The brilliance of monochrome make-up – and how to wear it at any age

monochrome makeup
Masters: 'What I like about this technique is that it brings instant balance to your face' - Getty

I once bought a T-shirt in Luang Prabang, Laos, that bore the slogan ‘Same same, but different’. Which could be the title of this week’s column because it’s all about monochromatic make-up: wearing the same colour on your eyes, lips and cheeks, though obviously not grey or green – think pink, peach, taupe, brick or bronze. It’s a trick that gives your look a new twist. So kind of same, same, same, but different.

What I like about this technique is that it brings instant balance to your face, it’s quick and easy to achieve, and it looks polished and sophisticated. It’s also super for spring and, if you go for bronze, brilliant for summer.

So what’s your first step? Well, here’s a chance to tip out all the make-up in your drawer, including items you rarely wear (it’s OK, we won’t tell) and start splitting everything into colour groups. They don’t have to match exactly but they should be of the same hue.

Home in on the scheme you’d most like to trial. Although you’re looking for trios, remember that some products are made to be used on two areas, usually lips and cheeks. A few go for the big three, so are suitable for eyes as well, such as Elf’s Monochromatic Multi-Stick (£5). But be cautious of using any old blush or lip colour on your eyes as it may not be tested for this sensitive area.

three in one makeup beauty
The Ruby Hammer's Lip Serum Balm and Elf's Monochromatic Multi-Stick

If you don’t have the right pairing for eyes and cheeks, or want to treat yourself, I’m fresh to a stylish eco brand called Et Al. Its Versatile Blush Cheek + Eye (£39 for your first compact, £24 for a refill) comes in eight elegant shades, from barely there Shell to deeper Iris, delivering a seamless finish. Another useful asset is a palette that presents a similar shade in different textures, such as pearl and matt – check out Charlotte Tilbury’s Luxury Palette in Pillow Talk (£45).

After applying a light touch of foundation and concealer, start a simple monochromatic look with the eyes. Let’s say you’ve picked a dusty pink. First, load your eyeshadow brush and apply all over your lids to the crease and buff out. Then add a little more into, and just above, the socket line, using a windscreen-washer action to blend.

If you don’t like pink on your eyelids, use a neutral instead and blend the pink on to your brow bone. And should you feel the pink needs ‘anchoring’, avoid dark precision eyeliner – just run a soft pencil in subtle smoke or brown along the lash line.

As for blusher, if you’re more mature in years, don’t apply to the apple of your cheeks. It looks fine if you’re smiling, but as soon as you drop the cheesy grin, the blusher drops with it. Apply high on your actual cheekbones.

Lastly, lipstick. This is a chance to play with texture, as you don’t want monochrome to be one-note. So if your cheeks and eyes are matt or demi-matt, go sheer, moist or glassy. I’m a big fan of Hourglass’s Phantom Volumizing Glossy Balm (£35) and Ruby Hammer’s Lip Serum Balm (£18).

three in one makeup beauty
About-Face's Cherry Pick Lip Colour Butter; Et Al's Versatile Blush Cheek + Eye

Also on my radar is About-Face, an avant-garde brand that’s just flown in from LA, which showcases daring dab-and-daub cosmetics. If you’re after a moisturising balm that’s hyper-loaded with pigment, the Cherry Pick Lip Colour Butter in 14 shades (£15) is it. It seems to have a fill ’n’ smooth effect that makes lips look plumper.

I went with Pamplemousse because it’s a paler shade, which I found easier to control straight from the tube than darker colours. The finishing mwah-mwah touch to monochrome.

More from Jan Masters:

The beauty gems hiding on pharmacy shelves

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