The best eye makeup colours for your skin tone

Quick tips to find the right eyeshadow for you

Beauty Crew Contributor / July 01 2019

Almost every single colour ever invented exists in eyeshadow form. And while this is glorious news for those who love an endless array of choices, it’s difficult for those who don’t know which shades work well for them. Not every colour suits every single one of us, after all. 

Wearing eyeshadow hues that suit your skin tone is the key to making your peepers pop and your complexion glow, so up your glam game and find your skin tone below to discover which eye makeup colours will suit you best.

Fair skin tones

Those with fair skin have it tough when it comes to eyeshadow options. Neutral shades can blend straight into a fairer skin tone, red and pink shades can make you look tired or even ill, and darker tones like grey can give a bruise-like finish. Oh, and highly-pigmented colours and bright hues can also look too harsh against fair skin. So, where does that leave you? A nude eyeshadow palette with warm, earthy colours like gold and bronze will always suit light skin tones, as will taupe, rose gold and champagne hues. Softer shades of plum and green can also be worn in shimmery finishes, as they still lighten up the area. In fact, it’s wise to always place a highlighting shade in the inner corners of your eyes to brighten the area and soften the effect of the eyeshadow covering your entire lid. 

The perfect palette: Urban Decay Naked2 Eyeshadow Palette

Kate Bosworth

Rooney Mara

Urban Decay Naked2 Eyeshadow Palette

Medium skin tones

Medium skin tones sit in the middle - they’re not light enough to be fair, but not dark enough to be olive - and they contain enough beige undertones to always appear slightly tanned. This allows you to have a little more freedom when it comes to eye makeup. Anything warm and illuminating is ideal (think bronze, copper, honey and gold smoky eye looks), and highly-pigmented and metallic finishes will also complement your skin tone. Rich blues will stand out on a warmer medium skin tone, while those with cool undertones should try grey or lavender to enhance their eye area.

The perfect palette: Lancôme Hypnôse Star Eyes Palette in 01

Cara Delevingne

Camilla Belle

Lancôme Hypnôse Star Eyes Palette in 01

Olive skin tones

Olive skin tones have the versatility to play it safe with a soft glam eyeshadow palette or go bold and bright thanks to their naturally tanned complexion. It’s not hard to enhance an olive skin tone, so don’t be afraid to switch it up and try new hues. Golden browns will play up your natural skin colour, but rich jewel shades like royal blue, emerald green, rich plum  - even burnt orange - will really make your complexion pop. Apply your eyeshadow dry for a subtle finish, or apply it using a wet eyeshadow brush for a striking, intense finish.

The perfect palette: Yves Saint Laurent Couture Variation Eye Event in 04

Jennifer Lopez

Nicole Richie

Yves Saint Laurent Couture Variation Eye Event in 04

Dark skin tones

A darker skin tone truly has the freedom to go bold with their eye makeup colour. Rich eyeshadow colours like a vibrant true purple or bright indigo blue will pop against your skin, especially when applied wet for a more intense finish. Brightly coloured liquid eyeliners are also a must. For day, try shades of burgundy and warm golds, which are good neutral choices for your skin tone. Be sure to avoid anything ashy or pale variants of blue, pink and green, though. They may not show up properly on your skin or - worse! - make your eye area look dull. 

The perfect palette: Marc Jacobs Beauty Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette

Lupita Nyong'o


Marc Jacobs Beauty Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette

Now you have your best colour options down pat, remember there are so many different tones and finishes that they each come in, so don't feel restricted. From shimmer, glitter, pearl, metallic and matte eyeshadow palettes, to a mousse or cream eyeshadow or powder formulas, there's no shortage of options to fit in with the look you're after. 

Looking for a new eye palette? Before you choose that limited edition one with a hefty price tag, step away from the checkout and have a peek at some of the best-selling budget eye makeup palettes you need to add to your wish list. 

What's your go-to eyeshadow colour to complement your skin tone? Let us know in the comment section below.

Main image credit: Getty

Cherie is somewhat of a digital dinosaur, having kick-started her beauty writing career back in 2009 at PRIMPED alongside industry expert Zoë Foster Blake. Since then, her words have appeared online and on paper for BEAUTYcrew, POPSUGAR, beautyheaven, New Idea, and Fitness First, while her marketing know-how has helped brands such as L'Oréal Paris, The Body Shop, A’kin, and Dr. LeWinn’s add a journalistic flair to their digital content. She is a vocal advocate for (physical) sunscreen, is rather fond of a bold lip, and is utterly terrible at styling hair.