go. To transform your everyday matte lipsticks, Stila’s Glitterati Lip Top Coat ($29) in the shade Transcend adds a dazzling, multi-colour shimmer to lips. Unlike many other lip toppers, this formula is thin and oil-based, making it extremely comfortable to wear. To re-live your club kid days, MAC’s Grand Illusion Liquid Lipcolour ($21) in Lunar Module provides gloriously opaque, long-lasting coverage in an icy pale blue, purple and pink iridescent pearl finish.


If it’s true holo you’re after, the quickest, surest way to achieve this – wallet-friendly to boot – is through nail polish. Micro-sized particles suspended in the polish are able to achieve an authentic holographic effect that far surpasses what creams, liquids and powders are capable of. The tiny particles reflect a rainbow of colours that shift in direct light, producing a colourful, magical 3-D effect. 
The names of Nails Inc.’s unicorn nail polishes say it all: Sparkle Like a Unicorn in Dream Dust and Rainbow Wishes ($19 for the duo). Sparkle Like a Unicorn gives a high-sparkle payout with 3D pigment, while Rainbow Wishes gives more of a soft, dreamy rainbow wash. Revlon’s Transforming Effects Top Coat ($6.99) in the shade Holographic Pearls is beautiful but with a misleading name. This thick, opaque polish shouldn’t be used as a top coat – it’ll completely obscure any base colour you have. Instead, use this as a polish on bare nails and you’ll be rewarded with heaps of holographic micro-glitter that will keep your fingers wiggling in the sunlight. Ironically, you’ll want to use a top coat over this “top coat” as the finish is, while all holo, grainy and flat.

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