If you’re only going to wear one eyeshadow, the color had better be right. That’s not to say there is only one or two eyeshadows you can wear based on your skin tone or eye color, but it just means you should be aware of what kind of effect different colors will have. In this article, we’ll help you choose the best eyeshadow colors based on your skin tone and eye color!
Choosing the Best Eyeshadow Colors for Your Skin Tone
For the most part, if your skin is extremely clear, or if you are wearing a full face of foundation, then you will find that undertones matter less and that you can get away with eyeshadow colors that would otherwise clash with your skin.
Additionally, no matter your skin tone, very deeply saturated colors (think fire-engine red or banana yellow) tend to be so unique and intense that the skin tone matters less than the skin condition. Instead, I’ll be focusing on how to choose more wearable/ traditional eyeshadow shades.
There are three kinds of shades you can choose for your single eyeshadow looks: lighter shades to apply only on the lid to brighten up the eye area and add luminosity, medium shades to even out the lid and to add a hint of color or shimmer, and darker shades that will have a smoky effect when applied to your eyes.
A shade that might be very brightening on anyone with darker skin can look medium-toned or even dark on someone with lighter skin.
Best Eyeshadow Colors for Cool Undertones
If you have cool undertones to your skin, meaning that your skin pulls more towards pink than towards yellow with veins that appear blue or purple, then the best eyeshadows for you will also lean a little towards cool. The obvious shades are lavenders, pinks, mauves and purples, but it also applies to browns or taupes that lean a little towards purple or gray, and metallic silvers, gunmetal, and pewter.
Greens tend to bring out redness and pinkiness in the skin, so they are better avoided, while coppers and rose golds will work well as long as you keep things monochromatic with a similarly warm blush.
Lighter shades that will brighten up your eye area include beiges, creams, and very pale or shimmery pinks, although even champagnes are neutral enough to work.
Best Eyeshadow Colors for Warm Undertones
On the other hand, if you have warm skin with yellow undertones and veins that appear slightly green, then the best eyeshadow shades for you would lean towards warm. This includes all manner of rose golds, golds, coppers, and bronzes, especially if you like metallic tones.
Neutral and yellow/ orange-leaning browns are always a safe choice if you like to keep things simple. For smokier looks, it’s better to choose a brownish-gray or gunmetal tone and to avoid grays that lean towards blue.
When it comes to brighter shades to highlight or open up the eye, neutrals like beige or champagne are perfectly lovely, but you can also go for warmer pale shades like light gold.
Overly cool purple or blue eyeshadows can contrast against your skin in a way that brings out the yellow and makes you appear sallow, while warm purples like mauve or magenta can work well.
Best Eyeshadow Colors for Neutral Undertones
Those with neutral skin tones that have veins that appear blue, and skin that seems more beige with equal amounts of yellow and red tones (or perhaps none at all) can happily live in the middle and play around with all kinds of eyeshadows.
Best Eyeshadow Colors for Olive Undertones
Lastly there are those with olive skin tone, which refers to those who have a greenish tint to their skin with veins that appear very green. Olive skin can lean towards both cool and warm, but generally doesn’t have any issues with redness in the skin. It’s literally the opposite situation, since green sits opposite of red on the color wheel.
Because of this it’s important for those with olive skin to be careful with red, pink, and even purple eyeshadows, as they can make the skin appear overly green and sickly. Green and earth tones, on the other hand, can have a fabulous effect.
Choosing the Right Eyeshadows for Your Eye Color
The days of yore when fashion magazines recommended that women wear eyeshadows that sit opposite on the color wheel from their eyes are mostly gone. These days we obsess over metallics and neutrals, and play around with the full color palette.
I’m of the opinion that your skin tone should have a bigger impact on the eyeshadow colors you choose, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take inspiration from the color of your eyes.
One thing that always applies, no matter your actual eye color, is the following: purple, copper, or mauve eyeshadows can have a really striking effect, but they’re not a great choice after a sleepless night, as they can emphasize any redness in the eyes and lead to a sickly look. Save these shades for when you’re well-rested and bright-eyed, and maybe keep some eye drops in your bag for later on in the day.
Best Eyeshadow Colors for Brown Eyes
I think it’s the most fun to start by talking about the best eyeshadows for those with brown eyes, since the truth is that almost everything goes! As a blue-eyed gal, I was always a little jealous of the versatility of brown eyes.
Brown is a truly neutral color composed of an equal blend of the three primary colors, which is why it doesn’t show up in the color wheel. Dark brown eyes are particularly neutral, appearing almost black, while lighter brown eyes can appear a little greenish (hazel) or golden.
If you want to bring out particular tones in your eyes, choose an eyeshadow shade that sits opposite the tone you would like to enhance on the color wheel. To enhance golden-yellow tones, opt for blues, while to enhance green tones opt for purples or mauves.
Alternatively, just have fun and play around with all the colors, and have particular fun with different finishes like mattes, metallics, and shimmers.
Best Eyeshadow Colors for Green Eyes
If we’re playing by the old beauty rules, then the best eyeshadows for enhancing your green eyes would be shades of purple, red, and mauve. This is because these are the tones most complementary to green, meaning they tend to strengthen the greenness of the eyes.
Additionally, neutrals that lean just a little towards red or purple, like red-based browns and mauvey taupes will also have the same effect. With all of this being said, there is nothing wrong with wearing eyeshadows that won’t be exactly complementary to your eye color, as that in and of itself can have a smoldering effect.
Play around with other colors, with coppers and earthy greens being particularly interesting.
Best Eyeshadow Colors for Blue Eyes
With blue eyes, the effects of complementary colors are most evident. Few looks are as striking as blue eyes surrounded by an orangey copper eyeshadow. Other colors that tend to pair particularly well with blue eyes include rose gold and peach.
Cool tones with a touch of red, like pink or mauve, are a little softer next to blue eyes but they still emphasize blue tones. Neutrals like bronze, brown, and taupe are always a good choice, of course. Lastly, there is something kind of special about a woman with blue eyes who is not afraid to wear blue eyeshadow.
Photos via @janicejoostemaa, Instagram