Your eyes are the window on the world, so how you apply your eye makeup can make all the difference when it comes to completing your day or nighttime look. But knowing how to apply eyeshadow properly can be tricky, meaning you could end up more smudge-eyed than doe-eyed if you don’t get it right.

All that defining, lining, shading, highlighting and blending can also seem a little intimidating, especially if you are an eyeshadow newbie. If that sounds like you then don’t worry because Beauty Bets is here, with our ultimate beginner’s guide to how to apply eyeshadow like a pro.

Before You Start: Choose Your Brushes

As they say, a tradesperson is only as good as their tools, and this also applies to the tools you have in your makeup bag. And top of the list for applying eyeshadow are a set of quality brushes. Having several different eye makeup brushes is not just about the application, it is about the precision – both in the sharpness of the colors you want to wear and also about the quality of the final look.

For a starter kit, you will need a short eyeshadow brush to apply eyeshadow as it picks up the most product as well as a fluffier, ‘domed’ brush for the all-important blending and a smudge brush, if you are going for a smokey eye look. And for all that precision work, including lining the eyes, you need a thin, tapered brush to get those flicks looking super sharp.

What your eyeshadow brushes are made from can also make a difference, with many professionals opting for synthetic fibers rather than all-natural as they are easier to use and give a cleaner finish to your eye makeup.

girl making eye makeup

Prime Your Eyes

Creating a smooth base before you start applying your eye makeup is essential if you want a flawless finish that has the staying power to last all day – or night. And the best product to use is a specially formulated eyeshadow primer which works to smooth out the eye base for a more even skin tone as well as intense eyeshadow application. Priming the eye area first, including up to the brow bone, will also help to prevent the eyeshadow from smudging and creasing.

Time to Add Your Color

Now to the fun bit. But before you start applying your eye shadow colors you need to sweep on a base color, which should be a neutral all over tone that complements your planned look, whether that’s natural, a smoky eye or full-on glamour. For a daytime look, take your base color up to the upper eye crease line, or for a more dramatic nighttime style, bring it all the way up to your brow bone.

With your neutral base in place, it’s now time to move on to applying color. Whatever shades you choose from your eyeshadow palette, aim for a mix of light and dark shadow colors. You will then start with the lightest color first to give you greater control over blending. Apply this lighter eyeshadow color across the eyelid, starting from the inner corner of your eye and move to the outer edge. Now apply eye shadow in your chosen darkest shade to the outer corners. Your medium colors can then be used to define the lash lines and blend your main eyeshadow colors.

Define Your Crease

Defining the crease on your eyelid gives a sense of depth to your eye area. The crease is the natural fold in your eyelid – for a daytime look, the crease is the outer limit of your shadow, but for a sultry evening look, the darker eyeshadow can be blended beyond.

To create the eye shape and contours you want, always use the darkest shade when defining the crease, blending down from the crease to the outer edge of your lid and upper lash line.

Blend & Define

You now need to soften the look by using a blending brush to blur the edges of your chosen colors so that they smoothly transition into each other without looking blocky or patchy. Your domed eyeshadow brush is the tool for the blending job, as you gently combine the color edges.

With your eyeshadows blended, you can now define the look, using your eyeliner brush, dipped in a dark eyeshadow, or use a kohl pencil eyeliner. Sweep across the upper lash line, tapering out to a small outer corner flick if you want a stronger look. For softer definition, smudge out the eyeliner, and take the color down to the lower lash line.

Highlight with a Shimmery Shadow

Even if you are aiming for a natural, daytime look, a touch of shimmer highlight can add a healthy glow and add light that lifts your eyebrow line for a more wide-awake look. To achieve the look, simply add a shimmery pale eyeshadow to just under the eyebrow and gently blend. You can also add a dab of the same highlighter to the inner corner of your eyes to make your finished look really pop.

Makeup artist applies eye shadow

Mascara to Complete the Look

All that is left to do is apply mascara to open up your eyes and frame your makeup look. Hold the mascara wand on to the roots of your upper lashes and wiggle slightly as you sweep the wand up and against your lashes, so you get the best coverage.

Repeat again for a fuller look. You can also wiggle the mascara brush against your lower lash line to create extra definition.

The Finishing Touches

We all know that practice makes perfect and so whether you are wanting to keep your makeup look light or are ramping up the color, glitter and glamor for a big night out, the base principles of applying eyeshadow are the same.

And if you can always remember to prime, base, color, blend, define and highlight you can be sure of a look that is totally eye-catching.