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How to Combine Eyeshadows to Create Fun and Gorgeous Looks

By Elise Marquam-Jahns March 14, 2024 Beauty

When I do one-on-one Zoom makeup consultations, I often hear women say, “I always wear neutral eyeshadow colors because I’m a little scared to step outside my comfort zone and combine different eyeshadows. I’m afraid I’ll look like a clown! But I’d love to change up my look.”

I can definitely understand the feeling of looking at an eyeshadow palette like the one you’ll see in the video and feeling absolutely intimidated by the thought of incorporating any of these colors into your makeup look. Because, after all, when we look at an eyeshadow palette like this, how do we know what eyeshadow colors to combine and which colors to put where so we’ll look polished and not garish?

But combining different eyeshadow colors into our makeup look can bring us a lot of joy, and it can also be a lot of fun. As one woman commented after watching one of my videos:

“I’m in my late 40s and have started experimenting with colorful eyeshadows only recently. I am working on trying to feel less self-conscious when I go out in public because the vibrant colors that I’m drawn to bring me so much joy. Plus, it feels great to explore the more creative side of my personality.”

And the good news is that we don’t have to dive right in and use lots of bold color. Instead, we can take baby steps to see what will work best for us.

Since there are no rules in makeup, we can create any kind of look that we love. But there are some guiding hints we can take from color theory that can help us feel far more comfortable combining colors. Applying the science of color theory to our makeup color selections can help us create beautifully harmonious looks.

So let’s take a look at seven different eyeshadow combination possibilities that can give us some helpful guidance if we want to experiment with some new eyeshadow looks.

Combination #1

The first of these seven different combination possibilities is to combine a color you don’t normally use with neutral colors that you’re already comfortable wearing. And one great way to pick a great additional non-neutral color for your eyes is to pick a complementary color from the color wheel that will make your eyes really “come alive” and “pop.”

Complementary colors on the color wheel are those colors which are opposite each other. So on the color wheel I’ve included in the video, you can see that there are some beautiful pink or purple tones across from green which could look gorgeous on those of you with green eyes.

The complementary colors across from blue on the color wheel are warm shades of brown, copper, peach or orange. And when you locate brown on the color wheel, you can see that various shades of blue are the complementary colors opposite brown. And although grey is not on the color wheel, pinks, purples and bronze shades can really make grey eyes pop.

So now that we know a color that will make your eye color pop, we can take baby steps to incorporate this color into your neutral eye look. As you can see in the video, I have on a neutral brown eyeshadow look on one eye. And since a great complementary color for my brown eyes is blue, I’m going to apply a beautiful deep blue called “Pool Party” from Colourpop’s “Cabana Club” eyeshadow palette.

Try These Baby Steps

One of the ways you can take baby steps to add this color to your neutral look is to apply the blue in small, strategic doses rather than applying it on a large area of your eyes. So in the video I’m going to demonstrate all the baby step ways we might add this beautiful deep blue color to our neutral eyeshadow colors. You certainly won’t apply this color in all the ways I’ll be sharing with you, but I’m going to demonstrate each of these different ways you can add a complementary color to a neutral eyeshadow look.

The first way is to add this new color as eyeliner. Another way to add this color in a small, strategic dose is to apply and blend a small amount of the complementary blue color on the outer corner of the eye. A third option is to apply just a touch of the color above the crease and blend it in thoroughly.

A fourth way is to use a light version of the color as an inner corner highlight. In the video I’ll take the lightest blue color from the NYX Ultimate Vintage Jean Baby palette and mix it with some of the white to lighten it and then apply it on the inner corner of my eye.

A fifth way is to add a touch of the navy color to the bottom lash line. And a sixth way would be to apply navy blue mascara. So those are all the ways you can add an additional complementary eyeshadow color to a neutral eyeshadow look.

Be sure to check out Elise’s YouTube channel which specifically focuses on makeup tips, techniques, and product reviews for those of us 50+. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Combination #2

The second way to combine colors is to combine different shades of the same color by using light, medium and dark shades of that color. So you could apply all green eyeshadow going from very light green to a deep green or a light lavender that moves into medium or deep purple. This is called a monochromatic eyeshadow look.

You can apply these shades anywhere on your eyes, but it can be especially fun to go from light to dark colors across the eyelid or from light to dark across the crease area. Some examples of monochromatic eyeshadow palettes are these three from Colourpop: “High Tide,” “Blue Moon” and “Orchid You Not.”

Combinations #3, #4 & #5

The third way is to use all cool colors or all warm colors. The cool colors on the color wheel are on the left side and the warm colors are on the right side.

The fourth way is to mix a warm with a cool tone. This gives a little pop to the eye area and is one of my favorite ways to add more interest and dimension to an eye look. In the video I’ll add a warm color to some cool and neutral colors I’ve already put on my other eye from my Juvia’s Place Warrior II palette. Then I’ll add in a pop of orange from this palette by placing a small amount of orange just above my neutral brown crease color in the center of my eyelid.

The fifth way is to combine analogous colors. Analogous colors on the color wheel are those colors that are next to each other such as blue and green, yellow and orange or purple and blue.

Combinations #6 & #7

The sixth way is one we’ve already touched on earlier and that’s to use eyeshadow colors that are complementary to our eye color such as pink or purple for green eyes or peachy warm tones for blue eyes. Or, you could simply put two complementary shades together on the eyes such as blue with a touch of orange or green with purple.

And the seventh way is to apply triadic colors. Unlike colors that sit next to or directly across from each other on the color wheel, triadic colors are equidistant on the color wheel. When you join these colors, they form a triangle. Triadic colors would be red, yellow and blue or green, orange and purple.

I hope this article and video gave you a little inspiration to try out some new looks with some fun, interesting new colors. After all, color can bring us great joy and really add some fun to not only our makeup application, but also to our lives since there’s definitely a relationship between colors and emotions. There’s even the term “dopamine dressing” to describe the mood boosting benefits of wearing certain colors. So I hope you pull out those less often used palettes, have some fun and play with color.


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you open to exploring makeup combinations that are a little more bold than your usual neutrals? Have you tried a combination that works especially well for you? How did you put it together?

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I’m more of a natural kinda person. A little blush, light lipstick mostly for the moisture and I am good to go!

Elise Marquam Jahns

It’s great to find a makeup routine that fits who we are and what’s comfortable for us. And it sounds like you’ve discovered a great routine that works beautifully for you.

The Author

Elise Marquam-Jahns is a professional makeup artist who is passionate about helping women 50+ get their glow back. She is the founder of Boomer and Beyond Beauty and runs the “Boomer and Beyond Beauty with Elise” YouTube channel. Elise has authored the free guide The Top Four Research-Proven Makeup Techniques That Help Us Look Our Best Now.

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