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. But Maybelline makeup artist Gabriel Almodovar disagrees. “Red eyeshadow can work on anyone,” he says. “It’s just a matter of finding the right shade and application for you.” Whether you wear it as a quick flash of color or a full-blown smoky eye, we can help you pull it off while looking gorgeous. Here’s how to rock the look.
Tip 1: Choose the Right Red
“Just like any colored makeup product, the right tone of red eyeshadow makes all the difference,” says 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:
Fair: Rusty reds work best on light skin tones. Our go-to? NYX Professional Makeup Hot Singles Shadow in Heat.
Medium: Bright, primary reds look radiant on medium skin tones. We love NYX Professional Makeup Primal Colors in Hot Red.
Dark: Rich bordeaux, burgundy and eggplant reds look beautiful on darker complexions. Try Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Relish.
Tip 2: Even Out Your Skin
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 blemishes, 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, the 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.” We love the Lancôme Aquatique Waterproof Eyecolour Base, which comes in six different skin-matching shades for this. To finish, apply a sheer or medium coverage foundation (depending on your skin’s needs) all over.
Tip 3: Swap Out Bronze For Terracotta
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,” Almodovar notes. 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.
Tip 4: 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, like the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Alkaline. “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.
Tip 5: Try a Two-Toned Smoky Eye
A modern take on the traditional black smokey eye — “apply red eyeshadow on the inside half of the eyelids, blending the bright color into a black shade on the outer half,” says Almodovar. Our fav is the NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil, which doubles and an eyeshadow in Rusted Red.
Tip 6: Add a Flash of Color to Your Liner or Mascara
Swap a solid black winged liner for one that is red from the inner to middle of the eye and black from mid-to beyond outer corner, we love the NYX Professional Vivid Brights Eyeliner in Vivid Fire for this.
Tip 7: Double Up Your Winged Liner
Another way to have fun with classic black eyeliner is to create winged eyeliner with black liquid liner across your top lids, extending up and out past the outer corner. “Directly above the black line, draw a red winged line,” Almodovar suggests. “And the two-toned effect looks bold and graphic.”
Tip 8: 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.
Tip 9: Try 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. 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.
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.
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,” Almodovar 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 hint of color, top the apples of your cheeks with the rosy highlighting shade in the palette.
Lips: Stay cool — and neutral with a rosy nude, says Bekteshi. We love the L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolour in Fairest Nude for this.
Brows: This is the one feature you should amp up when wearing red eyeshadow. “Well-defined brows will frame your red lids beautifully,” says Almodovar. If you have sparse brows, use a pencil to draw in any missing hairs, like the Maybelline Total Temptation Eyebrow Definer Pencil. If you need a little more definition, fill brows in with a tinted powder and an angled brush, says Almodovar.
Eyes: You’ve already done the major work, but Almodovar suggests finishing the look with dark, thick lashes to give eyes extra oomph. Try a few coats of L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Feline Noir Washable Mascara, and you and your new red lids are good to go.