a palette for your peepers: choosing eye makeup colors #shakeupyourmakeup


During the #shakeupyourmakeup challenge, I’m tackling some FAQ’s on the blog.  Today, we’re taking on a big one:  “What eye shadow colors best bring out my eye color?”  Yep, you asked for it, & I listened.  Makeup genie at your service . . . your wish is my command!  *folds arms, blinks & nods*

Before I give you the run down, I want to dispel some myths around this topic.


Myth #1:  “There is only one color that is ‘right’ for my eye color.”

Fact :  First of all, you can wear whatever you want.  Secondly, everyone looks great in neutrals.  So black, white, grey and brown are options for all eye colors.  And most likely, there are a range of colors that will best accent your eye color.  So don’t be afraid to mix it up!

Myth #2:  “I have green eyes, so I should wear purple.”

Fact:  If I hear this one more time, I’m going to freak out.  Seriously, kill me.  I have a theory that maybe a makeup artist was misquoted, or a magazine intern took a guess, and then this spread like wildfire.  True purple is for YELLOW eyes.  So unless your last name is Cullen, forget this myth.

Myth #3:  “If I want to bring out my eyes, I should just buy one of those little kits that are made for my eye color.”

Fact:  Okay, this is seriously one of my biggest pet peeves ever.  (Yes, I’m the crazy lady muttering to myself in Target about how wrong the colors are.)  It’s a great idea, but the execution falls short.  So many times I see palettes that are supposedly meant for an eye color, but the colors included have nothing to do with color theory.  What’s color theory you ask?  Let’s discuss…

This is a color wheel.  If the last time you saw one was third grade art, that’s okay kiddo.  So have most people.  I’ll try to go easy on you.

For the record, anyone can wear whatever color they want.  But if you are looking to find the color that makes your eye color stand out the most, the one that makes people say “wow, I never realized how blue your eyes are before” or “are you wearing contacts?” you can use the color wheel to find it.

First, determine your eye color.  Not just “green”.  Are they more blue-green or yellow-green?  If your eyes are brown, are there other colors in there too?  Do they have yellow circles around the pupils?  Are they a golden brown?  Then maybe they look more orange or yellow-orange.

Once you’ve found the spot on the color wheel that best describes your eye color, find the color directly across from it. This is the complimentary color, and the color that should be the base for all your eye makeup choices.

Next, translate the color wheel color into makeup.  Remember, you can add white to make it lighter, black to make it darker, grey for a muted version, and brown to make it more neutral.  The Stila color wheel eye shadow palette is meant for exactly that, and totally gets it right (awesome).

Here are some examples:

for blue eyes . . . the complimentary color is orange.  Yes, orange eyeshadow sounds gross, but if you translate it to makeup colors it can be an orangy-brown, peach, gold or light copper.

for blue-green eyes . . . if they sometimes look blue, and sometimes look green, then they are probably blue-green.  (Your eyes don’t actually change color, its just color theory at work).  The complimentary color is red-orange.  Choose apricots, watermelons or other peachy-pinks.  An intense copper or warm (reddish) brown with copper shimmer is also a great choice.

for green eyes . . . the complimentary color is red.  Yes, I know, you are worried you’ll look a little zombified with red liner.  But let’s do a little neutral-izing: red + white = pink, red + black = burgandy, red + grey = mauve, and red + brown = red-brown (okay, that last one wasn’t so original).  Anything with those bases will make your eyes look as green as possible.

for yellow-green eyes . . . red-violet is the complimentary color to choose for you.  This can be a plum, just make sure it has more red than blue.  Also a cool (or purple-y) pink is a great choice.  Mix some silver in there too for a muted, metallicized red-violet.

for brown eyes with yellow . . .  a true violet will compliment your eyes best.  It can be anywhere from light lavender to deep eggplant.

for a light golden brown eye (yellow-orange) . . . use the blue-violet shades.  A deep royal purple liner, a periwinkle highlight, or a smoky mix of blue, grey & purple will make your eyes pop.

for a deep amber brown eye (orange) . . . lucky you!  Go with an electric Smurf shadow, a navy liner, a slate smoky, a powder blue accent.  The different versions of blue are endless!  Remember, you can always pair a pop of blue with brown or grey for a more neutral version.

finally . . .

if your eyes are blue-violet like Elizabeth Taylor . . . yellow orange is your compliment.  Find it in sunny highlighters, warm golden brown shadows, or dark browns with metallic gold flecks.

Look at you with your smarty-pants color theory knowledge!  Remember to use it for good, not evil.  Now I won’t be the only one muttering in drugstore aisles with crazy eyes, declaring the pre selected palettes to be wrong, all WRONG (no salt, no salt on my margarita . . .)


Are you taking the #shakeupyourmakeup challenge?  Here’s how:

1.)  Choose something new you want to try.

2.)  Conquer your fear.

3.)  Wear your new look for five consecutive days in January.

4.)  Share!  Tweet it, blog it, facebook, whatever.

“I’m taking the @makeupbyjanine #shakeupyourmakeup challenge and wearing this lipcolor …Day3 (twitpic here). https://makeupbyjanine.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/shakeupyourmakeup/”

5.)  Be sure to leave a comment below telling me what you are doing for the challenge!

At the end of January, I’ll draw one winner to receive a personalized makeup lesson from me AND my top makeup product picks for you up to $200 in product value!

(see detailed contest info here)


What do you think?  Are you digging through your makeup bag, holding colors up to the color wheel?  Did this open your eyes (get it? hehe) to a new understanding of color?  Or was this waaaaaay over your head?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below . . .

8 Responses to “a palette for your peepers: choosing eye makeup colors #shakeupyourmakeup”

  1. . . . and a note for my graphic designer or photographer friends: this is the subtractive color wheel (for mixing paint) rather than the additive color wheel (for mixing light) just in case you were wondering. And if you weren’t, sorry to confuse you 🙂

  2. The light color theory project I did in high school was just summed up by your above comment. Where were you 15 years ago? LOL!

    I am totally trying a blue shadow tomorrow.

  3. I think my eyes are more true green than yellow-green (not quite sure though) but I LOVE how UD Psychadelic Sister looks on me. It’s a nice red-purple. It’s definitely a color I lean towards, mostly cuz it’s my favorite color in general, but I really just wear WHATEVER colors I want!!

  4. I wrote a blog post about my experience with the red lip challenge!

    I also tweeted my day 5..And for some reason, the other days did not link to your blog! One of them was a random tweet in like Spanish or something. NO idea how it happened, but I’ll just tweet your contest info some more!

    I’m posting it on my facebook as well.

    Thank you for this challenge! I feel like I can safely wear a red lip now 🙂

  1. 1 Tweets that mention a palette for your peepers: choosing eye makeup colors #shakeupyourmakeup « makeupbyjanine -- Topsy.com

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