Whether you’re looking to break away from your ho-hum eye makeup look or just looking for a fresh way to brighten and enhance your eye color, adding a pop of color is an easy way to go. But if massive eye shadow palettes and bright eyeliners intimidate you, finding a shade that looks great on you might seem difficult. (Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.)
When choosing the right shade for you, the key is to think of the color wheel. “The focus isn’t on the makeup color you’re seeing,” makeup artist Stephen Dimmick reminds us. “It’s really about how it’ll make your eye color look.” If you use a makeup shade that’s complementary to the color of your eyes, you peepers will truly look brighter and more vibrant.
If you’re curious about experimenting with a bold color but haven’t tried it for fear of looking like Katy Perry, Dimmick suggests swiping neutral shadow on your lid and in the crease, and then adding a vivid color against the lashline. And keep it bold. He suggests avoiding pastels and colors that are too light or muted; a deep, very bright color will work best to make the color pop.
Another eye-brightening trick? Stick to bold hues on the top lid and lashes—it’ll create a lifted look that’ll make you look livelier and more youthful. “If you want to do something underneath,” says Dimmick, “keep it taupey—deep or light—just to get some definition.”
Here, Dimmick shares the best makeup shades to complement every eye color, and we suggest some of our new favorites that’ll help you create the look.
Yellow and blue are complementary, so go with gold on your eyes. Cooler skintones can even try a rose gold shade. If you want to bring out the blueness, steer clear of the matchy-matchy makeup. “Blue shades will make your eyes look steely,” warns Dimmick. Instead, try using gold all over the lid, or, use a slightly wet flat eyeliner brush to apply the shade into just the lash line as eyeliner.
Try: Aveda Petal Essence Eyeshadow in Golden Cypress, $15
Good news gray-eyed gals: “Gray really lends itself to anything, except brown, which can make them look a little muddy,” says Dimmick. Try silvery colors and blues—they’ll make the gray even more striking.
Try: Butter London Wink Matte Liquid Eyeliner in Royal Navy, $20
A vivid purple against green eyes displays the color wheel theory at its finest. “It’s not about noticing that you’ve got this vivid purple against your eyes; it’s about that purple making the green of your eyes smack people in the face,” says Dimmick.
Try: L’Oréal Paris Infallible Silkissime Eyeliner in Pure Purple, $9
Hazel eyes are unique because the mix of green and gold creates countless opportunities for complementary shades. Purple, yet again, is a perfect option. “It’s such an underused color for eyes,” says Dimmick, but it really is so useful in bringing out your true colors. You could also try applying a shimmery pink color to the entire lid instead. Technically red is the opposite of green, but since you probably aren’t running to your vanity to swipe on red shadow, a pink color will have the same effect.
Try: Laura Geller Crème Glaze Deluxe Baked Eyeshadow Palette in Desert Dusk, $48
Your eyes are crazy versatile—go with either a blue or green to bring out your eyes’ rich hue. “It’s about using a really bold, bright, yet deep color,” Dimmick notes.
Try: Make Up For Ever Artist Liner in Iridescent Turquoise, $19
Both purple and blue are your best friends. Just apply it as close to your lash line as possible and keep the rest of your lid and crease neutral—you really can get away with any jewel tone you like.
Try: Shu Uemura Vision of Beauty Lasting Gel Pencil Eyeliner in Violet, $24