Pastels are a tricky colour family. At once juvenile and matronly, reminiscent of childhood toys and grandma’s chintzy home decor. It’s candy and ice cream, Marie Antoinette, porcelain figurines and colour-matched 1950s dream kitchens all at the same time.
You must admit that pastels are having a moment in contemporary culture – in fashion a mix of grandma-chic and girly nostalgia draws the appreciation of stylish young women. Brands like Saks Potts, Shrimps and Mansur Gavriel feature this aesthetic heavily. In interior design soft colour palettes and kitschy details are considered modern and fresh, as seen at hip women’s club The Wing or hyped interior design store Coming Soon. Not even food is safe from the reach of the pastel palette – I just saw pink lettuce promoted as the next hot ingredient for instagram chefs, hot on the heels of unicorn lattes and mermaid toast.
But this is a beauty blog, and if it’s one thing beauty does is absorb colour trends like a fabulous sponge. Enter, the pastel eye. A few weeks ago I saw By Terry’s new Game Lighter palette, and the Lancome French Temptation palette and was surprised to see these high-end, grown-up brands choose such a notoriously difficult colour palette. So I thought I’d write about pastels.
Then Maybelline launched a pastel palette. And Sugarpill. And Natasha Denona. And Kylie Jenner. And MAC. And while the colours belong to the same spectrum as the previously very hyped and now blissfully deceased unicorn trend, they feel more sophisticated. It’s more high-fashion queen mother than malibu barbie – a blissful repose from the heavy-handed nostalgia of my little pony collabs.
On the Runway, Moschino painted models pink and blue from head to toe for the latest show. For a less labour-intenive look, pastel brows and lashes are close to my heart – YSL is launching a pink eyebrow pencil this summer and Peter Phillips did pastel mascara for Dries van Noten. Both Dior and Urban Decay are doing tinted mascaras this year, perfect to brush through both brows and lashes.
Priming and colour-correcting draws from an almost exclusively pastel-coloured palette, with light greens to balance out redness and pinks to balance out darkness. Yellows and lavenders are used to brighten – you see this in Clarins’ new line of primers, Givenchy’s colour-correcting loose powder and a number of now-cult products like Becca colour correctors and Guerlain Meteorites.
Skincare isn’t safe from this pastel trend either – from the soft pinks of brands like Glossier, Saturday Skin, Lixir, the multi-pastel shades of Dior Hydralife and Shiseido Waso, to the sage greens of Clinique and Pixi. Cult 90s spa brand Bliss just revamped their entire line with a pastel colour palette. Furthermore, you can now store your beauty products in a pastel-kitschy caboodles case that looks like it’s been plucked straight from a candy-coloured Arvida Byström photograph.
The question is whether the universal appeal of pastels will be long-lived or fizzle out – what do you think? For me, it’s hard to imagine any other colour family dominating as pastels do, but only time will tell.