You’re not afraid to rock a bold red lip, but red eyeshadow? We know; it sounds like one of those avante garde runway trends that doesn’t exactly translate IRL. After all, red eyes are rarely associated with anything good: pink eye, a bad break-up, extreme fatigue, and demonic possession are just a few conditions that immediately come to mind. Not exactly sexy. But you’ll have to trust us here, because when done right, experts say wearing a crimson shade on your eyes is totally wearable, and actually quite stunning.
“Red eyeshadow can work on anyone—it’s just a matter of finding the right shade and application for you,” says Maybelline New York makeup artist Gabriel Almodovar. Whether you wear it as a quick flash of color, or a full-blown smoky, we can help you pull it off while looking gorgeous. Check out our tips for how to rock the look, and soon the only thing you’ll be associating a red eye with, is looking hot!
The Prep Work
Makeup artists say don’t skip these super-important steps.
Pick the right red
“Just like any colored makeup product, the right tone of red eyeshadow makes all the difference,” says Maybelline New York makeup artist Gabriel Almodovar. You have to consider your skin tone. For example, if you have dark skin, a light red won’t show up against your skin, he says. Here are the rules of thumb, according to Almodovar:
Don’t pick up that red eyeshadow just yet. Our experts say you want to conceal and perfect your skin before applying your eyeshadow. “I like to work on the skin first to make sure there is no redness,” says makeup artist Jessika Bekteshi. “A red eyeshadow can bring out more redness in the skin,” she says. So, using a creamy concealer to spot cover any splotches, acne scars, or broken capillaries around your face, and pay extra attention to your eyes, which can also have red tones. Apply the concealer all the way up to the bottom lash line and don’t forget about dark shadows in the inner corners of eyes. While not usually red, their blueish hue of under-eye circles can be exacerbated by red eye shadow, so cover it well, says Almodovar. Then use your concealer or a tinted lid primer to neutralize those tiny red veins on your eyelids. Try Lancôme Aquatique Waterproof Eyecolour Base, which comes in six different skin-matching shades. To finish, apply a sheer or medium coverage foundation (depending on your skin’s needs) all over.
Now You’re Red-y
Here, makeup artists share top ways to slay your red eyeshadow—without looking like you’re fresh off a runway.
1. Swap out bronze for terracotta red
Replace any warm earth tone (bronze, copper, gold) for warm red. Because the two tones are very similar, it’s a really easy switch that doesn’t take you too far out of your comfort zone, says Almodovar. If you’re wearing a red eyeshadow all over your entire eyelid, blend a more neutral color (in this case brown will work well) in the crease to serve as an anchor and give the lid definition.
2. Trade your usual colored liner for red
Give your cobalt blue liner a break and swipe on a red with a deep, plum-y undertone instead. Try Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Corrupt. The dark undertone will help give the bright color some depth and add definition to the eye, says Almodovar. Another way to create the effect? Layer a red liner over black pencil. You’ll see the red, but get the depth from the black, he explains. Line just the top lash line. Or, swipe it across the bottom, too, softly smudging it with a cotton swab.
Another way to have fun with classic black eyeliner: Create winged eyeliner with black liquid liner across your top lids, extending up and out past the outer corner. Then directly above the black line, draw a red winged line, says Almodovar. The two-toned effect looks bold and graphic.
6. Play with different tones and textures
Layering on a couple different shades of red with different finishes gives eyes more depth and definition than wearing one single red shade alone, says Bekteshi. To get the look, apply a red eyeshadow all over the lid as a base and blend the edges into the crease. Then apply a metallic red—metallic cranberry, rose gold, or a coppery red—to the center of the lid and blend it into the base color, Bekteshi says. Try Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Eyeshadow in Lust Red, a deep cranberry.
7. Give a smoky eye a red halo
Another play on the smoky eye: Do your usual black or gray shadow from lash line to crease. Then blend a sheer red eyeshadow into and just above the crease. “Use the red as a transition color in between a dark eyelid and the brow bone highlight,” says Almodovar.
What NOT to Wear With Red Eyeshadow
Hopefully we’ve convinced you that this trend is versatile and wearable, but make no mistake, red eyeshadow is not a neutral shade, says Almodovar. It doesn’t go with everything. Here, are a few things to keep in mind when trying the crimson eye.
Don’t go for monochromatic color: Red on your lids and lips might seem like a safe bet, but our experts say you’ll have people seeing a little too much, well, red. If you’re going for it on your eyes, tone down the rest of your face. (See a how-to below.)
Skip the brights: This might seem like a no-brainer, but worth mentioning. Forget other bright shades on lips or cheeks like plum, orange, or even pink. “It’s just too much color,” says Almodovar.
Watch Your Tone: Bekteshi likes to pair red with cool tones on the skin to balance out the red. So, avoid anything warm on cheeks and lips.
“Ok, so what should I do with the rest of my face?”
Just as with red lips, your red eyeshadow should be the standout focal point on your face. You don’t want to compete with it, or overpower it, by going too strong on any other feature. The overall goal: flawless skin and subdued cheeks and lips. Here’s the breakdown.
Face: You’ve already concealed and applied your foundation, so what about blush? “When I do an outlandish eye color, I skip the pop of color on the cheeks and go for a subtle cheek contour instead,” Almodovor says. Apply a face-sculpting shade like the one found in YSL Beauty Couture Contouring Palette in Rosy Contouring just underneath the cheekbone. Swipe the dark shade half-way down the cheekbone and blend well. If you want a subtle hit of color, top the apples of your cheeks with the rosy highlighting shade in the palette.
About the Author:The daughter of a hairdresser, Krista Bennett DeMaio likes to say she has beauty in her blood. She has well over a decade of beauty editorial experience. The former magazine-editor-turned-freelance writer has covered all things beauty from anti-aging skincare to NYFW runway trends. Her work has appeared in national publications and websites including Women’s Health, Redbook, Shape, Dr. Oz The Good Life, bhg.com, and prevention.com. She lives in Greenlawn, New York with her husband and two interns, er, daughters.