I've had a lot of love for eye shadow over the years—from the early days of experimenting with whatever I could get my hands on (sorry mum) to the more sophisticated attempts at smoky eyes and subtle smudges of recent years. But I tend to save eye shadow just for special occasions rather than incorporating it into my everyday looks.
That's in part because I'm lazy—especially in the mornings—but also because sometimes I just don't know what I'm doing. There are so many different types of eye shadow available that knowing which will work best with certain makeup looks, and how to so eye shadow so it doesn't crease or crumble just seems like too much effort.
Until now. We've asked two of our favourite makeup artists to share their tips and tricks for how to deal with every kind of shadow imaginable. Elaine Lynskey, makeup artist for Years & Years and Clean Bandit, and Amalie Russell, makeup artist for the Bobbi Brown Pro Team, have created these simple step-by-step guides to ensure your eye shadow never smudges or slips again.
Keep scrolling for our definitive guide on how to apply eye shadow like a pro!
- Apply the shadow all across the lid straight from the crayon.
- Angle the slanted tip of the applicator to get close to the lashes.
- Use your finger to blend upwards from the lash line and push the colour into the lid.
- The applicator tip is thin enough to draw a line across your bottom lash too. Blend again using finger or blending brush.
Lynskey's top tip: Find a soft lip or eye liner that's a close colour match to your eye shadow, and apply a fair amount to the back of your hand. Using an eye shadow blending brush, pick up the product and sweep across the lid to create a wash of colour before applying your eye shadow.
Brush recommendation: Kohl Kreatives Shapes Collection Small Rectangle Brush (£11)
- Dip your brush in the eye shadow, and buff off any excess on your hand.
- Start at the middle of your eyelid close to your lash line, and gently work the colour in both directions.
- Blend upwards towards the crease as well as outwards. If using a light colour, you can take the colour up almost to the brow.
Russell's top tip: Make sure your brush is evenly loaded with product before you start applying; you'll spend less time blending for a smoother finish.
Brush recommendation: a synthetic flat brush with rounded edges, like the Zoeva Cream Shader Brush (£9)
- Use the applicator for best results. Apply over the entire lid up to the natural crease line.
Lynskey's top tip: A small flat brush will allow you to blend and get close to the lashes without dropping colour on them.
Brush recommendation: Zoeva 322 Brow Line Brush (£8)
- Use the stick to apply directly to the eyelid, starting close to the lash line and drawing colour all over.
- Using your ring finger pat the colour in to the lid to ensure an intense finish. You can gently feather at the crease to soften the line with your finger or a brush.
Russell's top tip: Rubbing is removing, so use a patting action to push the product in rather than move it around.
Brush recommendation: a soft, flat brush like Bobbi Brown's Touch Up Brush (£26)
- Use a brush to mix together a small, even amount of pigment and water in a clean, empty palette (or on the back of your hand).
- Brush the colour across the lid, and use your finger to dab the product onto the eye. Be aware that this will dry very quickly.
- Bring the colour to the eye crease, and blend with a soft blending brush, sweeping back and forth to soften out any definite lines.
Lynskey's top tip: If you have oily eyelids, use your foundation brush to sweep any excess product over your eyelids before applying shadow. Then pat in any extra product or residue with your finger.
Brush recommendation: Tapered Blending Brush (£24) by MAC
- First apply a primer. Or if you're worried your lids are too oily or creamy from product, apply a light dusting of powder first.
- Work some product in to your brush, and tap off the excess onto a tissue.
- Starting at the inner corner of the eye gently sweep the colour over the lid, building up the product until you have the colour you want.
- Patting the product in will create a denser colour application.
Russell's top tip: A light dusting of loose translucent powder below your eyes will catch any excess eye shadow that might fall through your lashes. Then sweep it all away with a fluffy tipped brush.
Brush Recommendation: a softly rounded, dense bristled brush like the R11 Deluxe Oval Shadow Brush (£10) by Morphe
- First apply your choice of eye shadow. A liquid shadow works well, but remember: Less is more.
- Once you have your shadow in place, squeeze a drop of gloss onto the back of your hand, and use your finger to pat the gloss onto the ball of the lid. Apply evenly.
- Can also be applied to bare lids if you like a subtle dewy look.
Lynskey's top tip: A primer will help keep the shadow in place, meaning your finish is glossy rather than smudged. Elaine says that Urban Decay Original Primer is the best on the market.
Brush recommendation: My Kit Co 0.2 My Precision Concealer Brush (£15).
Feeling inspired? These drugstore eye shadows are really good quality.
Opening Image: Imaxtree/Zara