There was a time in the late ’90s and early noughties when blue eye make-up reigned supreme. In schools up and down the nation, eyes were ringed with the cool colour in every shade – inspired by Cameron Diaz, Christina Aguilera, and Christina Ricci in Buffalo 66. While the craze did eventually die down, now blue is back and trending again. In fact, sales of the frosty blue MAC Tilt Eyeshadow ballooned to two and a half times what they had been between March and May this year, according to sales statistics from John Lewis.
“There is definitely a desire in beauty to wear less make-up but with more interesting shade choices, hence why a wash of fresh colour is becoming more desirable than heavily structured neutrals,” says director of make-up artistry at Mac Cosmetics, Terry Barber. “Blue eyeshadow is one of the shades undergoing a renaissance, and it’s being reinvented as something flattering and chic, rather than the kitsch, clownish image it might have had in the past.”
Whether it’s a sheer veil of a matte blue shade or a full-on molten blue disco hue, the world of blue eyeshadow is yours for the taking. A stellar recent example of the trend could be seen recently on Nicola Coughlan, who wore a striking cobalt blue to the BAFTA TV Awards. The make-up artist behind the look, Neil Young, previously told Vogue that he loved the shade as “it’s the perfect antidote to black and yet it still defines the eye, makes every eye colour pop ,and works on every single skin tone”. He added that you can wear it graphic and bold, or in place of a traditional black eyeliner.
So how to make the look work? Barber believes it’s all about creating a painterly, low-maintenance appearance, rather than anything too “structured” or overly technical. “That leads to an immediately retro ’80s look when there is blue involved,” he says. “It’s also important when wearing blue on the eyes that you don’t use colour elsewhere, as it can make it look garish or dolly.” He recommends pairing with a bronzed cheek and a fresh nude lip or clear gloss, to create the ultimate low key ’70s look, as well as several coats of mascara.
When it comes to colour, seek out tinted eyeshadows with a soft, shimmery finish and those with a more delicate colour pay-off (these are more likely to suit all skin tones and eye colours). While strong shades like cobalt are great for statement red carpet looks, Barber is a fan of soft, glamorous shades like duck egg, bluebell, Wedgewood and teal for daytime eyes, or for those who like to keep things minimal.
Below, British Vogue’s edit of the blue eyeshadow shades to try now.