Master the Art of Blending: How to Blend Eyeshadow Perfectly

I know how critical it is to know how to apply and blend out your eyeshadow like a pro, and it can be a real challenge to balance blending to get seamless transitions between shades without losing definition (which results in muddied colors). Whether you’re working with eight eyeshadows (like me!) or just one, blending is an important step to practice.  We’re sharing our tried and true tips on how to blend your eyeshadow for seamless looks.

You can also check out our guide on how to apply eyeshadow for more advanced and in-depth help on working with all types of eyeshadow products.  We also have a great guide on working with cream eyeshadows.

A few key takeaways:  always look at your eye makeup from a “normal” distance, not just up close; practice, practice, practice; and pick tools that fit your eye shape and size.

The Parts of the Eye – A Story Told via Diagram!

Here’s a helpful diagram that labels some of the common areas of the eye when it comes to applying makeup.  Generally, people apply more shimmery eyeshadows on the inner corner to outer lid/corner area with more matte shades in the deep crease/crease area.  Some use more shimmery shades on the brow bone (to highlight) or soften the crease area, but these could also be matte or satin in finish.

A good starting point is going from light-to-dark on inner to outer lid and applying the darkest shade in the crease/deep crease and going lighter up to the brow bone.  Check out our in-depth step-by-step of where to apply eyeshadow post for more information!

If you have a tip, don’t forget to share it in the comments below!

Where to Apply Eyeshadow

How to Blend Your Eyeshadow Like a Pro

Apply your eyeshadow in sheerer layers and build up coverage as desired.  It is always easier to blend out less product than to blend out a giant patch of intense black eyeshadow in the crease!

For eyeshadows that aren’t going to be blended as much (like an all-over lid shade), the layering isn’t as important, but for applying shades into the crease or when working with darker shades, building up coverage ensures a more even application that requires less blending.

This is because you can apply a sheerer layer over a larger area and then go back to build up coverage just where you need it, giving you a more gradual edge to start with.

Step-by-step: How to Blend

Gently pull your brush from one color to the next.  I like to gently pull my brush and then gently pull it the opposite direction to blend two shades together, but I work precisely where the two meet.  I like to gently blend a lighter, shimmery shade over a darker shade as this ensures the lighter shade doesn’t get overwhelmed by something richer.

For matte eyeshadows, I like placing lighter shades first and then gradually increasing intensity or depth exactly where and when I need it.

Use sweeping motions to distribute color evenly in the crease area.  I like to take a tapered crease brush, like the Hakuhodo J142, and place it where I want the most color, and then I gently sweep the brush outward (toward the area I’d want the least intensity) and then back and forth a few times.

Use larger, denser, and/or rounder brushes to diffuse colors together when the blending is too harsh and other tools are not working. You’ll want to avoid picking up any additional product and work from a clean (or mostly clean) brush.

How to Prevent Eyeshadow Fallout

Apply your eye makeup before your base.  This is critical when working with more powdery or fallout-prone formulas, and if you’re a beginner at blending, it’s a good way to start so that you can easily clean-up along the edges, start over, or remove fallout without destroying all the base makeup you’ve applied.

Tap off excess product prior to applying it to the eye area.  Sometimes an eyeshadow is more powdery and other times you’ve just picked up too much product on your brush/applicator.  By gently tapping the tool against your wrist or forearm, you can loosen excess product that might have just resulted in fallout during application.

How to Fix Muddy Eyeshadow

Blend to create a seamless gradient but not to the point of muddying everything together.  You’ll want to blend a little less than you think you need, then look at your eye makeup from a normal distance (e.g. not in a magnifying mirror or close-up, how someone would actually see you!), and then go back and blend just in the areas that need it.  It’s easier to blend a little more than it is to undo overblending.

Blend with clean brushes.  A cleaner brush, whether it’s been wiped gently on a microfiber towel or a Color Switch, reduces the chance of your colors getting muddy when blended.

Sonia G Pro Eye Brush Set

Best Brushes for Blending Eyeshadow

Softer brushes aren’t always better.  You certainly don’t want a brush that feels rough or painful on the eye area, but softer brushes are less efficient at blending out products, particularly stiffer or thinner eyeshadow formulas.  Having a brush that’s soft enough to be comfortable to use but not silky-soft often works better for blending out powder eyeshadows.

