How do you figure out color combinations to wear on your eyes?

Most of the time, I start with a palette since most of the eyeshadow-related releases are in palette form, so I start there. For larger palettes, I like to create two looks and do my best to showcase different looks, so I’ll try to divide the shades into two color schemes. For brighter pops of color that don’t seem to “connect,” I’ll use a lighter shimmer between them on the lid. There are some reliable color themes like tropical colors, sunset colors, etc. that are easy to recreate, too.

— Christine


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Seraphine Avatar

99% of my eye looks are pretty neutral, despite all the colorful eyeshadows I own. My eye looks lean warmer or cooler, so the decision usually starts from one of two places:

1. It sometimes depends on what I’m wearing. When I’m wearing black, anything goes, but when I’m wearing a color, then I’ll select shades that complement that color.

2. If there’s a lipstick I’m in the mood to wear, I’ll pick eyeshadow shades to complement that color.

Sometimes I’ll experiment with eye looks at night and write down the combinations that work. I’ll write it down on a little slip of paper and stick it inside the palette.

Agona Avatar

I love the slip of paper idea. Sometimes I create random looks (trying to use new colors in a new palette) and it comes out great! …but then I forget how I did it and can’t recreate the look. Thanks for the tip!

Seraphine Avatar

I often forget they’re there, so when I open a palette, scraps of paper fall out! I’ve thought about getting a notebook to keep eye look “recipes,” but I’m just not that organized.

SaffyTaffy Avatar

The largest group is colors I know work on my complexion. Then I narrow that down into 1) colors that either match or contrast with what I’m wearing, and then 2) colors that will give me the mood i’m going for (usually either Professional or Quirky). Then, I really only do 2 eye shadow layouts. One is the ubiquitous “transition color, deepen the crease, shimmer on the lid, contour the edges, highlight the centers” thing. The other is more 90s and I think more flattering for my eye shape and aesthetic. That’s “bright on the lid, feathered up into something subtle on the browbone.”
And I don’t really do eyeliner, because it has never once made me look better.

Nancy T Avatar

Since I’m mostly inspired by my mood and whatever color I’m wearing that day or vice versa, the newness of a palette or rare eyeshadow single, then I’ll match my clothing to the eyeshadow color theme. I’ll usually try to stay within a brand, if not, then I’ll stick with complimentary brands (MAC works quite well with PMG, for instance). And since I wear a lot of black, I can many times just wing it and go with whatever color vibe I happen to be feeling on a particular day!

Bleu Avatar

When I use a bigger palette I found that the easiest way to decide is to look at everything as quads. from there I decide what “quad” will look best paired with my outfit, or what contrasts well (My fav color contrast combo is orange and purple!) Since I have a deeper complexion, a lot of the “transition shades” in the quads are too light so I use my Juvia’s Place warrior 2 palette (A big ole’ palette full of classic mattes) or my bronzer, then I apply the selected shades in order from lightest to darkest.

When I’m using a smaller palette (Think Colourpop) those are way easier at selecting because i can just pick the palette that I want to use and 9/10 the colors are in the same family so its a million times easier to decide.

kjh Avatar

Orange and purple on you, yes! I had an orange and purple linen colorblock sleeveless dress with an asymmetrical neckline in the 60s that I wore out. Orange with purple simply rules. I did the o + p eyes then, too, but because, uh, matchy-matchy.

Agona Avatar

I try to match the tones in the palette. Usually the palettes I have are small enough that there’s really only 2-3 undertones (taupe-ish cooler colors or brownish warmer colors, etc).

1) The light-medium/medium-toned mattes I use as transition shades, 2) If I have it, my pops of color are usually in the outer corner, before I deepen with the outer-V color. But otherwise, just a medium-dark toned shade, regardless of texture. 3) My outer-V color will be the darkest-toned color, regardless of texture. 4) Then the shimmers I pop on the lid and finally, 5) the lightest shimmer shade I use to highlight my inner corner and faintly under the brow and rarely the bottom edge of the outer corner and lastly, if needed, 6) the lightest matte is usually skin toned and I use to buff out the edges if I have trouble blending my transition/crease shade. If there isn’t one, I use a powder foundation.

I’m scared to mix undertones.

Rachel R. Avatar

Usually, it’s just whatever mood or whim I have that day. I work from home, and most of my wardrobe is black or dark gray, so I can usually wear whatever I want. Sometimes, I pull a color from a print on my clothing. If I am wearing a color, I’ll coordinate with that. Other times, I have a new palette, singles, or loose eyeshadows, and a color or combo will stand out for me as something to try. I might also plan looks around a new lipstick, blush, or even a highlighter.

As far as the actual combinations, I have a great sense of color (thanks to artistic parents), and I know color theory. It’s pretty easy to put combos together. I also love to make my eyes look more green: Purples, lavenders, reds, burgundies, pinks, bronzes, deep greens, and warm/orange/reddish browns.

Genevieve Avatar

It’s quite a process for me to decide which eyeshadow combinations I am going to use.
1. Quite often what eyeshadows I use is dictated by what I am wearing so that the eye shades I pick co-ordinate with the colours in my clothes.
2. It also depends upon the season – I tend to wear more neutrals, olive and gold shades in winter and blues/greens in summer
3. At other times, it’s a new palette that I have purchased and I want to use that one.
4. I tend to use 2-3 shades at a time – a lighter shade over the lid, a darker shade on the lower lid and a mid tone in the crease.
5. I also like to experiment with my colours, using different combinations of light, mid tone and a shade darker. For example, A peachy gold, with teal green/blue; bronzey gold with either a neutral or olive shade.

Rhonda Avatar

I partially decide by…geography/eye shape. I’m starting to get hooded eyes now I’m aging and one thing they never say in the YouTube tutorials is: No one’s eyes age symmetrically. Ever. So I’m trying to make them look as similar as possible.
Next, I have quite round-shaped eyes that are freakishly deep-set. I have a tiny mobile lid and the space between the crease and brow is an inch wide, so I go through the light colors at 3 times the rate of the others. I hate that Urban Decay has never released Booty Call as a single pot. If they did, I’d probably buy it by the case! (And use it as highlighter). As a result, I pick out palettes with multiple light colors, so I don’t have to fret about going through too much brow highlighter. Beyond that, I tend to think about the season and the light that I’m being seen in, more than what I’m wearing.

Helene Avatar

Trial and error 😀
Sometimes I know from just looking at what I’m wearing and it turns out OK, other times I’m lacking inspiration and just go neutral and sometimes I do the trial and error on the back of my hand, taking the one eye shadow I know I want to use, and then try out a lot of shades to see what I like the best to go along with it.
Some palettes are really easy, some are harder for me to decide on, can’t think of any examples at the moment, unfortunately.

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