Bold and Beautiful: A Guide to Maximalist Makeup

If "normal" isn't cutting it anymore, it's time to get creative. We ask the pros how to do it right and do it well: maximalist makeup that makes an impact.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

When it comes to makeup, it’s safe to say that Filipinas tend to favor a fresh, barefaced look—a hint of lipstick, curled lashes, neatly-groomed brows. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that vibe, we also have to appreciate how, thanks to the influence of social media (hi, TikTok) and popular streaming shows (think: Euphoria), the once “conservative” Pinay has become braver and more willing to experiment with brighter colors and bolder makeup looks. “Maximalist makeup has turned into a celebration of self-expression, creativity, and being proud of your aesthetic,” explains celebrity makeup artist John Pagaduan. “It’s not limited by age or gender and it’s all about honoring your inner artist and being unapologetic about how you want to exaggerate or use your technique.”

What’s interesting is that if you take a look back, you’ll discover that experimenting with graphic liner, harsh contours, rhinestones, and dramatic lashes aren’t really anything new. “Maximalist beauty has been around for decades—we just didn’t call it maximalist [back then],” shares writer and editor Kate Alvarez. “I remember working for fashion and beauty magazines from the early aughts to mid-2010s and some of the bold beauty trends were art deco eyeliner, color block, ombre eye shadow… And let’s not forget the neon frenzy of the ’80s and glitter mania of the ’70s.”

That said, it can become easy to get lost in the reinvention of these so-called trends and overwhelmed by all the different ways you can put a maximalist look together—especially if you’re still trying to discover your own aesthetic. So if you need a little help creating your maximalist masterpiece, check out our little beauty guide below, as advised by industry experts. 

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First things first: Don’t be shy.

Opening yourself up and discovering another side of makeup can be quite exciting, but if you’re new to playful colors and whimsical, abstract looks, it can also be intimidating—especially if you’re worried about the unsolicited comments that may come your way. “The best thing about makeup is that you can always take it off if you don’t like it,” shares Beijing-based makeup artist and brow expert Barbie Chan. “If shyness is an issue, you can choose one feature first, like your lips or eyes, and start from there. The key to pulling off the maximalist look is confidence and the ‘I don’t care what people think of me’ attitude.”

Next, search for the best inspirations.

We get it—it’s fun to scroll through social media and copy celebrity makeup looks that are going viral. But if your goal is to find your own style and create your own aesthetic, try to look for people who set the tone in the industry and see what you can learn from them. “As a makeup artist, I look up to Pat McGrath, Isamaya Ffrench, Mona Leanne, Marika D’Auteuil, and Katie Jane Hughes who have served some of my favorite maximalist looks. They seem to never run out of new ideas, making even renditions of period looks feel fresh,” shares makeup artist Anacleta Paredes. “They are true pioneers, constantly pushing limits of conventional beauty and showing us just how far we can take our own creativity. I love how they are also masters in making everything look and  feel cohesive, not even the smallest beauty mark feels out of place.” 

Try this: Play with balance.

If you’re just starting to test the maximalist waters, “one can start small,” says entrepreneur, designer, and beauty writer Mariane Perez. “You can try pairing a bright-colored liner with a relatively neutral look. If you want to swipe on a bright lip, you can keep the rest of your makeup look simple.” You can start experimenting once you feel comfortable and confident, keeping in mind that maximalism isn’t limited to strong graphic liners and bold vibrant eyeshadows. A delicate pink shadow with a touch of glitter or a soft pop of shimmer will work, too—the only limit, really, is your imagination. 

For the final touch: Do a vibe check.

While we’re all about self-expression, it’s still important to see if your makeup look is appropriate for the occasion. For example, “those in more conservative jobs may want to keep their makeup looks more tapered down and reserve the bold looks for going out,” adds Mariane. “If your makeup is already over-the-top, [you can also try] picking a simpler outfit.” For times when you’re not sure or you just really want to try something more playful or OTT, she suggests that you send a quick photo to a trusted friend who will tell you the truth with kindness. “Not a frenemy, but a friend who genuinely has your back,” she says.

Take it to the next level: Get creative with your tools and accessories.

Maximalism is about having the freedom to wear as much as you want, so go ahead and have a little more fun. Feathers, gems, metallic accents, stickers, glitter—”don’t be afraid to use things from outside your makeup kits,” Anacleta adds. You can use squiggly stencils and straight-edged rulers to create unique shapes for your eyeliner, lash glue to stick on beads or leaves, and glue sticks can even be used to flatten brows and draw on new expressions in different colors. “All of these [things] can be used in helping you create a really nice, maximalist look,” she shares. 

And when you’re ready: Break the rules.

One of the best things about being in the same timeline as the “woke generation” is that you have more permission to think outside of the box and do what you feel is best for you. So even if we’re sharing these handy makeup rules and tips, keep in mind that they’re only a guide and that you know what’s best for you. “Trends are constantly changing,” explains Kate. “You can experiment and choose the ones that resonate with you the most. But if you decide one day that it no longer works for you, that’s fine. You’re a work in progress, so mistakes are part of the process. You are allowed to keep reinventing yourself.”

Your Maximalist Makeup Shopping Guide

Here are some of our top makeup picks from brands that celebrate color, sparkle, and whimsy.

For Your Brows

Beijing-based makeup artist and brow expert Barbi Chan suggests that you use a fine-tipped brow pencil to recreate your own hair strands and a brow mascara to keep them in place.

Strokes Brow Sculptor Duo

P448, Lazada

Benefit Gimme Brow + Volumizing Eyebrow Gel

P1,790, Lazada

For Your Eyes

You definitely can’t go wrong with these long-lasting liners and whimsical shadows.

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Liquid Eyeliner Black

P1,345, Rustan’s

Fenty Glitty Lid Eyeliner

P1,780, Sephora

Make Up For Ever Aqua Resist Color Pencil Eyeliner

P1,250, Sephora

Pat McGrath Labs Mothership IX Huetopian Dream Artistry Eyeshadow Palette

P8,500, Sephora

For Your Lips

A powerful pout is always a plus, but make sure you also prep it with a good balm to avoid flaking. 

L:A Bruket Lip Balm

P1,000, Rustan’s

NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in Funny Face

P1,500, Rustan’s

For Your Lashes

Want extra dramatic eyes without the extra effort? All you need is a good tube of lash glue and lengthy lashes.

Duo Lash Adhesive

P580, BeautyBar

Faboulash Full Drama

P100, Faboulash

For Long-lasting Makeup Power

The heat and humidity can take a toll on your makeup, so always use a setting powder or fixing spray to make sure it doesn’t melt off.

Kryolan Fixing Spray


Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder

P1,950, Rustan’s
Collage by Dannah Valdezco. Fashion model with colorful makeup by © Lorado. Vintage Golden Oval Picture frame by © BreakingTheWalls. Abstract Retro Grainy Background by © Ibnu Hasan. Pink and Purple Orchid Flower illustration by © Spresso. Gold Sjiny Star by © MaryLightArt. Black and White picture of buildings by © Ryan McGuire. Gold Stars by © GloryStarDesigns via

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