What Is Duochrome Eyeshadow? An Explanation With Examples
These days, we hear a lot more about duochromes and multichromes than we used to. While indie brands like Dawn Eyes, Tammy Tanuka, and JD Glow were long since doing unusual eyeshadows with different shifts, the Sephora makeup brands have been catching up. Now we have Natasha Denona coming out with Chromium Multichrome Liquid Eyeshadows and Pat McGrath with countless duochromes and multichromes in her palettes.
But what the heck are duochromes? How are they different from multichromes?
We’ll cover it all here today. But as usual, let’s just get the short answer out there.
What Is Duochrome Eyeshadow?
Duochrome eyeshadow is made with pigments that, depending on how the light hits, can appear to be two different colors. Some common duochrome eyeshadow shifts are blue to brown or blue to green. Usually, these shifts are called reflects, flashes, or flips.
The only difference between duochromes and multichromes is that multichromes have more than two colors they can shift to.
The difference between duochromes and regular shadows is that the regular shadow, even if it’s quite dimensional or has multicolored glitter, can’t fully flip to another color.
But that answer is fairly academic. Examples will help bring duochromes alive for you and highlight the contrast between those and other eyeshadows.
Let’s discuss those examples.
Examples of Duochromes
First, let’s look at Colourpop’s Glass Bull. Their website calls it a “duochrome lavender icy-blue,” meaning it will shift from those two colors depending on how the light hits.
Eyeshadows that can present as different shades are notoriously hard to photograph, but I’ll do my best with examples from my collection, starting with Glass Bull.
Next, let’s talk about JD Glow’s Peachy Keen. On their site, they say it’s a “Peach w/ Green flip.” This is another duochrome shadow, flashing two colors depending on the light.
Now we have Red Mist from Sydney Grace. Red Mist is a white shadow that shines reddish-pink when the light hits it right.
And here’s one not in my collection right now: Urban Decay Lounge. Urban Decay calls this much-lauded classic a “brick red w/ green shift.”
What’s the Difference Between Duochromes and Multichromes?
To highlight the difference between what we just discussed (duochromes) and multichromes, let’s check out a few multichrome comparisons.
First, the queen of multichromes—Clionadh Cosmetics. I grabbed the following picture from the Clionadh website, but they were originally taken by @angelamarytanner on Instagram (who I’d highly recommend you follow if you love to look at beautiful swatches! She also does dupes).
Looking at the picture, take Forge, the second shade down on the top right square of swatches. You can clearly see a green moving to yellow moving to a deep rose gold. There are at least three colors here, making this a multichrome.
And here is Umm… from JD Glow:
This is shining orange to pink to green to purple, with a little blue snuck in. A veritable multichrome party on your eyes. JD Glow also does liquid multichromes.
What’s the Difference Between Duochromes and Dimensional Regular Shadows?
There are spectacular shadows with lots of different colored glitters and can shift in sparkle as you move around. But a true duochrome can flash an entirely different color altogether. If a shadow doesn’t do that, it may be gorgeous, but it’s not a duochrome.
Here are some examples of shadows that you might be tempted to think are duochromes but actually aren’t, at least not according to me.
First up, we have Dollface from Looxi. While it’s a pink loaded with gold flaky shimmer (two colors), it doesn’t actually shift from pink to gold. The two colors exist simultaneously.
Then we have the phenomenal TRON from the Kaleidos Electro-Turquoise Futurism palette. I hate to disagree with their opinion on the site, but I don’t think this is a duochrome. It looks the same from all angles—one of the shiniest, most spectacular shades in my collection, but not fully shifting from one color to another. We can agree to disagree, but I think the pictures speak for me here.
And finally, I give you the now-discontinued Super Shock shadow in Midnight, from Colourpop. It’s a cool brown with gold and blue glitter. While it does have multicolored elements, it never shifts from brown to another color. Here’s my much-beloved Midnight:
So, now you know all there is to know about duochromes, and you even know some manufacturers that make them.
So, Tl;dr: what is duochrome eyeshadow? Let’s recap:
- If they flash completely from one color to one other color, you’ve got a duochrome on your hands.
- If it flashes completely to several colors, it’s not a duochrome—it’s a multichrome.
- And if it doesn’t flash to an entire different color, even if it’s a spectacular shadow, it’s not a duochrome.
And that’s the that on that. Hope it helped!