No more shadow mess-ups.
Alongside its wicked sister winged eyeliner, eyeshadow is one of the trickiest techniques to master.
Even if you follow a YouTube tutorial second for second, you can still end up looking like someone attacked your eyes with a Crayola set.
This is because eye shapes are extremely different, and what works for someone with monolids may not work for someone with hooded eyelids.
But the good news is that trained makeup artists have dealt with peepers of all shapes and sizes, and they have some universal wisdom that will finally allow you to use that beautiful eyeshadow palette you bought (or received as a gift) with confidence…
1. Use at least two, if not more, makeup brushes
If you only use one eye makeup brush to create an eyeshadow look, you would a) have to wash it between each colour and b) choose between precision and a flawless blend.
Huda Kattan recommends the following for eyeshadow:
1.Short hair synthetic brush: For applying colour to the lids as it picks up the maximum product.
2.Fluffy domed brush: For blending.
3.Rounded brush with dense bristles: To line under the eyes for a defined look.
Huda says she loves Zoeva brushes, and the GLAMOUR office is currently obsessed with the ones from W7 Cosmetics and Real Techniques.
If you’re on the hunt for some new ones, check out our edit of the best makeup brushes.
2. Eyes first, foundation second
To make cleaning up fallout a breeze, always apply your eyeshadow before your foundation.
“Otherwise, hold a tissue under your eyes as you apply your eyeshadow, and make sure to tap out your brushes once you’ve picked up product”, says Huda.
Or take a leaf out of Chloe Morello’s book and use sanitary pads to act as your fallout catchers. Yes, really:
Applying your foundation and concealer second, however, will also allow you to cover up mistakes create cleaner edges.
3. Start with a neutral base
It’s always important to prep the eye area before eyeshadow, to prevent creasing, create richer colours and increase longevity.
Laura Shepherd, Senior Make-Up Artist at Cosmetics à la Carte says to “stick to oil-free skincare around the eye area before applying eyeshadow and then follow with a primer to conceal any discolouration and absorb any natural oils.”
If you have very oily lids, you might want to follow your primer with a light dusting of translucent powder as Huda does. “I also use our #FauxFilter Foundation and a light dusting of our Easy Bake Loose Powder to set”, she says.
4. Light to dark
Once your neutral base is nailed, it’s time to move on to colour. When choosing your shades, aim for a mixture of light and dark colours, starting with the former first.
Makeup artist Anna Lingis from W7 Cosmetics, says applying from light to dark will give you more control with your blending.
“It’s always best to apply a small amount of product then blend and repeat until you have the desired effect, especially if you are a little heavy-handed”, she says.
“If you apply a dark shade and try to blend, it will make blending harder for you.”
An easy way to start out is by applying a lighter shade all over the lid (using your short hair synthetic brush), and then apply a small amount of the darker shade to your outer crease, and blend (using your fluffy dome brush).
5. Try a clever blending hack, also working light to dark
Over this year, beauty gurus have been showcasing an eyeshadow blending hack that makes using multiple colours on your lid so much easier.
@tartecosmetics would you try this? #selftaught #beginnermakeup #hiddengem #summer #eyemakeupturorial #beautyhacks #muatips #easymakeup #makeuphacks ♬ original sound – tarte cosmetics
On TikTok, Tarte cosmetics have demoed it. The idea is you draw lines of eyeshadow shades down your lid, then tap and blend with a fluffy yet dense brush. You work with the lightest colour on the inner corner and darkest on the outer corner.
Never has a smoky eye been made so easy… it looks harder to do than it actually is (we tested it to check). Beauty YouTuber Smitha Deepak showed the hack on her channel at the start of this year, and clearly this trick is doing the rounds as more people realise how genius it is.
6. Use your crease to guide your shape
No idea what or where your crease is? It’s about to become your best friend for nailing your eyeshadow.
Your crease is the natural fold in your eyelid, usually located where the top edge of your eyeball ends (sorry, no better way to explain). Consider it a barrier for where your eyeshadow should sit if you’re going for an everyday look.
To find it, try Laura’s method:
“Looking straight into the mirror and with your eyes open, apply your chosen shade with a brush just above your eyelid. This will guarantee that, whatever your eye shape, you will have shadow that can be seen when the eyes are open.”
7. Be careful not to overblend
Blending is the best way to soften darker shades and create a smooth transition from colour to colour, but it is possible to overdo it.
“If your eyeshadow starts to look patchy and uneven you have over-blended”, says Huda. “If this happens just start again with your lightest colour and blend.”
8. Keep bright colours in the centre and on the lower lash line
It can be easy to get stuck in a neutral rut with eyeshadow shades, but don’t be afraid to try out some brights! Take your cue our guide on how to nail blue eyeshadow, this season’s cool-girl shade.
“For beginners, be sure to concentrate bright and pigmented shades towards the lashline and centre of the lid, until you become more confident with shadow placement”, says Huda.
“A fluffy blending brush will be your best friend for blending bright colours.”
9. Wet brush = richer pigment
If you want to intensify a shade, just add water.
“Dampen your brush and work the eyeshadow into a paste before applying”, says Laura.
Huda’s quick trick? “Use a small synthetic brush and wet it with a water mist like MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ before applying the colour.”
10. Brighten and define with concealer
Once you’ve finished applying your eyeshadow colours, use your concealer (try this go-to £8 concealer) with an angled eye brush or concealer brush, to create really crisp edges.
Huda also likes to apply a concealer (one shade lighter than her foundation) “from the inner corner to the start of the brow”, saying this helps to brighten up the eye look and eye shape.
11. Simple works too
If this entire list has left you feeling exhausted, your eyeshadow look doesn’t have to be as complicated.
Laura says it can be as easy as opting for a sheer cream eyeshadow and blending it all over your eyelid with a clean finger.
This also works with single bold and bright shades, such as MAC Eyeshadow in Chrome Yellow .