If someone told me in high school that I’d be the one setting the year 2020’s boldest beauty trends, I would have said, “You’re f*cking lyinggggg.” And also: “Lemme see!” As long as I've been a beauty obsessive, I've marked the passage of time by The Look that dominated the era: body glitter, black ring liner, nude lips, butterfly clips. Beauty today is too personal and too bold to be reduced to a single megatrend. Looking out at 2020, we’re honestly more likely to remember our own dope makeup look that hit a personal-record-breaking 500 likes than any celebrity’s red carpet makeup.
"We've pushed the bar so far that now it's broken," says Ursula Stephen, celebrity hairstylist, owner of The Salon by Ursula Stephen, and the hairstylist for our No-Boundaries Beauty shoot for this piece. "That’s what the trend is — that there is no trend."
Stephen, nail artist Ami Vega, and celebrity makeup artist Patrice Pugh, the glam team behind this shoot, say boldness in beauty is more attitude than look. Vega is all about “risque, super loud nail art” right now, which she achieves with intricate, hand-painted designs. For Pugh, bold means "not even just stepping outside of the box, but taking the box away completely.” Think: skipping neutrals and predictable makeup in favor of unexpected graphic liner shapes or full-on character makeup.
These trendsetting women show that bold beauty in 2020 means doing whatever the f*ck you want, with no antiquated rules or rigid boundaries holding you back. Justine Skye, singer and muse for this shoot, says her 2020 beauty mantra is one word: fearless. “Just go for it,” she says. Here’s what chucking the rulebook out the window looks like.
The New Nude
For many of us, experimenting with saturated pigments sounds great... until we retreat to the safety of our favorite nude lip and eyeshadow. If that’s you, Stephen says, “Just start slow." Try the new neutral: pastels.
According to Pugh, an all-over wash of pastel that stands out is a baby step that can lead to bolder makeup looks down the line. "Playing with color is really the building block of it all," she says. Shaina Azad, founder and CEO of SUVA Beauty, a brand known for products packed with pigment, says fluorescent greens and pinks, lilac, powder blue, and mint green will be everywhere in 2020.
To make pastels pop, use a light eyeshadow primer (Pugh used one from P.Louise) before applying a few layers of shadow. If you’re using a shade with a shimmer finish, packing on the pigment with your finger, as opposed to an eyeshadow brush, makes the color more vibrant.
Adding a texture — like rhinestones à la Maddy in Euphoria — a big, voluminous lash, or both, easily takes it to the next level. "Any look you do, if you throw a lash over top of it, it looks 10 times better," says Azad.
The Every Day Red Carpet
The use of red lipstick dates back to ancient civilizations, and a red lip has been a power move for everyone from Marilyn Monroe to AOC. So how, then, do you take a tried-and-true dramatic touch to Bold with a capital B? Slather on a heavy coating of reflective lip gloss, pray a gust of wind doesn’t hit, and make the rest of your look — hair, nails, and outfit — red-carpet ready, too.
"Look at yourself as if you’re always walking onto a red carpet," Pugh says. "A lot of people ... look at celebrities and are like, 'Oh my God, her face looks amazing! This looks amazing!' But they don’t see that for themselves, and I wish that people would look at themselves as a celebrity."
In 2019, the butterfly clips, barrettes, and scrunchies of the '90s got a high-fashion upgrade, and dozens of Blair Waldorf wannabes graced Simone Rocha’s and Prada’s runways in headbands fit for a private school trust-fund baby. In 2020, hairstylists and Instagram It Girls are upping the ante by creating full-on constellations with accessories; celebrity hairstylist Justine Marjan often goes viral for her rhinestone clip- and bobby pin-laden styles, including Ashley Graham's super long, barrette-filled Met Gala ponytail.
"The more, the better," Stephen says. "Just junk it up." You’ll basically want to gather alllllll your clips, bobby pins, and barrettes and load them in your hair until you look like the inside of a jewelry box. When you think you’ve hit your limit, add a few more in. Stephen could’ve stopped after draping the four Lelet NY Crystal Spine Combs across Skye’s hair, but the big, bulky rhinestone bobby pins from Jennifer Behr, slotted in the spaces left over, make the look.
The Neon Light
After years of the “no-makeup makeup” Glossier girl aesthetic reigning supreme, neon makeup continues to explode in 2020. Colors once reserved for the highlighters in your pencil bag now fill nearly every Sephora end cap and have popped up on countless runways — Christian Siriano, Chromat, Helmut Lang, and Oscar de la Renta, to name a few. Celebrities, too, like Hunter Schafer, Rihanna, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner, have werked their own neon looks.
“You’re gonna be seeing way more electric, neon color,” says Azad about the slime greens, hot pinks, and highlighter yellows now taking over. She suggests experimenting with graphic lines — their shape and their placement. One of her favorite moves is to float eyeliner in the space between your lash line and your brows.
Pugh’s method is more abstract: Dig deep into the boundary-less imagination you had as a kid and experiment until you find "something unique." "When I go out every day, it’s like I’m a new character. That’s how I look at life," she says. "Like, today I’m a witch, or tomorrow, I’m a nurse or a student, and I’m giving a soft glam. Whatever your character for the day is, go for it."
Top image credit: Hellessy top; Roxanne Assoulin earrings; personal earrings.
Photographer: Tory Rust
Stylist: Gabrielle Prescod
Hair: Ursula Stephen The Salon using TRESemmé
Makeup: Patrice Pugh using SUVA Beauty
Manicure: Ami Vega using Essie at See Management
Model: Justine Skye
Fashion Assistant: Ryan Gale