Makeup Advice

Eyeshadow Essentials

Dec 21, 2017

Eyeshadow is one of the most intriguing makeup items. To a moderate makeup user, elaborate eyeshadow palettes and shading techniques may seem a bit overwhelming, to say the least.
Never fear. Learning the basics is unbelievably simple, with a little practice. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help you invigorate your eyeshadow game and burst into any scene with confidence. 

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First Things First — Eyeshadow Basics    

Get the hang of the basics with these useful tips. 


Eyes are naturally darker towards the outside. For a natural impression of depth and color balance, apply darker colors to the crease of your eye. 


Blur the border between the eyeshadow and neighboring skin for a natural gradation.
Light, intermediate, and dark — these are the three essential colors found in any eyeshadow pallette. Here’s how you bring out the best of each color to make your eyes really pop.

An illustration of an eye with dots moving from the inner eye corner up to underneath the eyebrow and back down to the outer corner of the eye.

1. Light Colors

Spread the light colors over the whole eyelid to brighten it up. Go with a thicker tip or brush to get that balanced coloration all around the eye. 

The same illustration as above with an added dotted line forming a tighter semicircle closer to the eye than the eyebrow.

2. Intermediate Colors

The outer corners of our eyes around the crease tend to droop as we get older. For a youthful look, take the intermediate eyeshadow color and blend it, working from the outer corners of the eyes inwards. Slap a little extra color at the outermost corner of the eye to achieve a youthful look. Be sure to obscure the borders between shades by evenly blending it in. Don’t go crazy with color at the inner corner of the eye — just a little dab will do. 

The same illustration as above with a third dotted line forming an even tighter semicircle closer to the rim of the eyelid.

3. Dark Colors

For dark colors, focus on the upper and lower lash lines. Some upper eyelids get a bit lazy and slouch over the eyeshadow. No problem. Apply dark and intermediate colors over a wide area. Dark colors should be applied over the outer one third of your eyelid to achieve larger, color-balanced perfection. Check your mirror to make sure the eyeshadow is visible on the outer sides of the eye when your eyes are open. 

Eyeshadow fallout from the upper eyelid to the lower eyelid is sometimes unavoidable. Conceal it by applying intermediate colors on the outer side of the lower eyelid.
Mastering eyeshadow technique is easier than you think. Once you have mastered the basics, you can start to branch out with more colors and effects. 

Prime the Eye Zone

Aspiring makeup masters, beware. A makeup base and foundation go on before color cosmetics. Many women skip this step in their eyeshadow routine. This is a mistake. Prepare your eyelids with an eyelid base (also called an eyeshadow base, or eyelid primer). Eyelid bases enhance the moisturizing effect of eyeshadows and prepare the lids for smoother, longer lasting eyeshadows.

Choose Your Colors

Having problems choosing the perfect shade to enhance your eye color? Endless trial-and-error trying to find that perfect color combination is easily avoided with a color wheel. Want a shade that perfectly complements your eyes? Find a color on the opposite side of the color wheel. Looking for a shade similar to your natural tone? Select a shadow one or two shades lighter than your natural tone. Then, highlight the subtle contrast with eyeliner and mascara. 

Complement Your Eyes

An illustration of a blue eye with brown eyeshadow.

Blue Eyes

Earthy tones like grays and browns flatter blue eyes. Orange, pink, purple, and coral also capture that natural sparkle. 

Green Eyes

Green eyes are independently bright and gorgeous. Play to their strengths with brown or earthy tones. Shades with red undertones like burgundy, maroon, apricot, peach or plum also draw attention to the charm of green eyes.

Hazel Eyes

Hazel eyes are a kaleidoscope of hues and pigments, which means they pair beautifully with a variety of color palettes. Neutral colors like browns are fail-proof. Blue colors also work magic.

Brown Eyes

Count yourself lucky if your eyes are brown. Brown eyes go with just about any color of eyeshadow.
Even brown shades of eyeshadow will enhance the beauty of your eyes. Greens and pinks also play up the natural shade of your eyes. Try out some olive, khaki, or gold — anything works.

Asian Eyes

An illustration of an Asian eye with purple eyeshadow.

Asian women should not be afraid of exploring colors and layers. Organic brown hues mesh gorgeously with several layers of eyeshadow colors. They add just the right amount of depth.
Fresh colors like greens and pinks look best on a balmy day, while darker shades like bordeaux red or khaki work best in cool, calm weather. When in doubt, neutral shades like beige or brown are your safest bets.

Eyeshadow Textures

Worried about fine lines and wrinkles around the eyelids? Stay away from shimmery colors. Eyeshadow sets with moist textures and good coloration are definitely the way to go.

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