Pink Eyeshadow: How To Wear It Like A Boss (A Really Pretty One)

My favourite colour isn’t just for Wednesdays.

One of the questions that I’ve been getting more and more frequently lately is, to paraphrase, “Alle! What is the deal with pink eyeshadow? I want to love it, but it always looks weird on me. How can I wear it without looking like a lab rat?”

Please imagine me swooping in, cape artfully flying behind me. If there is one thing I know, guys, it’s PINK.

This article was originally going to be a video, but as with many of the things I write, it just kept going and going until it was totally gigantic. I have a lot to say about pink eyeshadow--how to apply it, how to make it wearable, how to pick colours, etc.--so I present to you Alle’s Super-Comprehensive Guide To Pink Eyeshadow!

First, let’s get down with a few pink eyeshadow tips.

Embrace the barrier method.

This is a tip I learned from a stylist back in my modelling days (which, please, do not get me started on): if a colour doesn’t suit you, find one that does and use it as a barrier. This was in the context of wearing a really INTENSE chartreuse sweater that did awful things to my skin tone, but with a black collared shirt underneath it as a barrier--i.e., going right next to my skin--it looked a million times better. The bright yellow-green looked good with the black, and the black looked good with my skin. Much improved.

Same thing goes for pink eyeshadow. If you don’t love a certain shade with your eyes, or if you--like me--have slightly red eyes and don’t want to look conjunctival, put a frame in between the pink and your eye.

For example: this fuchsia shadow, by itself, is a bit too purple-toned to look great on my skin. And although it makes the green in my eyes REALLY stand out, it also kind of makes me look like I have an eye infection. But with the addition of a black border in the shape of cat-eye liner, it’s suddenly MUCH more flattering. The pink goes with the black, and the black goes with my eyes.

I used black in both instances here, but you obviously aren’t JUST limited to black liner. Try fading pink into gold, or using it as a highlight on the center of your upper lid if you’re doing dark, smoky eyes.

Pick your intensity wisely.

I know that probably everyone clicked on this article, being like “OMG ALLE’S GOING TO GET WEIRD WITH NEON EYESHADOW!” And I am, in a minute, but first I want to show you guys that hot pink eyeshadow isn’t the only thing out there.

These are just the pink eyeshadows that I can lay my hands on RIGHT NOW. They all have different tones, intensities and finishes. Some are matte, some are shimmery, some are really freaking bright, and some just give a slight hint of colour. They’re all pink, though. Pink doesn’t necessarily need to scream at the tops of its lungs to be awesome (though it certainly can).

If you’re looking for a pink to wear to work, pick a shade that is relatively sheer. It can even be kind of brighter--like the Make Up For Ever Star Powder in Pink Gold--and it will still read as appropriate if you apply it with a light hand. I am a firm believer in the idea that “grown up” makeup is more about INTENSITY than colour--a light wash of pink is way more office-appropriate than a giant rectangle of dark brown any day of the week.

If getting written up by HR isn’t a concern and you want to get nuts with super-bright pink? Go for it! There are so many amazing colours and finishes out there, you are honestly spoiled for choice.

Placement, placement, placement.

Pink eyeshadow can create a lot of weird illusions, chief among them that of CONJUNCTIVITIS JUNCTION, WHAT’S YOUR FUNCTION? Nobody wants to look like they have pinkeye.

The secret to avoiding this is to not put pink eyeshadow directly next to your lower waterline, which is the part of your eye that gets inflamed when you’re sick. I would say that in general, pink eyeshadow should go on the upper eyelid only, but I know some of you rebels will be like “NO WAY ALLE, WE DO WHAT WE WANT.”

So for you guys, ALWAYS make sure there is a barrier of another colour between your pink and your waterline. Check out the difference between pink shadow directly abutting the waterline, and the same pink used to smudge out a black line (where the black acts as a “barrier” between the colour and the waterline):

Also, don’t apply pink all the way up to your eyebrows; keep it on the mobile lid only. Please. We are not 1980s cartoon villains.

Warm vs. cool.

Pinks come in different temperatures, just like every other colour out there. A lot of people ask me what the best shade of pink is for their eye colour, and the truth is, there’s a LOT more to consider when picking an eyeshadow than just your eye colour.

For example, I have blue-green eyes. In theory, I should be picking a cool-toned pink. But because my skin is also cool-toned, and because the whites of my eyes are always a little red, purple-pinks don’t work on me. They bring out the dark circles under my eyes and make me look sallow. Not cute. I’m far better off with a pink eyeshadow that has some warmth to it. Make Up For Ever’s Star Powder in Pink Gold is a perfect example of this (you’ll see pictures of it in a second).

The moral of the story here is that any eye colour can wear pink shadow; you just have to find the shade that works with your eyes, skin and even hair. And the only way to do that is--you guessed it--to experiment.

So now that we have the basic rules down, let’s get into how to wear it. I’m going to show you two ways to wear it, but of course you are not just limited to these!

Look #1: Business Pink

The first look I put together is really simple. Some variation of it would definitely be wearable for school or in an office environment. I’m using Make Up For Ever Star Powder in pink-gold (because I talked about it so much, and also because it’s totally perfect), Stila eyeshadow in Kitten, and Nooner from the Urban Decay Naked3 palette.

