For years, I thought blue eyeshadow was just ugly and no one should ever wear it. But then, every once in a while, I’d see someone looking gorgeous in it. It usually looked like a deep, sparkling sapphire. Every few years, I’d buy some cheap deep blue eyeshadow, just to see if I could make it look anything like that, and the results would be one hot mess.
Until I finally bit the bullet and bought a palette that had just the right shades:
That’s using the Kat Von D palette in Metal Orchestra (Sephora, Amazon), which is on sale at Sephora for $24 right now. It’s not the only blue palette that will work, but using it has taught me quite a few basic rules of making blue eyeshadow work for you. (NOTE: I did not use eyeshadow primer for this look, because KVD’s shadows are so intense without it, and I wanted a more wearable look. If you use primer, it will be much deeper and more dramatic than this.)
The rules of choosing blue eyeshadow
- Use deep colors. The temptation is to go with something that’s just a little blue, like a pastel or a pretty medium blue, and see how that goes. Blue is an all or nothing color. The shades need to be deep – think of the standard color of blue jeans before they started coming in 68 different “wash” shades – a deep medium to darkish blue. Think of sapphires.
- Look for gray tones. I would never have guessed it from looking at the Kat Von D palette, but those blues have a gray undertone (and you can tell it from swatching them on your skin at the store). That makes the blues work on far more skin tones than a pure blue.
- Blendable, buildable colors. For blue, you want colors that are highly blendable (all the KVDs rock in this regard) and that can be applied lightly at first, and then built to a higher intensity. Otherwise, it’s hard to get the intensity just right.
How to apply blue eyeshadow
Once you’ve got some good shades that blend well, you’re ready to go.
- Swatch the colors on your hands, using the brushes or applicators you plan to use on your eyes. Start with a tiny bit, and slowly add more to see what happens.
- Based on the swatches, decide which color will go where.
- Start applying, just a little bit, and build up color to the desired effect.
The smoky blue eye
A smoky eye works well with blue eyeshadow, and that is what I did. I started with a darker blue near the lashline on the lower third to half of my eyelid. I applied a lighter blue on the top of the lid, blending the two colors carefully. And finally, I applied a slightly lighter blue in the crease, and then some black in the outer corner. Blend, blend, blend. That’s really a big part of the secret to making blue eyeshadow gorgeous. The colors must blend into each other, and then the outer edges of the shadow need to be soft, not stark. (But don’t overblend at the edges – you don’t want to keep blending until you’ve got blue eyeshadow all the way up to your eyebrows and halfway down to your cheeks. Just make sure any stark lines are a little bit blurred.)
The traditional blue eye
Another way to apply blue eyeshadow would be the more traditional look of a lighter blue on the lid, a darker blue in the crease, and the darkest blue in the corner and outer V. This look can be more tricky than the smoky eye because your “light” blue needs to be a good deep medium shade, and choosing a shade that’s too pale can wreck the whole plan. But it all depends on your skin tone, the shape of your eyes, etc.
The more conservative blue eye
The look I have above would not be appropriate for a “business casual” or “professional” setting like most offices. If you want to wear blue eyeshadow to work, which is especially nice if you’re wearing blue attire, use a gray all over the lid and save the blue for your outer corner shade. For the crease, a deeper gray is the safe way to go, but some shades of blue will work there, too, without screaming “Look at me, I am blue eyeshadow!” If you want to play it really safe, use a gray-blue like Mac’s Scene, which looks mainly gray in the pan but does have a definite blue cast.