Looking for inspo on your prom makeup look? We've quizzed the experts on all the beauty trends that are perfect for prom night, plus tips on ensuring your makeup looks great in all the pics...
Prom night can be a big milestone in many of our lives. It's a chance to celebrate the last of your school days with friends and is one of the few excuses we get in life to wear a red-carpet-worthy gown and in some cases, ride in a limo—not to mention going all out with our hair and makeup looks.
And speaking of makeup, while we know frosted eyeshadow and bleached brows are having a moment over on TikTok, prom is a whole different ball game. So, here's all the beauty intel you need, from the best prom-ready beauty trends to ensuring your non-comedogenic foundations last all night...
Best prom makeup looks: all the trends that work for the occasion
Before we dive in, the most important thing to remember about your prom is that it's yours. Feeling comfortable and confident is what really matters, so whether your thing is a 90s grungy smokey eye or a dewy and natural 'Clean Girl' esque look, you do you.
That being said though, if you have zero ideas for the big occasion and need some inspo, we've got you covered.
So, where do you start, make-wise? Well, Rachael Divers, Resident Make-up Artist at Face the Future, says to 'take the lead' from your dress. She explains: "If you have a flouncy, voluminous dress that’s a real classic prom princess style, then a more natural, dewy makeup look will look beautiful. Think the 'Clean Girl' or 'Balletcore' aesthetic—natural-looking flawless skin, dewy illuminated cheekbones and subtle, soft definition on the eyes and lips."
If you’ve opted for a more simple but elegant dress, Divers says: "you can never go wrong with a classic nude and brown toned smokey eye with a smoked-out wing," before adding, "Prom is a time to enjoy dressing up and embracing your individuality, so if you’re into the Trad Goth vibe or you’re more Euphoria inclined, let your creativity run wild and have fun with your look."
1. Natural Prom makeup
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As mentioned, the 'Clean Girl' look—like Hailey Bieber's glazed foundation look—or
a natural, glowy makeup vibe is perfect for prom and will complement any prom dress, whether it's a gold dress or a bright and poufy number.
According to Divers, a natural or 'Clean Girl' makeup look is all about 'well-groomed brows, subtly defined lashes and flawless skin.' Think natural-looking elements, like cool-toned blush and glassy lips (we'd recommend the Gisou lip oil.)
And, if you're in need of a prom makeup tutorial, we've got you covered with a step-by-step guide on the application, that you can screenshot...
- Skincare: make sure your face is well-cleansed and moisturized as this will ensure your makeup melts into the skin and looks as dewy as possible. We'd also recommend a glow-boosting serum like the Glow Recipe Watermelon Niacinamide drops.
- Apply your glow filter: whether it's the Hollywood Flawless Filter or a glowy primer, begin your makeup with a layer, followed by your foundation—apply using either your fingers or a damp beauty blender.
- Brows: Brush up your brows with either a clear or tinted eyebrow gel, for that Clean-Girl-esque fluffy brow
- Eyelashes: Next, curl your eyelashes and apply a few layers of mascara, making sure to coat from root to tip, with a wiggling motion. Divers recommends using waterproof mascara to avoid any smudges throughout the evening
- Blush and Highlighter: Once you are happy with your desired lash effect, apply your blush to your cheekbone area, before topping it with a dewy, cream highlighter
Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter
This product is the ultimate glow-giver. It can be used as either a dewy primer, a sheer foundation, or a highlighter. You can even mix it with your favorite foundation or tinted moisturizer for a radiant, blurring effect.
If you're after a cheaper alternative, the e.l.f Halo Glow is also a viral fave in the glow-boosting arena!
Tower 28 Beauty BeachPlease Lip + Cheek Cream Blush
This lip and cheek blush is a dreamy multipurpose makeup product and a staple in Hailey Bieber's makeup routine!
As a blush, it creates the perfect natural-looking, sunkissed flush—exactly what you want for prom!
