Thursday, March 26th, 2009

16 Eyeshadow Application Tricks

Struggling to create that flawless, seamlessly blended eyeshadow look? Here is some tried and true advice–with luck, maybe these will help seal the deal for you!Invest in good brushes. I say good brushes, not expensive brushes, because there is a difference. I do prefer MAC brushes for their affordability (relative to other high-end brushes), variety in brushes, and look. Take a look at our recommendations for eye brushes and face brushes, plus tips on cleaning your brushes. A good brush really will go a long way in helping you improve your style and skills. You want at least one great eyeshadow brush; one that’s dense, fluffy, and picks up color without eating it. (My pick is the 239 by MAC, of course!)Practice on the back of your hand. Nothing is worse than spending all that time working on your eyes, only to find it doesn’t work. I always give myself two attempts, and if I can’t get a working look by then, I go nekkid-faced! You can test out how different color combinations will work out by doing a “look” on the back of your hand. See how the colors blend together–maybe one particular shade is finicky and you’ll know to use a smoother shade when you do it for real. This is also a great way to practice blending, too.It’s all about the base. Your eyeshadow will never look as polished, pigmented, or last nearly as long without a good eyeshadow base. A base is specifically designed to get the colors to adhere to your lid and allow it to last all day without creasing or fading. Some bases also help to brighten or intensify the colors you use.Soft and gentle wins the race. Soft, gentle strokes are better than harsher strokes when it comes to both application and blending. If you find you have a heavier hand, try investing in a fluffy crease or blending brush to help reduce your naturally heavy hand. It’s easy to over-blend if you don’t!Can’t blend? Try mono-looks. It’s not always easy to blend two different colors together, and if you just can’t seem to get it, I totally find that going for the same color family in different shades is so helpful. Browns are always the easiest — try a neutral shade like Shroom blended with a much deeper color like Bronze. You can increase your skills and move on to other color families, like a light green and a dark forest green.Close your eyes and pick. Struggling to think of a combination for the day? Or just dying to try something out-of-your-norm? Just pick a random color and go with it. Or pick a couple, and think up ways you can make them work together. If you’re totally stumped with your random choices, try it again until something clicks. Most of the time I just start with one eyeshadow, and slowly I build up a look. I rarely know what I’m going to use ahead of time!There are ten more tips! Don’t rush a look you’ve never done before. One huge mistake I often make (and can’t seem to stop making!) is trying a totally new look when I really don’t have the time to play around. It’s best to leave more experimental, tougher combinations, etc. for days/nights when you have the time to fix or even re-do the look. It really sucks when time is up and you have nothing to show for it!Take pictures of your work. Seriously, taking close-ups of your eyeshadow looks will help show you where you need improvement. Things you would never have noticed in your bathroom mirror will show up in a well-taken close-up photo. With digital cameras being so prevalent, hopefully you have one that will let you take plenty so you can learn from them.Q-tips are your friend. A good oil-based makeup remover (like Lancome Bi-Facil) works really well in combination with a q-tip to remove large makeup mistakes, smudged liner, or shadow fall out. Q-tips used alone can also help remove mascara smudges as well.Clean your brushes when they’re muddy. Ideally, you’d want to have a few eyeshadow brushes on hand, so you don’t have to worry so much about mixing colors all the time, but I know that I used just once brush for eons and made it work, too! You don’t want all of the build-up in your brush to interfere with how colors transfer onto your eye lid during application. You can use makeup remover wipes or Wet-Ones in between applications to help reduce some of the color build-up. This will let you go a day or two longer between washings.Blending takes practice. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t come together perfectly for you the first time around. Most of us are not lucky enough to come right out of the box with excellent makeup skills. Most of us, on the other hand, spend our beauty lovin’ lives continuously honing and improving our skills. If you find yourself getting frustrated, just stop. Remove what you have, and either go with a super minimalist look or fall back to your favorite, never-fails-you look. Try it again another day.Experiment, experiment, experiment! Makeup is removable. It is not permanent! You can always wash it away if it doesn’t work out. Try out new color combinations, or try out a different brand. Work with different textures, or copy a look you saw in an editorial shoot. #12Don’t forget your lashes. Mascara is really important to completing an eye look! Leaving your lashes bare, no matter how naturally long they are, tends to look less polished. There are so many great mascaras out there for all budgetary needs. If you’re blessed with naturally enviable lashes, try a clear or brown mascara instead. Really done-up eyes just need a little oomph on lashes to make a complete picture.Blend in soft motions. Blending can be done in the “windshield wiper” motion, which is back-and-forth motions. You can do this softly, and it will gently blend the colors together. It is important to remember that you don’t have to stay horizontal while doing this, you can angle your position, even though the motion itself is the same. Blending can also be done in small, circular strokes; this is best done with a fluffy blending/crease brush, though. You can also blend by just moving in one directly with the brush.Blending cheat code! If you’re having trouble blending, try taking the lightest color and pulling it onto the next color. You can either do this by overlaying the other color with your lighter color. It’s half of the “wiper” motion, because you aren’t really going back-and-forth–more like just forth (or back, depending on the look!).Use a colored base to make your eyeshadow pop! Are you just not satisfied with the color oomph of your eyeshadows? A good colored base will instantly intensify your shadows. One thing to keep in mind is darker colored bases will have a tendency to “eat” color, which means you’ll need to pile it on or use more pigmented shadows to begin with. Some of my favorite bases to use are MAC’s pigments, because they come in a good assortment of colors and tend not to eat color.

