Pink is like the Kristen Stewart of the colour spectrum: a shade no longer bound by gender constraints or social convention. Which is perhaps why this generation has so eagerly claimed it as their own. While red is resolutely passionate and unwavering in its intention, its errant little sister is a colour of contradictions, all meek and mild one minute, kooky and off-kilter another, and playfully rebellious the next. It all started back in 2016 when Pantone declared Rose Quartz as its colour of the year and its latest incarnation, millennial pink, has saturated our Instagram feeds ever since. (Still not entirely sure what ‘millennial pink’ actually is? It’s essentially a dusty rose/baby pink blend – the exact colour of the top half of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel). But why are we hitting peak pink in 2017?

Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, puts this in part down to an image overhaul. “The colour was once only familiar to us as a sensitive expression of femininity. But as gender stereotypes are being quashed, our perceptions of pink have drastically changed and today many view it as a shade that is symbolic of gender neutrality as well as the epitome of modernity,” says Pressman. “With this shade range beginning to show up in hospitality and commercial interiors (areas of design which take a much longer-term view of colour), it’s clear to see that pink has transformed into an acceptable and desirable lifestyle shade.”

But there’s also a deeper sociopolitical motivation at play. “Pink has a calming, swaddling effect on our psyche which explains why it has come to the fore at a time when there is a general feeling of upset and unrest across the globe,” explains June McLeod, colour consultant and author of Colour Psychology Today. “The popular pinks we’re seeing at the moment are much softer and gentler than previous tones and are being used to excess in eateries such as Pietro Nolita in New York for their restful effect on diners.”

So what does this all mean for our make-up choices? Pink was certainly in abundance backstage in all four fashion capitals at the a/w 2017 shows and has firmly shed its uber-girly Disney princess connotations. But if pink is now gender fluid (case in point Harry Styles wearing a pink pussybow blouse for a shoot with Rolling Stone magazine), its placement in make-up terms is equally flexible, with eyes and temples usurping lips for pink power. “I think women are finally moving away from the whole Insta-drag look and are seeking something prettier without looking kitsch or cutesy,” says director of make-up artistry for Mac, Terry Barber. “Brown and beige don’t feel fresh enough at the moment; dusty pinks have become the new neutral. For me, it started a few seasons ago at the Burberry 2014 show where antique pink was used around the eyes – there was a hint of ‘just rubbed your eyes’ about it, but it still felt fresh and modern. Women don’t want raw, they want polished raw.” And the hue for a/w 2017? The hilariously named ‘packet ham pink’, according to Barber. “It’s flesh dialled up a notch.”

How to wear it

This season, it’s time to think outside of the (lip) box. At the Mark Fast a/w 2017 show, make-up artist Lisa Potter-Dixon coined the term ‘upside down blusher’ to describe the concentration of colour on the top half of the face. The key is to keep coverage to a minimum. “Too much foundation and it all starts to look a bit kitsch,” warns Barber, who advises always keeping pink as a stain. “Sweep the colour up from the eyes onto temples and into the hairline. Blush is nice higher up on the cheeks, which gives it a natural, slightly fragile freshness.

Shrimps did a beautiful blush for autumn/winter which was almost under the eyes, giving it an outdoorsy, country-girl feel.” Any other tips for pulling it off? “When doing a pink eye, skip liner which moves it towards punk territory and instead define the eyes with a warm tone mascara – I love brown, avoid black as it immediately feels a bit Eighties,” adds Barber.

However, it would be remiss to talk about pink and not mention lips – after all, they make for the most natural of bedfellows. The key to 2017’s look is to avoid a sharp edge by taking the colour slightly beyond your natural lip line, tapping along the edge to blur the line for what Barber describes as “the modern trout pout” (an enhanced version of what mother nature has bestowed on you). It’s about enjoying fresh, blush tones applied in more sensual finishes – be it sheer washes or balmy glosses – to counterbalance the overload of laborious sculpting.

Think Pink 1

Which pink is for you?

A survey of Stylist readers reveals that 39% find it hard to find pink shades to match their skintone. Yet according to Hannah Martin, senior pro artist for Bobbi Brown, pink is universally flattering because most skintones already have a little pink in them thanks to blood vessels under the surface of the skin. “Unwanted pink on the skin can be easily corrected but even in these cases, a little pink added back to the skin in the right places looks fantastic,” says Martin. As a general rule of thumb, Barber advises aiming for a heightened shade of the natural colour your lips are when you rub them, or for darker skintones look to the bolder end of the pink spectrum and steer clear of blue-toned pinks to avoid chalkiness. Here’s how to wear it, whatever your colouring…

If you’re Pale

“Lighter skintones should steer clear of reddy pinks for eyeshadow – you’ll end up looking sore-eyed,” warns Barber. “Go for taupey or plummy pinks, or shades with more coral in them.” Martin agrees: “A swipe of Bobbi Brown Blush in Nude Pink, £19.50, and Lip Colour in Pale Mauve, £23, is just enough to enhance the colour in your skin without making a bold statement.” For eyes, we love Dior’s  Couleurs Designer All-In-One Artistry Palette in Dream, £45, or Clinique’s Lid Pop Open Eyeshadow in Petal, £15.50. And to add a touch of gloss to your lips, try YSL’s Rouge Pur Couture Vernis A Levres Rebel Nudes in 105, £27.

If  you’re Olive

“If your skin is golden in tone, a slightly deeper pink will create a soft, balanced hue,” says Martin. “A pink that is too pale won’t be seen on a more olive skintone and could look ashy as it doesn’t mimic that natural flush. Go for pinks with a little yellow and brown in them to give a more earthy base, which is more flattering.” Tom Ford’s Cream Cheek Colour in Pink Sand, £52, is a good blush option, or if you need an all-in-one product perfect for travelling, go for Nars Cosmetic’s Charlotte Gainsbourg Multiple Tint in Jo, £29, for use on both cheeks and eyes.

If you’re Dark

“Darker skintones can go more to the raspberry/plum side of the spectrum,” advises Barber. Try Lancôme’s Blush Subtil Cushion in Sparkling Framboise, £29.50, on cheeks and Mac’s Eyeshadow in Sushi Flower, £13.50, for eyes. “While I adore a bold pink lip against a deeper skintone, bright make-up is not always work-appropriate,” says Martin. “If your lip is a little lighter than your skin it can be really flattering to pair your blush with a softer pink lip.” Charlotte Tilbury’s K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Velvet Underground, £24, will create a vibrant stamp of colour, or choose Elizabeth Arden’s Plush Up Lip Gelato in Candy Girl, £22, for a more boardroom-friendly hue.

House of Fraser is offering £10 off* when you spend £50 or more on their Beauty Favourites – including any of the 12 items pictured, plus many more – exclusively in store and online from 4-17 September.

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