Over a million people travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, every year to celebrate the Cajun holiday of Mardi Gras. A massive street festival featuring parades, parties, live music, and costumed dancers, many festival-goers travel from all over the country, and sometimes the world, to join in the fun. According to WTVA, 1.4 million people attended the New Orleans festival in 2019, and even more festival-goers celebrated all over the South.
If you’re planning on joining in the Mardi Gras festivities, or if you want to commemorate the holiday at home, consider incorporating Mardi-Gras themed makeup into your look. We compiled a list of the top Mardi Gras makeup ideas, so that your look will be festival ready by the time Fat Tuesday rolls around.
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History of Mardi Gras
According to the Jefferson Parish website, Mardi Gras was first brought to New Orleans by French settlers in 1699. The tradition grows out of Fat Tuesday celebrations, when Catholics would eat rich, fatty foods on the night before the fasting season of Lent. The holiday evolved into a street festival in New Orleans, much like Carnival celebrations in Brazil and other parts of Latin America.
Purple, gold, and green are the traditional colors of Mardi Gras. According to the news station WAFB9, the colors were chosen in 1892. Purple was chosen to represent justice, green to represent faith, and gold to represent power.
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One easy nod to the Mardi Gras tradition is a purple statement lip. If you want to opt for a more pared-down look, you can keep the rest of your makeup simple, and apply a pinky-purple shade with warm undertones like this one from Lancôme. If you’re not afraid of an eye-catching violet shade, try Kate Von D’s Everlasting Glimmer Veil in Televator. If you happen to have purple eyeshadow hiding somewhere in your makeup drawer, you can actually use that as lip color, too. Just make sure to pick a lip-safe eyeshadow, and check out one of the many YouTube tutorials for the best way to apply it.
Bejeweled Forehead and Eyelids
Take a page out of Solange’s style playbook with a bejeweled makeup look. Face gems are a cheap and easy way to take everyday makeup from mundane to festival-ready. For a few dollars, you can buy sticker jewels at a party supply store or online. Apply the gems above your eyebrows and at the outer edges of your eyes. Feel free to dot them all over your forehead like Solange does, or concentrate them around the brow bone as desired.
Mardi Gras Smokey Eye
Show your festival spirit with a Mardi-Gras themed smokey eye. MayrisMakeup on Instagram created a unique smokey eye just for Fat Tuesday that incorporates green, gold, and purple. In order to recreate this look, you’ll need purple eyeliner and shadow, as well as green and gold shadow.
Start with winged eyeliner on the upper lid, and feel free to make the line nice and thick. Then add a layer of green eyeshadow above the eyeliner. Next, add a layer of gold shadow along the brow bone above the green shadow. Then apply the purple eyeshadow to the lower lashline to match the eyeliner on your top lash line. Finish off with mascara as desired.
Feel free to mix the look up and make it your own. Instead of alternating colors from the lash line out, some makeup artists chose to section off the eye. One artist applied green shadow to the innermost part of the lid, blended it with yellow and gold in the middle of the lid, and added purple eyeshadow to the outer edges of the eye. Feel free to experiment and find the technique that you like the most. You can find more inspiration here, here, and here.
One of the biggest makeup trends this winter is colorful eyeliner, with celebrities from Kerry Washington to Olivia Munn boasting technicolor lash lines. If a Mardi Gras smokey eye is a little bolder than you’d like to go, one simple way to incorporate the theme into your look is with a swipe of colorful eyeliner. Revlon has liners in violet and forest green, and Glossier offers multiple shades of green liner, as well as a pinky-purple and a gold. Not only is the look low-key and chic, but you’ll also save money by buying only one product!
For a glowing, skin-focused look, pay homage to the “power” branch of the Mardi Gras color scheme with gold highlighter. This dewy, goddessy look is flattering on most skin tones. The highlighter emphasizes your natural bone structure while also providing a healthy glow. Simply choose a gold shade that’s flattering for your skin tone—Fenty’s Trophy Wife and Becca’s Gold Lava are two cult favorites—and apply it along your cheek bones, at the tip of your nose, and along your cupid’s bow as desired. For those of you who are completely new to highlighter, check out Gloria Jackson’s handy “How To Use Highlighter For Beginners” tutorial.
For a tribute to the “justice” theme, consider an all-purple makeup look. Combine a bold purple lip with a layer of dreamy lilac eyeshadow for a more cohesive color scheme. You might even decide to combine this look with gold highlighter, for a low-frills face that still projects festival cheer and incorporates the Mardi Gras theme. Ellarie on YouTube has a tutorial for a chic, festive makeup look that combines dark purple lips with gold and violet eyeshadow.
Masquerade Face Paint
For the artistically-inclined, face paint is a fun and cost-effective way to get your look festival-ready. Arteza offers palettes for less than $15, as do Revolution and Pozilan. The traditional Mardi Gras accessory is a masquerade mask, but you can paint your own for less money, and you won’t have to worry about losing it in the chaos of the festivities. You can see a variety of examples here and here, although the point is to express your creativity and create the masquerade look that speaks to you! Once you’ve finished your creation, make sure to set your face paint with hairspray.
Glitter has made a huge comeback in the past year, especially on the eyelids. From the runway to the red carpet, more and more makeup artists are embracing the look. What better time to break out the sparkly madness than at the biggest street festival of the year? Just make sure to use cosmetic grade glitter anytime you apply it near your eyes. Dolls Kill and Glossier both have eye-safe options in Mardi Gras-friendly gold shades. Apply it over the whole lid, or concentrate your application around the outer corners of the eyes for a pretty, playful look.
One way to make your arms and shoulders just as festival-ready as your face is through body glitter. Body glitter is generally available in a variety of colors, so opt for green, gold, or purple glitter to keep your look Mardi Gras-ready. You can apply it to your collarbone, along your shoulders, or on your arms to add a pop of color.