For some women, incredibly bold eye shadows are just what the doctor ordered, while others find themselves leaning heavily toward the idea of natural looking eye makeup that simply serves to enhance their best features, rather than creating a funky focal point with intense hues that are obviously artificial.
If you fit into the latter group – even if it’s only temporarily, for the sake of a hot date on the beach or a Hawaiian-themed party of some sort – then you may be wondering how to go about beautifying your face without overdoing it and losing that “is she wearing makeup, or is she just naturally breathtaking?” appeal.
Well, my friend, the first step is to find an eye shadow primer that is either a matte nude or almost entirely transparent in terms of color. Opting for the former, you’ll want to match it to your skin tone as closely as possible. Apply the primer evenly and sparingly! As its name suggests, this product should merely be used to prime the area for the application of cosmetics, as opposed to depositing any significant amount of color there.
Yes, that’s always true of primer, but it matters a whole lot more when a very conservative amount of makeup is going be applied over it (which is certainly the case with natural eye makeup looks, if you’re going about things the right way) because it makes for far fewer – if any – opportunities to hide wonky coloring or other issues beneath dark pigments.
Steer clear of metallic or shimmery priming formulas, in addition to dazzling potions that are chock full of mesmerizing micro-glitter. Subtle sparkles can be added more effectively later on in the makeup application process, and you really don’t need to be dealing with several layers of competing shine when you’re trying to work within the parameters of a “less is more” scenario like the one we’re addressing here. Save yourself the hassle.
Both Smashbox and Urban Decay offer some excellent eyelid primers in plain, nude shades, as well as a couple of glimmering alternatives for those occasions when a natural eye makeup look is no concern of yours. If, despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to locate a formula that’s appropriately tinted to complement your complexion, then the mostly transparent primer option I mentioned before is probably going to be your best bet.
Eye shadow bases are a non-compulsory part of the eye makeup equation, regardless of whether you’re shooting for a bright and vivid color scheme or some unobtrusive neutrals – but they can prove to be awfully helpful in certain situations, there’s no denying that. Having trouble finding a fitting shade of primer to use? Don’t fret! I would highly recommend snagging one of MAC’s Paint Pots in the apropos hue. You’ll be good to go, sister.
Just apply a thin layer of the makeshift primer to your whole eye area, establishing a blank canvas that’s perfectly prepared to receive and firmly hold onto whichever pigments you desire. One of the following Paint Pot colors by MAC is bound to mirror your skin tone to an acceptable degree: Bare Study, Soft Ochre, Painterly, Rubenesque, Indianwood, Groundwork, Constructivist, Nubile or Quite Natural. (Remember, it doesn’t have to be an utterly flawless match. We’re simply aiming to find a base color that is barely detectable against your complexion.)
Once you’ve primed the area and you’re officially ready to rock and roll, you will need to select a trio or a foursome of mellow colors with which to adorn your twinkling peepers. What constitutes a “mellow” or subtle eye shadow color, you ask? Well, my dear, that depends upon the natural pigmentation of your skin.
For example: when in search of some pretty, natural eye makeup options to wear, an African American woman with a rich, chocolatey complexion would generally want to be looking through a totally different range of eye shadow colors than a naturally redheaded Caucasian gal with incredibly fair skin.
Obviously, what appears natural and unobtrusive on one person does not necessarily come out looking equally understated on another individual, so any natural eye makeup tutorial must be met with some level of personal experimentation and subsequent customization by the person hoping to copy it and wear it with chic aplomb.
You’ll want to thoroughly test out and try to objectively evaluate all of the eye shadows you own – as well as any new ones you might feel inclined to purchase with natural eye makeup application in mind – that seem as though they could be a good fit for the task at hand.
The idea here is to perform enough research and color experimentation to discover which shades can work most effectively to define and enhance your eyes without creating the harsh contrast that is so commonly seen with flashy, bold eye makeup looks. In this instance, rather than emphasizing a really bright, loud pop of pigment, we’re avoiding that scene altogether. Beware: if you should happen to reach for your favorite pan of neon pink shadow at any point during this tutorial, you’re officially crossing back over into “unnatural eye makeup” territory. Ha!
A Hint Of Hollywood Glam
Warm, muted, earthy colors are, almost universally, a great place to get started. Of course, the depth and intensity of the eye shadows ultimately selected is something that will – and certainly should – vary from person to person, as I was saying earlier. Clearly, the same shade of brown could end up looking quite different against a super pale skin tone versus, say, the coloring of a girl who loves to hit the tanning beds regularly.
