Anyone who took elementary school art is probably familiar with the color wheel. If you are not, the color wheel consists of the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and the results of their combinations (secondary colors), which are complimentary, or opposite, to those colors.
From an artist’s standpoint, it makes complete and total sense to apply the color wheel to cosmetics, especially concerning the eye shadow.
Red, Blue, Yellow
Red + Blue = Purple
Red + Yellow = Orange
Blue + Yellow = Green
Red = Green
Blue = Orange
Yellow = Purple
Obviously the spectrum of colors is much wider than what I have listed here, but consider this a basic refresher.
So, if you are going to apply the concept of the color wheel to find a shadow that will really make your eyes pop, you will want to choose a shade, or a variation of a shade, that is opposite your eye color…
If you have blue eyes…
As we have established above, the opposite of blue is orange. Obviously you are not going to want to walk around with Tang eyes all day, unless you have darker skin and you can pull it off.
If you have fairer skin, try using a soft, orangey peach on your lids and using a light coral or a neutral color in your crease. Use a white or light peach colored pencil on your water line to make your eyes appear bigger and brighter. I recommend using a chocolate color on your top and bottom lash line to keep things looking natural. Top it off with a brown mascara, or a dark, navy blue. The blue mascara will compliment your eyes as well as making the whites appear whiter. This is a trick that can be used on any eye color, though I personally think it looks best with blue eyes.
If you have darker skin, feel free to be a little bolder in your choices. Vibrant colors will not appear quite as bright on dark skin, so experiment a little. Try a bright orange all over the lid and a burnt or brownish orange in the crease. Use a soft peach to highlight your inner corners and brow bone, as well as along your water line. Choose your eyeliner accordingly. If you are tan, stick with a chocolate brown, or if you have a deeper, darker skin tone, try a thin, black line. Choose a blackish brown mascara to finish the look.
Try Stila's Wonderful in Waikiki Palette.
If you have green eyes…
The opposite of green is red. Again, unless you are into big, bold colors, you’re not going to want to walk around with Crayola lids. For the sake of this blog, let’s keep things, “wearable.”
I love pink eye shadows, but you have to be very careful with them. The wrong shade of pink around the eyes can just make you look like you have been rocking the ganj’ all day, and that is not an attractive look on anyone. If you are fair, choose a soft, baby pink for your lids. Follow it up by mixing a bit of that same pink with a little light brown and work that into your crease. White or a champagne color would make a lovely highlight for the brow bone and inner corners, and a white liner along your water line will really make things pop. Brown and pink make a lovely pair, so use a brown liner along your top and bottom lash lines and finish with a dark brown mascara.
Purples are gorgeous on both light and dark skin. Light lavender for the lid, a medium purple in the crease, and a white highlight will make green eyes sparkle. Try a deep plumb liner on your upper lash line and a soft brown for the lower. You can use the plumb on your lower lids as well, but again, take care or you will look tired and stoned. If you have really dark skin, get bold with your shades. Purples are absolutely gorgeous on women with deep and dark brown skin tones.
Try the right side of Kat Von D for Sephora's True Love Palette. The color that looks white in the palette actually applies as lavender and is absolutely gorgeous. This palette also features stunning neutrals.
For those with brown eyes…
Brown is not on the color wheel, and is created by mixing secondary colors. As it is an earth tone, or a neutral color, I personally believe that brown eyes are best complimented by other earth tones and neutral colors. All eye colors are. A little bit of shimmer will really make brown eyes sparkle. Choose a soft beige for lighter skin and go darker the deeper your color is. I also love using gold and bronze on brown eyes. Choose a deeper shade or brown or bronze/gold for your crease and highlight with a shimmery champagne. As with the other colors, choose your liner and mascara according to your skin tone; browns for fair skin, blackish brown for tanner shades, and black for deep or dark skin colors.
If you are have dark brown skin, try using the purples recommended in the green eye suggestions. Deep skin tones are the exception to breaking the neutral rule when it comes to creating a wearable look for brown eyes.
No matter what your skin tone, don’t be afraid to play with shades of gold.
Try Urban Decay's ever-popular and widely coveted Naked Palette, or the gorgeous Vegan Palette. The Vegan Palette is on sale for $19 right now. Seriously. It is $17 for one individual Urban Decay shadow. How can you pass up six gorgeous colors, a mini primer potion AND a 24/7 pencil for $19? You can't. Buy it now and you won't be sorry.
If you have hazel eyes…
If you have hazel eyes, you can probably successfully wear both the green eyed and brown eyed looks. Definitely play with golden shades, as hazel eyes tend to have a ring of gold in the center or gold flecks. If you have light eyes, play around with the blue eyed look as well. Though generally, I think the green and brown eyed looks are going to compliment you better.
I recommend Benefit's BADgal Brown and Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Dark Brown to compliment all of these looks.
As soon as I round the troops I will be making a color wheel video using all of the palettes and products listed here, so keep an eye out!