If you ask me, eye makeup is a whole lot of fun. Aside from those occasions when you might happen to opt for a mellow eye paired with a strong lip, the eye makeup you choose is undeniably the star of your overall cosmetics show – and if you’re anything like I am, it’s the centerpiece of your entire makeup look the vast majority of the time (but if you prefer to rock a bold lipstick with muted eyes most days, that’s totally cool, too; own it and work it, whatever your choice).
There’s a certain freedom in it, too – putting on eye makeup versus other kinds of makeup, I mean. There’s a delicious sense of possibility there which lipsticks and blushes and foundation makeups cannot hope to rival.
Literally any color (in one shade or another, in some finish or another) could reasonably find its way into a gorgeous, flattering eye shadow look. Applying eye makeup offers, in my opinion, an opportunity for a little bit of creativity, each and every day.
You Can Make It Happen, Baby
Sadly enough, the very same range of possibilities that serves to inspire and excite some people only serves to confuse and intimidate others. When you’re new to wearing eye makeup and you don’t know where to begin your journey, trying to effectively navigate through an endless array of eye-beautifying powders and potions and primers and brushes and so forth can seem like a totally overwhelming thing. I know because I’ve been there!
I have to admit it: there was a time in my life when a powerfully oppressive fear of looking hideous and foolish prevented me from wearing any kind of eye makeup outside the house. Despite having a deep interest in fun colors, beauty items, eye makeup products and pretty, sparkly cosmetics of all sorts, I simply lacked any measure of confidence in my ability to apply eye shadow; I was lost because I’d never been privy to any sage advice or expert instruction. In fact, I’d never been given any kind of instruction at all – so, yeah, there you go.
Nowadays, most of us have the means to jump online and research any topic that arouses curiosity (whether you’re into handguns or hand lotion, baby, there’s an online community for you!), but beauty sites with halfhearted eye makeup tutorials and hopelessly fuzzy, unclear eye shadow tips (not to mention wave after wave of annoying pop up ads) are everywhere – and those sites aren’t actually helping anybody. A lot of searchers probably leave their computers feeling even more confused and frustrated than when they sat down to start researching eye makeup techniques in the first place.
Help Is On The Way
Knowing all this stuff, I decided that I wanted to write a post thoroughly addressing the fundamentals of applying eye makeup in a simple, step-by-step, easy-to-grasp sort of way. It’s not rocket science, but it does require a little bit of understanding and artistry to master the method.
Everybody’s got to learn the eye shadow ropes sometime (not a single one of your favorite makeup mavens was born with a brush in hand, already understanding how to put on eye makeup – I can guarantee that), but the learning process doesn’t have to be a difficult or strenuous ordeal, despite what you may have heard to the contrary.
I hope this post will be helpful to anyone who is feeling a wee bit lost, wondering how or where to get started with learning how to apply eye makeup. Please, read on. Find answers to those endlessly burning eye shadow questions and enjoy. Have fun with it!
Achieving an adorable eye shadow look is not as complicated as it might seem. I promise, with enough practice, you can learn how to do your eye makeup with positively masterful efficiency and flair. You can do it! Yes, you. Now, let’s get rolling.
Prepare Your Palette
Prior to applying any kind of makeup, you’ll want to make sure that your face is clean and lightly moisturized. If you haven’t already done so, then try to find a gentle, daily facial cleanser that doesn’t leave any nasty residue on the skin after washing.
If possible, avoid using plain soap (the cheap stuff that comes in bar form) in place of a facial cleanser because it will mercilessly dry out your skin, and it is likely to leave behind a slightly sticky film that could potentially interfere with the longevity of your cosmetic application for the day in question.
The same set of informal rules applies to our picks for facial moisturizers, ladies. Do your best to find a sufficiently pleasant product that is able to replenish your skin’s natural moisture reserves without coating your whole face in layer of greasy, slippery goo that may never manage to be fully absorbed. Like the icky films leftover from soapy products, oily lotion remnants do have the potential to seriously interfere with the appearance and staying power of any cosmetic items applied over them.
Turn Up The Base
You can choose whether to put on your base makeup before or after you apply eye makeup, depending on your personal preference; I’ve seen it done both ways, and either option has its benefits.
For example, if you were to apply your eye shadow first, then you’d be able to easily wipe away unsightly powder or glitter fallout that dropped onto your cheeks or under eye areas during application (which tends to happen) – without inadvertently wiping away some of your base makeup at the same time.
However, you may then find it somewhat tricky to apply your base makeup around the edges of your finished eye makeup without smudging the eye shadow there or unintentionally leaving a visible line (a small gap of exposed skin, that is) in the vicinity.