2. Balletcore Makeup
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If you're wearing a pink dress or another pastel shade, Balletcore-inspired makeup is definitely a great option and offers slightly more glamour than a fully natural prom makeup look.
Divers say the look encompasses: "Dewy skin, pretty pastels in pinks and lilac, shimmer and frosted textures," so opt for a glassy highlighter, as well delicate pink blushes and eyeshadows.
Shimmers are also ideal for ballet-inspired looks, Divers notes that: "Shimmers are perfect for prom and really add a touch of fun and the party vibe to your look.
"But if you’re not much of a shimmer lover, you could try adding a spotlight of shimmer to the inner corners of your eyes to really brighten your eyes and make them pop. Using ivory or brighter shimmers with blue, pink, or gold reflects always look great. Remember: less is more."
- Base: Opt for a dewy foundation base, with either a more sheer foundation or a glow filter
- Cheeks: For the Balletcore vibe, select a cool-toned blush and apply it to the cheeks, before topping it with an iridescent cream or liquid shimmer
- Eyes: For the eyes, Divers recommends an ivory or pastel pink eyeshadow, we'd also make sure to apply your chosen highlight to your inner eye corners.
Glossier Haloscope Balm Dewy Highlighter Stick
When it comes to Glossier's Haloscope, we'd recommend the opalescent shade of Moonstone for a perfect Balletcore glow.
This cream highlighter creates the perfect iridescent, wet-look shimmer that will give off the most beautiful sheen in pics!
Urban Decay 24/7 Moondust Eyeshadow
If you're wanting a shimmery, frosted eye look to accompany the rest of your balletcore base, this shadow in shade 'Space Cowboy' is a must.
This reflective number is actually already a viral TikTok favorite thanks to its coppery undertone and iridescent pay-off. It's the perfect shadow for prom and will really pop in pictures!
3. Nude Glam
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Divers also recommends 'Nude Glams,' if you're looking for a natural prom makeup look—like an earthy toned smokey eye for instance, with 'a nude to muted pink lip.'
This look will compliment every prom fit and never fails to look timeless and chic, in fact, it's often a staple look on the red carpet.
- Makeup base: For this matte look, apply your normal foundation and concealer routine and normal
- Cheek: For a cohesive nude look, we'd also recommend opting for a rose or terracotta-like blush or bronzer to create some definition on the cheeks.
- Eyes: Then take a small, fluffy brush and select a light brown shade and cover the lid, then take a slightly darker shade and apply it to the outer corner of your eye and blend, creating a diffused gradient look.
- Eyeliner: If you want a bolder smokey eye, take a kohl pencil and create a wing before blending it out, for a diffused wing effect.
- Lips: Take your nude lip pencil and carefully carve out your cupids bow and bottle lip, before topping with your matte lipstick
- Setting Spray: A matte setting spray is definitely your friend with this look.
4. Old Money makeup
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Right now, the trend of 'Quiet Luxury' or 'Old Money' vibes also works perfectly for prom, especially if you're looking for a natural prom makeup look with a bit of a twist. Divers describes the look as, "super natural-looking but well-groomed with ‘Sunday girl’ makeup—makeup that is undetectable but leaves you looking super fresh and awake."
Sofia Richie's blush combo is a good example of how flattering and versatile this look can be.
- Makeup base: This look is similar to that of the Clean-Girl look, opt for a glowy and natural foundation look and fluffy brow combo
- Cheeks: You'll want a very natural looking blush look, so avoid hard contouring for this look. We'd suggest opting for a warm-toned blush and applying it high on your cheek bones and blend out well
- Eyes: Keep the eyes simple, just add a few coats of waterproof mascara
- Lips: Keep your lips minimal, perhaps just a lip balm or lip oil
Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Flawless Oil-Free Foundation
This is a stunning non-comedogenic foundation that offers buildable medium coverage with a radiant and luminous finish for a naturally flawless look. It's oil-free and available in 40 shades.
