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Your Ultimate Guide to Rhinestone Makeup


Rhinestone makeup is having a major moment, thanks to HBO’s dark teen drama Euphoria, and we are 100 percent here for it. Getting early aughts flashbacks? Like most trends, these blingy statement looks draw parallels from decades past—like Christina Aguilera’s Lady Marmalade Y2K glam or even this famous rhinestone-laden look worn by Nina Simone in the 1960s—but bejeweled faces go back even further. In India, decorative bindi (small jewels worn between the brows) can be traced back to the second century B.C (!) as a symbol of unity and connectivity to the third eye chakra. With that being said, we’d like to put out a friendly PSA that it’s important to be mindful of placement and respect the sacred history of face jewels—’cause appropriation ain’t cool. Inner corner rhinestones and a fabulous neon cateye? Way cool.

Clearly, rhinestone makeup is here to stay. And since face masks have hampered our use of glittery glosses and bold lips, it’s the perfect opportunity to double down on eye makeup. The first foray into adventurous rhinestone glam might be daunting for those of us who stick to a neutral palette and a swipe of tinted balm. To ease you into the trend, we've curated a super approachable guide to weaving face gems into your glam routine—with the guidance of Kirsten Colemen, Emmy-nominated makeup artist who helped create some of Euphoria’s most iconic makeup. Get ready for some serious #lewks.


Before you start bedazzling your face, brush up on a few basics to keep your face gems (and your sanity levels) in place.

Prep & Patch Test

Start by getting your beauty mise-en-place in order: rhinestones (in the loose or stick-on varieties), eyelash glue, tweezers, and an oil-based makeup remover. Using adhesives of any kind can be irritating, so it’s best to start with a patch test on a small spot like your inner wrist or elbow beforehand. Once you’re all set, take a good look at yourself.

Location Scout

Map out your gem placement before adding lash glue into the mix to avoid having to remove and reapply smudged eyeshadow bases. Then, you’ll want to treat applying rhinestones like mascara—aka eyes wide open. “Look at the mirror straight on when you apply gems so you see how they will lay with your eye wide open,” says Coleman. This will help keep any rhinestones from disappearing into your crease.

Apply Like A Pro

Instead of dabbing glue directly from tube to gem, Coleman recommends using a palette (a piece of tin foil works just fine). “This will prevent you from using too much glue at once.” With a few drops of your fave lash glue on a solid surface, use your tweezers to pick up an individual gem and dip the back side into the glue. Just hold your glued gem in place for a few seconds and you’ll be good to go. When it’s time to remove your masterpiece, Coleman prefers using a remover with an oil base to make the removal process a breeze.

Practice Makes Perfect

With any new technique, there’s a learning curve. “It takes practice so that the [gems] don't just snap out of grip and shoot across the room,” says Coleman. Don’t be surprised if you find these little jewels stuck to your legs or littered throughout your home—trust us, that will happen.


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A post shared by Kirsten Sage Coleman (@kirinrider) on

A little shadow and a few smartly-placed rhinestones make for a low-key version that’s so wearable. Corners of the eye (inner or outer), studded along your brow, or sparsely dotted on the lid and brow bone are all solid placements to start with. Keeping your lids bare or adding in a wash of color is totally a matter of preference. Want to add a shadow? We love IBY BEAUTY Eyeshadow in Flower Child and DOUCCE COSMETICS Freematic Limited Edition Smokey Pro Palette for neutral, shimmer bases that will complement any color of rhinestone.

Pro Tip:

Comfortability is key, so practice your looks before you wear them out and go slow. “In my experience, less is usually more,” says Coleman. “Start out with a few rhinestones in a few places and keep it minimal.”


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A post shared by Kirsten Sage Coleman (@kirinrider) on

Ready to take it a little further? Make rhinestones more of a focal point by using them as traditional eye makeup elements. “Try making an eyeliner with gems or replace eye shadow with a huge wash of gems instead of using classic powder shadow,” Coleman offers. Start by creating a shape with your go-to liners and shadows, then go back in with a layer of matching jewels. For a whole spectrum of shadow bases, we can't get enough of the Berlin Underground Eyeshadow Palette from NOMAD COSMETICS—it’s got 15 epic shades.

Pro Tip:

When buying rhinestones, most of them come in multicolored packs—use it to your advantage! Coleman gives us some intel on this: “Lighter gems can be used as another form of a highlight, while darker gems can be used as more of a shadow.”


Close-up image of Kirsten Colemen rocking a pink rhinestone makeup look

Lashes! Glitter! Bold lips! Flex some skills and glow above and beyond. “This is all about experimenting, practicing, trial and error,” Coleman reassures. Try adding gems outside of the eye area—go above the brows, create rhinestone freckles, or play with fun shapes. Bright colors are an essential part taking this to the next level, so ESTATE COSMETICS X Bailey Sarian Venice Fling Eyeshadow Palette is an easy choice for picking out your shadow.

Pro Tip:

Ever heard the old Chanel wisdom of removing one accessory before leaving the house? This is the complete opposite. “Take a step back and look at your face from afar and see if there are other features you would like to emphasize more to complete the look,” says Coleman. TBH, we truly need more of this energy in life.

Want in on all the Glam Bag fun? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

About the author
Hannah Cassidy
Hannah is a beauty editor at IPSY and has been creating content for fashion, beauty, and wellness in Los Angeles for over five years. Outside of the beauty world, she’s an avid vintage collector and dog mom to Pumpkin and Turtle.
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Article Last Updated August 17, 2020 12:00 AM