A tapered, moderately dense crease brush does well for depositing and blending color into the crease area.  You’ll find tapered crease brushes are popular, and it’s a traditional shape; the key is to find the right size for your eye shape and makeup application style.  There are skinnier, narrower ones; feathery and denser ones; rounded and more tapered.  The smaller the brush or the more densely-packed it is, the more precise and more pigment it may apply in a single area.

The more feathery, less-packed the brush is, or the more rounded or fluffy the edge, the less precise and more diffusing the brush will be.  Here are some recommendations:  Hakuhodo J142, Wayne Brush 19, Wayne Goss Brush 17.

A fluffy, blending brush works well for–you guessed it–blending out eyeshadow.  I like this type of brush for applying product to the brow bone as well as for blending out the edges of the crease/transition area.  These are brushes like Hakuhod J5523, Zoeva 225, or Wayne Goss 18.

If you need help making your beautiful blending last longer, check out our guide to long-wearing eyeshadow application!

Looking for the perfect formula? Check out our favorite eyeshadows and must-have eyeshadow palettes.


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Comments on this post are closed.
Mariella Avatar

QUESTION – Christine, how/where would I find this post in future, as I know I’ll want to refer to it often. I see it’s tagged “Makeup How Tos and Tips” but when I try to find it using the tabs up top, and I click on “More Posts” and then the “Beauty Tips” option, I get a message that the page can’t be found. Where should we look for this particular post for future reference? I love how you’ve broken it down. I rarely use more than 3 shadows (most days, 2 is my “go to”) but there are times when I want a more involved look and have the time for it and these instructions are perfect!

Valerie Avatar

This is great. I really like the suggestion to build up color and to underblend. I used to use the Wayne Goss blenders (especially 16) but find that I get more control with paddle-shaped brushes like:
SoniaG worker pro – quick, works well for most blends
SoniaG worker two – this is a heady duty remover, basically – if it’s too pigmented or the blending is questionable, this puppy will pick up color like no one else
SoniaG worker three – physically lighter than worker two
Beautylish x Chikihodo 2019 blue blender – more premises blending
Takemori T7
Rephr01 – recent addition and I like it even though it’s synthetic and not Japanese-made cruelty-free goat hair

I especially like white (mostly undyed goat) hair so I can see when it gets too dirty and potentially muddy up the lid.

Just wondering what you consider the “transition” area? I hear about it a lot on YouTube videos and just assume it’s the area above the mobile lid but it sounds like there might be a more specific definition.

Also, what brush do you use to deposit color into the deep crease? I tend to blend into the crease and have noticed your looks are always on point with that deep crease in perfect position. I have a few crease brushes but they blow out the color past the deep crease. I know it’s not exactly on topic and would appreciate if there is another place to find this info.

Iris Avatar

I really appreciate this thorough guide. Haha, my eyes have about half the real estate yours do, which I guess is why I look best with just one color on the inner third of the lid and one on the outer two thirds. But the illustrations and photographs are really helpful to see what’s possible on other people.

Deborah S. Avatar

Helpful tips and tricks. Knowing your eye shape is so critical to being able to blend and end up with a look that works for your eyes. As I have aged, I have had to learn new techniques for applying my e/s. While always having hooded lids, they are even more hooded now and the distance from hood to brow bone is much bigger than it was when I was younger. I need tools that can precisely apply shadow and are smaller in size and it has taken awhile to amass enough of those smaller e/s brushes. I also have to deal with crepey lids and that makes blending difficult sometimes. The worst problem is applying a too dark shadow in too much concentration and then trying to blend it over the crepey skin. Many times I have had to start completely over when I have accidentally loaded my brush too heavily or didn’t realize a shade was going to be so pigmented.

Deborah S. Avatar

Oh, the joys of growing older and not having smooth lids anymore. I have always had to deal with hooded eyes, although they are more pronounced now but the uneven texture on the lids as we age is just not attractive. I know that is why older women only use matte shadows because they don’t emphasize the hooded area but I love me some sparkle so I just have to do the best I can and enjoy the process!!

Seraphine Avatar

I hear you! I’ve used mattes most of my life, only getting into shimmers over the past year or two. Maybe it emphasizes the crepey-ness a bit, but oh well! It’s not going to stop me from shimmering!

TropicalCowgirl Avatar

What Deborah said and this.

EXCEPT, I actually believe the shimmers on my lid help mask and blur the crepey-ness. I used to get away with an all matte eye but find I look older with a matte lid. When I started using UD Space Cowboy as a lid topper a few years ago, I found it actually masked the emphasis on my aging eyes. It’s also one of the reasons I don’t do these awesome looks that Christine does because they just don’t work for me. Thank goodness I have stepdaughters to do these looks on and play.

