Whether you have the most beautiful eyes in the world or an average pair of peepers, eyes are the one part of the body that has to remain exposed (to some extent) in every culture around the world. Even the most conservative cultures have to allow people to show their eyes in order to let the light in. But, by the same token, making eye contact with someone can feel very intimate for people, as up to 80 percent of what we perceive comes through our eyes, according to The Guardian. So, as corny as it is, the old adage that proclaims a person’s eyes are the window into their soul isn’t inaccurate, to say the least.
In addition to being our number one processing organ, eyes are also insanely expressive and super diverse in how they look. With different colors, shapes, and contrasts, our eyes are as unique to us as our genetic footprint is, revealing more about us than we might realize with just a passing glance. Bearing all of that in mind, here are the most beautiful eyes in the world. Do you fall into any of these categories?
These days, having violet eyes is only a purchase away, as purple contacts are not hard to come by. But back in the day, long before contact lenses had even been invented, having eyes so blue they look violet was far less common. So to lock gazes with someone who had that phenotype would be a memorable experience.
That’s part of what made Elizabeth Taylor such a sought after beauty icon. Arguably the most famous, violet-eyed person in history, Taylor was a movie star known for her dazzling good looks, especially her purple peepers. When the light hit just right, her eyes really did look like they had been shot through with indigo dye.
So what was the mechanism at work that made her eyes stand out from everyone else’s? It came down to the specific amount of melanin she had in her irises, according to Live Science, which is genetic. It also had a lot to do with how much light entered her eye and how she accented the color with clothing and makeup. Fascinating!
According to an article in Seminars in Plastic Surgery, the double eyelid surgery is the number one cosmetic surgery procedure in Asia and the third most common surgery among Asian-Americans in the United States. The aim of the surgery is to give the appearance of a larger, wider eye, one that more closely resembles a Western eye shape. That shows how real the pressure is to look more Caucasian, as 50 percent of Asian people don’t naturally have a double eyelid.
Double eyelid or not, natural or surgically enhanced, the eyes of East Asian people — often called almond shape eyes, according to NPR — are considered by many to be equally beautiful. Just think about actresses like Bae Doona, Ali Wong, Constance Wu, and Lana Condor, and you’d be hard-pressed not to notice how beautiful they all are. They each have their own unique looks, and they don’t shy away from their Asian identities, diverse as they are from one another. And, of course, they all have deeply expressive and enviable eyes. We’re here for it!
Shockingly blue eyes
"Pale Blue Eyes" by the The Velvet Underground. "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who. And, of course, "Blue Eyes" by Elton John. There’s no shortage of songs out there about blue eyes, all of them commemorating the transcendent power of the azure gaze. And given that so many celebs have them, from Gilmore Girls‘ Alexis Bledel to singer Taylor Swift to movie star Brad Pitt, it’s no wonder that we find blue eyes so devastatingly beautiful. Who wouldn’t want a stare as powerful as Daniel Radcliffe’s?
So how is it that blue eyes came to be? According to ABC Science, scientists have several hypotheses, but there’s no consensus. Some argued that cerulean eyes came to be because of the body’s need for vitamin D, though archaeological evidence contradicts that. Others posit the theory that blue eyes were perceived to be more sexually attractive by hunter gatherer ladies. And there’s also the theory that they helped battle seasonal depression, helping hunter gatherer dudes get out of their cave before the competition.
Whatever the case may be, blue eyes are here to stay, and we couldn’t be happier about it.
Two different colored eyes
When most of us look in the mirror, we see two eyes that are the same color staring back at us, whether brown or blue or hazel. But that’s not the case for people who have heterochromia iridium, which is the fancy term for people who have eyes that are different colors, according to Scientific American. That explains the mysterious and sexy visage of the late David Bowie, as well as the arresting look that Kate Bosworth casts. And yes, that’s also what Jane Seymour had going on in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Finally, some answers!
Of course the cause of this condition is usually genetic, as is usually the case when it comes to our eyes. But other culprits can be trauma either at birth or later in life or even something as simple as a birthmark. Some medications can also impact eye color. Whatever the cause may be, it’s always an experience to peer into the multi-colored eyes of the people lucky enough to have them.
