Are you wondering how to apply eyeshadow *perfectly*? We’ve got you. Eyeshadow is one of the most dynamic ways to change up your look from day to day—but also one of the most time-consuming.
From a smoky, sultry eye to a more natural finish, there’s so much room for creativity when it comes to eyeshadow. Check out our step-by-step process for how to apply eyeshadow to achieve just about any look. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know how to apply eyeshadow like a pro.
Step 1: Find the right tools
Yes, your finger “works”—but for ultimate eyeshadow precision, it’s worth it to invest in eyeshadow brushes that will last you. Consider adding a crease brush, blending brush, angled brush, and basic eyeshadow brush to your makeup bag.
Psst… a few of these are available in our brand-new, cruelty-free, *extra* soft brush collection: The Detailers. And in case you haven’t heard, some of these brushes have rollerball tips–yes, those jade rollers you keep hearing about–on the ends for a skin-cooling effect! We might be biased but we def recommend checking these out.
Step 2: Pick your palette
This is our favorite step in the process of applying eyeshadow: picking your colors! If you’re heading out for a night on the town, a smokey eye with blacks, browns, and blues might be what you’re looking for. Or maybe you prefer a natural eye with a lot of earthy nude colors like beiges, pinks, and browns.
Here’s the kicker: no matter what look you’re going for that day, the key is to pick 3 main colors: a lighter color, a darker color, and a color in between (your in-between color should be the closest to your skin tone). These shades will be your mid-tone, contour, and highlight (sounds familiar, right?). Applying eyeshadow is kind of like contouring your face, only you’re doing it on your eyes.
To know how to apply eyeshadow correctly is to know the 3 main parts of the eye where you’ll be applying eyeshadow: the lid, the crease, and the brow bone. If you can find those 3 spots on your own eye using our visual below, you’re in good shape. There’s also the lower lash line, the upper lash line, the waterline, and the tear duct. We’ll apply those finishing touches like eyeliner and mascara in these areas as well.
Step 3: Prime your lid
Eyeshadow primer is a well-kept secret in the beauty world. Priming your eyelids builds a blank canvas for product and helps it last all day. You can get a legit eyeshadow primer or dab on your favorite concealer. This process also helps cover any veins or discoloration in your eyelids, which tend to become more pronounced when we’re tired.
Follow up your lid primer with your favorite setting powder to lock it in place and avoid smudging. The key with lid primer is to neither pack it on nor overdo it. After a few tries, you’ll begin to see how long your eyeshadow holds depending on the amount of primer you’re using.
Step 4: Apply your base eyeshadow on the lid
This is where the real work begins. Remember that in-between mid-tone color you picked earlier? This is the time to use it. Your base shadow is usually a neutral color or something not far off from your natural skin tone. This creates a buildable base to work from for the rest of your eyeshadow.
Use a medium shader brush or standard eyeshadow brush for this. Glide the product along the lid and just barely into your crease. Wondering where your eyeliner should stop, aka where the edges are? Picture an imaginary line from the outer end of your eyebrow to the outer corner of your eye. Then picture an imaginary line from your tear duct to the top of your nose. Use your eyeshadow brush as a mini measuring stick to visualize it. These imaginary parallel lines are your boundaries for eyeshadow.
Step 5: Apply your transition shade in the crease
Your “transition shade” gives your eye makeup dimension and helps blend out other eyeshadow colors for a seamless finish. For your transition shade, use that darker contour color and apply it in the crease. The key here is to apply it lightly with a crease brush and take your time doing so–you don’t want all of your product to come off your brush on the first swipe. Speaking of brushes, a crease brush is your best friend here.
Lightly feather the darker color you’ve picked in your crease in short, windshield-wiper motions until you have a seamless contrast between your crease color and lid color. This technique works on just about every eye shape. If your eyes are more hooded–or your crease isn’t as obvious–try to keep your eyes open as you apply product so you can cover all the layers of your crease.
Step 6: Use a lighter shade below your brow and in the inner corners
Your brow bone, the area just below your eyebrow, is your ideal spot for your lighter color shadow or highlighter. This will help add even more dimension to your look and give your eyes a bright lift. We also love a little shimmer in the inner corner of the eyes to help them pop. Your finger is the ideal tool for this step. Just dab a bit of your eyeshadow with your index finger and lightly tap beside the corner of your eyes.
Step 7: Blend it all and rim your lashes
Are you even doing your makeup if you’re not blending? Knowing how to apply eyeshadow seamlessly comes down to some serious blending. You can blend as much as or as little as you’d like depending on how natural or refined you want your eyeshadow to look.
Once you’ve blended to your liking, it’s time for the finishing touches. Use a tapered brush to rim your eyes with a darker color. This technique is a great substitute for liquid or pencil eyeliner if you want a softer look. But hey, feel free to go to town with your favorite eyeliner if you want something more dramatic. Pro tip: If you want to add a sheen layer to your eyeshadow, we recommend covering your lids in our Glass Glow Shinelighter™ . It goes on clear so it won’t ruin your color, but it will add a dewy glow if you want your eyes to shine all day and night!
Once you’ve finished, pop on your favorite mascara and you’re ready to roll. You’ve just mastered the art of how to apply eyeshadow like a pro! Follow these steps no matter the occasion and you’ll be selfie-ready every time.
Read more: How to Apply Highlighter Like a Pro