Parade-Worthy Mardi Gras Hair and Makeup Ideas

Published on: 03/09/2022 9:03 am

In New Orleans, parade season isn’t so much a season as a way of life. It reaches its pinnacle every year on the most famous Tuesday of all: Mardi Gras. 

Over a million people travel to the Big Easy for Fat Tuesday festivities, each more adorned than the next. In an event where more is more, the goal is to stand out among the costumed crowd. 

Whether you’re planning to camp out on Bourbon Street all day and night or have your own at-home festivities, you’re going to need to look the part. Try these Mardi Gras makeup looks and hairstyles to bring in all the beads! 

Colors of Mardi Gras

Since 1892, purple, gold, and green have been the festival’s official colors. But what are the Mardi Gras color meanings? According to Booksy, “purple was chosen to represent justice, green to represent faith, and gold to represent power.”

You’re by no means limited to these three. You can really incorporate any color under the sun or choose to deck yourself out in a single color (purple body paint, anyone?)

Need some inspiration? These Mardi Gras makeup looks and Mardi Gras hairstyles are sure to laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mardi gras makeup ideas

Some years you want to pull out all the stops. Others, it may just be you, a bowl of gumbo and some king cake. These looks can help you achieve either. 

For going all out:

Unless you’re wearing a mask, full face paint is the way to go. Some parade-goers even choose to paint their entire body. 

To ensure your masterpiece stays in place, start with a quality primer. Make sure to sponge it over your eyelids and lips, too. You can either start with white as your base, adding color on top, or layer your purples, golds, and greens. Whatever you do, don’t forget the glitter. You can use loose glitter while the rest of your facepaint is still wet, or buy glitter that’s been pressed into a gel. 

For a more subtle Mardi Gras:

(Photo courtesy of @mayrismakeup Instagram)

If you don’t want to spend hours scrubbing face or body paint off you in the shower, go for something a little more subdued. Just doing your eyes or lips can be a good compromise. This is a great example of just how far a little eyeshadow and sparkly eyeliner can go. 

Mardi gras hair

The same goes for hair. You may want to book with a hairstylist well in advance of the big parade to step up your ‘do. Other times, a “Get it Girl” ponytail is just what your Krewe ordered. 

For going all out: 

Why not wig out?! It’s the perfect time to be someone else (or at least a more extreme version of yourself). The more outlandish your coiff, the more you’ll fit in. 

Dana C. Johnson, a veteran hairdresser with more than 20 years of experience, recently told Allure, “The most unique hairstyle I have seen for Mardi Gras was a bob cut, layered in Mardi Gras colors and finished with sparkling glitter. That style won my favorite unique hairstyle of past Mardi Gras.” Something worth considering if you want to showcase your own tresses in a big way. 

For a more subtle Mardi Gras:

Ponytails never fail at Mardi Gras. And braids are even better. Whether you choose to weave in one of the three Mardi Gras colors or finish the look with some glitter hairspray, they’re a flawless way to celebrate without worrying about your hair smelling after the parade. 

Mardi Gras FAQ

  • What to wear to a mardi gras themed party?
  • There’s no such thing as too much. Masks are common additions, as are head dresses, umbrellas, feathers, beads, and glitter. So long as you’re larger than life and with at least one of the preferred colors, you’re ready to celebrate!

    How do you do eye shadow for Mardi Gras?

    Smokey eyes, glitter eyes, and traditional, multi-color purple, green, and gold are always on point for mardi gras makeup. Start by applying a primer. New Orleans is a humid place, so you’ll need it to keep everything in place. Next, apply the base color to your lids. Usually that’s the lightest one. The darkest color should go on next, at the crease of your lid. Don’t be afraid to do a pop of color along your bottom lid and be sure to finish the look off with some over the top false eye lashes!

  • What to wear to mardi gras?
  • There’s no such thing as too much. Masks are common additions, as are head dresses, umbrellas, feathers, beads, and glitter. So long as you’re larger than life and with at least one of the preferred colors, you’re ready to celebrate!
  • What to bring to mardi gras?
  • Whatever you do, don’t forget to pack water. The streets will be packed and so will the bodegas. Snacks, umbrellas, hand sanitizer, cash, a portable phone charger, and bag for your beads are also highly recommended.
  • Intimidated at the thought of doing your own Mardi Gras hair or makeup? Let the professionals step in. So long as you come in with a vision and a picture, they can make it parade-worthy! 

    Gina Rivera

    Gina Rivera

    Beauty Icon and Expert

    Gina Rivera skyrocketed to success when the company she founded in 2007, Phenix Salon Suites, became the fastest-growing salon suite company in the beauty industry. With more than 300 locations nationally and international expansion occurring in the UK, Entrepreneur Magazine named Phenix Salon Suites a Top 500 Franchise list seven years running.