Light eyes against dark skin
It’s often said that we find certain things beautiful because they are rare in nature, such as the color of pink flamingos or the incredible patterns displayed by male peacocks. That might be why we find people with dark skin and light eyes so captivating, as this combination is relatively uncommon, according to an article in Owlcation by researcher Edmund Custers. But the affect really is entrancing — take one look at Vanessa Williams, and you’ll see right away why she won the Miss America pageant in 1984. Or gaze into Steph Curry’s eyes next time he’s owning it on the court, and try not to swoon.
While the majority of people with fair eyes are Caucasian, as Europe is where the mutation that originally created blue eyes came from, people of African descent come by them in the same way: through genetic selection. And since blue eyes can skip multiple generations, they can pop up years down the line as long as they’re somewhere in your family DNA.
On behalf of all of us who have nursed a crush on Jesse Williams, thank you, genetics!
Dark eyes against dark skin
There’s no doubt that racism has had a significant impact on what we find beautiful, which is affirmed in an article in Popular Science. And not only has that caused many women of color to turn to skin lightening or hair straightening products, but it’s also caused health issues because those products aren’t always safe. Few people would argue that it’s time to flip the script.
Fortunately, that’s starting to happen, as is evidenced in the immense popularity of actresses like Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, as well as the rising celebrity of model Nyakim Gatwech — thank goodness! All three of these gorgeous women have very dark complexions that are further complimented by super dark eyes, a look that’s been criminally underrepresented in American popular culture. This striking phenotype is not only stunning when au natural, but also pops to life when these women wear makeup that compliments their skin and eyes.
Dark-skinned, dark-eyed beauty bloggers are also bringing in millions of YouTube hits, according to The New York Times. We are so glad to be here for this pivotal moment!
Super large eyes
Have you ever looked at Zooey Deschanel and longed to have those giant peepers yourself? Or have you ever lost yourself in the sardonic-yet-sensual stare of Hugh Laurie? If you did, you wouldn’t be alone, as those big-eyed gazes are both hypnotic and enviable — they convey so much emotion and seem to radiate a light of their own.
According to an article in The Guardian, there’s a scientific reason that some of us have larger eyes than others. "As you move away from the equator, there’s less and less light available, so humans have had to evolve bigger and bigger eyes," said Oxford University researcher Eiluned Pearce. "Their brains also need to be bigger to deal with the extra visual input." And while that doesn’t make them any smarter than anyone else, it does mean they could function better in the place where they lived. What a trip!
It’s pretty incredible to think that light levels had such an impact on the size of our brains and eyes! Ah, the mysteries of science.
Eyes without pigment
According to the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation, individuals who have albinism are often subjected to social stigmatization and isolation. That’s a shame, as people with this genetic condition have some of the most unique and stunning eyes out there, as well as the eyelashes that compliment them.
Take, for example, Russian model Nastya Zhidkova, who has amassed an Instagram following of over 110,000 people at the time of this writing. Her eyes are so fair that they appear almost lavender, and they are framed by ice-white lashes. There’s also model Diandra Forrest, whose eyes are an amalgam of green and brown, framed by golden eyelashes. Have you ever seen such distinctive gazes?
Unfortunately, the genetics of albinism often render people with the condition visually impaired to a significant degree, sometimes legally blind. They also have to be extremely careful in the sun, as their fair complexions are susceptible to sun damage more so than people without the condition. But one thing is certain: They have some of the most beautiful eyes in the world.
Soulful, deep brown eyes
Van Morrison made a whole lot of brown-eyed girls happy when he released the song "Brown Eyed Girl" out into the world. Given that most people in the world have brown eyes, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, having a song to make the coffee-eyed among us feel special filled a much-needed void. How many songs about blue eyes do you need, anyway?
But if you’ve ever lost yourself in the soulful, deep brown eyes of Idris Elba — um, who hasn’t? — or found yourself rapt in the stare of Johnny Depp, you know the power of the mocha latte gaze. And it’s not just of the sensual variety, either — people of the brown-eyed persuasion are less susceptible to a host of medical conditions, such as macular degeneration, eye cancer, and diabetic retionopathy, which sounds like a win-win situation to us. So there’s every reason to celebrate the most common eye color out there.
