Your eyes are arguably one of your strongest assets. They are the windows to your soul after all. All the more reason you should brush up on your eyeshadow skills and give your lids some extra attention. But applying eyeshadow like a pro can be tricky — what are all those different sections of a palette for? What type of brush should you use? Luckily, the whole shadow game doesn't have to be a headache. Let's go back to the basics. Ahead, find our ten golden rules for how to apply eyeshadow and you’ll be golden, too.
STEP 1: Always use primer: An eyeshadow primer creates a clean canvas for you to work with, and it acts as a barrier between your eyeshadow and the natural oils in your skin. That way, your makeup stays put so you can keep touch-ups to a minimum. Try a formula like Urban Decay Eyeshadow Potion Primer.
STEP 2: Enhance your natural eye color: You want to choose an eyeshadow shade that will intensify your natural eye color. Finding colors that complement your peepers the most takes experimenting, but here's a good place to start:
Blue Eyes: Shadows with bronze or peachy tones help blue eyes pop. Slate gray is another great option.
Green Eyes: A plum-colored shadow looks very flattering if you have green or hazel eyes. Rusty shades are also gorgeous.
Brown Eyes: If you're a brown-eyed girl you're lucky, because most shades look great on you. But gold or purple hues look especially beautiful.
STEP 3: Know your eye shape: Considering your eye color is a given, but also take into account your eye shape. Do you have deep-set eyes? Close-set? Hooded? Determining the shape of your eye helps you decide which shading technique is right for your specific features and plays up your natural beauty.
STEP 4: Decode your palette: You might be tempted to open an eyeshadow palette and just have at it, but it's important to know which sections correspond to each part of your eye. There's a method to all this palette madness! There's a variety of palettes out there, but here's a general breakdown of your basic eyeshadow quad palette:
Lightest color: This is your base color. Apply this shade from your upper lash line all the way to just beneath your brow. You can also use this color in the inner tear duct corner of your eye where the shadow is deepest to add a bit of brightness.
Second lightest: This is your lid color, as it’s slightly darker than the base. Brush this over your lid from your upper lash line to your crease.
Second darkest: This is applied to the crease for a contouring effect. This should go over the area where your brow bone meets your lid — it helps to create definition.
Darkest color: Finally, the liner. Using an angled brush, apply to your upper lash line (and lower lash line if you want a bold boost), making sure to brush where the root of your lashes meets your lid so there is no visible gap.
STEP 5: Blend, blend, blend: We can't stress this enough! Blending your edges is the difference between your eyeshadow looking flawless and looking like … well, a hot mess. Don't smear. Use a light touch and gently sweep your brush along your lid, blending harsh lines. To blend like a pro, you need the right brushes, which brings us to step #6.
STEP 6: Invest in the right brushes: There are so many eyeshadow brushes out there in every shape and size, it can get confusing. But here are the three most important ones you should own:
Basic Eyeshadow Brush: The bristles are flat and stiff, and you use this for all-over color.
Blending Brush: The bristles are soft and fluffier for seamless blending.
Angled Eyeshadow Brush: This is a precision brush that is perfect for applying your liner color above your lash line.
STEP 7: Take care of your tools: Cleaning your eyeshadow brushes is probably at the very bottom of your to-do list, but it's very important. We're talking about your eyes here, so cleanliness is key. Run your brush under lukewarm water and then pour a nickel-sized amount of baby shampoo into your hand. Swirl the brush in the shampoo in your hand, rinse well and pat dry with a clean cloth.
STEP 8: Choose your formula wisely: Pressed eyeshadows are your basic, most common formula. They're a great, mess-free option. Cream shadows are perfect if you want a dewy sheen, but they can crease easily — especially if you have oily lids. Loose shadows usually come in a small pot, and you'll feel like a professional makeup artist using them. But they are definitely the messiest of the three.
STEP 9: Avoid a monochrome look: A deep plum eyeshadow looks gorgeous on its own, but once you add a plum lip and a purple sweater? Things get a little too matchy-matchy. Don't be afraid to go bold, but just make sure your overall look has balance.
STEP 10: Keep it all in place with a setting spray. Get the most mileage out of your makeup by using a setting spray as your final step. Hold the bottle at arm's length from your face and spritz away.