How to Choose and Apply Shimmery Eye Shadow Based on Your Skin Tone

Go for a subtle sparkle (not a chunky glitter!) for a stylish holiday look.

eye make up shimmer shadow brush
Photo: Yasu + Junko

We all have a natural gleam in our eyes this time of year, and shimmery shadow is a chic and easy way to really play it up. Just choose a flattering shade from the expert picks below, and use their techniques for application.

Get Primed

Apply a good primer. "It's an important step when you're wearing shimmer—otherwise, the color fades over time, leaving behind flecks of glitter," says Houston makeup artist Tonya Riner. She likes Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, because the lightweight cream prevents creasing, lasts for hours, and doesn't alter the shadow's hue ($24, Smooth a thin layer over lids, and blend outward with your finger.

Choose Your Shade

For a candlelit effect, go with a neutral in the same color family as your complexion, says Riner. Or try sheer jewel tones (emerald, garnet); their cool undertones brighten everyone's eyes. Her biggest tip? "For a subtle, sophisticated glow, reach for shadows that look like velvet, not full-on sequins." The smaller the particles, the smoother the finish.

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Fair Skin

Armani Beauty Eye Tint Liquid Eyeshadow

Look luminous in a seasonally apropos champagne.

Shop Now: Armani Beauty Eye Tint Liquid Eyeshadow in Gold Ashes, $30,

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Medium Skin

Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize in Star Gold

This option delivers a creamy wash of bronze.

Shop Now: Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize in Star Gold, $32,

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Deep Skin

Kosas 10-Second Eyeshadow

For a warm veil of color, try a rich metallic.

Shop Now: Kosas 10-Second Eyeshadow in Copper Halo, $28,

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Universal Hit

Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow

This true rose gold is radiant on everyone.

Shop Now: Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow in Socialite, $7,

L'Oreal paris eyeshadow

Apply and Define

To prevent fallout under your eyes, press the pigments into skin from your upper lash line to just above your crease with clean fingers or a small, densely bristled brush. Joah Beauty's Dual Eyeshadow Brush beautifully sweeps creams, liquids, and powders into place ($7, For more dramatic color, layer on a matching matte shadow—like L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow ($6,, which comes in 20 shades—then another coat of shimmer. Finish with a lengthening mascara; we love CoverGirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara ($11,

Laura Mercier caviar sticks

Liner Notes

If you want to go really glam for the holidays, use these Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color Eyeliners ($29, in subtly bold shades. The fat pencils are forgiving (steady hand optional), and you can smudge it straight on or blend it out for a diffused effect. Amethyst, a dreamy, sophisticated lavender; Moonlight, perfect for adding a soft glint to your eyes' inner corners; and Khaki, for a smoky look with just the right amount of drama are our go-tos. For just a lightly defined eye, grab a fine-pointed gel option, like Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner ($22, One flick of the Lionfish shade, a pearly rust, just past the outer lashes, and you have a fairy-dusted cat eye.

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