Eyeshadow, as much as we love it, can be a right pain when it doesn’t go our way. Even eyeshadow pros can have an off day when the shades don’t fuse, the pigments are patchy, and the look just won’t comply.
If you feel like your eyeshadow game is lacking, or you’re just starting out with eye looks, here’s a beginner-friendly guide for how to apply and blend eyeshadow correctly.
Start with the right tools and materials
You know those little plastic and foam applicator thingies that used to come in eyeshadow palettes? Toss them, they’re completely useless to you. The truth is, the right brushes will not only make your eyeshadow application miles easier but they will result in a far more professional-looking finish.
Morphe brushes are all you need, as they are affordable yet super quality. Start off with only a couple and build from there. I’m going to be really biased here and recommend my favorites to you, as I use them every day and can attest to their effectiveness!
Here’s my starter brush pack pick:
- M332 Fluffy Crease Brush: it’s super soft and does the work for you, leaving you with a diffused crease.
- M504 Large Pointed Blender: you can sweep this brush, clean, over the edges of your work and it blends perfectly. Plus, it’s great for adding dimension to the eye by simply buffing bronzer into the crease.
- E13 Oval Shadow Fluff: this wee brush is perfect for buffing color onto the lid to achieve bold pigmentation, but it can also help to blend your edges.
- M443 Pointed Liner: this has a stiff enough construction and pointed tip to allow for winged liner (gel or liquid) or pressing powder shadow into the lash line for a softer liner look.
When it comes to shimmers and glitters, I believe the best tool is your finger, so I haven’t included a flat packer brush.
Lay down a base color or primer
A base that sits underneath your eyeshadow helps the powders to blend more smoothly and reduces patchiness. What’s more, it can help the shadows show up true to color (how they look in the pan) with maximum saturation.
You don’t necessarily need a fancy eyeshadow primer. If you have a longwear cream shadow in a tone that matches your skin, use that! My go-to is forever the MAC Paintpot in Painterly. Otherwise, you can use a concealer that is reasonably dry. Note that if you have oily eyelids, concealer can make the issue worse and cause creasing. In this case, set the concealer with a little translucent powder.
Contour that crease
Start by buffing a neutral tone into the crease of your eye to create depth and provide a transition shade for any other colors you may be using. Match the color to the look you are going for. For example, if you’re trying a shimmery copper-brown eye, use a neutral or warm brown shadow in the crease. If you’re opting for a cool-toned smokey eye, a cool taupe or deeper grey would work.
Use a medium-to-large fluffy shadow brush and use windscreen wiper motions to buff the color into the crease and toward the outer end of the eyebrow. Wipe off any excess shadow from the brush so that it is clean and use to blend and smooth the edges. You can also buff a little of the same shade along the lower lash line for a smokier effect.
Stand back and look. Is the depth of color the same on both sides? What about the placement, does it match? Are there any weird patches or skipping? If so, blend out again.
Pack color onto the lid
To be honest, you could absolutely call it a day after buffing a lovely transition shade into the crease. Add a little liner and mascara and attack the day. Who are we kidding, though? We want to do all the fun, sparkly things!
To add extra texture and color, you can take a brighter or lighter shade and pack it onto the mobile lid (between the lashes and the crease). Coat your ring finger in shadow and press onto the mobile lid until you reach the saturation and shape you like. Take a fluffy brush (the one you used earlier is perfect) and gently blend the edges into the transition shade.
Define the lash line
You don’t need scary liquid liners or risky gel pots to get a defined lash line. In fact, you can use a dark matte shadow! Coat a small, stubby brush with matte shadow in a black, charcoal, chocolate, or even navy shade. Press the brush directly into the lash line and give it a little wiggle to deposit that lovely pigment. Smudge over the line to make it cohesive, stand back, and add more if need be. You can also do this with an eye pencil, of course. Now your lashes look thicker and your eyes are more defined…no messy liquid to cause a makeup-related breakdown.
Adding a jot of light to your eye look is a beautiful way to make you look more awake and to add soft dimension to the look. Take a silver, gold, or champagne shimmer shade and press it into the inner corner of the eye and right on the center of the mobile lid. Press the edges with your fingers to ensure soft edges and a soft transition between light and shade. You can also take a small brush and dust a little shimmer under the brows to add structure to the eye, but go easy…a little goes a long way.
Now that your shadows and colors have been applied and the look is almost complete, stand back and take a look. Use your clean fluffy brush to blend out the edges and buff away any harsh lines or uneven pigmentation.