Eyeshadow is probably the biggest paradox in the makeup world. Sure, when we go to Sephora, eyeshadow palettes are the first things we glean over. But whilst they are an aesthetic feast for the eyes, the thought of figuring out how to use the cornucopia of colours is just as terrifying.
Without the proper techniques, we could end up looking like Natalie Portman in Black Swan gone bad — which is why most of us end up skipping eyeshadow altogether. But, if done right, eyeshadow can completely transform your look. From making one’s eyes appear larger, to downright faking a crease, the possibilities are endless.
The good news is that attaining a professional-level eye look is not impossible. With a few tips and tricks, and LOTS of practice, we could become the next Mario Dedivanovic.
So grab a chair, and let’s dive right into five of the biggest eyeshadow application mistakes, and learn how to correct them.
Applying eyeshadow without prepping your eye area
Note how we did not use the word “prime”? Well, preparing your eyelid is more than just putting a few dots of eyeshadow primer on.
If you notice that your eyes tend to be dry and flaky, or your eyeshadow does not last and creases, this means that your eye area is not hydrated enough.
Your goal should be to achieve an oil-free but moisturised eye area before any eyeshadow application. This can be done by obviously moisturising both the under eye and eyelid with eye cream.
However, the eye cream must be oil-free so that your eye makeup does not slip, and should be applied right before you go to bed. This ensures that when you wake up, your eye area is not too wet but moisturised enough for an optimal eyeshadow application.
Below are two eye creams we recommend that are completely oil-free.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex Synchronised Recovery
A formulated anti-ageing product, Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex Synchronised Recovery has a concentrated repair technology that will leave you looking recharged and rejuvenated for a bright eye look.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex Synchronised Recovery 15ml retails for S$105.
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum contains potent doses of black tea ferment and copper peptides to support a younger appearance around the eyes. Free from oils or drying alcohols, it will give your skin the hydration it needs with its unique combination of edelweiss stem cells and niacinamide.
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum 15ml retails for S$86.
Subsequently, ensure that you prime the eyelid with eyeshadow primer, and not foundation or concealer. This is because foundation and concealer usually contain oils that can cause your eyeshadow to move around.
For extra staying power, you can pat some pressed or translucent powder over the primed eyelid.
Additionally, make sure that you set your concealer on your under eyes with powder. If it is sticky, your eyeshadow will transfer over and give you those unwanted panda eyes.
If you tend to have very oily eyelids, you can blot them with blotting paper throughout the day to get rid of excess oils.
Using the wrong tools for eyeshadow application
There are two tools that we can use for eyeshadow application: brushes and our fingers. But before we get into that, we want to make clear that you should completely avoid using the tiny sponge tip applicator that sometimes comes with palettes. It tends to make your eyeshadow look patchy and streaky, which is not the look we are going for at all.
Brushes should be used to apply powder eyeshadows as the bristles help to pick up the fine powder easily. Furthermore, the type of brush you use matters for the type of application. Choosing your brush depends on three factors:
For size, you want to make sure the brush fits your eye. For example, brushes for an eyeshadow crease should have soft, fluffy bristles with a rounded tip that is small enough to help guide the colour just along the crease.
The amount of bristles that a brush has is also important. Denser brushes are great for purposeful placement eyeshadow, while softer ones are perfect for light blending.
Lastly, flat brushes are good for packing on colour and adding intensity, while round brushes are more for blending and adding soft definition.
Also, while it is a bit pricey, good quality brushes really make a difference to your application. Rather than seeking out general brush sets, invest in sets that are specific to eye makeup which will give more precision and helps with better blending!
On the other hand, fingers should be used when applying cream eyeshadows as their cream formulas will glide more seamlessly. However, do not expect an intricately blended eye look when just working with fingers alone. It is more so for giving a soft wash of colour across your eyes or a concentration of one shade.
