It should come as no surprise that yet another Y2K beauty trend has made its way back into style. We’ve seen dozens of throwback looks gain popularity across TikTok and Instagram alike—in just the past month alone. But if you're someone who loves to sport a glittery eye, this might be your favorite of all. Yes, we're talking about frosted eyeshadow.
So why the sudden interest in icy lids? “We look to the past for inspiration and re-invent a more sophisticated spin on things,” says MAC Senior National Artist, Louise Zizzo. “Shows like Euphoria have created a frenzy with makeup in general. This trend is playful glamour, it’s fresh, and has a futuristic feel which I think people want and need right now.”
To learn how to best channel your inner makeup artist, we recruited experts to break down everything you need to know about the frosted eyeshadow trend.
Where You've Seen It
Google any famous pop star from the '90s and early 2000s, and chances are you'll catch them sporting a frosty eye. Immediately Britney Spears, Pamela Anderson, and the Spice Girls come to mind. “In the early '90s it was all about matte nudes and browns, and then, BAM! Miss Christina Aguilera hit the spotlight and frosts became the favorite,” recalls Zizzo. “It was young, fresh looking, and made a statement.”
Now celebrities like Addison Rae, Dua Lipa, and Hailey Bieber have brought back the look but with a modern flare. “The original trend was very icy with whites, silvers, and pale blues. Now I think we’re having a return but with a broader range of color,” says makeup artist Brian Duprey. “Sheer shimmers and shadow toppers allow you to frost your favorite eyeshadows [that might not have shimmer in them already].” Bring on the pinks, oranges, and greens!
What Exactly Is Frosted Eyeshadow?
Achieving the coveted finish is more than just picking up a shimmery shade. There are two main things to consider: where you place the product and what type of shine you are working with. “With this frosted trend you are blending and melting the eyeshadow up into the crease and blending it out seamlessly, whereas with a conventional application of a glittery eyeshadow, you would use a separate crease color, liner, and highlighter,” explains Zizzo.
Similarly, if you want to really nod to the original look, not just any illuminated tint will do. “The main difference is with the icy shade,” says Duprey. No matter what color you choose as your base, make sure your “frosting” has that signature cool tone.
How to Pick a Frosted Eyeshadow
When it comes to picking an eyeshadow there are generally three options: powder, gels, and liquids. “Product choices are as important as placement,” says Zizzo. She tells us that liquid and gels tend to be less messy in application and will dry down and stay all day.
Similarly, Erin Lindsay, Director of Product Development at ColourPop Cosmetics, notes that a creamy texture is an easy way to recreate the trend with an updated feel. “A cream to powder formula is going to be a more modern and luminous look because it is less powdery. A powder eyeshadow will look dryer, cakier, and heavy on the eye,” she explains. “So with something like the ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Moon Daisy ($7) you can do [a simple] veil of sheen or you can build it and get more impactful. It is definitely more versatile.” If you want to keep the process super minimal, formulas such as ColourPop Super Shock, Viseart Glitter ($16), or Makeup Forever Star Lit Powder ($26) are all great to simply pat across the lid alone or dust on top of your other go-to eye products without overcomplicating the process.
However, if you are still stuck on remaining loyal to your favorite pressed powder, Duprey offers up this trick. “As a makeup artist when I want shadows to last all day long, I do a wash with a gel stick first, such as the Laura Mercier shadow stick. I will blend that out to mimic where I want to put the shadow and then I'll put the powder over that. That way I know that I have a good, strong pigmented shimmer that will last all day,” he says.
If you're feeling up for a challenge or want to experiment, both Duprey and Zizzo offer the idea of playing with loose pigments. “If you want to make a statement, a loose silver shadow used wet and packed on to the eye lid will get you there,” says Zizzo. Her favorite is the MAC Silver Fog Pigment ($25). Should you take this approach, setting formulas is going to be your new best friend to avoid fallout. “NYX makes this really good paste that adheres shimmer to it. It does not dry so you can comfortably wipe it off and change or switch it up if you need to,” says Duprey.
Last but not least, there is the matter of selecting your color. Although the original vibe was all about blues, like we’ve seen recently, this no longer is the case. “Your ice blues are going to stand out more on the skin, so if you are unsure, start with a frost that’s more neutral in tone such as MAC Dazzle Shadow in I Like To Watch ($23),” suggest Zizzo. “This is a soft mid tone brown with gold sparkle so it will work on any skin tone and you can play it up or down.”
How to Apply Frosted Eyeshadow
First things first, preparation is always key. “Prepping the eye is a must for an even application and longevity with no creasing,” says Zizzo. As far as tools go, this really depends on what product you pick. “I will use my finger for a quick swipe across the lid with a powder eye shadow but brushes will give you more control and a precise application,” Zizzo explains. “If you want to intensify an eye shadow, spritzing your brush with a setting spray before dipping into the pan will do just that.”
Save your mascara, eyeliner, foundation, etc. for after you’ve completed your frosted look. “Shimmers are very obvious when they fall on lashes. So you want to do it before you put on mascara because then you have the opportunity to coat over that shimmer that has fallen down,” says Duprey.
Most importantly, don’t over complicate the application process. “This specific trend should be simple. It should be a wash over the eye. With social media makeup trends, there's been a lot of complicated eye techniques and this does not fall in that category,” says Duprey. “Certainly you can add winged liner or additional lashes to make the look new and modern. But I think that the more simple, the more of [it is an ode to] the original trend.”