I prefer to do my foundation makeup stuff first – everything except my finishing powder, just in case I need to remove fallout and touch up the affected areas before I’m all finished and ready to go. In my opinion, this option allows for much easier and far more seamless blending wherever your eye shadow ends and the other makeup begins.
Regardless, you’ll want to start by smearing a thin, even layer of eye shadow primer across the entire space from your lash line to your eyebrow; be sure to blend it outward a little at the outer edges. If you’ve chosen to do your eye makeup after the almighty base goes on, then gently overlap the ends of your base makeup with subtle pats of primer in order to create the appearance of a seamless blend between the two.
If you did your eye makeup first, follow that same general concept, but think of it in reverse: you’ll need to subtly blend the foundation makeup into the far edges of your earlier primer application.
Slathering foundation makeup all over your eyelids before the primer goes on ‘em is entirely unnecessary, as far as I’m concerned. Less is often more, when it comes to layering beauty products, believe me.
If you intend to do without a priming solution altogether, then you can comfortably apply a conservative layer of foundation where the eye shadow primer would ordinarily go (it’s better than leaving the space utterly bare) – however, it is not reasonable to expect a randomly selected foundation makeup product to perform at the same level that a specially formulated primer would.
In a pinch, concealer can sometimes be used as an effective substitute for eye shadow primer, but not all types of concealers will function well in that capacity. Wet n’ Wild produces a line of semi-greasy concealer sticks that go on thick and manage to grab onto eye shadow pigments fairly well when patted out evenly and used as a base.
I would recommend them to any budget-conscious reader as a potential alternative to the giant cornucopia of outrageously expensive primer concoctions on the market today. (However, it is not advisable to utilize such heavy, oily types of products on your eye area if you’re prone to developing milia, as this can severely aggravate the situation.)
Splashes Of Color
There’s a reason that eye shadow is available in every conceivable color and shade, from the frostiest of whites and pinks to the darkest of blues and blacks and purples: because it’s not as simple as merely picking out a compelling shade and slapping it haphazardly onto your lids.
Creating a flattering eye makeup look involves playing around with light and shadow in a strategic way that positively emphasizes and attractively defines the eyes. Most of the time, lighter colors are applied to certain parts of the eye area for a flattering highlight effect, while darker colors are used to distinguish and enhance other places.
Although there are no official rules stating that you must put this hue here and that shade there, it is important to understand the logic and reasoning behind common color placement theories before going crazy with all manner of aggressively bold and colorful eye shadow experimentation projects.
A set of helpful, general parameters has been established within the industry and is presently accepted and utilized by makeup artists and amateur beauty gurus alike. Some eye makeup schemes may call for slight variation in terms of color placement, but the following diagram illustrates a typical layout.
(1) Highlight: The space directly beneath your eyebrow is generally known as the arch or brow bone, and it is home to your highlight colors. Almost invariably, a light shade will be applied here in an effort to visually heighten the entire brow.
It creates the illusion of a more opened up eye area (which tends to be flattering), in addition to making your eye makeup seem more polished and completed. Try using a light, sheer or frosty version of your primary lid color as a highlight; mess around with cream shadows and off-white hues – see what happens!
(2) Transitional Space: Below the brow bone and above the crease, the eye shadow colors you’ve used to accentuate the lid and crease areas should be blended upward as dramatically or as faintly as you desire. You can decide to leave more or less highlight color visible at the top, depending on your preference.
With some looks, you may also wish to add a hint of shadow that falls somewhere between the highlight and crease shades used (as far as the color spectrum is concerned), so as to create a more smooth and gradual color transition (think: gradient).
(3) Crease: The crease is pretty easy to identify; it’s that place along top edge of your eyeball where the skin folds into itself a tad. Not everyone’s eyes are constructed the same way, however, and you may not have an actual, physical crease there. No worries! This is merely a term used to identify and describe a certain area of the face that everybody shares, regardless of eyelid type.
So, if you’re beautifying a pair of hooded eyes, try using the upper edge of the eyeball as a guide to help you glean a rough approximation of where your “crease” colors should be ideally be sitting, then go from there.
Although your crease nearly spans the entire width of your eye area, makeup applied to that space need not necessarily extended to darken the entirety of the fold. Rather, the outer third or so of the crease region is where the majority of your darker, bolder colors will be deposited in order to create complementary contrast and shadow with the other colors you’ve chosen to wear on your positively adorable lids. You may want to blend color along the fold from the outer crease toward your inner eye a tiny bit or a huge lot, based on the type of result you’re aiming to achieve.
(4) Eyelid: The eyelid, or simply the lid, is the space from your upper lash line to your crease. The outer third of the lid (which is adjacent to the outer crease, obviously) can be an extension of your crease color, or a place where that crease color blends into a slightly lighter shade and then fades into the middle lid color.
