Choosing Eye Makeup: Color Theory 101
During my years as a makeup artist, one of the biggest questions I received was: “what color looks best on me?” 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. 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. So have most people. I’ll try to go easy on you.
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.
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 orangey-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 = burgundy, 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. There is a widespread myth that green-eyed gals should wear purple. This only works if it is a purple with lots of red, and even then, the above colors will work even better.
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, declaring the pre selected palettes to be wrong, all WRONG.