6 Blue Eye Shadow Looks You Can Actually Pull Off, Promise

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Actress Lupita Nyong'o attends the 2014 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for MTV)
Source: Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

I have really deep-set eyes, so when I've tried blue eye shadow — or really any color that's darker than cream — I've inevitably ended up looking like a weird raccoon. I mean, colorful eye shadow can be super hard to pull off: We all have that fear of looking like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show or an '80s music video girl. As Alice Gregory writes in The New York Times' T Magazine, blue eye shadow can be interpreted as "shorthand for vulgarity and camp (think Jessica Rabbit, Anna Nicole Smith, Divine in 'Pink Flamingos'). Blue eye shadow is a crude trick, one that efficiently enhances a performance of femininity. It’s no surprise that it appeals to fourth graders and drag queens."

Sweeping blue on your lids doesn't have to evoke drag queens, though. Just look at how flawlessly Lupita Nyong'o pulls it off (yes, I'm aware that we're not all Lupita, but stay with me here). So do a lot of other celebs, from Taylor Swift to Nicole Richie. Plus, we've been seeing blue lids all over the fashion runways lately — at shows like Marc by Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, and Prada — and they're anything but tacky. This must mean there's hope for us regular folk, too. I've found some tutorials from beauty bloggers with tips for how to tone down the look (personally, I'm partial to going the pastel route, like with this to-die-for periwinkle eyeliner, which I actually own) — or turn it up in a tasteful way. After these blogger how-tos, I promise you won't look like Jessica Rabbit or a raccoon. Unless you want to, of course. Hey, you do you. 

Prime with Brown Eye Shadow First

You need a base to help set the blue shadow you’re about to put on. “Start by applying a light brown matte shadow just above your crease and blend it gently,” says blogger Military and Makeup. “Add a warmer brown color right on top of the brown you just applied, and using windshield wiper motions, blend all the way across your lid.” For a fancy night-on-town look, sweep a bit of gold shadow just under your lower lash line and added some falsies. So glam!

Jewel Tones Are a Great Option

This cobalt blue hue is a happy medium between that dark, smoky-eyed look not everyone can pull off and brighter colors that might look “too cartoon-ish,” says blogger Tiffany from Makeup by Tiffany D.

Pair Your Blue Eye Shadow with a Neutral

If you’re a rookie, start subtle. “Pair the blue with a neutral color such as brown, tan, or even gray — the neutral will offset the brightness of the blue,” says blogger Marlena from Makeup Geek. If you’re trying the look for the first time, she also suggests using your blue in moderation, like on just the eyelid or the outer “V.”

Try Blue Eyeliner, Too

Beauty blogger Rica from The Office Chic beautifully blends blue eye shadow and eyeliner to define her eyes in a way that’s not overly colorful.

Pastels Are Your Friend

Pastel makeup is very on-trend right now and looks awesome with pretty much every skin tone. Beauty blogger The Notice does a cool ’80s-inspired pastel eye that’s not too ’80s.


Have Fun with It!

If you’re trying something new, why not commit all the way? Try this candy-colored eye tutorial by Liz from Beauty Angel. Keeping all the eye shadows in the same color family prevents the overall look from being too “Easter egg.”