Embracing Tradition and Glamour: Carnival Makeup

Trinidad Carnival (Photo by Hayden Greene)

Carnival is an annual celebration deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of Trinidad and Tobago: Vibrant festivities, elaborate costumes and mesmerizing makeup with a fusion of cultures that pays homage to the island’s cultural diversity. At the heart of this celebration lies traditions, culture, music, entertainment, laughter and more. 

Trinidad Carnival (Photo by Hayden Greene)
Trinidad Carnival (Photo by Hayden Greene)

Trinidad’s carnival traces its origins back to the 18th century when enslaved Africans in Trinidad created it as a form of resistance; like many other Caribbean islands, the carnival celebrations happened during the pre-Lenten season. Over time, these festivities evolved into the elaborate carnival we know today, blending African, Indian, European and Indigenous influences.

The makeup worn during carnival is influenced by these diverse cultural elements incorporating traditional motifs, vibrant colors and intricate patterns. 

Want to achieve your carnival-inspired makeup look? Here are the steps below: 


Start by prepping the skin, skin prep is very important for a quality makeup application. 

Cleanse your face: Start with a clean canvas. Use a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type to remove any dirt, oil, and makeup reside. Pat your face dry with a clean towel. 

Apply Moisturizer: Hydrate your skin with a lightweight moisturizer thats for your skin type. 

Prime your skin: Apply a makeup primer to help smooth out fine lines, minimize pores and create a base for your makeup to adhere to. Choose a primer based on your skin type, such as mattifying for oily skin or hydrating for dry skin. 

Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo by Hayden Greene)
Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo by Hayden Greene)


Use brightly colored eyeshadow to create a bold and vibrant eye look. Think shades of fuchsia, turquoise and gold to capture the essence of carnival. Blend multiple shades for a gradient effect, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes and patterns. 

Winged eyeliner is a staple of carnival makeup. Use a waterproof eyeliner pen to create sharp, dramatic wings that elongate the eyes and add a touch of glamour to your look. 


Start by applying a lightweight, long-lasting foundation that matches your skin tone. Opt for a formula that can withstand the heat, humidity, and sweating that comes with the enjoyment of carnival festivities. 


Carnival makeup is not complete without a generous dose of glitter and gems. Apply glitter to the eyelids, cheeks, and temples for a sparkling effect, and use adhesive gems to create intricate designs around the eyes and on the forehead. 


Choose a bold lip color, red, purple, or orange, to complement your colorful eye makeup. Opt for a long-wearing, matte formula that will stay put throughout the festivities. 


Finish off your makeup look with a generous spritz of setting spray to lock everything in place and ensure your makeup stays flawless all day and night. 


Face and Body Paint: 

Take your look up a notice by embracing the tradition of face and body painting, incorporating traditional motifs and symbols into your makeup look. Use colorful face paints to create intricate designs inspired by Trinidadian folklore and mythical characters.

Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo by Hayden Greene)
Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo by Hayden Greene)

Elaborate makeup and/or body paint is just one of many ways that carnival-goers embody the spirit of Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival, a celebration of unity, diversity and joy. Drawing inspiration from mythical characters and traditions, each makeup look tells its own story and reflects the unique cultural heritage of the island. Participants create stunning visuals but also connect to their ancestors and history.

Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo by Hayden Greene)
Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo by Hayden Greene)

Carnival makeup is more than just a cosmetic adornment; it’s a vibrant expression of cultural identity and tradition. Through bold colors, intricate designs and the incorporation of gems and glitter, participants celebrate their creativity and honor centuries of history and resilience. 

The celebration doesn’t stop at makeup, though: Carnival-inspired fingernails and costumes are also a vital part of the festivities.

Freshly painted nails add an extra layer of glamour and artistry, from press-on nails to designs with elaborate nail art, plus costumes awash in glitter Swarovski gems, feathers and more. All of this morphs into a mini canvas that reflects the spirit of carnival. Each nail design, makeup look and costume tells a story and adds to the overall glitz, glam, and glitter of carnival, which are symbols of cultural pride but also beauty.

Trinidadian Carnival transcends mere aesthetics, serving as a celebration of cultures, themes and traditions. Carnival makeup serves as a powerful symbol of cultural pride and identity. As participants dance through the streets adorned in their gem-filled creations, they celebrate not only the beauty of the Caribbean but also the resilience and spirit of its people. So, as the music fills the air and the streets come alive with color, let us revel in the magic of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival and the timeless artistry and traditions.

Create memories that last a lifetime! So grab your makeup brushes, unleash your creativity and get ready to dance the day away in style at the Carnival.

Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo by Hayden Greene)
Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo by Hayden Greene)
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