5. Glitter Prom Makeup
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As mentioned, shimmers and glitters are always a good way to go for a party vibe—whether you want to go full-on, or opt for a more subtle glimmer, there are a lot of options to consider! As Divers notes: "If you’re not much of a shimmer lover, you could try adding a spotlight of shimmer to the inner corners of your eyes to really brighten your eyes and make them pop. Using ivory or brighter shimmers with blue, pink, or gold reflects always look great. Remember: less is more.
"Glitters and metallics are also a ton of fun for prom—just make sure your glitter is eye safe to avoid damaging your eyes or causing irritation."
- Eyes: For the perfect glitter eye, lay down your base shades and follow up with a glitter primer. You can then either opt for shimmer in the middle of your lid or an all-over gleam by applying it over your base shadow. When applying glitter, use your finger as this will minimize any shadow fall-out
- Highlighter: if you then wanted to add even more shimmer to your look, we'd recommend a glittery highlighter—apply to all the high points of your face, like your cheekbones and the tip of your nose
6. Silver and Gold prom makeup
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As we know, gold and silver fashion are having quite the renaissance lately, meaning these are two fool-proof shades for your 2023 prom look, if you were hoping to inject a bit of shine.
Celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Halle Bailey have all been repping silver frosted eyeshadow looks or silvery smokey eyes, so these are good eye looks to replicate!
- Eyes: Like with the glitter prom look, lay down your desired eyeshadow base and then top with a glitter. Remember your glitter look will last longer if you use a primer, but this isn't essential.
- Highlighter: If you've opted for a silver shimmer, we'd suggest choosing a similar highlighter shade and adding it to the inner corners or your eyes, to bring the whole look together
- Lips: For an extra gleam, you could also opt for a clear or sparkle gloss on the lips.
Prom makeup tips
Now we've sussed out what 2023 beauty trends are in for prom, let's talk hacks! Naturally, things like mascara flaking and foundation piling are a big no-no, so here's how to ensure your makeup lasts and looks flawless in all the snaps...
How to help your prom makeup look last all night
- Correct foundation shade: To ensure your makeup looks flawless, Divers says to ensure you select the correct foundation shade
- Skin prep: Divers says skin prep is key for prom, whether that's opting for a nourishing pre-makeup moisturizer or a mattifying primer
- Powder is your best friend: Don't forget to use powder and even carry a compact with you in your prom bag for quick touch-ups!
- Waterproof mascara: Swap out your ordinary mascara for a waterproof one to ensure your lids and under-eyes remain smudge-free
"To ensure your look stays locked in place all night," Divers says, "first start with proper skin prep. If you have oily skin, start with a mattifying primer that will help to absorb excess oils and give a great base for your makeup."
Diver adds that setting spray is a must for locking your foundation in place and recommends the Sigma Beauty Soft Focus Setting Powder (available at Macy's), which she explains is, "nutrient-rich to care for your skin as you wear it. It also helps to minimize the appearance of pores and lines and gives a matte finish."
For some extra prom-night insurance, Divers says to dose your makeup in setting spray. Diver recommends the Illamasqua Setting Spray (available at Look Fantastic) as it, "holds your makeup in place all night—even under extreme temperatures making it dancefloor-proof!" Essential!
How to achieve great-looking makeup in pictures
To ensure your makeup look flawless, even with flash, Divers says: "Choosing the correct foundation shade and blending it properly into your neck to create a seamless finish goes a long way in helping your makeup to look amazing in photographs!
"Make sure you test your foundation first to ensure it’s a great color match and allow 10-15 minutes for the foundation to settle into your skin before checking it in natural light (not store lighting!) Sometimes, foundation can oxidize on your skin which means that it becomes darker—so giving it a little time to settle will allow you to ensure this doesn’t happen. And if it does, you can try a different shade or formula."
She also recommends choosing waterproof mascara to avoid any smudges or flaking!
Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team, where she covers everything from entertainment to fashion and beauty, as well as TikTok trends for Woman&Home, after previously writing for My Imperfect Life and GoodTo. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but lept into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing and earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ.
Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.
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