Red might not be the first color you reach for in your eye makeup arsenal, but that's about to change. Red eyeshadow is influencing everything, from backstage beauty at fashion shows to celebrity red carpet looks. And let's not forget the uptick in red eyeshadow tutorials on our social feeds, either.
This color palette is versatile, unexpected, and best of all, a cinch to pull off. To show you just what we mean, we rounded up our favorite red eye makeup looks and tapped MUAs Katie Mellinger and Jamie Dorman for their expert tips. Whether you're going for bold and statement-making or just looking for a natural flush of color, red eyeshadow is a must.
Meet the Expert
- Katie Mellinger is a celebrity makeup artist. Her clients include Sofia Coppola, Emma Watson, and Chloë Sevigny, among others. She spends her time between NY and LA.
- Jamie Dorman is a celebrity and editorial makeup artist based in NYC. She counts Bella Hadid, Anne Hathaway, and Dascha Polanco among her clients.
Keep scrolling for 15 stunning ways to wear red eyeshadow.
A Touch of Glam
Model Soo Joo Park's red eyeshadow look is perfect for minimal makeup wearers and those who want just a subtle tinge of color on the eyes. To re-create, simply add a cream eyeshadow to the eyelid, smudging with your finger all the way up to the brow bone. Then, blend a powder shadow like Alima Pure Pearluster Eyeshadow ($14) in Cimarron all over the lid and underneath the bottom eye line. Finish by adding a touch of shimmer to the center of the eyelid and lining the inner rim of the waterline for definition.
Step out of your comfort zone and get creative with your eyeliner. Colored liner and a graphic shape add a fun twist to the traditional black top-lined lid. "I love a graphic look with red liner," confesses Mellinger. "There are so many ways you can play around with it—a simple cat eye, only under the eye, in the inner corner, fun shapes, etc."
"If you want a line with a more subdued shape, try using Shiseido’s Kajal InkArtist Shadow Pencil ($25) in Azuki Red. I love this pencil for its versatility. Try applying it in a sideways v-shape on the inner corner of your eye and blending the edges with either your finger, a Q-tip, or a clean brush."
Turning Heads Red
We were all in awe when Selena Gomez stepped out at the Met Gala with graphic raspberry lids. The key to this look is to give yourself a strong base, whether it's with cream eyeshadow or eyeliner. Then, mix Makeup Forever Ultra Matte Eyeshadow ($17) in Love Sick and Nyx Vivid Brights Crème Eye Color & Pigments ($10) in Love Overdose for a customized red-pink hue like Ms. Gomez here.
If smoldering temptress is the look you're after then look no further. Just keep in mind: "This look can be difficult to wear if you look even a bit tired, so make sure to really perfect the skin and eye area when you wear it. Try a color correcting concealer like Westmore Beauty Shadow Edit Magic Shadow Eraser," ($29) advises Dorman.
To achieve this style, she instructs blending a warm bronze shade in and above the socket of the eye, especially towards the inner corner. Follow by blending a deep magenta shadow under the eye, in the crease, and onto the lid. Add a shimmery shadow like Rituel de Fille Ash and Ember Eye Soot ($38) in Circle of Fire to the middle lid. Then line the upper lash line with Westmore Beauty Wing Effects Liquid Eyeliner ($21) and finish with lots of volumizing mascara.
All About the Gloss
Beach sunsets ain't got nothing on Salem Mitchell's red-orange lids. Try a shade like Nyx Vivid Brights Crème Eye Color & Pigments ($10) in Cyberpop to get her fiery glow. And as for that glossy finish? Some good ol' Vaseline will do the trick. Swipe a dab over lids and just wait for the compliments to come pouring in.
We're fawning over Yara Shahidi's barely-there monochromatic makeup—but can you blame us? This look highlights natural beauty, so you'll definitely want good skin as your base. The best part? A multipurpose stick like Nars The Multiple ($39) is all you need to get you a tinge of color on lids, cheeks, and lips. One and done.
