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How to Apply Cream Eyeshadows & How to Apply Liquid Eyeshadows

Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows
Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows

I find that the application of cream and liquid eyeshadows doesn’t differ much (a lot of the same “rules” apply to both, I’d say!) but how you should apply each depends entirely on the result you’re trying to achieve!  A reader requested that I share some of my tried and true tips and tricks for working with liquid and cream eyeshadows after recently reviewing and posting this look and this look using Stila’s newest liquid eyeshadows.

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38 Eye Makeup Tips: Applying and Blending Eyeshadows

Anastasia Eyeshadows
Anastasia Eyeshadows | Details Here

Whether you’ve just started to play with makeup or you’ve been applying it for years and still find that getting your eyeshadows to come together isn’t as easy as you feel like it should be, I hope this post featuring every tip and trick I could extract from my makeup-minded brain helps in some way!  This is an expansion on the step-by-step smokey eye tutorial I did earlier, but this post focuses on how to get the most out of your eyeshadow based on formula as well as finish. You can view my favorite eyeshadow formulas here (along with all of my must-haves, in general).

How to Apply Eyeshadow: Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial for Beginners

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial

Here’s an in-depth, step-by-step eye makeup tutorial that is geared towards explaining every step in as much detail as possible so that whether you’re a makeup beginner or an old pro, it should be easy to follow. My hope that is that the makeup tutorial will help you learn how to apply eyeshadow, how to blend eyeshadow, and how to use multiple eyeshadows in a single, cohesive look!

The look showcased in a warm, smokey eye that uses a light-to-dark gradient on the lid and layers mid-tone to deep shades in the crease for depth.  In real time, it takes about five to ten minutes per eye once you’ve had some practice. You might also want to take a look at this eye makeup diagram if you are unfamiliar with certain terminology (like crease, brow bone, etc.).

I wanted to create a fairly generic, warm neutral look with a slightly smoky outer corner and lash line, so it should be easy to replicate with a slew of products, but I specifically used Milani’s Bold Obsessions Eyeshadow Palette and Urban Decay’s Perversion 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil.  I used three brushes: a medium-sized, tapered crease brush (Wayne Goss 17), small, tapered crease brush (Wayne Goss 19), and a flat eyeshadow brush (Smith 253) for the tutorial.

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Guide to Anti-Haul-idays: Going on a Low- or No-Buy & Avoiding Temptation

Whether you’re on a no-buy, low-buy, or are otherwise trying to limit your purchases this holiday season, this guide is for you. I find that the holiday season, particularly in beauty, can be a tough time to resist with the plethora of offerings and slew of sales.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of an anti-haul, it was (to my knowledge) made popular by Kimberly Clark (and originating with Amber’s Beauty Chair), a YouTuber, who creates videos discussing products she’s not going to buy and why (often newly-released or hyped up products).  I wanted to take the spirit of that and apply it more broadly to the holiday season, which even I find overwhelming after years of reviewing, as well as give some information on what low- and no-buys are about and some general advice on being successful with them.  You’ll also find some general reasons why to skip out on some of those holiday releases at the end 🙂

Traveling with Makeup: Tips & Tricks

What kind of trip is it?

What you might need for a trip will depend on where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how long you’re going for.  For instance, if you’re primarily going to be outdoors or underwater, perhaps you won’t need much, if any, but if you were going to a more formal occasion, you might want a full arsenal of your favorites.  Cold weather might dictate favoring certain products, while hot and humid weather will have you looking for your longer-wearing favorites.

What are you going to wear?

I like to decide what clothes I’m bringing first, and then I’ll assess what kind of makeup I’m likely to want to do with those clothes (plus, considering what I’ll be doing or where I’m going).  This helps me guide my choices and not bring everything and minimize bringing things I won’t use.  You can really plan out down to the last product, or you can simply come up with a rough outline, like whether you’ll wear mostly neutrals or you’ll need a more subdued lip color to pair with a really electric eye look you want to do.

Are you checking a bag, carrying on, or going by a less restrictive means of travel?

