Google any online guide to blue eye beauty looks and you’ll find a myriad of orange-tinged eye shadows and liners, from shiny metals like copper and bronze to earthy tones like mahogany. If you’ve ever asked yourself why, it’s because these tried-and-true shades follow the rules of color theory. Blue and orange are true compliments, meaning they stand out most when paired. But what about the unexpected color combos that add a little sparkle to cobalt eyes? We turned to some of the nation’s top makeup artists to ask about the best-kept secrets behind helping blue eyes shine. Scroll through to find out!
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They say that fortune favors the bold, but we believe that a striking beauty look can stem from even the subtlest trick or slight of hand. Our newest favorite magic trick comes from Jillian Dempsey, the renowned makeup artist who recently elevated Kirsten Dunst’s blue eyes to “best dressed” at the Emmys this week. “Black mascara on upper lashes and a warm brown on lower lashes is a nice tip to balance blue eyes,” she says. We love a one-two punch of pigment with CoverGirl Flourish by Last Blast Mascara ($7) that comes in several different shades of black and brown.
Who says neutrals are boring? “I like shades with warmth in them, particularly yellow and orange undertones,” says makeup artist, Beau Nelson, who’s worked his magic on everyone in Hollywood from January Jones to Kate Bosworth. “A very flattering shade is a camel brown, although it looks unappealing in the pan, its beautiful contrast against blue eyes really helps them stand out.” Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Shadow Single ($12) in Birkin is just as alluring in the package as it is swept across lids.
If you have baby blues, then you’ve no doubt suffered millions of warnings about the horrors of navy shadow, which was particularly painful when Kim Kardashian West announced the launch of her KKW Beauty palette earlier this year and donned metallic eye shadow in a color so striking, it had us royal blue with envy. Enter celebrity MUA Fiona Stiles, who regularly works with blue eyed-beauty Stella Maxwell. Stiles recommends leaning into, rather than avoiding this sultry style. “Richer royal blues will make gray/blue eyes look more intense. Pale blues (anything with a lot of white in it) will make the color look a bit on the dull side.” For max color payoff, we love Stila Vivid and Vibrant Eye Shadow Duo ($20) in Sapphire.
In Madge we trust. If there’s anything the Queen of Pop does well, it’s well, everything. But we’re particularly wowed by her incredible beauty looks over the years. And so is Stiles. “I leaned a trick for blue eyes from Madonna years ago: burgundy mascara. It subtlety accentuates and heightens the vibrancy of blue eyes. Since then I often reach for burgundy or plum mascaras for a subtle boost of color.” For eyelashes that accentuate, rather than rival azure eyes, we love L’Oréal Voluminous Original Mascara ($8) in Deep Burgundy. BONUS: Beauty-brilliant Beau Nelson pairs burgundy mascara with a red or carmine eyeliner, like Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil ($21) in Alkaline, for more impact.
Blue eyes may be a recessive trait, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them appear dominant. For a quick look that’s as fun as it is fresh, top celebrity makeup artists apply a strategic swipe of blue liner—we love Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon ($25) in (Wave)length—on lower lids. For Stiles, it’s an “electric blue in the waterline paired with lashing of black mascara, especially if someone has very clear, blue eyes.” Dempsey opts for a “pale pastel sky blue” across the waterline. Regardless of color chosen, skip the upper lid liner to ensure all eyes are on yours.
It’s no secret that copper and golden hues work wonders for blue eyes, but if you’re questioning what the new neutral is, opt for a ballet pink. “If you want to keep the look lighter and more daytime casual,” says Stiles, “A soft, pale shimmery pink can look fresh and beautiful without looking fussy.” The iridescent sheen of NARS Single Eyeshadow ($19) in Night Star is enough to make one swoon, but double up on this sheer shade for a low-key dreamy appearance that’s truly eye catching.
When looking for inspiration to decorate blue eyes, look no further than your wine cabinet. Any ruby tone eye shadow is “magical for blue eyes” according to Dempsey, but she specifically loves a champagne-rose iridescent shade (Hi, Butter London Glazen Eye Gloss ($24) in Frosted) for a fun update on an everyday rosé. Stiles likes shadow like we imagine she takes her wine: a little bit dryer and darker. “Bordeaux looks especially striking when paired with blue eyes.” For a shade as delicious as summer sangria, try Tarte Tartist Metallic Shadow ($10) in Speakeasy.
Whether liner or shadow, the pros prefer purple to lift all shades of blue eyes. From violet (as Nelson adores) to something a little more maroon (like Stiles turns to), it seems that grape is great. For an extra dose of dazzling aqua, Dempsey applies an aubergine—think eggplant’s more elegant cousin—eyeliner like Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Intense ($18) in Aubergine on lower and upper lash lines. Pair with Bobbi Brown Metallic Eyeshadow ($27) in Velvet Plum for a look that’s just beautiful.
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