We know this sounds kind of crazy, but yellow eye shadow is a neutral. Trust us. As Brooklyn-based makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes says, “Yellow is only a few shades lighter than brown.” See, when she puts it like that, our theory makes sense, right? Hughes has been experimenting with the vibrant color lately, and her Instagram posts have us throughly convinced us that yes, as crazy as it sounds, we need to try yellow eye shadow for spring. And frankly, you should, too. It’s bold without looking clownish, modern and cheery, and not at all sickly. There’s an idea that the shade, because it doesn’t naturally occur on our faces, could look ugly or off. In actuality, we all have varying degrees of yellow undertone in our skin—and the color ends up looking more at home than you might think.
Also, yellow eye shadow is easier to use than ever before. Variations of lemon have been appearing in palettes alongside another sensational fruit-inspired shade, peach. First, we saw it in the rainbow Smashbox Bold Cover Shot Eye Palette. Next, a softer shade called Star was included in the Kat Von D Pastel Goth Palette. Then, the golden yellow in the upcoming Too Faced Peanut Butter & Honey Palette, which launches next month, finally made us realize the trend was officially afoot. However, yellow has been overlooked for being seemingly too bright and difficult to work with. We asked Hughes and a makeup artist taking over Instagram right now to share their go-to tips for pulling off yellow eye shadow.
Who can wear yellow eye shadow?
First of all, you don’t have to be Beyoncé. Anyone can get in on the spring trend. Yellow eye shadow is, indeed, universally flattering.
“Yellow is an easy color to pull off no matter your complexion,” Hughes tells Allure. “It works on any skin tone.” A true bright yellow, in particular, works on everyone, she adds. If you want to ease into yellow eye shadow, though, Hughes recommends opting for a buttery pastel shade if you have a fair skin. For deeper skin tones, an amber pigment would work best. Lauren Leonard, a Chicago-based makeup artist, agrees. “Yellow is actually one of my least favorite colors, but I would always be drawn to the idea of wearing it on my eyes,” she says. After looking on the Internet for inspiration, she realized yellow is a great color to use on every skin tone. Visual proof below.
What the heck should you do with it?
“My favorite way to apply it is just packing it all over the lid,” Leonard says. “I love wearing a bold lip with a bold eye look, but keeping the rest of the face pretty neutral.” She’s even paired yellow eye shadow with of-the-moment makeup trends like dots, burgundy lips, and blue liner.
. “It’s the shiniest and thickest gloss,” she says.
Here is some more inspiration:
No matter what look you choose to go for, Hughes says starting with a clean canvas is a must. To make sure your yellow eye shadow packs the necessary punch of pigment, prep your lids with some concealer or an eye-shadow primer. (Right now, we’re loving the White Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer.) This step will make sure the color shows up on your lids true to what you see in the pan.
So here’s hoping you give the unexpected shadow shade a whirl this spring. After all, they do call it mellow yellow—quite rightfully.