I wanted to get my hands on opal everything when I was a wee little brat. I would belt out “My Boo” into my hairbrush while shaving my legs and putting on my mom’s lipstick. Probably not best practices for a 10-year-old, but whatever—she was busy working to feed us and all that jazz.
Iridescent colors became my obsession! During this time, my aunt bought me iridescent and opalescent Sketchers platforms. I would get this one sticky opal gloss from Limited Too and pile on layer after layer, trying to get the icy blue shimmer to pop enough to distract any looky-loos.
Blacklights, highlighters, opal-colored makeup—it was that third-wave baby raver steez, and I definitely thought I was one of those. And since all trends are come full-circle—especially '90s favorites right now—opal looks are back in full effect. Our own Alyssa was among the first to wear her hair with an opal effect, and colorist Aura at Sally Hershberger is the nexus of the New York opal wave, but not everyone is willing to bleach to such great heights.
I prefer my opal as makeup, and it is very much the trend of 2015 as beauty purveyors large and small are putting out these fiery colors.
I took a look at the best, and now you too can relive (or live for the first time) the iridescent lust of the late '90s.
BITE is in my top-three lipstick brands. Aside from my custom shade, which you can pry from my cold, dead fingers, they're known for their innovation in color stories as well as complementary products.
This Opal Crème Lipistick is absolutely stunning by itself, but works pretty well at slightly changing the color of another lipstick. I would use a brush so you don’t taint the whole tube, since this is sheer but matte. The blue cast helps teeth look whiter, too, and I'm always game for that!
Eyeshadows are obviously the most plentiful option for opalescent colors, and Urban Decay is doing it their way. These Moondust eyeshadows are so gorgeous! Use them one at a time for alien vibes, or layer for that Glinda the Good Witch glow.
Palladio Line Out Loud is a more opaque opal product, which is not only extremely rare but also so fun for experimenting. One day I want to do that Bianca Del Rio/Trixie Mattel eye and see what happens.
GloMinerals Opal Eyeshadow is the chiller and less shimmery cousin to Urban Decay’s color bomb. It’s got a subtle blue/violet white with no shimmer, it blends perfectly with almost any color, and helps with opacity just like a primer.
Topshop Beauty’s Chameleon Highlighter and Glow Dome in Galactic are opal all-stars! Smudge a smidge of the Galactic dome instead of a bronzer to cut cheekbones for an alien-like contour that doesn’t look as weird as you would imagine. Then add a dusting of Chameleon’s fiery peach-pink highlighter on the top of your cheeks after blush. Le sigh—this is like Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet levels of glow, for a moderate price!
Clé de Peau’s Luminizing Face Enhancer is like a built-in Instagram filter. The fine shimmer of this compact is so potent that you only need a tiny bit of powder, and it’s so much more subtle than most other highlighters, but with a buildable effect.
Special shout-out to The Balm’s Mary-Lou Manizer because it’s an opalescent champagne-toned highlighter.
Complexion enhancement is one of my favorite ways to wear iridescence. You can use it as an effect rather than a statement, adding a glow like with luminizers, but all over.
I use one pump of Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector mixed in with my usual foundation, or even moisturizer if I am feeling low-maintenance. The pigment is a flattering golden peach that has a prismatic effect.
Jay Manuel Beauty has come out with a travel-friendly and easy-to-use opalescent finishing powder. Filter Finish Skin Face Lift is so convenient, leaving you able to dust your cheekbones, nose and anywhere else you need to be brighter on the fly. I loved the Gold shade; it gave my olive skin a nice hint of iridescence.
Use a few drops of multifaceted Bronzing Self-Tan Marula Oil solo or mixed with lotion for a bit of a color boost. The multicolored shimmer makes skin look amazing while it's luxury oil base moisturizes like crazy.
One place where opal is underappreciated is in nail colors. Who wouldn’t want their nail color to change as it catches light and shadow?
I nabbed two of my favorite brands’ best options, and although I'll still be sticking to my signature red henna, I got the idea to paint the undersides of my nails.
Smith & Cult's Vegas Post Apocalyptic is a glitter like no other with every iteration or the rainbow, while LVX’s Narcissist is a fabulous and bold opalescent emerald ready for nighttime.
I plan on wearing as many of these items at once as humanly possible, and I highly recommend adopting some opal into your look whether for some daytime interest or nighttime mystery.
- Do you prefer green, pink, or blue/violet opal shimmer?
- Which one of these products are you going to run and grab?
Photos: Maria Penaloza