Yep, these are all pink eyeshadows. But I’m going to show you how to make them all work, so don’t worry.

Here are the swatches, because that is important.

I began by sweeping the Star Powder all over my mobile lid. This stuff, though sheer, is SUPER-PIGMENTED so you really only need a tiny bit of it. Blend it well up towards your crease if you have one, or your eye-socket bone if you don’t.

Next, I used Kitten on the inner corners of my eyes, around the tear duct and about a quarter of the way along my lower lash line.

After that, I used Nooner to define my crease. I drew a short line out from the outside corner of my eye by the lashes, then made an arch shape right where my eyelid creases and blended well. If you don’t have a crease and you don’t want to create one, that is OK--concentrate this shadow on the outer corner, making a short “v” shape instead of the full arch.

However you do this, blend well. Right now I am all about mixing shimmery shadows with matte ones because I think it gives a really fresh effect.

I lined under my eyes with grey eyeliner, applied two coats of mascara to my top and bottom lashes, defined my brows with a light brown powder, and here we are!

I deliberately didn’t use any liquid liner across my top lash line, because I wanted you guys to see that a sheer pink is wearable without the barrier of black. I think this looks pretty good!

But how can I make it look better? With more pink makeup, of course!

I applied blush to the apples of my cheeks, adding a little bit of highlight to the tops of my cheekbones with Kitten. I know it’s an eyeshadow, but rules were made to be broken!

Finally, I finished the whole thing with a coat of Revlon Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie.

Now that I am totally pink, let’s see how this looks!

Even thought this is literally all pink everything, the different shades and finishes stop it from looking like a Disney Princess threw up on me. I think this is the key to pulling off a monochromatic look.

AND I don’t look like a laboratory rat. Thumbs up, pink!

Look #2: Rebel Pink

OK, guys. You wanted me to get nuts with pink? Let’s get nuts with pink!

I decided to go for broke and do a SUPER-NEON PINK smoky eye look that I was really excited about. I’m using Medusa’s Makeup pressed eyeshadow in Electro Pink, a matte black eyeshadow (the one I’m using has been discontinued; the closest dupe is MAC’s Carbon) and Kitten by Stila.

You’ll also need black liquid eyeliner, so as always I am using LORAC Front of the Line PRO because it is the greatest forever and ever, amen.

And colour swatches!

To begin with, I dampened my eyeshadow brush oh-so-slightly and applied Electro Pink all over my mobile eyelid to the crease. This gives me maximum hold and colour payoff; if your eyelids are very greasy, you may want to use contact lens solution instead of water for additional hold.

Next, use Kitten to blend in just a tiny bit at the inner corner and around my tear duct. I am very vigilant about this because I have close-set eyes and the shimmer creates the illusion that they are further apart. You do not have to do this if you don’t want to, but it worked for me.

Next, I drew a very fine line with my liquid eyeliner from the very inside corner of my upper lid to the outer corner.

I took a fine-tipped eyeshadow brush, dampened it slightly, then applied the black eyeshadow in a “rounded” shape on my upper lid and along the crease. I want a very clean delineation between the pink and the black here.

Then I drew a slightly curved line up from the outer edge of my lower lash line, extending my crease line down to meet it. This gave me the outer perimeter of my black eyeshadow shape.

Then I filled this shape in, softening the line above my crease by blending upwards towards my eyebrows (not down into the pink) and smoking out the outer corner so that it is well-blended but still defined.

Under my eyes, I kept it very simple by drawing a thin line with the damp black eyeshadow, blending it out for a smoky look, then adding a tiny bit of the neon pink to the outer periphery to bring some interest to it.

Since I’ve just embraced black liner on my waterline, I threw some of that on (using some additional liquid liner to go in between my eyelashes and avoid that weird flesh-coloured line), applied some black mascara, fixed up my brows, and I was done.

I LOVE THIS. It is, as Tim Gunn would say, A Lot Of Look--but it makes me so happy! If maybe you are not yet at the makeup level where you can get your lines quite so clean, it’s OK! Keep practicing, and know that this looks awesome with the black blended into the pink, too.

I finished the rest of my face with a tiny bit of blush, a dose of shimmer powder on my cheeks and down the bridge of my nose, and a pinkish-nude lip colour. I used L’oreal Infallible le Gloss in Blush, because my eyes were complicated enough and I don’t want any lipstick fighting for attention with them.

And here’s how it all came together!

This look surprised me by being really, really SEXY. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t often think of neon pink sparkly makeup as being terribly seductive, but I was wrong! It’s hot!

You can see how the barrier of the black liner and eyeshadow not only makes this neon easier to wear, but also makes it more attention-grabbing. Again, this is a look that is done with 100% pink products, but the different shades and finishes stop it from looking overloaded.

And the good news is, this is also a dramatic look that looks AWESOME with glasses!

And now I ask you: Are you on board with pink eyeshadow, or not so much? Which of these looks are you going to try out? Did this article go up on a Wednesday, and if so, are you wearing pink right now?