Gillian’s non-fugly beauty challenge: coloured eye makeup

Today we start a new series where the fabulous Champagne Gillian shares her expansive fashion and beauty knowledge with us simpletons. I kicked things off by asking her:

Dear Champagne Gillian, I have been practising the wonderful eye make-up tips you taught us, but I am scared to venture outside of the taupes, the browns, the beiges and the charcoals to the world of colour. How can I introduce colour to my eyes without looking like a clown?

Yep, indeed this is a tricky one. Using colour on one’s eyes is not for the faint-hearted. Oh no. One needs to have a light touch, in fact be downright miserly. Otherwise the consequences can be grim.

140203 80s make up

But, saying that, it’s fun so just give it a go. Whack on a colour you like (see bottom of post for info about how to choose the right colour) and see where it takes you. It’s makeup. We’re not performing brain surgery.

If you are going to buy coloured eye shadow, don’t spend a lot of money on it as you are likely not to wear it that often. But do be aware that cheap eye shadow tends to have a fatter grain than expense stuff and therefore can feel like you’re rubbing rock salt on your eyes. Just sayin’.

There are loads of ways you can use colour. But if you’re a novice I’d probably recommend you go for either a highlight of one bright colour or a full wash of a more subtle shade.

140203 abba pose


140203 Eye_Blue_Square


I started with a base as I always do on eyes, just some foundation with a light brush of a neutral buff coloured eyeshadow to set it.


140203 Blue_Progress

Then I used a very light pale hospital green over the whole lid. I love this colour as it really gets rid of any dark shadows and makes your eyes pop.

From there I lined the eyes with the gorgeous peacock blue. Then smudged a black pencil all around the eye. To finish, loads of black mascara, pencil in the eyebrows and add a sparkly highlight below the brow.

The result is a bit Empire of the Sun, a bit Navajo punk. Great for going to a festival or going out dancing (as IF any of us do either of those things anymore).

You could do this in absolutely any colour you like or you could extend the line too. Check out this cool Mabelline tutorial on how to use sticky tape to make a nice straight line.

In terms of outfits, this look is probably best work with something a little edgy. Any of these would work (please excuse my current jumpsuit obsession).

140203 Eye_Blue_outfits

From left Alice McCall Fireplay Pantsuit, sass and bide jumpsuit, Stylestalker Crazy Sexy Cool Pant, TopShop Block a-line Tunic, Bec and Bridge Elements Top and Baylon Leather Skirt


140203 Eye_Gold_Square

I decided to use gold for this one but you could use any colour at all. If you’re brave you could use a hot pink with glitter in it. For the gun-shy, a nice subtle burgundy, a deep purple or a burnt orange.

This is pretty simple. Start with base (as per above instructions), then fill in the whole of the lid with your chosen colour. Extend the colour above the crease. This is so that there is a bit of colour showing when you have your eye open.

Layer the colour on until you are happy, go light for a more conservative look, or multiple layers for a deeper colour if you don’t mind looking a bit more radical.

140203 Gold_Progress

Then sweep some liquid eyeliner across the top lash line. Make it as thick or thin as you like.

I’ve added a couple of false eyelashes on the outer corner, but that’s not a deal breaker. I used three little bunches and then trimmed them down a bit so they weren’t sticking out too much.

Put a highlighter under the eyebrow and BLEND BLEND BLEND so you don’t have a harsh line of colour.

Finish by tidying your eyebrows and applying lashings of mascara.

This could be worn day or night really. But depending on the colour you choose it could be a slightly more elegant look, so I’d go for outfits in that mode.

140203 Eye_Gold_outfits

From left Game Plan Jumpsuit, Bleed Are the Meek Long Island Jump Suit, by johnny The Jamie Mini Dress, Aubrie Goddess Maxi Dress, Stylestalker Word Leggings and TLC Top

A final note – choosing colours

There’s a lot of horseshit bandied around about what colour will suit your eyes depending on whether they are brown, blue or green. Actually, most of us have a mix of colours in our eyes, so it is not cut and dried.

And then you may also want to take into account your hair and skin tone, as I do for photoshoots or brides.

So it’s probably best if you just trial a few colours and see how you go, make an educated guess by thinking about the colour clothes you wear and what suits you best.

But if you want to be a bit more technical about it, face a window so you get natural light and have a good look at your eye colour with a hand mirror. Take note of the main colour and any flecks, rings or bands you may have.

As a basic rule, opposite colours (complementary) on the colour wheel will work. I have green eyes, so red-based colours like purples look good. But I have gold flecks so blue looks good too, as well as all the gold tones themselves.


Gillian is a Napoleon-trained makeup artist with experience in a wide range of creative, editorial and bridal work. She is available for one-on-on makeup consultations in the Brisbane area. Contact her at



Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


  • I would probably never try it myself. Because I know I would do it all wrong. I stick to browns/greys. That is definitely what I just feel comfortable with. My eyes are boring hazel brown, so I guess blue would technically work if I was game! #teamIBOT

    • Look I agree, Sophie, it def isn’t for everyone! I love makeup of all colours and styles but I would only occasionally go for colour. You could probably give gold or an orangey tone a try too if you wanted. Although if you’ve got a green base in your hazel you could also give something purplish a go!

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