One of the easiest ways to screw up eye makeup can be poor eyeshadow choices. While the ideal eyeshadow look shouldn’t have too many parameters (makeup is about personal expression and experimentation, after all), it is totally possible to pick a couple of shades that are too dark and overpower your face. In particular, deep tones are hard to work with since they require a lot of attention to detail and extensive buffing out—red eyeshadow is one of these shadows.
However, red eyeshadow is certainly head-turning. While a bold choice, it comes in a variety of options and doesn’t necessarily have to be bright. Dusty rose red and brick red are indicative of autumn, but a ruby red may be well-suited for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Read on to find out the best way to wear red shadows, how to apply them, and where to find them.
The key to creating a balanced red eyeshadow look that is more flawless than “just got punched in the eye” is preparation. Sometimes, this requires a little research into what formulas and tones may work best with your desired design. Are you looking for something more casual to wear to an office job or in the professional realm? Or are muted reds less than ideal, and you’re seeking a brilliant apple hue that evokes all the warm and cozy feelings of fall?
This comprehensive breakdown of some of our favorite red shadows leaves little to be desired.
If you’re looking for some bang for your buck, a compilation of shadows is the best way to go. For red looks, it’s not uncommon to need other, complementary eyeshadows to complete looks. While monochromatic eye looks are a Gen Z staple (do we have to remind you of the makeup design on Euphoria?), this could be a niche market.
Some of the most important components of palettes are color payoff, how highly pigmented the shadows are, and limited fallout. Here are some of our holy grail palettes that include reds well worth the investment:
With a color scheme that involves pinks, nudes, and romantic reds, the overall purpose of this product skews towards date-night prep. At $45 for 14 shades, this ABH classic is highly pigmented and creates sultry looks, perfect for a Valentine’s Day out. It is the ultimate luxury in a palette.
If you’re looking for an earthy, natural red shade, look no further than Red Rock in this palette. Surrounded by a variety of gold and orange tones, shimmers, and even a deep blue, the opportunities for creating a subdued, red look are endless here.
This palette features 35 shades ranging from warm to cool tones and shimmers (and duo-chromes) to mattes. The most important component of these shadows is how easily buildable they are. For $24, the bottom row features a stunning ruby red with orange undertones.
This drugstore alternative to some of the pricier options above is not only super affordable, but is super workable. With eight gorgeous shades that include shimmers, glitters, and mattes, neutral tones blend into dark and dusty reds.
It is compact, easy to throw into a purse for on-the-go touch-ups, and is simple to learn with if you’re new to shadow work. These shades are incredibly long-lasting and buildable.
Twelve stunning shades are included in this palette, which centers around the colors created by fire. This naturally features burgundy reds, dark oranges, browns, and even some true neutrals for blending and smoky eye creations. If you’re trying to complete a red-crease smokey eye, this palette is for you.
The red shadow featured in this palette does have a shimmer beneath it, but it is simply breathtaking. This palette also includes a yellow hue for great contrast, and all these warm tones are inspired by the sun (burnt oranges, pinks, and purples).
It may be more catered to special occasion looks, but there are three less intense shades if you try to incorporate a red into your casual makeup.
We love a good nine-shade palette for $15, especially when the quality is up to par with ColourPop. This selection features various shades of reds, such as strawberry red, burnt coral, and brick red. They range from shimmers to mattes, are incredibly wearable and versatile for looks.
With red tones ranging from scarlet to raspberry, this palette offers matte, shimmer, sparkle, and duo-chrome shadows. At $27 retail price and frequently on sale for nearly a ten-dollar markdown on the Huda Beauty website, this palette has nine to-die-for deep reds and corals.
If you’re not interested in collecting numerous shades at once, or you’d prefer only adding reds to your collection, check out these singular alternatives that are sold as stand-alone shades:
This red does not budge and has a super creamy, pigmented formula. It is known for its long-lasting consistency, a full 24 hours of use, and is waterproof. Get it now for $25.
This product was utilized by Supergreat user VANZILLASCOTT’s coverage of Instagram MUA Ember Johnson and her candy-cane-inspired look. As we said before, the winter holidays are great reasons to break out red. This product is meant for face painting and special fx, is precise, has a compact formula, and is very pigmented. It is such an accurate color for the desired effect (stripes on the popular Christmas candy).
Along with red shadows, you must invest in a decent eyeshadow primer before application. Primers are great for making your shadow’s color last longer and preventing smudging or fading with sweat, weather, or time.
When working with a shade as harsh as red, primer is all the more important. One of our favorite products at Supergreat is MAC Prep + Prime 24-Hour Extend Eye Base. If you’re unable to access a marketed primer, a concealer or foundation that you have on hand should work to the same effect. Make sure that you apply it to the full area of your eyelid and under your brow bone, covering everywhere that you intend to place the shadow.
If you have hooded eyelids, a thicker primer is key. Apply the product evenly and rub it in well, letting it dry down slightly before applying your shadow.
For a red eyeshadow application, there is a certain sequence of steps that can help you achieve a look that you’re proud of. Remember when we talked about the difficulty of balancing harsh colors for eye makeup? These foolproof directions can guide you to amazing results.
First, apply that primer we mentioned. If you’re not a MAC Prep + Prime fan, try Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion for $28. It is long-lasting, has a nude finish, and dries matte. When it is first applied, it has a creamy consistency.
A classic smoky eye incorporating red shadow is far less bold than a monochromatic design. Make sure to get a flat shader brush and place the shadow on the full lids and crease, blending it adequately with your chosen tapered crease brush. A blending brush works even better for this step to disperse the pigment and soften it without creating a look that screams patchy or uneven. To make the shadow even more cohesive, apply it to your entire lower lash line with minimal product.
For a more intense look, try adding some black shadow over the red on your lid. This may seem a little 2005 My Chemical Romance concert makeup to you, but trust us on this. It creates dramatic vibes that will turn heads. If that’s the opposite of your goal, keep the rest of your look simple and muted—light blush or nude lips not only tone down the heat but draw the attention completely to your mesmerizing eye makeup.
The fun doesn’t have to stop there. It is worth your while to play around with cat-eye shapes in your best red hue. Try pressed pigments, like the NYX Primal Colors Pressed Pigments Face Powder, before fully going for a more complex shadow look. Wet your pressed pigment before application for a precise line.
After being dampened, an angled brush can be used to swipe shadow on your upper lash line for the same cat-eye effect. Eyeliner can be created from any shadow—we hope you know that trick from us by now!
Eyeshadow is a great way to showcase your makeup talents, but that does not overshadow how stressful it can be to perfect. Our best word of advice is to negate any ideas that you have about what makes a seamless red shadow look—there is always room for improvement, but also always a grace period when it comes to building makeup skills.
At Supergreat, we want you to get innovative. That spark only comes from intrigue. Search up some of your favorite celebs or influencers rocking red shadow for inspiration. What do you love about their looks? Now it’s your turn to shine share below your favorite red eyeshadow look!