Eye shadow should be more enjoyable than intimidating. Though eye makeup in general can be intimidating, once you’ve mastered it, you’ll feel as if you can accomplish anything. With color-matching eye shadow palettes, brushes, and more, creating looks is easier than ever—and to make things even easier, we’ve enlisted the help of experts to share eye makeup tips on how to apply eye makeup like a pro. Makeup artists demonstrate how to apply eye shadow with easy-to-follow tutorials that you’ll master in no time. Applying eye shadow is a simple process. However, learning how to apply eye makeup correctly is not an easy task. How do you choose the best color for eyes and skin tone? Do you really require ten eye makeup brushes? Will you ever use up all of the colors in that eye shadow palette?
We understand how easy it is to become perplexed about the best ways to make your eyes stand out, so we’ve created a step by step guide to show you exactly how to apply eye shadow and mascara. Let’s get it started:
Choose best eye makeup brushes to begin
To get you started, here are four brushes for your beginner eye shadow application kit:
- A wide-domed fluffy brush, such as the VASANTI COSMETICS Professional Contour Eye shadow Brush, for applying color swatches to your entire lid.
- A smaller tapered blending brush, such as the FENTY BEAUTY Tapered Blending Brush, for cutting your crease (where your eyelid meets your eye socket), plus an extra (or two) to keep clean for blending.
- An angled blending brush, such as the BOBBI BROWN Angle Eye Shadow Brush, for getting into and blending any difficult-to-reach areas, such as the outer or inner corners of your eyes.
- An angled eyeliner brush with a stiffer bristle, such as the MODA® BRUSH MODA Neon Angle Shader, to define and emphasize your lash line.
Of course, if you only want to invest in one eye shadow brush for the time being, we recommend the AISLING ORGANIC COSMETICS Pro Tool: Dual-Ended Eye shadow Brush. It has an oval-shaped brush on one side for packing on pigment and longer bristles on the other for smooth blending, allowing you to create a variety of eye looks without switching brushes. Famous artists don’t finger paint for a reason: it’s much more difficult to create a masterpiece without the proper tools. The same is true to apply eye makeup. Invest in a few high-quality cosmetic brushes to ensure even, precise, and sanitary makeup application.
Prime your eyes
Whether you use an eye primer or not depends on how you want your final look to look. Primer helps with eye shadow color opacity and staying power but it’s not necessary if you’re going for a light wash of the color. In essence, eye primer extends the life of your eye shadow by preventing it from sliding off your eyelids when exposed to heat or moisture, much like face primer does for your foundation. As a general rule, the more eye makeup you use, the more primer you need to apply.
If you have oily lids, an eye shadow primer may also be required. Some eye primers, such as the ELIZABETH MOTT Thank Me Later Eye Primer, not only control oil but also contain ingredients (such as pearl powder in this case) to brighten and intensify your eye shadow. Squeeze a small amount of eye shadow primer onto your ring finger (the ring finger is the best to do eye makeup because it has the lightest touch and will not irritate your skin). For all-day wear, gently sweep the primer across your entire eyelid, up to your brow bone (just under your brow), around the inner corner of your eye (where your tear duct is), and even along your lower lash line.
Apply a base eye shadow to the lid
Grab your favorite eyeshadow palette and sweep your favorite base shade on your eyelid with your eye shadow brush. Depending on the look you want, bring this base color all the way up to your brow bone in preparation for a more dramatic smoky eye, or stop at the crease of your eye for a more basic, everyday look. In the latter case, here’s a foolproof trick: when your eyes are open, place the color in the crease of your eye and work down toward the lash line. You’ll never overshoot your crease or end up with sloppy lines this way.
Specify your crease
Now we’ll define your crease to add definition to your eye makeup. This will also make your eyes appear wider and larger in general. Define your crease by going heavier with a contrasting color that’s darker than what you used on your lid. Dip your fluffy or angled crease brush into your medium eyeshadow shade for a natural look. Firm or Fit from THEBALM’s palette may be appropriate for fair and light skin tones, while Funny or Fine may be appropriate for medium to darker skin tones.
Then, close your eyes to apply eye shadow in a wash of color along the crease of your eyelid and brow bone (as opposed to a thin, hard line). If you have hooded or deep-set eyelids, apply the crease shade with your eyes open to see where it will be most visible—most likely above your actual eyelid on the lower brow bone. Dip your angled brush in your dark shade and use it to define the outer corner of your crease, creating a V-shape from the lash line to the outer crease.