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72 thoughts on “16 Tips on How to Apply Eyeshadow

  1. amanda

    thanks haha i’m going to bookmark this i’m sort of new to makeup. i don’t have much mac but from what i’ve tried they seem to have some of the best products and this only proves me right. good tips and i’ll use them all thank you!

  2. sarah

    whenever i’m stuck for colors, i have my fiance pick out like three different colors, and i incorporate all of them into the look somehow. :)

  3. Porcelain

    That’s a great list :)

    Hehe, it’s funny you should mention Shroom and Bronze, that’s what I’m wearing today. Looks great with raspberry pink lips, cat-eye liner and a cream-coloured top :)

  4. Tanya

    Great tips :)

  5. Giselle G

    I think my favorite is “Experiment”…sometimes I get upset with myself if something is not going right…but yeah..its ok! you can just start over or wear minimal makeup

  6. Janelle

    I’m no expert so any advice helps. I do try to blend on my hand before I attempt on my eyes so I’m not all red and puffy from taking it off if it doesn’t work out. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Love these tips! Totally agree about taking pictures. I just started posting face of the days on my blog and I’m learning so much by seeing eyes/lips zoomed in a bit. I never knew I was THAT sloppy before. It’s very helpful. And, of course, makes me have a HUGE amount of admiration for you!

  8. Pizzicata

    Super post!

  9. These are some really great tips! I am going to start taking pics, and keeping track of what I’ve been doing.

  10. Sunshinepointe

    I totally need to practice more…I try doing a look or two at home after the gym pre-shower but I usually try once and then call it a night. In the mornings I slap on some stuff and it never comes out right – especially for my left eye.

    Something else I suffer from that might be a good tip – get some good lighting. I’m going to seriously invest in a good lighted mirror. I have a semi dark bathroom and sometimes I get to work or somewhere else with different lighting (either better or worse, but usually better lighting!) and it doesn’t look anything like I thought it did.

    • Porcelain

      I agree entirely – for daytime make-up, it’s super-important to do it in clear, natural light. It’s not such a problem when you’ll be out in evening lighting, but daytime light shows up so many little flaws in your make-up it’s easy to miss in a badly lit room :)

    • Oh yeah, that’s a great tip! Good lighting is a must. Even just OK lighting works, but bad lighting is just, well… bad :)

  11. Mag

    As always, you explain it so well! :)

  12. Nicole

    as a newfound makeup junkie this site is a jackpot. Thanks

  13. Sleepingmydayaway

    I’m sure everybody knows this, but if you don’t want to shell out the $$$ for the 239, loew cornell maxine mop 3/8 is VERY similar. I use one everyday!

