Applying eyeshadow sounds deceptively easy—or at least, that’s what the makeup ads want us to believe. However, we’ve all had our share of beauty disasters. It can look all blotchy, like a little chalky strip of color sitting right in the middle of our face. Sometimes it looks to dark, or too pale, or just wrong. Other times, our application is crooked and even mismatched.
Here are some tips from professional makeup artists and beauty editors that can help us achieve the flawless eyeshadow we see on magazine covers and ads.
1. Use a makeup brush
Throw away the blenders that come with the eyeshadow. These cheap things distribute color unevenly, and don’t really help with blending. Plus, these pull on the skin, contributing to wrinkles.
Invest in a high quality makeup brush made of soft bristles. Yes, it’s expensive, but you’ll use it forever—and we swear you’ll see the difference it makes.
2. Invest in a makeup primer.
Makeup primer makes it easier to blend your foundation and your eyeshadow, and also helps makeup lasts for hours. It’s particularly helpful in preventing eyeshadow from smearing—the reason why, in the middle of the day, you end up looking like a black-eyed raccoon.
3. Tap, tap, tap.
One common mistake is to load the makeup brush with too much color, so it scatters all over the eyelid and right below it. Tap the brush against a canister or the side of table, so you get just the right amount of color.
Another tip? Dust a little baby powder under your eyes. So, if any eyeshadow particles happen to scatter on your cheeks, it won’t cling to your makeup. Then, when you’re ready, take a big makeup brush (the type you use to apply foundation) and swish off the baby powder.
4. Blend well.
Yes, we often hear about the importance of blending, but the big question is how to do it. Basically, your eyeshadow shade consists of a light base that closely resembles your skin tone (this hides any uneven color in your skin, so the other colors come out better), a main color for the lid, and a highlighter for the crease (which is the darkest color of all).
Always start with the base and apply across the entire eyelid, up to the brow bone. Then, apply the main color, and then the highlighter last.
5. Choose the right color.
What’s the color of your eyes? One trick is to chose an eyeshadow that’s close to it, which will actually bring out the color. (See it for yourself on the model used for this photo.) Another trick is to chose a contrasting color, which will also make it stand out. For example, if you have blue eyes, choose blue or gold.
6. Watch that the brow bone!
You should only use your highlighter (the darkest color in your eyeshadow palette) near the crease up to just below the brow bone. Never, ever actually ‘hit’ the bone or extend past it. That’s just too overpowering and will make you look like a circus clown.
7. Keep to the edge.
Don’t apply highlighter across your whole eye. Just use it on the outside edge, starting from the outer corner and
up to the middle. (Blend well with another color.) If you cover the whole eye with the highlighter your eye will look smaller.
8. Shimmer eyeshadow highlights wrinkles.
Shimmer eyeshadow adds a gorgeous but subtle sparkle to the eyes. Unfortunately, it can also emphasize fine lines and wrinkles. If you want to use shimmer but are worried about aging skin, apply regular eyeshadow in a neutral or nude color, then use gold shimmer just below the brow bone.
9. Keep smokey eyeshadow close to the lashline.
The smokey look is sexy, but if overdone, can make you look like someone punched you. The trick is to keep the color below your eyelid crease, and really close to your lower lashes. The subtle shadow makes your eyes look bigger (but not bulging).
10. Keep your makeup ‘balanced.’
If you’re gunning for dramatic eye makeup, chose a neutral lip color. If you choose a dramatic lip color (like an oh-so-sexy fire engine red) then keep your eyeshadow neutral.
11. Add a touch of white.
One makeup secret (discovered by the great makeup artist, Kevin Aucoin) is to put just a bit of white shadow in the inner corner of your eyes, near the tear ducts. This really helps the eyes look bigger.
12. Correct mistakes with cotton buds.
Applied too much eyeshadow? Hand slipped, and you ended up getting a huge splotch of dark brown past the crease? Resist the urge to take a towel and wipe it off. You’ll just get eyeshadow all over your face, and your makeup will look muddy. Instead, dip a cotton bud in makeup remover and ‘erase’ just where you need it. Pat off excess with tissue, reapply foundation, and then re-do the area.