In a dark color, rim your lash lines
Correctly applied eyeliner can make your lashes appear thicker. If you don’t like eyeliner, you can achieve a similar effect with a super-dark eye shadow. Apply the dark color with a flat, short-bristled brush along the edges of your upper eyelid, where your eyelashes begin, and along the lower lash line. If you like to wear liner on your waterline, the bristles may irritate your eye, so trace this line with one of our favorite waterproof eyeliners.
Blend & define
Blending is one of the most important steps to do eye makeup. According to experts, the technique allows to marry as many colors together without being able to see where they start or stop. Imagine a watercolor painting with each color flowing into the next. Don’t worry if your eyes look more painted-on than perfectly blended at this point: this is where those extra blending brushes come in handy. Blend the shades in your crease and outer V with a clean blending brush until they blend seamlessly into your lid. No worries if you end up over-blending some of the medium or dark pigment. Simply reapply the shadow with the crease brush, then blend, blend, blend.
Once your shadow is perfectly smoothed, go in and define your lash line. If you want, you can start with a liquid or pencil eyeliner. Depending on your preference, you can either stop at the end of your lashes or create a winged liner look. Then, dip your angled eyeliner brush in the medium or dark eye shadow and set your eyeliner. If you don’t want to wear eyeliner, simply dip an angled eyeliner brush into a medium or dark eye shadow color and sweep across your upper and lower lash line to create a soft and subtle line.
Use a pretty shimmery shadow to highlight
By applying a shimmery pale eye shadow or pencil directly under the brow, you can make your brows stand out and add lift. To brighten things up, apply the same pearly light color to the inner corner of the eye. Finish with a few coats of our favorite mascara and you’re set. There are numerous ways to define your eyes with makeup, but all that mascara, liner, shadow, contour, and highlight can be overwhelming.
Eye makeup tips
- Know where to put each type of eye makeup. For some, navigating all that eye makeup can be difficult, but this handy chart decodes where everything goes — right down to the tear duct.
- Curl your lashes to make your eyes appear larger. Using mascara to define your eyes is simple, but using a lash curler truly opens them up. Just be sure to use the curler before applying mascara, or you may end up pulling out your lashes.
- For beautifully enhanced lashes, use two mascaras instead of one. Use two formulas to make your lashes stand out: one for thickening and one for lengthening. Jiggle the thickening mascara brush at the base of your lashes to build fullness and fully cover the root, then apply the lengthening mascara from the middle to the tips, adding a little extra to the outer lashes for extra flare.
- Disconnect your top and bottom liner to open your eyes. Don’t connect your top and bottom eyeliner if you want to make your eyes appear wider and more awake. Leaving a gap gives the impression that they are larger. Apply nude eyeliner for the best brightening effect.
- Find the best eyeliner color for your eyes. Although black eyeliner is classic, if you really want to make your eyes stand out, use a color that complements your eyes. You can choose a colorful mascara as well.
- Use nude liner to make your eyes appear more awake. Apply a nude shade of eyeliner along your bottom waterline if you had a late night or simply want to make your eyes appear larger. Luminescence in an instant!
- Make your brows look like a pro. Filling in your brows is a difficult task. Eddie Munster brows are the last thing you want. Instead, follow a simple tutorial — it’s perfect for any beginner and comes directly from a professional makeup artist!
- Use concealer to even out your eyelids. If your lids have a reddish or veiny appearance, use concealer to even out your complexion and prepare for eye shadow.
- With a white pencil, you can instantly lift your brows. If you want your eyes to appear more awake and your brows to appear more defined, apply a white eyeliner along your brow bone, then blend.
- Between mascara coats, apply a layer of powder. After applying your first coat of mascara, apply a light dusting of translucent powder to your lashes before applying a second coat. The powder adds length and volume to your lashes without making them clumpy.
- To prevent eye shadow fallout, use tape. When you apply eye shadow, you frequently end up with it on more than just your lids, which can result in a total mess under your eyes. To avoid this, place a small piece of tape under your eyes and peel it off after you’ve finished applying your eye makeup. Voila! There is no repercussions.
- Remove any smudges with a liner brush and micellar water. You’ve just finished your eye makeup, everything is looking great, and then you sneeze. And there you have it — the dreaded smudge. Nobody wants to remove their makeup and start over, so simply remove the smudge by dipping a small eyeliner brush in micellar water and wiping it away gently.
- To add length to your brush, hold it vertically. Do you want your eyes to stand out? Hold your brush vertically to get every teeny tiny lash along your bottom lash line, as well as the inner corners and outer top lashes.
- To avoid getting mascara on your lid, use a spoon. If you’re having trouble getting your mascara to stay on your lashes, place a spoon — which acts as a shield — above your eye and apply your mascara. Easy peasy!