Color, color, color

The ideal makeup is subtle and luminous. The pale face, accented with rosy beige or pink cheeks that are softened shades of an intense lip color, is the leading choice for cosmetic artists for spring.

The outdoorsy look, achieved through applications of bronzy blushers and gels , has been phased out. Even Ralph Lauren, whose women have in the past been as sun-kissed as an Arizona desert flower, has toned down his tawny rouges to tea rose, apricot, and other delicate tints.

Color gradations that owe much to the palettes of Impressionist painters are the news in eye makeup. Lancome's line includes peach, lime, and Parma violet, outlined with dark blue kohl - a layering that is meant to be blended in upward and outward strokes. For cheeks and lips, this firm's colorings tend to be mauve-toned pinks.

Chanel's new hues are more vivid. Four-color eye-shadow kits seem to be the rule these days, with pastels rather than dark tones layered from brow to eyelid. Manufacturers do not, however, supply any paint-by-numbers diagrams with these multicolor powder shadows, so it's wise to confer with one of the company's experts when a purchase is made.

Both Estee Lauder and Christian Dior have chosen hues inspired by Mediterranean antiquity. Lauder's Greek Island collection is sunnier than most of the new lines. It starts with a beige foundation, adds an apricot or melon blusher, terra-cotta or bright red lipstick, and shimmering beige lids. These are contoured with garnet and rimmed with a gray pencil.

Navy mascara and eye pencil are ''in'' (navy is less harsh, but just as effective as black). Dior does navy but Dior's Phoenician-inspired line is strong on deep gray and cypress green liners, too.

An exact match of your lipstick with your nail polish is not regarded as chic this season. Most makers offer coordinated shades that are harmonious counterpoints. Here again, it's smart to check the color ranges with the product's sales representative.

Hairstyles are a lot shorter and considerably neater. The peaky punk look with its spiky cuts, which has appealed to the young, is bound for fashion limbo.

Smooth styles that are close to the head at the back and sides but have loose waves across the top of the head are the going favorites. They may mean getting to the hairdresser more often, but think of the assurance a well-coiffed head provides.

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