When I was in seventh grade and first experimenting with makeup, I thought nothing completed my look like a smear of bright blue eye shadow à la Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Thankfully I grew out of that phase—and yet 12 years later, I still felt pretty clueless when it came to selecting the right shade of eye shadow. I wanted to know: what hue would set off my green eyes? What was my best color?
So I spoke with Brittani Sylvester, professional makeup artist and owner of Pin Me Up (111 N. Wabash), a salon based in Chicago with a specific focus on bridal hair and makeup. Brittani explained that it all comes down to the color wheel: find your eye color on the wheel—the hues opposite it are its complements and will make your eyes stand out.
The application process is nearly the same for every eye color (though it does waver a bit depending on your exact eyelid shape). Below, we’ve outlined tips for applying the shadow best suited to your eye color.
Note: Before applying shadow, apply a nude primer to the lid (unless stated otherwise) to create a smooth base for color and increase your makeup’s staying power.
Brown eyes are extremely versatile. Their best complements are blue and gray eye, but they can pull off a wide range of hues, including neighboring shades such as green and purple.
To recreate Amy’s look:
- Cover the lid in very pale yellow eye shadow, starting at the inner corner and blending outward.
- Apply a light blue-gray eye shadow to the inner corner and blend outward until you cover half the eye. Fill in to the crease.
- Highlight the brow bone with white or off-white eye shadow.
- Apply dark gray eye shadow to the outer corner of the lid.
- Using an angled brush dipped in black liquid liner, draw a line starting at the outer corner of the upper lid. Soften the line using a brush dipped in black or brown shadow, then use whatever is left on the brush to line the bottom lid, stopping about ¼ of the way in.
- Use a coffee-hued eyeliner for the bottom waterline.
To make hazel eyes stand out, stick to the purple family: think plums, violets, and magentas. Because Melanie’s eyes are deeper set, Brittani shaded them darker in the corner to make them pop.
To recreate Melanie’s look:
- Cover the lid in a darker primer, instead of using a shadow.
- Use a white pigment powder on the inner corner and blend outward, covering half the eye and blending up to the crease.
- Highlight the brow bone with flesh-toned concealer.
- Sweep dark magenta eye shadow on the outer corner of the lid, blending well.
- Following the same steps for brown eyes above, apply black liquid liner to the upper lid and use a dark magenta eye shadow to feather it on the bottom.
Blue eyes look best next to shades like peach, apricot, and copper.
To recreate Michelle’s look:
- Cover the lid in a dusty rose eye shadow.
- Apply an apricot-hued eye shadow in the inner corner.
- Use a flesh-toned concealer to highlight the brow bone.
- Use plum eye shadow on the outer corner of the lid.
- Line with black liquid liner.
Green-eyed gals like myself can rock reds and dark purples, such as violet and burgundy. They also do well with browns, golds, and coppers—it’s all about those warm undertones.
To recreate my look:
- Cover the lid with light brown eye shadow.
- Use a lilac eye shadow on the inner corner and blend outward until about half the eyelid is covered.
- Highlight the brow bone with off-white eye shadow.
- Apply dark purple eye shadow to the outer corner.
- Line with black liquid liner, followed by a copper-toned eye shadow to feather it on the bottom.
To finish each look, curl lashes and apply waterproof mascara to the top and bottom lashes (or apply fake eyelashes for some extra drama). And don’t forget about your brows. Brittani recommends shading with brow liner, or even eye shadow. Just be sure to go lighter than you think. Start in the middle and work your way out to either side.
One final pro tip from Brittani: blend! “Even if you’re not good at doing makeup, blending will make you look like you are.”
Photos: © Stephanie Bassos, Groupon