Blue Eyeshadow Is Trending and Terrifying, Here’s How to Wear It
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Long relegated to the ’80s and ’90s, blue eyeshadow has been shaking its stigma and making a comeback. First spotted at the Paris couture fall/winter shows, slashes of navy were seen on models at Dior, and Chanel. Duck-egg blue and pastel eyeshadow popped up at New York Fashion Week. At Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, duck egg blue, baby blue and navy were seen dashed across lids on the runway.
Fast-forward to December, and we’re now seeing the washed denim eye look trending on everyone from Cardi B to Dua Lipa. But, there’s another more wearable blue I’ve been loving in 2022.
It’s the striking bright cobalt shade at Bec + Bridge and Daniel Avakian caught my eye. It feels energetic, electric and a little disruptive. It’s Yves Klein Blue.
While working as a makeup artist, it was drilled into me that blue is best avoided, but this Yves Klein Blue seemed to suit every model. Why?
The Magic of Yves Klein Blue:
The shade “Yves Klein” takes its name from the artist who discovered the pigment. Yves Klein worked with pure colour and created Yves Klein blue – a shade inspired by “the mesmerising and luminous” intensity of the night sky in Nice, France. He trademarked the ultramarine shade as International Klein Blue in 1959 and it is now usually referred to as “IKB 79”. The question is, why did he need to invent a whole new pigment?
Blue is a rare colour in nature, and when it does appear, it has a natural warmth. But artificial blue pigments tend to lose their intensity quickly, giving them their cool appearance. Yves Klein created a patented blue polymer, contained in resin, which held 100% of its intensity and warmth. It’s this warmth that makes Yves Klein blue universally flattering as an eyeshadow colour.
Why Are Blue Eyeshadows Tricky to Work With?
Obviously, Yves Klein Blue eyeshadows aren’t made of the patented Yves Klein Pigment – it would be an expensive and ophthalmologically unsound way to do business.
That means they’re subject to the same issues every blue pigment has – they fade, they’re stiff to use and can have a “chalky” finish. Not to be defeated, I experimented and found a number of very wearable options.
The Yves Klein Blue Experience:
I wasn’t entirely convinced that, as a non-professional model, I’d be able to pull off blue eyeshadow of any variety. I have deep-set eyes and prominent under-eye circles. The hardest part ended up finding the right product amidst my enormous stash.
I tried several that were too navy until I landed on Nars, Outremer Eyeshadow ($28) and Rimmel, Wonder Proof Eyeliner, 005 Pure Blue ($10). Layering a shadow over and eyeliner creates the depth you want when trying to mimic YKB, and although the colour will look uniform, the layered shades create dimension. I applied the liner with a very fine brush, like the MAC, 209 Synthetic Liner Brush ($41) (this brush is much thinner than the Rimmel tip and gives you more control). I then “set” the liner with Outremer with a tiny brush like the MAC, 230S Multipurpose Detailing Brush ($51) If you’re using a gel liner as the base, follow the same steps.
I loved wearing my Yves Klein blue concoction. The vivid shade was an instant pick me up as I went about my day, as were the compliments I received (this colour is not for wallflowers – you will get comments).
I also felt like the blue was actively flattering, it made the whites of my eyes pop, and my skin looks brighter.
Blue Eyeshadow For Every Skin Tone:
After some trial and error, I’ve figured out what works for those at the fairer end of the spectrum. It’s important to have a lot of depth and intensity in your colour — the minute the blue eyeshadow fades it will lose the desired warmth and bring out blueness in your complexion, making you look washed out. I also kept the rest of my look very simple, but found I needed a little bit more blush in a cooler tone than I would usually use.
Blue is typically much more flattering on deeper skin tones and brings out the intensity, depth and dimension of brown and hazel eye colours. But, as MUA Katie Moore said, there’s a real trick to achieving electric blue eye looks.
“The current colour trend is a real electric POP of colour, and getting that intensity can be tricky on deeper skin tones,” Moore tells POPSUGAR Australia. For the epic winged eye she created for Elizabeth McPherson, Moore used a simple hack. She outlined her shape with a tinted eyeshadow primer, Nars, Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, ($39) before creating the wing with Nars, High Pigment Longwear Eyeliner in “Ocean Drive” ($36) and setting with Nars, Eyeshadow in “Outremer” ($28) for longevity and intensity.
Blue looks less striking if it fades or smudges. Use a clear eye primer to prep lids and ensure your colour stays intense all-day
Graphic shapes and liners are much easier to incorporate into your daily look. The graphic shape lends itself to the natural stiffness of blue shadow formulas (which can be hard to blend in a soft smokey eye). Keeping the application area small makes the blue less likely to totally overwhelm your face or look.
Correcting eyelids and under the eyes is essential. I topped my eye primer with a medium pigment eyeshadow that matched my skin tone. I used Charlotte Tilbury, Hollywood Flawless Filter ($65) and Tarte, Shape Tape Contour Concealer ($44) to cover mine under eye darkness (which are more Paris Couture Navy than AAFW Yves Klein blue). You can also use peach, orange or red correctors depending on the depth of your skin tone. The Charlotte Tilbury, Magic Vanish Correctors ($49) range from light peach to deep red with every skin tone covered.
Keep it Simple:
When I was backstage at Romance was Born lead makeup artist Nicole “Pinkie” Thompson told me the best way to wear bright colours is to keep the rest of your makeup as simple as possible. Allow your pop of blue to be the feature by going lightly on your base and lips.