Depending on how you travel, you may need to be more minimalist or you really could bring everything but the kitchen sink (this always happens if I travel by car!).  When traveling with a carry-on, you’ll have to worry about meeting current liquid restrictions and fitting everything in a quart-sized bag, which can get challenging as it includes things like lotions, creams, gloss, mascara, foundation, and so on.  I admit that when I travel, I often impose on my husband’s quart-sized bag to get everything to fit!  Another option is to buy smaller, empty travel containers and take only the amount of moisturizer you might need or to put a week’s worth of foundation in a sample jar, rather than taking an entire bottle.  This is also a great idea for your favorite perfume; I usually try to grab sample sizes in my favorite scents when they’re available for free when you make a purchase at Nordstrom or Sephora.

How you travel may also determine how safely you need to pack your makeup, as checking a bag will require better padding and securing to minimize shifting in your luggage.  I like to put anything fragile sandwiched between softer items, rather than sitting on the sides of luggage, so if something sits on it, it doesn’t get the immediate impact and the clothes around it will help absorb that impact.  You can also lay foam, bubble wrap, or tissues over powder products (like a freestyle eyeshadow palette) to prevent movement and loosening while in transit.  You’ll want to avoid keeping too many glass containers next to each other, and if you have any pumps, a little tape can secure them in place so you don’t open your bag to a mess.  I also like to contain liquids in plastic bags if they’re larger (say a shampoo) or if I have several of them (so if one leaks, it’s not on your clothes).

How I Made My List

I traveled to Boston this past week for about four days for a family gathering, which I knew had a few semi-formal to formal events, so much of what I took was dictated by the four dresses I had planned.  I anticipated doing more neutral-to-warm-toned looks and didn’t expect to use much color, though I took some pops of color that played off colors in some of the dresses I had in the form of eyeshadow and eyeliner. I took more eyeshadow than I normally would, because I knew I was going to be doing my sister’s makeup as well, so I wanted to be able to give us both a variety of looks and finishes, and I also had a mega-sized palette that I felt like, “Might as well fill it!”  I always travel with my favorite cream eyeshadows, as they’re my go-to if I run low on time or end up with a very casual or lazy day, but I didn’t end up using them this trip.  They also work well as an eyeshadow base if desired.

Since I knew I was going for warmer looks, I took one warm-toned blush and one more neutral-toned blush, plus two highlighters that could be worn with either.  If I thought I might have a cool-toned look in the plans, then I’d also bring a plum or berry-hued blush, as that’s my go-to option for cool looks or use a neutral blush.

For lips, I wanted something light, mid-tone, bold, and subdued, and I always use lipgloss as a layering product to give me more lip color variations so I try to go for more dramatically different gloss shades (one that can lighten, one that can brighten, one that can darken, and one that I can wear alone).

When it comes to tools, I pack a few of the different sizes/types that I like, so I don’t have to worry about washing brushes while I’m away, and I can still use them as I would at home (which is typically one brush per color unless they’re really similar).  I actually forgot a pencil brush this trip, so I would add that (I ended up using an eyeliner brush for that function) normally!  If you don’t mind washing your brushes, I’d recommend a solid brush soap to manage the amount of liquids you have or taking a smaller amount of your go-to cleanser into a travel-sized container.

I packed all of my brushes and eyeliners in a medium makeup bag, and then I split any additional cylinder-shaped items between that bag and a second bag.  All of the other non-liquid makeup products fit into the other medium makeup bag.  I keep a third makeup bag for things like deodorant, cotton swabs, toothbrush, bandaids etc.  The large, freestyle eyeshadow palette I took with me fit perfectly within my purse, which I packed in my carry-on (I use a much larger bag on the travel days, then switch to my regular purse while I’m at my destination), and this helped to keep it protected.

See a full breakdown of what I took on a recent trip!

Best Makeup Organizers: Acrylic Organization Systems Overview

Makeup Organization: Acrylic Organizers

Shopping for an acrylic makeup organizer? Hopefully this post will have you covered! I reviewed, stuffed, and critically eyed four systems: Muji 2-Drawer ($25.25), Muji 5-Drawer ($27.95), The Container Store’s Luxe Acrylic Modular System ($109.95), and Sherrieblossom’s Icebox ($415.00). It was important to me to see how the highest, more luxury-priced system compared to a more affordable system, because then I can tell you with confidence whether something is worth it or not, or where the trade offs are.

