Gen-Z Says Eyeshadow Is Outdated - Here's How To Make Your Eyes Pop In 2024

If you're anything like us, you probably spent a lot of your spare time in the 2010s religiously watching OG beauty makeup tutorials on YouTube in an attempt to perfect the ultimate smoky eye. Now, we're not saying all that research went to waste (we have the Facebook photos to prove it was worth the time spent), but it turns out that Gen-Z has gone and officially dubbed heavy eyeshadow looks like the staple smoky outdated. Although it's unclear whether the rise in trends like the clean girl aesthetic is to blame here, or simply just a societal shift toward applying foundation to look natural, the bright, pigmented lids we once loved are now a thing of the past.


Of course, that doesn't mean you need to ditch all your pricey eyeshadow palettes just yet. But if you want to be on trend, you might want to take the time to research a few other ways to make your eyes pop without relying on our longtime makeup bag bestie. So we've gone and rounded up some of your options and — bonus — they're all 2024 approved.

Try a smudgy liner

One of the reasons Gen-Z has been turning their back on heavy eyeshadow looks is because of the time and effort that goes into perfecting them. And, to be honest, we kind of (reluctantly) get that. That's why a smudgy liner look is the perfect alternative, because it doesn't need to be perfect or super precise to look great. Fashion house Feben sent models down the runway with grungy makeup for its Autumn/Winter 2023 show, and it certainly made their eyes pop with seemingly minimal effort. Not to mention, we've seen quite the 90s grunge aesthetic revival recently, so it's just another way to be on trend.


To get this look, we'd recommend getting your hands on a black eyeliner pencil. Start by applying a thin layer on the outer corner of your lower lid, then smudge it inwards using a Q-Tip or your (clean) finger. You may only want to take it around a half or a third of the way in so the inner corner of your eye remains brighter to avoid that panda eye look. Then do the same on the upper lid, but you have a little more room to play and create a thicker line there without making it look like you have a black eye. If you're not quite ready to go straight in with something so bold, you may want to try a slightly more subtle brown liner to start.

Go glossy and layer on the mascara

As you'll probably already know if you're up on the latest makeup trends, a more natural and dewy look has been in for a while now. That's mainly pertained to the skin, but there's a way to extend that to your eyes; gloss. Armani Beauty's global makeup artist, Hiromi Ueda, explained to Elle that gloss is one of the big looks for 2024, and it involves having radiant skin and what he described as "a spidery mascara." One way to get that look is to opt for a lengthening mascara over a volume one and really layer it on.


But this modern makeup look doesn't stop there. You can also bring some gloss to your lids instead of a classic pigmented eyeshadow. There are plenty of subtle, colorless glossy eyeshadows on the market, but if you're in a pinch, you can use a dab of petroleum jelly to get that glossy effect. The American Academy of Dermatology actually recommends applying petroleum jelly to the lids for moisture, so not only will you be on trend, you'll also be doing a little skincare, too! Just, please, don't go as far as applying a lip gloss to your lids to get this effect as it may not be safe to have around your eyes — and you're always better safe than sorry.

Colored mascara

You may know that colored mascara has been trending for a little while now, as a number of big fashion houses (we're talking the likes of The Blods, Frederick Anderson, and David Koma) had models on the runway rocking all sorts of super bold, colored lashes while modeling their spring/summer 2024 looks. And, luckily, though eyeshadow may be out for now, mascara and falsies certainly aren't.


In the same way that eyeshadow (RIP) can really help to bring out the color of your eyes, colored mascara can do the same to make your peepers pop. And you can find out which shade will work best for your eye color right here. But there really are countless ways to try this modern look, from the bold (which may include long, bright falsies) to the more subtle (such as a burgundy mascara). One great thing about not rocking colored lashes with eyeshadow though is that the mascara or the falsies will really get the chance to pop without getting lost in the color behind it.