Blue eyeshadow has gone in and out of style over the years.
In the '90s, it was a staple for stars like Tyra Banks and Jennifer Lopez. In the early 2000s, Paris Hilton was a fan of the vibrant lid look. Meanwhile, back in 2010, when I was a freshman in college, it was my personal go-to eyeshadow shade. It wasn't for everyone, though—and it's still not. Blue eyeshadow can be pretty divisive, but if you know how to properly apply it, it can look downright red carpet-worthy.
Here, we chatted with three celebrity makeup artists about how to wear blue eyeshadow. Keep reading to see 20 stars rocking the cool-toned hue, plus makeup artist tips for perfecting the look.
Paris Hilton popularized blue eyeshadow in the early '00s, proving to her fans just how wearable the color can be. While we've learned a lot in terms of eyeshadow application over the years, the same indigo blue hue remains a must-try all these years later.
“Like a classic red lipstick, blue eyeshadow in one particular tone will always be universally flattering on everyone,” says celebrity makeup artist Jo Baker. “It’s that buttery soft powder blue matte shade made popular by the 1950s housewife and the ‘70s bohemian era.” You can see the color in action here, on actress Adwoa Aboah.
According to celebrity makeup artist Gregory Arlt, the trick to creating any gorgeous blue eyeshadow look is to properly prep your lids for the color. “Just like any shadow, [blue eyeshadow] mistakes can really show up if the eyelids aren’t primed well,” he explains. “I love using the MAC Prep+Prime 24-Hour Eye Base before applying color to ensure long wear and smooth application.”
That's the first step of recreating Billy Porter's striking baby blue lid look above. Then, you'll want to use a pale blue hue in a dramatic application. The ColourPop Fade Into Hue Pressed Eyeshadow Palette ($35) features a great shadow option called Take It Easel. (The palette has four other blue hues, too, so you'll be able to get plenty of practice with the cool-toned eye makeup trend.)
One of the most popular ways to apply blue eyeshadow is in a bold halo effect, like Dua Lipa’s eye makeup above. “I love blending the eyeshadow from the lash line up towards the eyebrow,” says celebrity makeup artist Gilbert Soliz. “This opens up the eye and gives it a fresh take on a smoky eye.” For best results, he says to use a flat brush to pat and blend the blue eyeshadow of your choice onto your lids, then use a softer fluffy brush to diffuse the color up and out. Then, to complete the halo effect, use a dense, short-bristled eyeshadow brush to apply the pigment to the lower lash line.
Blue Wing Tips
Another of Arlt’s favorite ways to rock blue on the lids is in eyeliner—not eyeshadow—form. “I actually love to use it as an eyeliner which is a fun way to wear blue without it [becoming] overpowering,” he shares. And he has a point. Here, on Saoirse Ronan, you can see just how wearable turquoise wing tips can be. To DIY the look at home, try using NYX Epic Wear Waterproof Eyeliner ($9) in the shade Turquoise Storm—it’s one of Arlt’s go-tos.
Loving Aboah’s stunning blue lid look? It will take some trial and error. Celebrity makeup artist Melissa Hurkman is responsible for the look but didn’t reveal specific colors—she simply tagged Rimmel London. That said, the Rimmel London Magnif’Eyes Reloaded Edition Eyeshadow Palette ($5) seems to have the same shade.
Powder blue may be the most wearable shade of blue eyeshadow but Lady Gaga proved that going bold with cobalt can be just as stunning. She rocked a David Bowie-inspired beauty look at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Aiming for a “Life on Mars?” aesthetic, celebrity makeup artist Sarah Tanno used a variety of blue eye makeup products, including the Sephora Collection 12 Hour Contour Pencil Eyeliner ($11) in the shades My Boyfriend’s Jeans and Peacock Blue.
Sea Foam Blue
Even Beyoncé has been beholden to the blue eyeshadow trend. At the 2006 "Dreamgirls" Los Angeles premiere, the “Formation” singer showed up with shimmering aqua lids to match her gown. “There’s something magical about a monochromatic color story,” Baker says.
