Seeing Red


If you’ve been inside any remotely trendy stores or opened up Instagram lately, you know that red is set to be HUGE this fall, in keeping with the 90’s/00’s wave of the past few seasons. Red is arguably the most bold color, striking fear into the hearts of many. I’m not going to lie, even I shied away and retreated to my monotonously black closet upon learning of the trend, unsure as to whether or not I could pull off the brash, primal shade. I dipped my toes into the waters with red nail polish first, loving the old school glam feel of freshly lacquered crimson nails. Next, I thought about how I could incorporate red into my makeup, besides the classic bold lip. My mind went where any millennial’s would; to these guys.

Red eyeshadow, for many, is synonymous with the mid-2000’s emo movement, a countercultural zeitgeist that I clung to as a preteen. While I never wore red eyeshadow myself at that age, I know many that did, including one of my favorite influencers and makeup artists, Ashley Feasel, better known as @atleeey on instagram, twitter, and youtube. Ashley was part of this very same music scene, and now as an adult beautifully incorporates red tones into some seriously awesome eye looks. I love how effortless and cool she makes it look, as if red was always a “normal” eyeshadow shade to use. She pairs it with a nude lip and big lashes for an everyday look, but also pairs it with a black lip and a thick liner for a really graphic statement.

You may be still thinking, “yeah, but she’s a makeup artist, she can pull it off, there’s no way I’d be able to make that work.” With a few tips and tricks, red eyeshadow is totally manageable. I tried it myself this weekend, not knowing what to expect, and was so pleasantly surprised at the results. As someone with blue eyes, I tend to gravitate towards rusty oranges and brown tones, and came to find that true red eyeshadows have a similar effect on my eyes. Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

To achieve this look, I used a red lip liner as a primer for my lids, scribbling it on and then using my finger to blend it out. I did this because I wanted to ensure that the red was pigmented enough, but in hindsight it totally wasn’t necessary. I wanted a true neutral red, so I layered a few shades that I had, but depending on the look you’re going for, you can use whatever shade you have and like. To avoid looking dead, or rather, undead, as many people fear they will with red shadow, I added glitter to my inner corners to make my eyes pop. After playing around with red shadows, here’s my advice on how to make this look work.

  • Blend, blend, blend. The cleaner the edges of the eyeshadow are, the more intentional and less messy it looks. I’m planning on doing a post on my favorite brushes soon, but in the meantime use what you have. After you pack the color onto the lid, use a clean fluffy brush and blend until you can’t blend anymore.
  • Use the right color for you. For the sake of this post I highlighted only the most primary red color, but feel free to play with orangey reds or more violet reds, depending on the look you’re going for. Orange reds are very summery and have a cool desert feel to them, while a violet red could look really beautiful in the fall/winter. I use orange reds in my everyday makeup with the Morphe 35O eyeshadow palette, but a true red that is a cult favorite is the Sugarpill pressed eyeshadow in “love plus”. A deeper, more purple shade that would look especially nice on brown eyes would be Makeup Geek’s “Burlesque”. While the other shadows I recommended were matte, burlesque is a really beautiful shimmer- not quite with the trend, but a stunning eyeshadow nonetheless.
  • Keep the halo to a minimum. I know that in the first tip I recommended that you blend as much as possible, but that does come with a little bit of a reservation. The key is to keep the shadow as controlled as possible, because red eyeshadows tend to be very pigmented and can tend to go all over the place, giving you a big red raccoon eye. I’m not saying that a red raccoon eye is necessarily a bad look, it just may not be the look you’re going for on a night out with the girls. Be very careful with how much shadow you place on the lower lid, as that’s where a lot of the “raccooning” tends to come from.
  • Define your eyes. Another mistake that tends to lead to an undead raccoon look is not giving your eyes the definition they need with a look like this. Again, unless you’re shooting for an editorial look, you’re going to need to do something that makes it look like an everyday makeup look. I love to add some glitter to my inner corners, and in the above photo I used Urban Decay liquid moondust cream eyeshadow in chem trail. Eyeliner also definitely helps with this- for a more minimal look you could do a barely-there line right at the base of your lashes, or go for a full wing like I did. For added drama with this look, I popped on a pair of false lashes, but that’s absolutely not necessary.
  • Be brave!!! It drives me crazy when people see a makeup look that I have on and say, “Oh I could never do that.” I want to scream at them, “Yes you CAN!!!” It’s all about making something work for your style, your face, and the situation. I truly believe that makeup should be fun and experimental. Maybe don’t try this look for the first time on the way into a job interview or a business meeting, but if you just give yourself fifteen extra minutes to play around and try something new, with a little practice, you’ll love what you see.


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