When it comes to choosing which eye shadow to buy, I am huge advocate of one simple truth: get the shade that makes you feel amazing. But to feel amazing, you need to feel confident. And when it comes to makeup, nothing gives you more confidence than a good understanding of color theory and how it applies to your natural eye color, hair color, and skin tone.
So, let’s give you some color theory basics so you can purchase with power. Below are some factors to consider when buying an eye shadow — whether you want an everyday look or instant drama.
Today, skin tones tend to be categorized into two columns, warm and cool. It doesn’t help that some makeup brands will categorize pink tones as warm and yellow tones as cool while others will do just the opposite, because the color wheel is divided down the center and yellow can be considered cool or warm.
But if you are aware of your undertone, you can navigate through all this product with decisiveness. To find out your undertone, check your veins. Our veins are naturally blue, so a yellow skin tone will have veins that appear more green. A pink skin tone’s veins will appear more violet.
If you have a warm skin tone, any warm eye shadow color will look more natural; if you are cool toned, any cool color will look more natural. Selecting shades further to the opposite sides of the color wheel will give you more drama.
Warm skin tones should try colors like bronze, vanilla, ivory, taupe, light and dark brown, pink, and coral. If you have a cool skin tone, play with pale blue, lilac, teal, gray and turquoise.
Using your own eye color to choose your shadow palette is a perfect way to put the focus exactly where you want it. Using an eye shadow shade that is complimentary to your eye color (one that is opposite on the color wheel) is an easy way to draw attention and make the eye pop or look more prominent. Choosing a shadow that lies close to your eye color (we call this analogous) will give a soft and easy effect that looks beautiful. Here is a simple breakdown.
Blue eyes – We know that orange is opposite blue, so anything in that color family or on either side of orange will create a lovely, dramatic effect. Try shades and tints of orange, red and yellow to get a ‘wow.’ Think copper, gold, peach, coral, pinks, and warm browns. For a more subtle look, something that is next to blue on the color wheel like violets, purples, or greens can create an unexpectedly natural look. Lilac, lavender, deep purple, plum, khaki, and olive are all excellent choices.
Green eyes – Eye shadow with red undertones like burgundy, maroon, and pink, or close colors like violet, lavender, peach, plum, and red are ideal complements to the green of the eyes. Warm metallics like red-based copper and bronze tend to bring out not only the green, but often accentuate the beautiful grey and brown flecks that green-eyed people tend to have.
Brown Hazel eyes – Brown is not boring. In fact, brown-eyed people are able to experiment with the widest variety of colors. Brown-eyed makeup wearers are lucky to have their pick of the lot — from warm, rich amber, copper, and gold tones to cool, slate-grey, charcoal, and lavender hues.
Remember that the three primary shades (red, yellow and blue) combine to make brown, so essentially the world is your oyster. Decide what effect you want to achieve and be creative.
Black/ Brown – Brunettes have more fun when it comes to choosing makeup as many eye shadow colors suit them well. Deep, dark colors like black, browns, and purples are perfect. And for a more natural look, neutrals like gold, beige, cream as well as lighter, softer shades of green, red and yellow all work well with dark hair.
Blonde – Blondes traditionally tend to have a fairer skin tone, meaning a softer palette will be more flattering. Color tints work well for fair skin, so try tints of your favorite reds (pink), oranges (peach) and violets (lilac) for a look that is sure to work.
Red – For a long time, red heads were limited in their options because of fashion norms, but these days, anything goes. Neutral shades will give a more natural look, but strong and bold greens are gorgeous for drama. Let your personality be your guide here and make your own rules.
Bold Color – In this “anything goes” age for hair color, people are wearing bright shades and mermaid-inspired looks. An easy tip to choosing eye shadow: complementary shades are for drama and similar colors are for a softer look.
Still feel a little nervous? If you are a beginner, you may want to buy a color wheel from your favorite art supply store — a great way to feel more secure with color theory.
Finally, one overall rule: matching your eye shadow with the color of your eyes will look dull and diminish the impact of both colors. This does not mean that blue-eyed people should not try blue shadow, or that brown-eyed individuals shouldn’t brush on a rust color. It just requires blending in complimentary colors to make the appearance more captivating.
Matching your shadow choice to your outfit can look a little outdated as well, but, then again, there are no strict rules to follow with today’s makeup ethos of individuality. Don’t be afraid to experiment! The nice thing about makeup is you can just wash it right off.