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7 Makeup Artist Tips For Wearing Red Eyeshadow


Red eyeshadow might be one of the most underrated eye makeup colors out there. All too often it's thought of as a color you can only wear on Halloween or on the runway of a fashion show. Sure, a super bright red might look jarring on some skin tones, but when done right, a red shadow can be as subtle or dramatic as you want it to be. 

You can blend a single eyeshadow into a pink eye look to add a little bit of warmth; you can pair a cranberry shade with bronzer for a glowy, sunkissed look; you can even go full red carpet glam by pairing red eyeshadow with a bold red lip

For many, experimenting with red eyeshadow means venturing into new territory. So for some expert guidance, we spoke with Deborah Altizio, a celebrity makeup artist based in NYC. Read on for tips, ideas, and advice on how to wear red eyeshadow.

7. Create a Gradient Effect.

To take a red smoky eye to the next level, blend red eyeshadow with a brown or black shadow to create a gradient. Apply the darker color all over the lid and use your favorite red shadow closer to the brow bone. For something lighter, try using a pink and red combination instead. Here, you might want to flip the gradient: use red all over the lid and blend in a lighter pink above. 

After you've mastered the vertical gradient, try creating a horizontal gradient that goes from the outer corner of the eye to the inner corner of the eye. Don't be afraid to get creative with it. Remember, after all, makeup is all about having fun and doing whatever makes you feel your best. 

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A close-up image of an eye wearing red eyeshadow.

1. Choose a Red That Complements Your Skin Tone and Eye Color.

No matter what color eyeshadow you're looking to use, it's always a good idea to consider how the shade will pair with your skin tone. A good way to understand how to pick out a color that complements your complexion is to apply a little bit of color theory.

"Try picking out a color that falls on the opposite side of the color wheel," Altizio says. "For example, my skin has an olive tone so I would choose a red with orange undertones." For an everyday look, people with fair skin might consider picking a red on the lighter side whereas deeper skin tones will benefit from darker shades of red or burgundy.

"You can also experiment by swatching a few reds next to each other on your skin," Altizio says. "Look for a color that appears as a true red when applied to your skin." 

Altizio mentions that you'll also want to use color theory to match a red eyeshadow to your eye color. For example, green eyes (which sit opposite red on the color wheel) will look particularly striking with a true red shadow, whereas a rusty red might complement blue eyes better.

2. Keep the Rest of Your Look Neutral.

"If I was wearing a red eyeshadow I might use neutral makeup on the rest of my face," says Altizio. She explains that downplaying the rest of the makeup look will help to bring attention to the red eyeshadow. Try pairing a red eyeshadow look with a clean face of foundation, some highlighter, and a little bit of gloss.

That being said, if you're looking for a quick day-to-night transition, Altizio says an easy way to spruce up a red makeup look is to pair red eyeshadow with a classic red lip. "This is more dramatic but is still a well-balanced look," she says. 

3. Don’t Forget to Use Concealer.

"Red shadow has a tendency to make you look tired," Altizio says. This is because the blue-ish hues in the under eyes can be accentuated by red eye shadow. To combat this effect, Altizio recommends first applying a foundation that suits your skin tone and then applying a decent amount of concealer under the eyes. Apply it all the way up to the bottom lash line and into the corners of the eye where the bridge of the nose meets the inner eye.

An image of a model wearing subtle red eyeshadow in her crease.

4. Try Using Red Eyeshadow as Your Crease Color.

"A good beginner-friendly way to use red eye shadow is to lightly sweep the color on a fluffy shadow brush and apply it to the crease," Altizio says. Try using a shimmery pink or a matte brown as your all-over, base color and incorporating just a touch of red in the crease. Style the rest of the look however you feel like!  

5. Try Warming Up Your Cat-Eye.

Another easy way to incorporate red shadow into your makeup look is to create a red cat-eye. "One way to create this look is to use a red gel liner," Altizio explains. "Use a thin, angled brush to line the top of the eye, exaggerating the feline flick of the liner. Then use a good amount of mascara on the top and bottom lashes."

If you don't have red eyeliner, try wetting a liner brush and using red shadow to create a cat-eye. To keep any fallout from occurring, remember to use an eye primer before applying shadow. 

An image of a model wearing a red smoky eye and red lipstick.

6. Experiment With a Red Smoky Eye.

First things first: "When creating a red smoky eye, use extra concealer," says Altizio. Next, she explains that after mixing red shadow with other smoky colors, she likes to use black eyeliner on the lid and inside the lash line. Finish with a heavy coat of mascara.

To complete a smoky makeup look, Altizio, says she also likes to add a highlight color to the inner corners of the eye and just above the pupil on the lid. To make a red smoky eye look extra rock n' roll, she says you can also try topping the look with a bit of gloss to add some shine. 

About the author
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated April 16, 2020 12:00 AM