As a redhead, I’ve found it hard to choose an eye shadow shade that matched both my hair and my outfit. Read on to discover what trial and error has taught me.

Photo of a woman with fiery red hair, with neutral brown eye shadow, wearing a bright red dress.
Photo of a woman with fiery red hair
Photo by George Gvasalia on Unsplash

It’s important to know your skin’s undertone when choosing an eye shadow shade. Traditionally, your undertone can be warm, cool, or neutral. Not to be confused with skin tone which tells you if you have porcelain, olive, deep etc skin. In 2019, Kristeen Cherney wrote an excellent article outlining how we can learn our skin’s undertone. She urges us to observe our forearms and focus on the veins.

… if your veins look greenish, then you may have warm undertones. People with blue or purplish-looking veins usually have cooler undertones. If you have neutral undertones, then your veins may appear colorless or match the color of your skin.

Kristeen Cherney, medically reviewed by Cynitha Cobb. 2019

Once you’ve decided what undertone you possess, choosing eye shadow shades to complement your features becomes a lot easier. I always knew my skin was a warm undertone. Deep Autumn colors were my favorite, you’d never find me in silvers or blues.

The photo below shows a palette with warm colors on the left and cool colors on the right. You can almost feel the warmth of the left-hand side and the cooler aqua of the right. To keep it concise, I will introduce two cool and two warm eye shadow shades which look fabulous with red hair. Forget neutral for now, let’s consider something more out there…

Photo of a watercolour paint set, showing warm and cool colour shades, similar to a makeup palette for eyes
A watercolor paint set, showing warm and cool color shades
Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

Warm Eye Shadow: Orange

Photo of a cheerful woman holding two oranges over her eyes
Dress your eyes in orange eye shadow
Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

You must discover orange eye shadow if you haven’t yet. If you have red hair and blue-grey eyes like me, this is a shade for you. I moved towards orange when Kylie Jenner began using it regularly with her Bronze Palette. I wear this on my eyelid and nothing else. Orange blends underneath the eye too for a warm, alluring look. My ultimate orange eye shadow is from Urban Decay’s Born To Run palette in the shade BAJA. It’s punchy, powerful, and damn right perfect.

Warm Eye Shadow: Gold

Photo of a spilled pot of gold glitter. Gold eye shadow looks fabulous on the eyes
Gold glitter looks fabulous on the eyes
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Gold is the most versatile eye shadow shade out there. It looks good on everyone as it brightens, warms and lifts the eyes. It’s a color for any time of year and for any event.

Depending on your skin tone, you can get your hands on lighter or deeper golds to embellish your coloring. For its glistening characteristics, this eye shadow shade sits best on the inner eyelid and even by lightly highlighting the inner corner. By doing this, you draw the light to the eyes and softly create a doe-eyed look. As an eye shadow shade, gold is timeless.

Cool Eye Shadow: Navy Blue

Photo of dark blue sky before a storm. Navy eye shadow is lovely on the eyes
A deep navy is a bold but beautiful eye shadow
Photo by Thor Alvis on Unsplash

Even though I have warm undertones, I’ve been known to wear navy blue on my eyes. For the best way to wear it, as popular redhead Emma Stone does here so well, smudge it generously around the eye-line for a fierce look. It’s a modern alternative to black, grey, and brown; the safe shades for a smokey look. It’s a dramatic shade for sure, but chic in its own way, allowing the white in your eyes to POP. If you’re a cool-toned redhead, this is an eye shadow shade worth trying.

Cool Eye Shadow: Purple

Photo of a scoop of purple ice cream. While not too common, purple eye shadow is vibrant and fun on the eyes
Purple eye shadow is vibrant on the eyes
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Perhaps a controversial eye shadow shade, but purple is more wearable than you think. For some of us, it might remind us of our first experiments with eye shadow in school. Pinks and purples were my go-to! Despite this, purple eye shadow is gorgeous when dressing green and hazel eyes. You can build purple shades on top of one another to develop a wonderful smokey eyelid and, paired with strong winged liner, it’s an eye shadow shade that means business.


Thank you, flame-haired friends. I hope this post about eye shadow shades has informed and inspired you. Eye shadow is a lovely way to express who we are, I hope a shade here is for you! For more inspiration, check out Charlotte Tilbury’s Pinterest mood board. When I think of a bold and beautiful redhead, it’s her every time.