Perfecting your eyeshadow game takes dedication, hard work, and A TON of practice. But once you get it right, those years of work are totally worth it – your eyes look bigger, lifted, and more youthful – people won’t be able to take their eyes off YOU! So to help you along the process from beginner to pro (or even for you certified eyeshadow experts), we’ve compiled the ultimate list of eyeshadow tips. Here’s everything you need to know:
Eyeshadow Tip #1: Prep and Prime
Before you grab your blending brush, you need to prime and prep your lid to ensure that a) the pigment is poppin’ b) the color is flawlessly even and c) it stays on all day long. Here’s how:
Apply an eyeshadow primer: There are now tons of eyeshadow primers on the market that act as the perfect canvas for eyeshadow application while maximizing the staying power. Our fave is the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $24.
Bake your lid: If you have oily lids, your eyeshadow is more likely to settle into your creases and look patchy throughout the day. To avoid this, after you’ve applied foundation to your lids, dust a light layer of setting powder to your eyelids. For more makeup tips for oily skin, read this.
Make that pigment pop: If you love to experiment with bright eyeshadows, then to guarantee the color looks just as vibrant as it does in the pan, apply a white base to your lid using a light-colored concealer or a white eyeshadow. We love to use the Melted Shadows in shade Faux Fur to prep the lids and ensure max pigment payoff.
Eyeshadow Tip #2: Prioritize your eyeshadow
Pigment payoff often comes at a cost – fall out, but that’s a small price to pay for intense color! Our first tip is to gently tap off any excess powder after dipping your brush in the pan. The other option is to start with your eyeshadow before moving onto your complexion makeup, so that if there is any fallout onto your cheekbones, it won’t mess up your cake face.
Eyeshadow Tip #3: Know Your Eye Shape
Getting to know your eye shape is essential when you’re trying to improve your eyeshadow game. While some tips will work and look insane on one particular eye shape, it could be wasted on another. For example, if you have hooded eyes (where your upper eyelid is heavy and sits over part of your lid), as you typically have less eyelid to play with, you should blend your shadows up and outwards to help open up your eye and make them look larger.
If you have round eyes, you can also blend outwards, while highlighting below the brow bone and in the inner corners of the eye. This will create the illusion of a larger eye, as the highlighter will draw out the diagonal points of the eye. For more tips on how to tailor your makeup to your eye shape, read our guide for round eyes, plus how to style your wing to flatter your eye shape.
Eyeshadow Tip #4: Think about your eye color
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Eyeshadow Tip #5: Find the right tool
A good set of makeup brushes will make AAAALL the difference to your makeup skills, helping you blend more seamlessly and be more precise with your looks. Knowing which brushes to use also means you’ll know which brush to use to get more intense pigment payoff and less fallout, and which brush is perfect for blending or detailed looks.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend a fortune, there are tons of drugstore brushes that are amazing! We love the Spectrum brushes, that have an amazing range of brushes starting from $6. We’re also huge fans of the Real Techniques range. Check out our ultimate makeup brush guide here.
Eyeshadow Tip #6: Perfect your blending technique
Now that you have the tools, you need to perfect your blending technique. Here are our top tips:
Mix eyeshadows: Don’t be afraid to mix and match eyeshadows on your brush to create a more harmonious look that blends more seamlessly. Just make sure you tap off any excess pigment before you apply it to your lid to reduce fall out.
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Pat then blend: To create an even base, use a dense brush and pack the product by gently pressing the powder onto the lid. Then blend it out using back and forth motions (think windshield wipers).
Blend outwards: To lift and open up the eye, drag the eyeshadow outwards, up towards the tail of the brow. This will create a subtle cat-eye effect, even without a winged liner. Never blend downwards, as this can make your eyes look a little droopy or tired.
Eyeshadow Tip #7: Don’t forget the lower lash line
A little eyeshadow on the outer lower lash goes a long way. For an everyday look, use softer hues, like a soft brown, then for a more dramatic look, you can go a shade deeper. You can apply using a small dense brush, then blend out using a slightly larger fluffier brush. Another great tip is tight line your lower lash line with a beige eyeliner pencil (white can be too harsh) to help open up the eye.
Eyeshadow Tip #8: Define your crease
Regardless of the look you’re going for – from natural to a smokey eye – always define your crease. By working the shadow into the crease you’ll add depth, making your eyes look bigger. The secret is to slowly build up the eyeshadow with a soft fluffy brush, using a back and forth motion. If you’re doing a no-makeup-makeup look, you can use a shade of brown just two shades darker than your skin tone in the crease, which adds dimension to the eye.
Eyeshadow Tip #9: Brighten and define with concealer
To define the edges of your eyeshadow for a more polished, dramatic finish, clean up your shadow with a little concealer on an angled brush. Begin by applying concealer under your eyes, then extend it by drawing from the outer corner of your eye (up at an angle) toward the tail end of your brow – this will clean up any blended eyeshadow while also lifting your eye.
Eyeshadow Tip #10: Add water to intensify the color
Ok, this one is for our eyeshadow pros out there. If you’re looking to intensify the color, pick up the eyeshadow on a small synthetic brush then mist it with a water mist like the MAC Prep + Prime Fix + Water Mist, $28, (or facial mist) before applying it to the eye. Not only does this deepen the pigment, it also helps set the eyeshadow – just be warned: it does make the shade appear deeper and once it sets, it sets, so no more blending. Avoid misting your brush and then dipping into the palette, as this can create a film on your shadows.
Eyeshadow Tip #11: Use eyeshadow instead of liner
Trade-in your liquid eyeliner and replace it with eyeshadow for a softer finish. All you need is a thin angled brush and a dark shade of eyeshadow. It’s also a great option if you want to slay a colorful line. Check out how in the tutorial below:
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Eyeshadow Tip #12: Create a crème
To add a glossy finish to your eyeshadow, take note from celeb MUA Hung Vanngo who works with beauties like Selena Gomez, Bella Hadid, Joan Smalls, Emily Ratajkowski, Kendall Jenner, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Irina Shayk: “My best and only makeup trick is mixing powder eyeshadow with Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $12, to create a cream shadow. You can also do this with a powder blush to create a cream blush,” he explains. And there you have it. BRB, running out to buy 500 bottles of that right now! For more product recommendation from Hung Vanngo, read this.
Eyeshadow Tip #13: Add a pop of color
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If you’re feeling a little experimental, this eyeshadow trend is SO dope and will take your selfie game to the next level. Celebs like Kylie Jenner and Gigi Hadid can’t get enough of the edgy eyeshadow hack and it’s so easy to achieve. First start by creating a clean base (conceal and powder your lids), then add a pop of color to the inner corner with a small dense brush, et viola! For more deets and inspo on this eyeshadow trend, read this.
Eyeshadow Tip #14: Try the halo trend
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The halo eyeshadow trend has dominated Instagram over the past couple of years. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you’ll have seen the trend where a shimmer shade is placed directly in the center of your lid (instead of starting at the inner corner). It’s simple yet sexy and it’s incredibly flattering on the eye. Plus, it works for all eye shapes, which is another major bonus. Start by sweeping a matte shade all over the lid and along the lower lash line. Then using the same hue in a shimmer shade, apply it to the center of your eyelid. Finish it off with a layer (or ten) of your fave mascara, and you’re good to go.
For more makeup hacks, check out 19 foundation hacks that will change your life.