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How to Find the Right Eye Shadow For Your Eye Color

Wear colorful eye shadow and still pull off a natural look (yes, it's possible!).
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Art Credit: Taylor McCutchan, Illustrations: Jen Navaro

A great eye shadow secret is that you can wear colorful eye shadow and still pull off a natural look. The key is choosing the right colors for your eye and skin tone and blending them with neutral shades so that you don't look like you got caught playing around in your big sister's Caboodle (come on, who didn't?).

Start With Neutrals

Using neutrals to blend your eye shadow will make any color shadow appear more natural. To start, I recommend picking up a palette of three or four neutral shades that you can use with any colorful shadow or liner. Browns, grays, creams, and blacks are neutral colors, and from matte to metallic, there are an endless number of textures you can choose.

Look for a palette of mixed textures, preferably one with at least one matte shade that has a cream or champagne color, a medium brown shade, and a dark brown or dark gray. For deeper skin tones, your light shades can be in the light peach or soft gold family, medium/dark brown and deep brown, dark grey, or black. I love Revlon ColorStay 16-Hour Eye Shadow, Sonia Kashuk Eye Shadow Quads, and, as an always perfect high-end option, Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow.

Use These Eye Color Charts

Check out the charts below to figure out which shadows can make your own eye color really pop. I’ve used color theory to show you your eyes’ complimentary colors and then translated them into shadow colors that are a cinch to find.

Complimentary colors are colors found opposite each other on the color wheel. Use a complimentary color eye shadow, instead of a shadow the same color as your eye, for a contrast that will brighten your eye color and make it appear more vibrant than ever.

Brown Eyes


Brown-eyed girls: You're in luck! Since brown is a more neutral color, you can pull off almost any eye shadow. Try a taupe, hazelnut, or chocolate shade in the crease of your eye, and a moss green, plum, or champagne shade on the lid. If you want to mix up your look, play around with a violet mascara or teal eyeliner.

Blue Eyes


Golden tones will really make your eyes pop. Add a deeper tone like a matte warm brown in the crease and on the outer third of your upper and lower lash line. Apply rose gold, pale gold, or shimmery peach across the lip and up to the crease. Shades of gray and silver are great neutrals for blue eyes as well and are perfect for a date-night smokey eye!

Green Eyes


Make your eyes glow with shades of purple. Again, keep the darkest shade in the crease and close to the upper lash line; think plum, burgundy, and violet. Use soft tan and brown shades in the crease for a perfect blend with your violet shadows and follow with the same shade on the lower lash line for a softer look. Or use a violet shade on your lower lash line for a bold pop. Finish with a swipe of black mascara for a gorgeous nighttime look.

Hazel Eyes


Because hazel eyes have different flecks of color, you can use a variety of eye shadows. Earth tones, like browns and golds, work well for you because they bring out the warm color in your eye. You can also go to the opposite side of the color wheel and try shades of purple, which will make the green in your eyes stand out.

Wondering where to find all these colors? Make Up For Ever’s New Artist Shadows offer a wide color range and are my favorite eye shadows of the moment. For a more economic line of colorful eyeshadows found in most drugstores, try Maybelline Eye Studio eye shadows, which are nicely pigmented. A lightly applied layer of color over your lid is all you need in combination with the neutrals for a subtle-yet-gorgeous, eye-popping makeup look.

So pick up that neutral palette and some complimentary colorful shadows, and don’t be afraid to play. You can use this technique to go as bold or as subtle as you want. Always remember: Blending is the key to making any eyes shadow look natural. Now go wear that teal eye shadow you’ve been eyeing but never knew what to do with!