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Create an Eye-Catching Look With This Eyeshadow Tutorial

Eyeshadow is a beauty routine staple — look hard enough, and you’ll notice fun colors and ombre designs filling the streets. But there's a big difference between the casual makeup user and a true eyeshadow expert. When done right, eyeshadow is an art form.

Well-applied eye makeup adds depth and dimension to your face, drawing attention to your eyes and making them appear bigger and brighter. Proper eyeshadow technique might be intimidating, but with enough practice, you’ll master this art and create eyeshadow looks that stop traffic with a glance.

But of course, you must learn the basics before you can wow everyone with your eyeshadow. Here are a few tips to help you learn how to apply eyeshadow like a pro.   

September 16, 2022
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Table of Contents

Picking the right eye shadow for you

Anytime you're playing with makeup, choosing the right color is vital. If your blush is too harsh for your skin tone or your lipstick doesn't suit your complexion, the result is more distracting than complementary — and no one wants that.

When looking for the right eyeshadow, base your search on your eye color and skin tone. Here's how to choose eyeshadow that complements your natural features.

Eye color

Great eyeshadow highlights your eyes and makes them appear brighter and more beautiful, so it's best to stick with eyeshadow palettes that complement your eye color.

The color wheel can help you determine which shades best complement your eyes. Locate your eye color (or the shade closest to it) on the wheel, then look at the color directly opposite. Just like that, you've found the eyeshadow shades that'll make your eyes "pop."

But don't worry — we've got your ideal eyeshadow shade right here:

  • Brown eyes → purple and gold shades
  • Blue eyes → warm tones like copper, brown, and beige
  • Green eyes → red, pink, or burgundy eyeshadow
  • Hazel eyes → purple and gold shadows (and some shades of green)
  • Gray eyes → warm, earthy shades like brown, gold, and orange

These days, just about every drugstore or beauty store sells beautiful eyeshadow palettes tailor-made for specific eye colors. This makes it easy for beauty novices to select the right colors for their eyes and for makeup aficionados to build unique looks on a great foundation.

Skin tone

Once you know the best eyeshadow colors for your eyes, it's time to look at the next part of the equation: your skin tone. Eyeshadow draws attention to your eyes, but that doesn't mean it should clash with the rest of your makeup. 

If you have light skin, you’ll look best in softer shades that won't overpower your complexion. Stick with taupe, champagne, and pale gold shades for a pretty, classic look, and reach for soft green or plum when you want to add a pop of color.

People with medium skin tones have a little more freedom at the makeup counter since their skin looks fabulous with almost every shade. Warm tones like bronze and copper give medium skin tones a gorgeous, summery look, but their skin contrasts beautifully with shades of blue, lavender, and gray. Just make sure to avoid colors that are too loud.

Dark skin tones look excellent in bright, bold eyeshadow colors. If you want to try something really eye-catching, consider using eyeshadow in royal purple or navy (Lupita Nyong'o would approve). For a more understated beauty look, warm shades of burgundy, gold, and copper complement dark skin perfectly.  

How to apply eyeshadow

Now that you know how to choose eyeshadow, it's time to discuss the application. Putting on eyeshadow is more straightforward than most people believe. A few simple steps are all you need to transform your eyes into a real work of art.

1. Plan and prepare

The first step for any eyeshadow look is preparation. Take some time to think about how you'd like your eyes to look. What colors will you use? Are you going for a natural look or something a little more dramatic and glam? Once you’ve clearly set a goal for the finished product, grab your tools and get to work.

And while we're here, we should mention that great eyeshadow requires great brushes. Most people need at least three eyeshadow brushes: a flat brush to apply the color to your lids, a fluffy blending brush for combining different tones, and a short-bristled brush for precision work. Investing in high-quality makeup brushes is worth it if you’re hoping for a stand-out finished design.

2. Prime your eye

Ok, you're standing in the bathroom mirror. You have your vision in mind and your makeup brushes in hand. Is it time to lay on the shadow? Not yet.

First, prime your eyes with an eyeshadow primer. This step will help your eyeshadow pigments appear brighter and your shadow stay on longer. Dab the primer onto your eyelid with a brush or clean finger. Then, wait about 20 seconds for it to dry. Now, it's time to crack into your eyeshadow palette.

3. Apply your base and crease colors

Sweep a base color across your entire lid with a flat eyeshadow brush. This shade should be one of the lightest colors in your look and shouldn’t extend past your eyelid crease.

Next, place a darker shade into the crease of your eye (just under the eye socket). Follow your eye shape to create a natural look that adds depth to your eyes. This is a great time to use your fluffy brush, as it helps blend your base color and crease shadow, so there's no harsh line between the two.

4. Darken your lash line

Once your shadow’s in place, grab your short-bristled brush and dip it in the darkest eyeshadow shade you have. Then, apply that shade to the rim of your eyes.

Press the shadow just above your upper lash line and below your waterline (as if you were applying eyeliner) to make your lashes look fuller and accentuate your eye color. Finish off this step with mascara to really make your eyes stand out.

5. Highlight your eyes with something shimmery

The final step is to add highlighter around your eyes. Dip your brush in a light, shimmery tone (like a champagne gold or pearlescent white) and apply the color to your brow bone. Add a little highlighter to your eye's inner corners (aka your tear ducts) to make your eyes look brighter and more awake. This highlight trick works wonders to make your eyes appear bigger.

Use this method to apply eyeshadow for everyday wear or special occasions. Once you’re comfortable with the technique, use it as a starting point to create a unique look all your own. Experiment with a smokey eye or cut crease. Play with different complementary colors. With enough practice and a little creativity, your eyeshadow will be the perfect medium to express yourself.

If you can’t decide which palette to buy, watch product reviews on Flip. Find creators with similar skin tones or eye colors to yours and watch how they do their glam for inspiration — and recommendations. 

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