Full Reviews

Click the links below to view the full review for each system along with more photos.

Makeup Organization: Acrylic Organizers

It’s hard to compare the pricing of each system at a total unit cost, because each unit is a different size. I tried to take the equivalent of one, full-span drawer and its interior space, which is really what matters. I looked at the price per drawer and calculated the square inches in each drawer, which gives you an idea of the drawer’s space for a single layer of product, as it ignores the vertical space that exists but may not be used. I also took the volume of the interior of each drawer in cubic inches to get a price per cubic inches, which accounts for the ability to layer or stack products. For both measurements, keep in mind that it is very difficult to fully use every single inch of space, but it is a more helpful way to compare across the units, I think, that is more objective.  (I really hope I did all the calculations right!)

Muji 2-Drawer ($25.25) is going to be your worst-value proposition, as each drawer is typically too short to layer products but tends to be a little too tall for a really efficient single layer drawer. However, for storing makeup brushes like fluffy face and cheek ones, it is ideal, as it gives enough height for the brushes to slide in and out without getting caught, whereas the shorter 5-Drawer may be too short. The best aspect of the 2-Drawer system is that it should stack the best, so as you grow, it can grow and stack nicely. I would eye the use of this very, very critically and see if you are storing products that would really fill up the height well or if the shorter 5-Drawers would work just as well for you.

  • Best For:  Large/Face Makeup Brushes, oversized eyeshadows or blushes, thicker palettes
  • Pros:  Designed to be stackable, so good for expanding collections; drawers slide on well, low entry cost
  • Cons:  Costly for the space you get, not tall enough to layer most products but taller than a single layer of most products, may be hard to see in person, more prone to scratches
  • Where to Buy: Muji

Muji 5-Drawer ($27.95) is the best bang for your buck when it comes to displaying products in single layers. I also found the width of it to be slightly better for the majority of items I tried–things just fit better across with less wasted space. It could be deeper, as could the 2-Drawer, by an inch or two and be more efficient for makeup storage. The drawers slide on easily, full extend or can be removed and placed like trays on a surface, so it’s easy to access any part of your stash. Each drawer is shorter, so something like a foundation bottle will not fit, but it is ideal for blush, lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliners, eye brushes, lipgloss, etc. stored flat in a single layer. It is the cheapest for storing products as a single layer.

  • Best For: displaying products as a single layer — eyeshadows, lipsticks, gloss, blush, eye brushes, most palettes
  • Pros: Affordable/good price per sq. in., drawers slide in and out well, sturdy enough for most uses
  • Cons:  More prone to scratches, less stackable (rubberized feet, but you should be able to stack one more on top and keep heavier items in the bottom one), may be hard to see it in person
  • Where to Buy: Muji

The Container Store’s Luxe Acrylic Modular System ($109.95) consists of components so you can build your own system, so the one I purchased cost $109.95, but the pieces range from $11.99 to $29.99, so the actual cost will depend on what components you select (I made some combination recommendations here). I really liked that there was an option for a taller size, which would allow you to store quads, palettes, blushes, powders, and lipsticks vertically; the latter is more important to me, because labels facing upwards is my preferred way to find lip products. However, the tall is not tall enough for lipgloss (not even MAC Lipglass, which is a shorter gloss). Makeup storage systems are so dependent on very personal factors: 1) what you own, 2) how you use and reach for your makeup, and 3) how much you own, which is why the customization aspect of the height and width of the drawers is a huge advantage of this system. The major downside is that the drawers are flush with the exterior, so you can sometimes hear the drawers squeak as it rubs against the base, and if the drawers slid out more like the other three systems, it would be near perfect.  I felt like this was storing endless combinations and types of products, and things tended to fit well without having to offset a lot.

