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A Minimalist's Guide To Dopamine Makeup — Yes, It's Possible

Hannah Frye
Author:
December 15, 2022
Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor
By Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
Colorful makeup
Image by Ohlamour Studio / Stocksy
December 15, 2022
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Welcome to our Holiday Glam package, a three-part makeup series where we dissect the buzziest looks of the season and offer expert-backed, no-fuss tutorials—so you can turn heads at any soirée. 
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What Gen-Zers refer to as "Euphoria makeup" has been around in different forms forever. While glittery wings and iconic gemstones certainly mark a new era of statement makeup, this idea of bringing together color and texture to create a mood is the root of expression makeup itself.

Dopamine makeup is just another buzzy term for the bright colors and reflective hues that essentially "scratch your brain" when you look at them. But if you don't want to go full-out, can you do a maximalist look in a minimal fashion and still achieve the dopamine glam title? Certainly—here's how.

What is dopamine makeup?

First, let's establish what this aesthetic entails. The idea of "dopamine makeup" is quite simple—it's a makeup look that sparks a feel-good emotion in your brain. It's like when you look at a room where the color palette pleases your eyes, or you see a bright-colored piece of art that you can't look away from.

In order to truly understand what dopamine makeup is, it's helpful to analyze what it is not. "All I can think of right now for the opposite of dopamine makeup is Wednesday Addams' look in Wednesday," Donni Davy, head makeup artist of Euphoria and co-founder of Half Magic tells mbg. (For the record, both looks are equally stunning; it's all up to personal preference.)

If you haven't seen the recent comedy-horror series quite yet, we'll explain the look for a bit more context: Wednesday Addams' eyes and cheeks look gaunt and hollow. Her lips have a deep purple tint, and when you look at her, you'll naturally feel a bit sad or scared—which is the whole point.

Depending on your makeup preferences, the "clean girl aesthetic" could be seen as the opposite of dopamine makeup, too. This ultra-minimalistic look appears to be effortless, but it actually takes a whole lot of effort. In turn, you might feel, well, nothing since the makeup is designed to look invisible.

Dopamine makeup, on the flip side, is meant to make a statement and trigger joy—hence, the name. But using bright colors, shimmers, and glitters can all be a bit too maximalist for some. This is understandable, but there's certainly a way to nail the look on a more casual front. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

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Different ways to nail dopamine makeup.

Before you dive in, do your best to channel what images make your brain light up the most. Is it pink and purple skies? Maybe metallics? Or even glitters and gems? It can even be shapes, like stars and hearts. The options are endless.

Once you have your vision, there are a few different ways to apply said images to your face:

Glitter eyeliner. 

If eyeliner is your go-to makeup product, then feel free to start here. You can opt for a colorful glitter liner, a simple black with liquid shimmer or crushed glitter on top, metallic silver or gold, etc. 

The best way to nail a glitter eyeliner look, Davy explains, is to layer colors and textures. Using the Half Magic products, Davy creates her iconic Euphoria-esque looks with this method:

"Start with CHROMEADDICTION MATTE, and layer CHROMEADDITION SHIMMER and GLITTERPILL on top for a multidimensional look," she says.

If you don't have those products at the ready, simply start with any matte color. This will ensure your pigment appears defined and adds a bright pop underneath what comes after. Next, layer a shimmery shadow of the same tone or something adjacent.

Then for a more intense sparkle, add a loose or liquid glitter on top. Depending on where you're going, you may choose to stick with the shimmer for an understated look, or go ahead and opt for all the shine. You don't need a special occasion to glimmer.

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Dreamy shadow. 

For those who love to look at whimsical art or watercolor paintings, this one is for you. The amount of combinations you can do with eye shadow is truly endless.

All you have to do is pick your favorite colors (or whatever hues will complement the rest of your look) and run with it. If you want a two-tone look, opt for one or two lighter colors in the crease and another on the lid. You can even pop a bright color or metallic shimmer on the inner corner for a subtle statement.

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Colored blush & highlighter. 

This one is oh-so-easy for those in need of a low-lift moment. While classic pink blush and champagne highlighter never fail, you can play around with these steps in your routine.

Opt for a different color blush—from lavender to orange and beyond. For your highlighter, you can pick up Davy's LIGHT TRAP purple shimmer for the ultimate hint of color.

Play around with matching your blush to your highlighter and even to your eye look for an even more satisfying finish. This one is my go-to for a casual dopamine makeup look—here's my take on it using Half Magic's LIGHT TRAP.

Hannah Frye | Assistant Beauty Editor
Image by Hannah Frye | Assistant Beauty Editor
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Gems galore. 

What better time to play with face gems than the holidays? If you're married to a less-is-more makeup look but want something simple to level up your glow, face gems serve as the perfect cherry on top.

Pop a gem in the inner eye corners, outer eye corners, middle of your liner, or even under the eye to brighten the mood. If you're going all-out, you can even layer gems over your liner or use them to accent your dreamy shadow.

A lip moment. 

Let's say you're really not into playing around with makeup, or you don't want to invest in too many steps. We hear you—and a statement lip might be the answer. Not only is bright lipstick something you can keep on hand for events to come, but it's also arguably the easiest step to nail.

When finding your next go-to color, it helps to determine which hue will complement your undertones—here's a quick guide if you're not sure.

Ready to get glammed up for the holidays? Here are a few lovely dopamine-inducing products to get you started.

Dopamine makeup essentials

Half Magic

LIGHT TRAP

$20
Highlighter doesn't have to be boring. You can add the subtlest hint of color to your look with this purple hue. Whether you pop it on the cheekbones or dab a bit on your eyes—the look will remain understated, yet fun.
Half Magic Light Trap

Victoria Beckham Beauty

Posh Lipstick in Alter Ego

$38
This new shade of Posh Lipstick came at just the right time. Alter Ego is just the right balance between pop of color and a staple shade. Dab on a thin layer for a casual pink, or run the stick across your lips a few times to make a statement. Plus, the formula is so hydrating your lips will thank you.
Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick in Alter Ego

Johnny Concert

Champagne Supernova Amplified Eyeshadow Palette

$38
If your favorite thing to look at is a pink and orange sunset, you should get this palette ASAP. The long-wear pigments are perfect for every day or a statement look. Plus, the ingredients are clean as can be.
Johnny Concert Champagne Supernova Amplified Eyeshadow Palette

Morphe 2

Always Online Gel Liner in Indigo

$6
If you have one favorite color or you're trying to coordinate your makeup with your outfit, then get a colorful gel liner. This indigo shade is a dream for anyone—as the rich pigment will make any eye color pop.
Morphe Always Online Gel Liner in Indigo

Jones Road

Just A Sec in Golden Peach

$26
If you're new to shimmer and want to take a low-key look for a test run, grab this shadow. The simple yet glamorous tint will add a low-level pop that might even become your go-to.
Jones Road Just A Sec in Golden Peach
Hannah Frye
Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.