Following eye makeup tutorials without understanding your eye shape
Have you ever put too much eyeshadow at the end of your eyes and end up making your eyes look wider apart? Or add a shimmery eyeshadow, but still unable to attain that ‘aegyo-sal‘ (the pocket of fat found directly under the eye)?
This is because you have been following beauty Youtubers blindly who have completely different eye shapes than yours. In order to accentuate your distinct eye features, you have to understand your eye shape and estimate the region that is needed to apply the eyeshadow.
From round, monolid, downturned, to hooded — the verdict is that no two eyes look the same!
But for simplicity’s sake, eyes have been generally categorised into six main shapes: round, monolid, almond, hooded, upturned, and downturned.
- Round eyes are usually large and circular, with the inner and outer corners all rounded. The whites of the eyes are also very apparent. People with round eyes can pretty much wear eyeshadows in most colours, and should focus applying them mostly on the lids and outer eye corner to elongate their eyes.
- Monolid eyes are mostly found in Asians in which they have a less defined crease, and very large lid space. To create more definition and dimension, people with monolids can contour the lids with medium shades or use reflective shimmer shadows to highlight the brow bone or inner eye corner.
- Almond eyes are perfectly symmetrical and slightly lifted on the outer corners. To increase depth and intensity, almond eye owners should apply a light colour on the lid and a deeper colour on the crease. To accentuate the shape even more, they can go for a sexy cat eye look.
- Hooded eyes are found on people with a heavy brow bone and less visible lid. To enhance the visible lid space, sweep a light shade across the entire lid and blend a medium shade to the crease, diffusing it upwards.
- Also known as ‘cat eyes’, people with upturned eyes have an apparent lift on the outer corner, making it perfect for a smoky eye look. To emphasise this upward lift, line the upper lash line past the outer corner with a dark shade.
- Downturned eyes have a slight droop at the outer corner. To enhance this, apply darker shadows there and extend them to create the illusion of a lifted eye.
While it is important to determine your eye shape, these charts are merely just a general guide. When it comes down to the specifics of applying the eyeshadow, you have to know every nook and cranny of your eye, and this boils down to constant practice!
Applying way too much and too many products
In the beauty world, the general rule is: Less is more. When you apply way too much eyeshadow, it tends to have a lot of fallout and gives you harsh lines that take very long to blend out.
Depending on the type of brush, you should pick up the eyeshadow with different techniques. For example, instead of dabbing with a flat brush, rub it across the eyeshadow pot to get lesser fallout and a smoother application.
Additionally, ensure to tap the brush to get rid of any excess product after picking up the eyeshadow. Do not blow the brush as this will encourage bacterial growth!
Also, you do not always need three to four different colours to create an eye look, especially if you are still a beginner. Use one single colour first until you get the basics right.
The colour you choose should complement your skin tone and bring out your eyes. While we all heard the rule that shades opposite our eye colour look the best, we’re pretty sure most of us would still opt for brown ones.
Get yourself an eyeshadow palette with low saturation and muted colours such as milk tones or earth tea tones so that it does not overshadow your iris.
- Trend alert: Milk tea eyeshadow is our current obsession and here’s how you can achieve the look
- 17 best eyeshadow palettes for beginners you can use without pro techniques
Not spending enough time blending
The perfect eyeshadow look is a blended one. In order to avoid those harsh shadow lines and look classy rather than tacky, you have to be able to blend properly.
While that is a skill that takes time and practice, there are certain tips that one can follow to quicken this journey.
For one, do not use the same eyeshadow brush you used to apply the shade to blend as this makes it look muddy. Instead, use a clean blending brush to smudge the shadows together to keep them separate but soft.
Additionally, bring your hand farther back on the brush when blending. This is because the closer your hand is to the bristles, the more pressure you’re applying. Make sure your hand is relaxed and make gentle sweeping motions for a softer blend.
The most important tip is to blend every single colour you lay down on your lids. Even if you over blend and the shadow becomes too big, you can buff away the mistakes with either a damp sponge or some translucent powder.