The foolproof guide to colored eyeliner
Don't be afraid of color
"Colored eyeliner done well is chic and modern," says Christina Bartolucci, chief creative director of NYX Cosmetics. "It brings an element of surprise that can really captivate because it is unexpected." Two strategies for accentuating your eye color may seem like opposites, but either can add serious pop. Hues that contrast with the color of your iris are best left to the daring. Those who wish to play it safer should search for shades similar to their eye color, says Sonia Kashuk, makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk Beauty. She suggests olive greens or golds for brown and hazel eyes, navy or cobalt for blue eyes, and emeralds for green eyes.
Lay the foundation
Kashuk recommends dotting a black or brown liner at the lash line before adding color. "You will get definition and intensity, but also a little sense of brightness," she says. "Combining a color with a neutral has a softening quality."
Put it in the right place
The good news? Colored liner works on top or bottom lashes. "When wearing color on the top lashes, work a tiny bit of dark brown or black liner onto the bottom lash line," says Bartolucci. The same technique works on the bottom lashes—just choose one spot or the other. And well-curled lashes and mascara are musts. "They tie everything together and bring the focus back to the eyes, making the colored liner an accessory, not a distraction," adds Bartolucci.
Balance it out
"Richly-pigmented liner can handle a bold lip or a sheer berry stain, unlike a smoky eye, which can get overwhelming when paired with a bright lipstick," Bartolucci says. Keep the rest of your face simple for a look that's both tasteful and grounded, evening out skin with foundation and sweeping on a soft, peachy blush.
Sharpen your skills
"If applying on top, always lift the lid up slightly and apply the liner right at the lash line," says Bartolucci. "When you let it down, the line will be precise." Still running into trouble? With your pencil, draw tiny dots along the lash line and then connect them—it will make creating a straight line easier.
Brighten blue eyes
Burrowing a brown or rust-colored liner, like NYX Cosmetics Retractable Eye Liner in Bronze ($4.50), into lashes is a surefire way to draw attention to blue eyes. "Since browns and bronzes contain a lot of orange, they will complement blue eyes, as blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel," says Bartolucci. For a softer effect, swipe on cobalt or navy. "It has a soft, wearable effect," says Kashuk. Press a smudgable pencil like CoverGirl's Liquiline Blast Eyeliner in Blue Boom ($7.99) into lashes for a smoldering finish.
Add depth to brown eyes
Bartolucci recommends reaching for deep violets to create a striking contrast. Sonia Kashuk's Twist Up Longwear Eyeliner in Black Tanzanite ($7.99), a rich, wearable purple, brightens brown eyes. Feeling color-shy? Anything warm and metallic will pick up the gold in dark eyes. Try Tarte EmphasEYES Waterproof Clay Shadow/Liner in Bronze ($24) and apply with a thin, slanted brush.
Make green eyes sparkle
A rich eggplant or plum hue will elevate the intensity of green eyes. Run a mechanical or classic wood pencil along the upper or lower lash lines—these formulas are drier than their cream or kohl counterparts, and are less likely to smudge or fade. We love L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Eyeliner in Violet ($8.95).
Warm up hazel eyes
Swipe on an olive-green liner to illuminate the golden flecks in hazel eyes. We're fans of M∙A∙C Cosmetics Superslick Liquid Eye Liner in Desires & Devices ($19.50).