Five ways your make-up can boost your mood and confidence – from just £4

A flush of pink, a dash of red, a wash of coral… There are plenty of ways you can brighten both your complexion and your mindset. That’s one of the things I love about being a beauty writer: discovering cosmetics that have the transformative power to boost confidence when you need it the most.

This was especially the case for me on the day of my father’s funeral. I was fastidiously applying a cheery pink lipstick in the hallway mirror of my family home, going over and over my lips with the bullet. The splash of colour was shocking paired with my mournful outfit, but MAC’s So You shade helped me to keep it together. I had a strong, positive, not-cremating-my-dad exterior. Some may think it vain or futile, but facing dad’s friends, family and colleagues looking like a sombre shadow of myself seemed more of a dishonour.

“Colour can change how we think, feel and behave in an instant,” says Karen Haller, colour psychology expert and author of The Little Book of Colour. “We can use it like a form of self-protection, as a way to hide, or to get noticed and be seen." Considering that 2023’s Pantone Colour of the Year is Viva Magenta, there’s no better time than now to consider colour.

If you’re a bit nervous of colour, take it slow. “Try colour on one area to start with – that could be a lip, cheek or eyes,” advises international make-up artist Lisa Eldridge. “If you’re not used to seeing it on yourself, this is a good way to grow into a colour. It might be a bit of a shock initially, but if you wear it daily, you’ll start to feel more confident.”

Red: Passionate, exciting and strong

“Red is really an umbrella term for a huge range of hues, from orangey geranium to fire engine red to oxblood,” says Rachel Felder, beauty expert and author of Red Lipstick: An Ode to a Beauty Icon. And the only way to know which shade of red will suit you is by trying it on and deciding for yourself. It’s believed that you need to wear a red lip three times before you feel wholly convinced, so acknowledge that you might be a little self conscious to start with. Pop on a red lipstick and wear around the house a few times, or go subtly with a lip stain or balm. Try Lisa Eldridge Luxuriously Lucent Lip Colour in Palazzo, £26 here, and Studio London 12h Velvet Lipstick in Feelin' Disruptive, £5 here.

Blue: Calm, sincere and affectionate

“A bright eyeliner in your waterline can really make your eye colour pop without looking too loud,” says Jo Martin, Paul & Joe Beauté brand manager and make-up artist. Both Barry M Hi Vis Neon Bold Waterproof Eyeliner in Glow Stick, £3.99 here, and Fenty’s new Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner in Lady Lagoon, £18 here, glide seamlessly onto eyes for a splash of cobalt. Or consider a blue mascara, like Pat McGrath Labs Dark Star Mascara Star Wars Edition, £28 here. Use it near the root of the lash for a surprise hint of colour that draws attention to the eyes.

Yellow: Happy, optimistic and youthful

“When I was younger I would always wear a lot of colour on my eyes, but now I am in my 40s I use a more pearlescent texture as matte is too flat and can sit in fine lines,” explains Jo. Cream or gel based products will sit better on the skin as they are more hydrating than powders. 3INA The Cream Eyeshadow in shade 106, currently £13 here, scores for both its texture and canary yellow pigment.

Pink: Sincere, feminine and compassionate

“Dull skin will welcome a pop of vibrant blusher,” says Rose Gallagher, IT Cosmetics make-up artist. “Placing this on the apples of the cheeks lifts the entire complexion.” Mii Cosmetics Cheek Veil Liquid Blush, £22 here, will breathe joy and radiance into your cheeks, while IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Blush in Sweet Cheeks, currently £20 here, contains a perfect blend of pink, peach and gold, making it shape-shift to match most lipstick shades.

Orange: Cheerful, creative and independent

"A colourful manicure is a perfect, small beauty change that evokes joy,” says celebrity manicurist and Mylee ambassador Tinu Bello. “There is nothing more fun than a colourful manicure, especially during winter.” Rather than an all-over hue, Tinu predicts that 2023’s bright colours will be used more sparingly – think a coral-tipped French manicure, or an orange accent on one nail. Mylee Tangerine Sorbet Gel Polish, £7.99 here, and Revolution Neon Nail Paint in Boom Boom, £4 here, are perfect.


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