  • Best For:  versatility, you can store the greatest type and amount of products across the various sizes; form and function (higher quality than Muji but lower initial investment cost compared to Icebox)
  • Pros:  customizable/versatile as you can select your components to best fit your stash and how you use/reach for products, quality acrylic, ability to see it in-store (to a degree; not everyone will be close enough to a location), stores a lot, enough weight to keep everything in place, easily expanded or rearranged as needs change (can also easily be repurposed for other things if you decide one component doesn’t work as well)
  • Cons:  drawers are flush with the exterior holder portion, so they don’t slide as smoothly as the other systems; possibly overwhelming on how to choose your components (they should create some “buy it all” combinations)
  • Where to Buy: The Container Store

Sherrieblossom’s Icebox Wide ($415.00) (provided as a press sample) seemed to have the highest quality of the four systems I tested. Muji’s acrylic is the thinnest at 2mm on its drawers, while Container Store’s was 3mm; Icebox had 5mm, so significantly thicker and more durable. It was also the one that looked the best after sustained use, and it had a clearer, more crystal-like quality to it. To me, this one is only worth getting if you really need the size (it’s quite large) AND you expect to layer your products, because then you can maximize the vertical space of each drawer. As it is a single unit, it is sturdier than the Container Store’s option. For storing single layers of product, there is a lot of wasted vertical space in each drawer. I also highly recommend the Skinny over the Wide, because the top section is 5 inches in height for more versatility, if going with this option. My favorite part about this system was how well each drawer slid out (they also can be removed) and inclusion of inserts for dividing up the space of each drawer. I think the functional use of space could be improved, even the quality of the unit is high.

  • Best For:  layering products — the two inch drawer height begs you to layer your products, can also store the average single eyeshadow on the side, which may be practical for more “long term” storage, or for someone who wants a higher quality acrylic
  • Pros:  high quality acrylic that’s very clear, thick, and sturdy; single unit means it is sturdier and the thicker acrylic contributes a lot of weight even when empty; drawers slide beautifully in and out, hinged lid enables you to use the top section without height restraints, inserts enable you to divide the wide drawers into compartments
  • Cons:  price (high investment cost and still expensive on a price per square inch/cubic inch basis), lower accessibility, will have a lot of wasted vertical space if you don’t expect to layer products
  • Where to Buy: Sherrieblossom

I personally found the The Container Store’s Luxe Acrylic Modular System to work best for storing makeup overall.  Its strength is that aspect of customization and that made it the most functional for me.  It’s not a cheap system, but it can be built in stages or as your needs expand, so you can spread the cost out over time.  I also really liked the Muji 5-Drawer and think it is an excellent solution for storing products in single layers with little wasted space, and the best part is that it ended up being the most cost-effective of the four systems.  Between the two, I highly recommend considering how you currently store your products; do you want them all laid out, do you want to store anything vertically, and so forth.  I don’t think anyone who’s housing their stash in acrylic organizers is throwing the units across the room, and the Mujis are plenty sturdy for sitting on a desk or vanity.

Acrylic organizers are best suited for stashes that fit inside one entirely, or for storing your favorites, essentials, or current rotation.  I think that an organizer on top of an Ikea Alex drawer unit (9-drawer is the most popular and costs $129) is an excellent solution that’s clean, looks good, stores a lot, but it offsets some of the cost of housing bulkier products or ones you don’t reach for as often by using the Alex for that purpose.

What do I use for storing makeup?  First, keep in mind that I have an archive of makeup, so my storage needs are extremely high.  I’ve gone through various systems over the years, but I’ve been happy with my current solution for the last four years.  I use a 16-drawer Ikea Besta unit with high gloss black drawer fronts, which you can see here, and I have three of them; this is the more permanent, long-term storage, and I use organizers within each drawer to maximize space and still be able to find things (this post details what I use).  They don’t sell the Besta frame I use anymore, but they have a single column frame (as well as smaller frames), which runs you $70, plus the cost each drawer and front (this is where it gets pricey).  Mine were $560 each, but the height of the drawers was more effective for me compared to Alex 9-drawers, as I can stand lipglosses vertically.  I use a Besta Burs (70″ version) as my vanity, and it has two pull-out drawers; it is not particularly efficient for storing products (and I hate that the drawers don’t fully extend), but it’s narrow and perfect for me as I keep the majority of makeup stored on the Besta units and only keep things like foundation, favorite blushes, and so forth in the vanity.

See more photos!