If I'm being totally honest, when it was announced in December that Living Coral was going to be Pantone's 2019 Colour of the Year, I wasn't thrilled. I've lost count of the number of coral lipsticks that I've bought over the years after seeing many stylish women sporting a perfect tangerine pout.
There's something alluringly cool about an orange lip. It's edgier than red yet more fun than fuchsia. However, it only takes one application for me to realise that this peachy hue simply emphasises all of the yellow undertones in my skin, making me look washed out and all kinds of ill. (Definitely not the chicest of beauty looks on me.)
So when our editor in chief challenged me to find out whether Living Coral was a genuinely wearable makeup shade, I was nervous, to say the least. Thankfully, it seems that coral makeup has come on leaps and bounds since I last ventured towards this colour palette. (My last failed coral purchase was a florid, matte lipstick called Orange You Gorgeous from the now-defunct Seventeen makeup range.)
The new corals have names like Beam and Burnt Sienna, and range from shades of soft cantaloupe to rich burnished orange, so in theory, there should be a coral for everyone. To help, I enlisted some volunteers to test-drive the trend with me. Here's how we got on.
"I don't wear much makeup, so I would have thought coral would feel really extreme to me. Turns out I already wear coral but didn't even realise it. Every day, I wear the Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam. The blusher and lips felt really subtle, but I was surprised how much I loved the Wet n Wild blusher as an eye shadow, as it made my eyes look so much bluer. I'm planning on re-creating this look again."
"The use of colour on both my face and in my wardrobe is rather limited, so needless to say, this shade has never made an appearance in my makeup bag before. But much to my surprise, I was quite taken by its wearability. It still gave me a glamorous look, which felt quite natural and subtle enough to wear day to day. I'm a coral convert."
Top tip: For deeper skin tones, Giselle recommends lining and filling lips with a brown-toned lip pencil first to help give the colour more impact. Nyx Lip Liner in Cold Brew is a good option.
"I won't lie: The thought of doing a full face of coral scared me initially, but I'm into it. I know blue-eyed people suit red-toned eye shadows, and, as it turns out, they suit corals too. This eye shadow looked great worn really sheered out, but I decided to pack on the pigment for the sake of this story. A coral blush is something I'd normally wear, and this one from Glossier has just been bumped straight to the top of my blush list."
I think I covered my initial thoughts on coral in the intro, but I definitely didn't hate this look. In fact, the bright Bowie-esque eye shadow is a definite win for me. Although I'd dial down the intensity of the blush when wearing IRL, I liked how it instantly brightened my face without the need for bronzer.
Even the lipstick has changed my perception of corals. This Anastasia Beverly Hills gloss verges on the rosy side, rather than orange, which I think is what prevents it from washing out the rest of my complexion.
"I was really dubious about trying coral lipsticks for two reasons: Firstly, I didn't want to look like I belonged in a naff '80s insurance commercial. Secondly, I'm so attached to classic scarlet lipstick that I literally had no idea as to whether this would suit me. Surprisingly, it was a nice jolt of colour against my winter-pale skin and dark hair. Would I wear it all the time? No. Would I give my reds a break now and then in favour of it? Yes."
"When it comes to makeup, I would say I'm pretty unadventurous. The best it gets is liquid eyeliner and a light dusting of bronzer if I'm really pushing the boat out. So needless to say, when confronted with an array of coral pieces, it was a little terrifying. I decided to go for coral eye shadow (#gobigorgohome) and was surprised at how much I liked it. I think it would look even better with a summer tan and a little highlighter for beachside chic."
It turns out Pantone's Living Coral is surprisingly flattering on all skin tones, hair colours and beauty persuasions. If we've done enough to convince you, here are a few more of my coral beauty picks to shop now…