Same follows with face make-up. I started using tanning drops in my moisturizer to allow me to get away with just a tinted moisturizer and NO powder. This contradicts from when I was younger and a slave to Corn Silk Powder. My skin is more dry now and any powder just emphasizes that. I see the same thing now with shadow.

Wednesday Avatar

I feels ya!

I wanted to add a tip here: Don’t be afraid to use your other hand to lift your hoods (I find Slight pressure with fingers at start of brow and just above arch work best for my hoodies) to help smooth out the critical transition area while you are working the area with your brush. Don’t lift too far to the point where you are pulling up and out. Circular brush strokes work best for me to get into the nooks and crannies after laying the e/s down. Always work incrementally.. little bits at a time.

Helene Avatar

Yes to all you said.
I find that every second to third year my eye makeup just doesn’t work in what seems from one day to the next, then it’s time to place the face in front of a mirror and really look at what happened over night and start tweaking. I’m at a point now where one of my eyes don’t have a mobile lid anymore, well, it’s there, but not visible. The lashes used to look nice now point down instead of having a pretty little bend and after curling them I find it’s so much harder not to get mascara on the lid.
I’m seriously contemplating having something radical done to the hanging hoods. It’s not just to make the makeup look better, but to let a normal amount of light to the eyes, it feels a bit like having a hat on, shading the light.

Mary Avatar

Oh I could have used this when I was first starting to wear makeup .!
Great reference guide Christine , not only that as an Artist this is a perfect example of how to “model” an eye when painting .

Christie Avatar

I grew up back in the day when we just used the foam tip applicators to apply eyeshadow. As such, I’m not good with using brushes and run into the problems you started above. However, I don’t think different brushes is the answer. I’ve bought and tried many, many brushes over the years. In fact, many famous makeup artists use foam tip applicators too and don’t use any brushes.
I definitely think it’s not only a skill but also more of an “art” form for highly creative people to be able to get a great look using eyeshadow brushes. I find it to be a VERY time consuming method and even though I’ve practiced until I’m blue in the face, it’s in no way a pretty eyeshadow look. I would literally need a teacher to teach me every step of the way and I have no idea where to find that. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Valerie Avatar

Agree. I get a lot more pigmentation with foam applicators vs brushes, and better control than my finger. I haven’t been able to figure out how to get better utility from my eye brushes for packing on color.

Christine Avatar

Foam applicators usually give a lot of pigmentation – more than a brush, often comparable to fingertip! Like for me, I can’t use foam applicators because my fingers are long and I have carpal tunnel, which just means I’m shaking this tiny li’ foam applicator all over the area, so I get almost no precision out of it – so definitely comes down to what works best for you! No wrong way to do it!

TropicalCowgirl Avatar

I have this smudger brush that I like to use to give me a soft looking line on my upper lash line. I rarely use eyeliner, just dark shadow. I don’t do liquid liner as it just seems to age my older eyes more. This brush is right up there with my top five brushes.

I do like shadow sticks and I have this brush I use to blend them. I also apply a shimmer only on my outer brow bone..sometimes I use the a face highlighter for this.

I absolutely adore the cream highlighter in the ND Tan bronze and glow palette on my lid and then to top it with a light shimmer. I really wish there were more creams like this for eyes. I find some of the higher end creme shadows dry out and surprisingly, Revlon makes ones that aren’t as drying.

Valerie Avatar

For blending out the lateral edges: I don’t think anyone has mentioned it yet – disposable foam triangles are my new best friend. I use the edge to clean up the sides of my eyes; I get a faux cat-eye type of look without the liner, which is tough otherwise with my hooded eyes. Then I use a more flat part of the triangle to blend out the side so it’s not so sharp-looking. Then I use the edge again to clean up the edge and so forth until I’ve the gotten the upward diagonal I want on the side.
I find this is a lot easier than using tape or the side of a credit card or whatever. It works with my hoods and makes them less noticeable. Also, I use it to clean under the eye, since I do my face first. I’ll wet it and put a dot of concealer right on it if it’s a real mess from darker shadows. It cleans up the under/around the eye really well.

For blending out the area above the crease: after I’ve blended out the shadows with brushes, if it’s still looking wonky I’ll use a clean finger to blend things out and this is what’s currently working. I’ve always had hoods but they’ve gotten worse over time so my technique adapts as they continue to travel south hehe.

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