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 Eyeshadow goes 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 like Urban 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.
2. Metallic Blue Cat’s Eye
Trace a navy pencil along upper lash lines, extending it into an upward swoosh. Next, apply shadow on top to thicken the line and make the swoosh more dramatic. Try Urban Decay Heroine (in the Urban Decay Shadow Box Nocturnal). Smooth a bright blue metallic cream over the center of lids for extra pop. Try L'Oréal Paris Infallible Paints Eyeshadow in Aqua Aura.
3. Rose Gold
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.
4. Gold Line: Bottom
Use a gold liner to draw a thin, even line of color against your bottom lash lines only. Curl your lashes. Then, apply black mascara to top and bottom lashes. Try: NYX Cosmetics Liquid Crystal Body Liner in Crystal Gold.
5. Violet Line
Appy a thin, shimmery line of metallic violet shadow along the upper lash lines only. Try L'Oréal Paris Infallible Paints Metallic Eyeshadow in Violet Luster. Curl your lashes and sweep on black mascara to top and bottom lashes.
6. Bronze Cat’s Eye
Trace a medium brown pencil along upper lash lines, extending it into an upward swoosh. Try Lancôme Le Stylo Waterproof in Bruns Frivole. Next, blend on a warm bronze shadow on top to thicken the line and make the swoosh more dramatic. Try Maybelline New York EyeStudio Color Tattoo 24HR Metal Cream Gel Shadow in Bad to the Bronze.
7. Glimmering Gold
Sweep a burgundy shadow over the entire lid using a brush (use your finger for a sheer, watercolor effect). Try Lancôme Color Designs Eyeshadow Pan Palette in Mauve Cherie.
Smooth a gold cream from the inner corners to halfway across the eyelid. Try Giorgio Armani Beauty Eye Tint in Gold Ashes. Now, brush the same gold cream shadow along the lower lash lines.
8. Silver Smoke
Line upper and lower lash lines with black powder. Try Giorgio Armani Life is a Cruise Sunset Eye Palette. Smudge a bit for a soft, smoky effect. Next, apply a shimmery silver shadow over the lids and underneath lower lash lines. Try Lancôme Color Designs Eyeshadow Pan Palette in Paris in Spring.
9. Aqua Smudge
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.
10. Major Metallic
Press a gold cream shadow all over the lid like Maybelline New York Color Tattoo 24hr Cream Shadow in Bold Gold. Press a brownish bronze just over the lid (up to the crease). Apply a highlighting pearly shade into inner corners and on brow bone and use a brown metallic liner along your lower lash line and smudge upwards into a slight wing shape. Try Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Smog.
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).
12. Peachy Sheen
Apply peachy shimmer shadow on the entire upper eyelids all the way up to brow bones. This “lifts” the eye. Use the same shadow along the lower lash line. Try L’Oreal Paris Infallible Paints Metallics in Rose Chrome.
13. Silver Streak
Swipe silver eye shadow across the inner half of your eyelid only. Try Maybelline New York EyeStudio Color Tattoo 24HR Metal Cream Gel Shadow in Silver Strike. Blend a charcoal shadow from the center to the outer edges of the lids. Finish with a coat of mascara on both the top and bottom lashes.