The middle of the eyelid and the bulk of the inner eyelid should be sufficiently prettied up with an eye shadow color that complements the crease color and really makes both pigments pop.
Imagine that the inner eyelid is, itself, divided into three parts. You may wish to apply a lighter eye shadow color on the innermost third of the inner eyelid in an effort to brighten things up and further open up the eye area.
From there, you could bring that lighter eye shadow all the way around your eye, highlighting the inner corner and continuing down to your lower lash line, where it could then be blended into a deeper or more intense color that thickly underscores the rest of the lower lash line area. Subtly accenting your inner corner with a highlight color is supposed to help you appear more lively, energetic and awake.
(5) Upper and Lower Lash Lines: Your upper and lower lash lines are, of course, the places where those rows of long, lovely lashes emerge from the edges of your upper and lower eyelids. Just above the upper lash line is where your eye liner sits; just below the lower lash line, you have the option to apply eye liner or another eye shadow color, or both, or either or neither. (Carefully depositing color between the lashes, essentially lining the lash line itself, is a technique known as tightlining.)
(6) Waterline: The waterline is basically the rim of your lower eyelid, which tends to stay rather moist and watery, hence its name. It is larger and more visible (and thus easier to line) on some people than it is on others. Lots of makeup fans find it incredibly difficult to line this particular area because, in addition to the spot in question being considerably more sensitive than the rest of the eyelid, lining it can genuinely represent something of an eye poking hazard for the inexperienced.
Practice carefully! And if working with your waterline makes you want to scream and cry, then don’t bother. It’s not essential by any means; you won’t be missing out on much.
Chic And Polished
One absolutely, utterly, undeniably crucial part of eye makeup application is the blending. Blend, blend, blend! Good and proper blending can be the difference between “super chic” and “circus clown,” so please don’t be afraid to mercilessly smear, smudge, blend and fade your eye shadow pigments.
It’s true that specialty makeup brushes can help to simplify the process of painting precisely and blending beautifully, but these same principles unequivocally apply to whichever brushes you’ve got handy right this moment. Don’t feel as though you simply must go out and purchase a crazily expensive set of makeup tools because you want to learn how to apply eye makeup and look good doing it. Looking beautiful on a budget is totally doable, rest assured.
For the sake of longevity, I would recommend spritzing your face with a makeup setting spray like Urban Decay’s “All Nighter” after finishing up your eye shadow, eye liner, mascara and base makeup. This step is optional (especially when money is tight, since the spray is awfully pricey), but it can legitimately supercharge your eye makeup with the ability to last and last and last, well beyond when it would normally be starting to fade.
If you want to top things off with a pretty pair of false lashes, make a point to apply those babies after the spritzing of your makeup-setting chemical mixture is finished, so as to keep the lashes clean and natural-looking for as long as long as possible.
The Sky’s The Limit
Guess what? You now have a decent understanding of all the things that seemed so complicated and mystifying before. You’ve acquired the knowledge that will allow you to tackle those enticing, enchanting eye makeup tutorials in a whole new way.
I dare say, you have established the framework necessary to begin building, evolving and honing your signature style. Practice, practice, practice! Play around with color combinations, familiarize yourself with useful products and blend like there’s no tomorrow, my friend. You’re on your way.
Sure, flawless technique and expert-caliber makeup application skills won’t come into being overnight, but your progression from amateur beauty queen to all-powerful makeup goddess is hereby underway – and that’s a pretty exciting thing.
Don’t become discouraged when the road gets rough; keep going (keep practicing!) and you’ll be glad you did. Try to stay committed and push through the nagging frustrations of learning something new. You’re a beauty superstar waiting to happen, I swear.
Notes: I realize this guide is super enormous and contains way too much information to be absorbed in just a few minutes. So, if there was something in the article that you didn’t fully understand – or if you simply wanted to leave a comment about the topic or the massive guide itself – please don’t hesitate to enter a few words (or a lot of words) at the bottom of this page.
Want to recommend an amazing eye product that you utterly adore? Have the urge to share a quirky tip you’ve found to be a truly priceless? That’s fine, too. I’d love to hear from you!
Remember that cutie-pie.net is chock full of fantastic cosmetics guides and step-by-step eye makeup tutorials like this one, which are specifically designed to make your life a whole lot easier. Bookmark this page and click around the site – you’re bound to stumble upon something interesting and useful, I promise.
If you don’t feel like reading, treat yourself to a new eye shadow palette or a glittery eye liner to serve as inspiration for new looks. (Ha! I’m guilty of doing this way too often. Shopping for makeup is therapeutic, what can I say?) Good luck, have fun, stay cute!