Looking gilty is high up on this season’s most-wanted list. We’re talking heavy metal eye shadows in textures ranging from lush, velvety creams to silky smooth powders. The look is at once posh, edgy, and surprisingly wearable. One thing it’s not: dated. At least not if you do it right. “Metallic lids are such a great runway look, because you get the shine and pop effect of the glossy lids we see during fashion week, but in a way that real women can wear,” explains makeup artist Pamela Jordan. To avoid looking like a teeny bopper or 80s throwback, simply stick to super pigmented formulas that shimmer and create a depth effect.
“The big difference with today’s metallic eye shadows is that they’re multi-dimensional and iridescent so they look very couture and add depth to your eyes, plus they can be applied in a sheer wash,” explains Jordan. “The look can be bold and daring, but can just as easily be a more subtle statement for daytime. The soft shine you get really lights up your eyes, making them look bigger and brighter.”But beware: Unless you’re going for a very specific look—or a very, very light tough—the way to wear it is on your lids and just under your eyes. Use your other eye shadows if you want a look that requires shadow to be blended all the way up to the brow bone, lest you look like you just stepped off the set of Dynasty circa 1989.
If you’re going to wear metallic shadow during the day, Jordan recommends applying it as a light, sheer wash of color. Powder-based formulas like L’Oréal Paris Infallible Metallics are ideal for this (and can easily be built up for a bigger wow factor when you need it). For night, a cream-based version like Lancôme Le Metallique Liquid Eyeshadowgoes on creamier and heavier for more impact to really really emphasize your eyes. And don’t forget to choose a shade that works with your complexion. Fair skin looks best with silver and platinum shades, while olive skin glows with bronzes and golds. If your skin is darker, the sky’s the limit (or maybe we should say the rainbow). The hottest universally flattering heavy metal? Rose gold. It’s the color of the summer.
The Best Tools for this Trend
One of the keys to wearing metallic eye shadow well (and all day—or all night—long) is prepping the lid so that color goes on smooth, doesn’t crease, and doesn’t budge. Start by patting on a longwearing, waterproof concealer or an eyeshadow primer likeUrban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. These allow shimmer shadows to adhere to the lid without sliding around or ending up on other areas of your face. Apply using your ring finger for a gentle touch that won’t pull or stretch the thin skin on this fragile area.
These are more vibrant and pigmented. Color goes on richer and brighter to give more of a wow factor. It’s also easier to control than a powder (so less shimmer getting under your eye or on your cheek).
Color goes on more subtle and sheer, making this a winner for daytime. Powder eyeshadow is also great to layer on top of cream versions to make them even longer lasting or to layer colors in an interesting, artsy way.
Fluffy eyeshadow brush
Use this if you want a soft, watercolor effect—again, great for daytime or if you’re not quite ready to go all the way with metallic.
Reach for this when you want more control and are looking for more intense color. The brush holds and delivers more powder for a denser color application.
Patting shadow onto lids lets you easily control color intensity and makes it easy to blend. Cream eyeshadow formulas are especially easy to use this way. But the oils from your fingers can break down color faster.
13 Ways to Wear the Look
Now that you know the tools you need to pull off a metallic eyeshadow look, here are a slew of incredible color combinations to test out all season long.
1. Nude & Improved
Apply matte nude shadow on upper lids from lash line to creases. Next, use a fluffy brush to apply a sheer wash of a shimmery nude shadow over the matte shadow.Finish with a super thin line of metallic brown or bronze cream shadow along the upper lash lines. Try Lancôme Le Metallique Liquid Eyeshadow in Bronze Rivage.
Line upper and lower lash lines with brown liner. Top the liner with a soft brown shadow and blend until smudged and smoky. Pat rose gold shadow over your eyelid and under the center of the eye. Try NYX Cosmetics Pigments in Stunner. Tip: If shadow gets anywhere else on your face, use a piece of tape to remove without smudging.
Pat a creamy aqua metallic shadow along upper lash lines and toward crease. Try Lancôme Le Metallique Liquid Eye Shadow in Brize Azure. Apply along lower lash lines creating an almond-shaped eye at the outer corner. Now, smudge so there are no hard lines and the color looks smoky and a bit messy. Curl your lashes and brush on black mascara to top and bottom lashes.
Highlight the inner corner of the eyes to open and brighten them, but do so with a dab of gold metallic eyeshadow instead of standard pearly shimmer. Try Giorgio Armani Beauty Eye Tint in Gold Ashes. Press gold shadow onto the inner corners of eyes (bridge of nose). Curl lashes and apply black mascara to top lashes only (so that eyes appear bigger).