Bright and Bold
Olivia Burgess shows off her street style makeup with this lash-to-brow swipe of red. "This look is bold and attention-grabbing. It is great for people who don’t have much of their eyelid visible when their eyes are open but still want to wear some color," says Dorman. To get the look, "Prep with an eye primer or concealer that really grabs onto shadow pigment, like Urban Decay Primer Potion ($24). Follow that by patting a shadow in the desired bright color from lashline to under the brow," she instructs.
This look is all about the eye and can easily look contrived if it is not the focus of the makeup, says Dorman. Ideally, you would pair it with perfected skin, understated brows, and a simple balm on the lips.
While red is a color that is loud by nature, that doesn't mean that red makeup can't be subtle. "Believe it or not, red eyeshadow can look fairly natural if used in the right way. When I did SoKo’s makeup for Cannes, we actually used red eye products—the trick is to pick one that has a bit of brown in it," says Mellinger.
To replicate SoKo's look, she recommends using Stylo Contour Des Yeux Khol Eyeliner ($36) in Bordeaux, concentrating it in a v shape on the outer corner of the eyes. Then, blend it out along the lower lash line to the inner corner and all over the eyelid—including up to and beyond the crease and beyond the outer corners of the eyes—with a stiff-bristled eye shadow brush. No mascara necessary.
A Fierce Underline
Sometimes all it takes is a little pop of color to create a noteworthy makeup look. Case in point: Solange's scarlet waterline. To replicate, begin with a soft color shadow on the lid and highlight under the brow. Then, either apply a creamy waterproof pencil under the eye or wet an angled eyeliner brush and use a red eyeshadow like Nars Pure Pops Single Eyeshadow ($19) in Fatale. For added drama and volume, finish with voluminous mascara.
This classic take on red eyeshadow incorporates darker burgundy hues making it a beautiful statement look for a formal event or a night out. "[It] will look especially flattering on green eyes," notes Dorman. "This eyeliner shape flatters most people and makes eyes look lifted," she adds.
When creating this look, Dorman recommends first plotting out the shape lightly with a pencil in a shade similar to the color of your shadow (FYI: Rituel de Fille Color Nectar Pigment Balm ($24) in Glasswing will give you the shade seen here). Create the dots by applying a pencil in the desired spot, and twisting gently. Next, fill in the shape with a cream shadow and then pat a powder eyeshadow over that. To make it look more modern, she suggests pairing with a lip gloss like Minori Lip Gloss ($22) in Cozy.
A flush of rosy color from lid to brow is simple yet stunning. Start with Stila Cosmetics Liquid Eyeshadow ($24) in Pigalle as your base. Next, apply a deeper eyeshadow in the crease to start creating the smoky eye. Finish with a pop of light shadow in the center of the lid, and go metallic if you like for extra shine.
Go geometric with your shadow because, well, life's too short to wear boring makeup. "If you’re going for super graphic, use either a felt tip liner pen like Colour Pop BFF Liquid Liner ($8) in Try Me or a water-activated liner like Suva Beauty Hydra Liner ($14) in Cherry Bomb," advises Mellinger. A fine tip brush will help you to create your desired shape.
Deep, dark red hues complement darker skin tones, just look at Jasmine Tookes as proof. To DIY, Mellinger recommends starting with a cream base like Rituel de Fille Ash and Amber Eye Soot ($38) in Viscera. Then, "Using a soft fluffy eye shadow brush, apply the majority of the shadow to the lid, blending out in a windshield wiper motion just above the crease so it creates a diffused edge. Do the same along the bottom of your bottom lash line, keeping the color more concentrated closer to your lashes. If you have trouble diffusing the edge on the bottom lash, use a clean brush to soften the edges."
To create more dimension, Mellinger suggests layering on some powder eyeshadow. Try a warm brown up to the crease on the lid or even a dark brown. The red cream shadow will add a touch of dimension to the brown creating a super cool and unexpected smoky eye.
Storm Reid brings her cat-eye game with this vermillion version. If you don't have red eyeliner, try wetting a liner brush and using red shadow to create your cat-eye. A thicker line and splash of color like Reid's will draw attention upward and actually make eyes appear bigger. For a more put-together finish, use black eyeliner to lightly trace along the waterline to the outer edge of your cat-eye.