Sample as many beige, sandy brown, chestnut, mossy green, vaguely maroon, gently bronzed, subtly golden shades of eye shadow as you can get your hands on; figure out what works best for your complexion. Too Faced, Coastal Scents, Avon and NYX all produce quality eye palettes that are specifically geared toward subtle, natural looking eye makeup. If your shadow collection is lacking nudes and brown shades, in particular, then it may be beneficial to purchase one of those babies in the near future.
Don’t stress about learning how to apply natural looking eye makeup. It’s really not a big deal, I promise! Sure, these muted colors may be applied more sparingly and perhaps with a lighter touch than eye makeup looks where subtlety is not a goal, however, typical eye shadow placement guidelines are still in effect. If you already know how to apply eye shadow effectively – dark, smokey or bold or whatever your usual style may be – congrats, you’re already halfway to the finish line.
If you are unfamiliar with standard eye shadow placement principles (or if you feel as though you could benefit from a bit of a refresher course), please feel free to visit my very detailed and in-depth guide to basic eye makeup application. While there is no official set of rules designating one method the correct and proper way to apply eye shadow, it certainly does help to understand why a darker color usually looks good here and a lighter color tends to look better there; it helps to understand the logic behind all of the most commonly utilized techniques.
After you have reached a decision regarding color scheme, the eye shadow application process can get underway. The lightest of the three or four shades that you selected should probably serve as your highlight color, which typically begins just below the eyebrow. Often, the darkest of the shadow colors chosen will be reserved for accenting the crease and the far reaches of the outer eyelid, while the hue that lies somewhere in between those two is destined to occupy the majority of the lid below the crease.
As always, blend with vigor and enthusiasm, and don’t stop until you’ve managed to achieve a smooth and seamless gradient effect where the various colors in your eye makeup scheme converge. It’s a super important and totally non-negotiable step – I mean it! Inadequate blending can undo a cute look in approximately two seconds, so it needs to be made a serious priority if you want to sidestep looking like a circus clown. Blend, baby! Blend, blend, blend!
The Icing On The Cake
How about a few natural eye makeup tips pertaining to the liner and mascara parts of the procedure? Sure thing, I’ve got you covered! First off, consider using medium to dark brown eyeliners and mascaras with your more subtle makeup looks instead of the pitch black shades. Deep browns can offer you the extra definition without such a sharp, unnatural contrast.
Line your eyes carefully with a conservative swoosh of liquid or pencil eyeliner, starting as close to the lash line as you possibly can – and make sure there’s no unsightly gap of exposed skin, however small. A simple, relaxed makeup scheme calls for a simple, relaxed approach to the liner application, too; this is not the optimal time to go ultra-thick with your lines. Less is more, in a natural looking eye makeup situation.
The eyelashes are another area where hasty, sloppy or overly aggressive application of cosmetic products can lead to a distinctly “made up” sort of appearance. If your lashes are all clumped together into five giant, scary, tentacle-esque things rather than existing as a plethora of individual hairs, the overall look is obviously not going to pass for pure, natural beauty.
Using your mascara wand, begin application at the base of the lashes and slowly, methodically work your way upward. Jiggling the wand ever so slightly as you pull it through your lashes – down at the base, especially – can help the wand to grip and coat a greater number of hairs, more evenly. Separate any clumped lashes with the assistance of an eyelash or eyebrow comb, or use another small tool that’s lying around, but take care to avoid poking yourself in the eye.
To finish off with a hint of sexy sparkle, use a liquid eyeliner that’s clear and full of tiny glitter pieces to trace over the brown liner you applied earlier. Don’t go nuts with it! Think “subtle glam.” If you feel like a pair of false eyelashes is an absolute must, be certain that you’re sporting the sort of falsies designed to closely simulate the real thing. There’s no point in working to create a blissfully natural makeup look if you’re going to spoil the mood of it afterward by slapping on a pair of false lashes that loudly, obnoxiously scream “showgirl.”
Once you get a couple of practice sessions under your belt, you should be able to whip up a wonderfully soft and sophisticated eye makeup look with ease, in just a matter of moments. Yay! If bright, fun colors occasionally tickle your fancy as well, be sure to take a peek at my Urban Decay eye shadow reviews before you leave. Please, don’t hesitate to submit any comments or questions that may be swirling around in your head, either – I’m always happy to have your input! Best of luck with everything. Keep it cute and classy.