Tips For Wearing Colored Eyeliner Without Looking 14

It's easy for colored eye makeup to go the route of "fourteen-year-old who was dropped off at the mall by her mom and went to Sephora for a long enough period of time that it was definitely considered loitering."
Publish date:
March 22, 2013
shoppables, eyeliner, beauty tips, eye makeup, makeup tips

Colored eye makeup kind of scares me. I mean, not in way, say, heights, or death, or the people in the first two rows at SoulCycle do, but it's still something I try to steer clear of.

When it comes to my eye makeup, I've had the same basic routine for years: primer, tan eyeshadow, black liquid liner (in varying degrees of intensities, depending on how weird I feel like getting on any particular evening), and black mascara. Bye. Done.

But lately I've been trying to shake things up. Live on the edge. Take a chance and breakaway, like Kelly Clarkson in that song.

It's easy for colored eye makeup to go the route of "fourteen-year-old who was dropped off at the mall by her mom and went to Sephora for a long enough period of time that it was definitely considered loitering." But, when done correctly, it can be crazy flattering!

Here are my colored eye makeup tips, as well as some products that fully have my stamp of approval.

1. Don't just pick your favorite color.

It's tempting to be like, "OH, I LOVE BLUE. LET'S DO BLUE," but pick a color that will compliment (not match) your eye color. If you have green eyes, go for deep purple. If you have brown eyes, olive greens are especially flattering. If you have hazel eyes, purple will bring out any green in your eyes.

A deep rose color is also flattering for hazel eyes. Blue eyes look real nice with a very dark blue or with a copper color. The Aqua Eyes eyeliner from Make Up Forever ($18) is unreal. It comes in 24 shades, and can work as both an eyeliner and an eye shadow. I especially love it because it claims to stay put all day and it actually stays put all day.

I still use a primer before putting it on (I'm partial to Urban Decay Primer Potion), but it remains one of the only pencil eyeliners I've used that doesn't sweat off on to my cheeks by lunch. If $18 seems like too much to spend on colored eyeliner, I can also suggest Maybelline NY Master Drama by Eye Studio, which is only about $8. It's a cream pencil and, while it doesn't stay put quite as well as Aqua Eyes, it's a good drugstore option.

2. Keep the rest of your look really simple.

This might seem obvious, but I think the main reason colored eye makeup so oft looks tacky is that it's paired with teased hair, and glossy lips, and heels, and a metallic dress, and a statement necklace. I happen to think colored eye makeup looks best when it's just paired with a high ponytail or loose waves and natural makeup.

3. Keep it dark.

I wore purple liquid liner the other day, and everyone was like, 'Wait. Is that purple?' rather than, 'Oh, damn! That's some purple eye liner you've got on!' Maybe this is just because I don't like the look of obvious makeup to begin with, but I think colored eyeliner and mascara (I'll talk about eye shadow in a sec, hold on) looks best when it's almost black, except for the fact that it is totally not black.

I love Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner (I wear it in black on the daily), and they have six other colors to play around with. If $20 is too much to spend on green eyeliner, Maybelline's Eye Studio Master Precise Liquid Line for about $7 is nice.

For mascara, I really like the dark blue color from Maybelline Great Lash. A lot of colored mascaras seem to be made just for Halloween (which is to say, made for a night when you don't really care if the quality is awful), but the colored mascara from Great Lash has the same two-thumbs up quality as the standard black Great Lash.

And there's a reason that stuff is a cult classic.

4. Eye shadow? More like water colors!

OK, so, while I definitely think that mascara and eyeliner looks best in dark colors, I think colored eye shadow looks best when it's just a light wash. The Chubby Stick Shadow from Clinique ($16) is a really great option. Other creamy eyeshadows will work, as well, but I think this one has incredible staying powder and is completely fool proof.

The only downside is that it has some shimmer to it, so if that's not your thing, you won't be a fan. You should blend the color until it's just a subtle wash over your eyelid. Again, you're going for something muted, not "LOOK AT ME I AM WEARING PURPLE EYESHADOW."

Let me know your colored eye makeup tips below and @michellelynking. Photo credit goes to Kait Robinson.