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Should eyeshadow be lighter or darker?

Eyeshadow can dramatically transform the eyes and overall makeup look. But with so many color options, how do you know whether to go for lighter or darker shades? As a makeup artist assistant, I’m here to walk you through the key considerations to help you choose the best eyeshadow colors for your needs.

Skin Tone

The most important factor in choosing between light and dark eyeshadow is your skin tone. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Fair skin tones: Tend to look best with lighter, brighter eyeshadow colors like champagnes, pale pinks, and soft taupes. Darker colors can be too harsh.
  • Medium skin tones: Can wear both light and dark eyeshadow equally well.Aim for colors like golds, bronzes, plums, and browns.
  • Deep skin tones: Look great in richer, bolder eyeshadow shades. Go for jewel tones like emerald, sapphire, and amethyst.

Eye Color

The hue of your eyes is another factor when choosing shadow shades. Some general guidelines:

  • Blue eyes: Blue eyes really stand out with bronze, purple and gray eyeshadow.
  • Green eyes: Complementary reddish browns, purples and pinks make green eyes pop.
  • Brown eyes: Go for golds, coppers and rusts to accentuate the warmth.
  • Hazel eyes: Lucky you! Hazel eyes suit both warm and cool tones. Experiment with shades like plum, seafoam and peach.

Eye Shape

The shape and size of your eyes also impacts shadow choices. Here are some flattering options for different eye shapes:

Eye Shape Flattering Eyeshadow Colors
Round eyes Matte mid-tone shadows to contour, cat-eye liners to elongate
Almond eyes Shimmery highlights on lids, defined crease color
Hooded eyes Light mattes on lid, darker shades in crease
Deep-set eyes Bright shimmers on lids, highlight inner corners
Prominent eyes Soft neutrals and blended edges

Desired Effect

The look you’re going for is also key. Here are some eyeshadow colors for different effects:

  • Natural daytime: Nude, champagne, brown, gray
  • Dramatic nighttime: Emerald, cobalt, black with glitter
  • Romantic date night: Mauve, rose gold, purple
  • Bold/colorful: Electric blue, lime green, fuchsia

Current Trends

Like with all makeup, eyeshadow trends come and go. Some current popular shadow looks include:

  • Warm, earthy tones: Think terra cotta, brick red, mustard yellow
  • Metallics: Shimmering gold, bronze, silver, and pewter
  • Neons: Vibrant green, orange, pink, yellow
  • Monochromatic: Using shades and textures of the same color family

Putting it All Together

With all of these factors, choosing eyeshadow shades may seem complicated. But you can determine the right colors for you by considering:

  • Your skin’s undertone (cool, warm, neutral)
  • Your eye color and shape
  • The mood/occasion for the look
  • Current color trends you want to try

Most importantly, experiment to see which shades you feel most confident and beautiful in. The “right” eyeshadow color is whatever makes you feel your best!


Determining whether to use light or dark eyeshadow depends on your individual coloring and the look you want to achieve. Consider your complexion, eye color and shape when selecting shades. Cool-toned skin benefits from lighter colors while deeper complexions can handle bold, dramatic hues. Eye shape also impacts shadow effects. Current makeup trends can provide inspiration but classic, flattering colors tailored to your features are always in style. With so many gorgeous options, explore shadows until you find your perfect mix of lights and darks.