We haven’t forgotten our hazel-eyed brethren, who are lucky enough to have irises that are multi-colored. With this distinctive eye color and pattern, usually there is a "burst" of gold or brown around the pupil, which fades into green as it moves outward into the eye. And while the colors in hazel eyes can vary, some more brown than they are green, the pattern is characteristically recognizable, according to an article in Owlcation by researcher and biostatistician Edmund Custers.
Additionally, hazel eyes can sometimes appear to shift in color, sometimes looking greener than they do brown and vice versa. This is due to the amount of light in the room or the color of the clothing and makeup a hazel-eyed beauty is wearing. So yes, that’s why Rihanna‘s eyes always seem to be different colors!
Rihanna isn’t the only celeb that’s a member of the hazel society — there’s also are Tyra Banks, Shailene Woodley, Carrie Underwood, and Jada Pinkett Smith, to name just a few. All hail the hazel!
Deep green eyes
Just as there are plenty of songs celebrating blue eyes, so too are there famous hits about emerald-colored peepers, such as "Green Eyes" by Coldplay and "Big Green Eyes" by Alan Jackson. There’s a good reason for that, given how beautiful those moss-colored sparklers can be.
So what makes green eyes green? They’re actually born out of a combination of low melanin levels in the iris, combined with light scattering that causes a blue shade mixed with the presence of lipochrome, a yellow-colored pigment, according to an article in World Atlas. And what happens when you mix yellow and blue, class? That’s right — you get green.
Although only two percent of the world’s population is privy to having this enviable eye color, plenty of famous people have green eyes. There’s Emma Stone’s beautiful big eyes, as well as Adele’s penetrating, green-eyed gaze. Amanda Seyfried and the Olsen twins also boast jade eyes, showing the endless beauty our green-eyed friends possess.
Slate gray eyes
Although gray eyes are often confused with blue eyes, they’re a real thing, according to an article in World Atlas. And we’re glad that they pointed that out, as gray eyes can be truly stunning, especially when you see them in bright light. There’s all kinds of magic going on in those stony irises.
With origins in western, northern, and central Europe, gray eyes come by their color in a manner similar to blue and green eyes. It starts with a low melanin level in the iris, which is complimented by the scattering of light off of the darker epithelium. Combine that together and voilà, you get gray eyes, which up close can also have flecks of brown or yellow. How gorgeous!
So next time you find yourself fawning over pictures of Pink, or trying to figure out if Angelina Jolie has blue eyes or gray eyes, now you know the mechanisms at work.
Eyes with thick eyelashes
It’s not just the color of the iris or the shape of the eye that makes some eyes especially dazzling. According to an article in The Cut, people find long, full eyelashes especially attractive and aesthetically pleasing, especially on women. Given that our current societal norms dictate that women remove most of their body hair, such as on the legs or in the armpit, it’s interesting that lashes managed to stick around.
There are perfectly good reasons that we find thick eyelashes appealing. For one, they’re a good indicator of overall health, as some diseases and conditions can cause lash loss. Additionally, long eyelashes can make the eye look wider and can also make the gaze appear more dramatic. Who doesn’t love having expressive eyes, you guys?
It’s no small wonder, then, that there are plenty of products out there to emphasize our eyelashes, from mascaras to fake lashes and eyelash extensions. If you need a tutorial, just look to Cardi B — she’s a bonafide lash master.
Eyes with healthy sclera
Finally, the most beautiful eyes in the world always have a healthy sclera (also known as the white of the eye), which is what provides the juxtaposition of color to the iris. Comprising over 80 percent of the eye, the sclera maintains the shape of the eye and protects it from potentially serious damage, according to All About Vision. It also aids as an attachment to the muscles that help move the eye around — that’s some pretty important stuff.
There are a number of conditions that can cause the sclera to appear other than white, such as liver disease, brittle bone disease, some connective tissue disorders, and rosacea, to name just a few. And if you’ve ever had conjunctivitis, you know how awful it is to have your eyes turn pink. It’s definitely not fun!
But when the sclera is healthy and normal, it’s shiny and white, helping to show off whatever beautiful color lies at the center.