Why You Should Reconsider Coloured Eyeliner and How to Choose and Wear

Michael Brown

Beauty Expert

In these contour-obsessed times, colour has taken a back seat while nude tones, bronze and chocolate brown smokey eyes have taken over the eye make world. This, however, is a great shame for those who want to have fun with colour to play up the eye or, even better, contrast your eye colour. I say it’s time to reconsider coloured liner.


Why Coloured Eyeliner?

Using colour on the eye has come, gone, then come back around again and today it is most frequently used as an accessory to your daily shading tones, to brighten up and contrast from our eyeshadow daily grind, and to contrast your eye colour for a pop.

Colour is fun, expressive, and playful. It’s important to note that colour, being brighter or quite often metallic, it is seen as more of a highlight than a shade in the makeup world.

In contouring terms, that means:
Highlight tones (bright/light/metallic in colour) – Bring an area forward
Shade tones (Matte, deeper in colour) – Recede an area to create a hollow

Again, coloured eye makeup will generally always fit into the highlight category as they are of a bright nature, attracting light to the area as a pop.

With makeup application, the perfect balanced eye usually will have a matte, depth shade at the lash line and in the socket area, blended of course. The socket is especially an area that needs depth, as it shows age on the eye very easily – puffy/heavy lid, weak skin – adding depth will recede and hide those concerns away and pull up, lifting the area.

Highlight is then only ever placed at the very peak of the brow, inner eye tear duct area to lift and brighten and the mobile eye lid is also an area that can be highlighted. It is best used over the top of your base eye shadow.
Remember, the mobile eyelid moves so as you blink or look down it can attract light to the area — perfect for a deep-set eye.

Depth Liner Vs. Coloured

In terms of eyeliner, the reasons why deeper colours work so well is because eyeliner is traditionally used to define the shape of the eye.

When you use a brighter shade, it can bring the area forward, not recede like traditional eyeliners. This could show concerns around the eye area that would normally be erased by going deeper in colour.


Know your eye shape and what it is naturally telling you before copying a look or trend – not every look will suit everyone because of our differences in shape.

In today’s world, the smudged, lived in, raw looking liner is on trend, rather than a thinly applied, perfect line – this gives a more smokey effect which will open the eye much more than a thin, solid line, which can often close the eye as it focuses only on the eye line and what really makes a difference in ones eye shape is the skin around it and what shade it is.

Coloured liner should be considered as a pop of colour, like it is for eyeshadow. Coloured or metallic colour placed on the mobile lid pops the eye as it moves, it can also contrast the eye colour, so when this technique is not used and you want the eye more natural with more nude tones, or a solid wash of depth across the lid, liner used as a pop can do the same on the top, or even better, lower lash line.

Choosing Colour

Opposites attract

When choosing a colour liner, try and go for the opposite to what your eye colour is, this way, you will create contrast; therefore bring out your eye colour.

Using a shade similar to your eye colour will not necessarily look bad, but it will not make your eye colour stand out.

Contrast creates focus

Brown eyes are an eye colour that often feels flat, especially in the age of the nude tone, bronze and chocolate contour smokey eye. Any shade will work with brown eyes from blue, green, purple, contrasting and lifting the overall eye look.

Blue eyes look great with warm tones, so anything with a little depth, live a plum, emerald green, orange tones.

Green eyes will have more focus when purple, copper tones are used.

*This is the same principle for when choosing a pop colour for eye shadow and even if you want to dress the eyes further with a coloured mascara. Most brands only have a ‘blue’ coloured mascara, so this is perfect for brown eyes – even just the tips, over the black mascara you would normally use.

Where to Apply

Coloured eyeliner works well on the lower lash line — this is because keeping your general eye makeup look in nude tones, bronze, or chocolate smokey will add depth and lift the upper eye area which can appear puffy, or show age with the socket area skin becoming weak, but the lower lash line can be used to be playful and have fun with colour in a not so ‘in your face’ kind of way. Colour should  be an accessory to eye makeup.

The inner tear duct area of the eye is a great place to add colour, but only when they are bright, so it still adds light to brighten and lift, but adding colour like a lemon, pink, ivory, lime to contrast to the eye colour.

When wanting to add colour to the upper eye area, I would be more inclined to only use coloured liner over your already applied depth liner – the eye works much better when depth is applied, for balance, on the upper eye lash line.


Eye shadow used on the mobile lid will be the easier option to add colour to the eye lid, but if you want to add liner as a pop instead, just the in centre works the best, and do one or the other – never coloured eye shadow and coloured liner, you need balance.

Catwalks often show big, statement coloured liner looks. These are amazing as an art form, but not as realistic in day-to-day life. Adding colour in a pop way is great to add some life to your makeup, keep it concentrated and contrasting to your eye colour. It’s always about balance and understanding what highlight and shade does for the area you applying it too.

Don’t forget, most eyeshadows can work as a coloured liner when using a thin brush or adding a dash of water to your brush and creating a liquid colour line.

Enjoy the rainbow!


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