  14. Susie

    I was just in walgreens the other day and they are carrying bamboo bristled brushes…super soft and good price!

  15. Vanessa S

    Excellent tips…Thank you!!!

  16. Sasha

    These are great tips, Christine! This would have especially come in handy when I was just starting out with eyeshadow, but sometimes it’s good to just be reminded of the basics.

    I also tend to try a completely new look when I don’t have the time to be messing around with it! Then I usually end up running a few minutes behind lol.

  17. Robin L.

    what brush cleaner do you all recommend? I just ran out of the MAC one and was thinking about getting something new. I heard J&J baby shampoo works good.

  18. Brittany

    This is awesome.. but my problem is a base=[ i love the pigments, even though they are sort of pricey.. but i dont know what base to use to make them stay on longer… i asked a lady at MAC if she knew where i coudl get a mixing medium or glycerin and she had no idea what i was talking about.. colors just dont stay on my eyes… the paint pots and shade sticks do nothing:( if anyone has any suggestions PLEASE tell me =/

  19. Roxanne

    I absolutely agree on the mascara tip. Mascara is a must, ladies! w/o it you just look… incomplete.

  20. Jen

    This is a great list of tips. Thanks!
    My favorite is to practice blending colors on the back of my hand!

  21. charlieee

    great tips! this post is in my ‘favourites’ section already! :))

  22. Stefani

    AWESOME!!! :)

  23. Hanna

    Funny you guys mentioned lighting. I definitely wore what I thought to be a gold and green smokey look and I have bright, fluorescent lighting in my bathroom. I went to the school’s bathroom which has incandescent lighting and it looked like I just applied eyeshadow to the outer crease area of my eye. Awkward.

  24. catherine

    Thanks, these tips are really useful. Btw, do you work for MAC? Just curious and dont know much about you since I am new! =)

  25. Saira

    This is an awesome post, Christine! Really enjoyed reading it and lots of helpful tips. I can really relate to the point you made about leaving enough time when you are trying out a new look. I tried out a look yesterday using Bitter, Plumage and Vanilla eyeshadows. It looked great on but I realised I had to spend a bit of time blending and overlaying colours (incorporating a bit of Juxt to pull the green colours together) and then wished I had tried it out when I wasn’t in a rush to get out of the door! Nevermind, it was fun to try out a new look and I really liked how it turned out – just need to give myself a bit more time next time, lol ;o) .

    • At least it still turned out awesome, though! :) Half the time I do it, and I hate the result, LOL. And I do it before more special events, too, SO AWFUL!

  26. catherine

    so how u get all these free mac stuff to give out? =)

  27. Jody

    One more bookmark from Temptalia and I think my computer is going to crash! :)

  28. Cristina

    I have one doubt, you mentioned that a good base will be mac’s pigments, but do you use a neutral color pigment for all the looks or it depends on the look you want, for example, if you want a purple look, you use purple pigment as a base? I don’t quite get all the base stuff, I think you should make a special segment about it. :D

    • I use a colored base to brighten up a look or to change the tones of shadows. I might use a purple base for a purple look, or I might use a blue or gold or pink one, depending on what I’m going for :)

  29. Hannah

    I have naturally long lashes, so what mascara would you recommend? Great tips by he way!

  30. catherine

    wow really? That ‘s very generous of you, Thanks for the giveaways..and taking time to give us tips !! I love your site!

  31. Rossy

    wow I came across this blog today while looking for mac products reviews. this is awesome I am addicted thank u so much for all the tips which I need all since I just started wearing makeup about a yr ago even thought I am over 25 n I love eyeshadow my eyes is my main focus since they are so big. anyways back to u…lol u are awesome and thanks again for writing so well and taking the time.

  32. Julie from DK

    I am no newbee to makeup, but even I find your tips usefull both new ones and old ones as a reminder.
    I like the quote from the old lady in a Marilyn Monroe movie: When you are young, use lots of mascara. When you get old, use much much more…
    Can’t remember witch movie, but I do remember the line, and I am getting there LOOOOL

  33. What brush do you use to apply pigments ? I’m curious about pigments vs eyeshadow application.