While you might not have any red-carpet events coming up, Baker says that embracing the blue eyeshadow trend can be as simple as wearing a soft swipe of pastel blue shadow with a head-to-toe denim ensemble. “It will always feel fun and playful and can lean early ‘00s or made really fresh and modern depending on your mood,” she explains.
If you have a medium to dark complexion like Nicki Minaj, Soliz says that rich shades of teal or peacock blue eyeshadow look especially stunning. His favorites are the Giorgio Armani Liquid Eyeshadow ($36) in the shade Petrol and Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeshadow ($22) in the shade Float. However, if you want to rock a matte teal shade like the Queen of Rap, you might want to try the Thread Paint It Eyeshadow ($8) in the shade Thread Blue or Half Magic Eyeshadow in the shade Daydreamies ($12).
Taylor Swift might be best known for her statement red lip but she’s tried blue shadow a time or two, too. Once again, Baker says it’s all about that perfect powder baby blue hue. She’s such a fan of the hue, in fact, that she created her own. The Bakeup Beauty Pastel Micro Palm Palette ($24) features a shade called Serene Blue, which Baker says “gives you the most universally flattering pastel blue tone that is so soft you can press and smudge it on with your fingertip. It's so easy and our tiny shadow palettes being the size of a credit card means you can experiment without having the commitment of some of the other huge chunky color shadow palettes.”
Sapphire Halo Eyes
Nicole Beharie’s shimmery blue lid look is another great example of the halo application technique—not to mention a great example of the quintessential complexion approach to match it. According to Soliz, if you want your blue eyeshadow to pop, you should avoid wearing heavy foundation and instead keep your skin light and fresh. Looks like Beharie nailed it!
Sheer Icy Blue
Actress Sandra Andreis proves that blue eyeshadow can work on fair skin tones, too. “Icy blues and pale blues with shimmer compliment a light or fair shin tone,” Soliz says. “The look is more subdued and gives a wintery ice feel.”
To achieve a similar sheer icy blue lid look at home, try using the ColourPop On Cloud Blue Eyeshadow Palette ($14), which features nine blue hues to play with.
Arlt says that unapologetic cobalt blue, icy blue, and aqua blue tend to be some of the most sought after blue eyeshadow shades. Here, you can see how icy blue and cobalt blue shadow come together for a head-turning lid look on actress Shamea Morton.
Powder Blue Smokey Eye
Baker is a big fan of head-to-toe pastel blue ensembles, like Emma Chamberlain’s above. “Wearing a variety of pastel tones is another way of sporting a blue shadow well—if the whole ensemble is fun and airy and lightweight then the whole mood carries effortlessly,” she explains.
Another trick for keeping your blue eyeshadow looking gorgeous and not gaudy? Keep your blush toned down, Soliz says. “Keep blush soft and subtle for a healthier finish,” he instructs. “Too much blush can make the look feel dated and garish.”
Janelle Monáe understood the assignment when it came to her Paris Fashion Week appearance at the Fall/Winter 2019/2020 Giambattista Valli show. She kept her complexion healthy and glowing and let her tropical turquoise lids do all the talking.
Cobalt Lids and Lashes
Another way to lean into the blue eyeshadow trend? Make it a full eye makeup moment with cobalt blue eyeliner and mascara, like Lupita Nyong’o’s from the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Chloë Grace Moretz was spotted sporting bright blue eyeshadow in New York City back in 2018 and it’s a streetwear shot we still think about. To achieve a similar look, try using the About Face Matte Fluid Eye Paint ($16) in the shade Blue Monday topped off with the brand’s Vinyl Effect Eye Gloss ($14).
Bright Blue Cat Eye
Ash K Holm is a celebrity makeup artist, so of course, she knows how to nail the blue eyeshadow trend. We love how she paired her azure lid pigment with a sharp cat eye shape. To recreate this crisp wing tip, try using the Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner ($21).
If you’re not quite ready to dive headfirst into the blue eyeshadow trend, dip your toes in with a silvery blue lid hue like Zuri Hall's. Or, try applying it to just your lash line to get a feel for it. “For those cautious but wanting to try this trend, tap your pinky finger into the blue of your choice and run it back and forth on your lower lash line,” Baker says. “This is a way to dip into wearing color shadow without diving in at the deep end straight away.”
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