What Do You Need to Apply Eyeshadow?

Whether you’re planning a night out with friends and want to try out your first smokey eye, or you’re looking to create the perfect day look that can see you from the office to happy hour – the perfect eye makeup can instantly elevate your makeup look, all while helping you to feel your most confident self. 

So, regardless of whether you want to go all-out with a striking eyeshadow look, or simply want to enhance the natural beauty of your eyes, you’re first going to need to make sure you’ve got the right tools and techniques.

Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list below to get you started. Keep reading to discover everything you need to do your eyeshadow like a pro! 

1. The Tools

Just like the way that you use brushes and sponges to apply your face makeup, you’re also going to need the right tools to create gorgeous eyeshadow looks.

Despite what your favorite YouTuber might have said, you don’t need a million brushes to create a beautiful eye look. So long as you have a base, brow, and blending brush, you’ll find that you’re able to create a variety of different eye looks, while also saving your money.

If you need a recommendation, this set from Real Techniques is the perfect kit to get you started.

Real Techniques Eyeshadow Makeup Brush Set

2. The Palette

If you’re just starting out with eyeshadow, then we recommend going for an eyeshadow palette, rather than purchasing eyeshadow individually. Not only will this be cheaper in the long run, but seeing as all the colors will have been designed to complement each other, the application process will be a whole lot easier. 

If you’re in the market for a palette but not sure where to start, then you can’t go wrong with an Urban Decay palette. You don’t have to be a makeup fanatic to have heard about Urban Decay’s line of best-selling palettes, and the Naked 3 is by far one of their most versatile.

Featuring 12 rosy neutral shades, this palette can create a variety of eye looks suitable for day looks, night looks, and everything in between – and even comes with a tutorial book and brush. 

Urban Decay Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette

3. The Technique:

Applying the shadow is where things can get a little tricky, but don’t be put off, because so long as you’ve got the technique down, you’ll find yourself applying like a pro in no time! 

When applying more than one shadow, the trick is to start with the lightest shade, and then layer over it with darker shades. Gently sweep light shades onto your lids, pack on a medium color in the outer corners, blend a transitional shade into your crease, and finish off with a sultry darker shade through the brow bone.

As you practice your technique, you’ll likely begin to find your own style and discover your shadow preferences, so don’t be afraid to get creative, either! 

Do you apply light or dark eyeshadow first?

When applying eyeshadow, ideally you should always make sure that you begin with the lightest shade, and then move on to the darker shades you plan on applying.

So, as an example, let’s say that you were going to create a soft glam look with an eyeshadow palette consisting of matte neutrals and light shimmer shades.

First, you would begin by preparing your eyelids with a primer. Optionally, you could also choose to prep your lids with the lightest shade in the palette you’re using. Then, you would take a medium brown and gently buff it into the crease of your eyelids, followed by a darker brown or black that you would then gently work along the brow bone.

After completing this, you could then apply a light shimmer to the middle of the lid, across the top of the brow bone and corner of the eye, before then moving on to mascara and liner. You could even take a little of the shade used to buff the crease and apply it under your waterline for a sultry look perfect for going from desk to dancefloor. 

Do you need to set eyeshadow?

Believe it or not, the eyelids are one of the oiliest parts of the face, so if you want your eyeshadow to last, then we recommend using a primer and setting spray to make sure your eyeshadow lasts from morning to night.

Just like the way you apply a primer before putting on your foundation, you should also make sure that you’re applying a primer to the lid of your eyes, as this will help to form a barrier between the surface of the lids, and the shadow applied on top of it.

In addition to that, using a primer will be able to smooth out any fine lines and other imperfections in order to create a more flawless eyeshadow application.

If you’re currently in the market for an eyeshadow primer and you’re not sure where to start, we recommend checking out the Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later Eyeshadow Base – it’s a bestseller, cruelty-free, and will ensure that your eyeshadow remains perfect for hours. 

Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later Eyeshadow Base

Plus, besides a primer, after you’ve finished applying your eyeshadow and you’re happy with the way it looks, you should lock it in with a setting spray.

Nothing beats the Urban Decay All Nighter Matte Setting Spray, as it has been formulated with kaolin clay that will be able to not only absorb oil but also prevent any shine – which will help to stop your eyeshadow from piling throughout the day.

It also features innovative temperature control technology that will be able to lower the temperature of your makeup and lock in your look for even longer. 

Urban Decay All Nighter Matte Setting Spray

You can even use it to set your face makeup for up to 16 hours (yes, you read that right) and features a breathable formula that’s lightweight, paraben-free, and suitable for all skin types. Just give it a shake, hold it at arm’s length, and spritz all over your face – making sure that you close your eyes so that it can settle on your eyelids.

Top tip: While applying your eyeshadow, spritz the eyeshadow brushes that you’re using with your setting spray of choice, as this will help to lock the color in as soon as it hits your lids! 

Is it OK to only use one eyeshadow color?

Absolutely! Let’s face it – everyday life is busy, and sometimes we just don’t have enough time to carry out a 10-step makeup routine. If you only want to incorporate one eyeshadow into your makeup look, the possibilities really are endless.

For a vibrant pop of color, you could opt to apply a bold blue or pretty pink across the lid and out into your crease, or if you wanted something more natural, an earthy-toned shade would be the perfect finishing touch to your work ensemble or casual look while running errands.

Additionally, if you want to speed up your makeup routine even more, then a little trick that we like to do is to use a bronzer in place of eyeshadow.

A bronzer is a perfect way to give your eyes a sultry yet natural look that’s perfect for days spent in the office and exploring a new city alike, and the best part is that it’ll only take you a few seconds to apply. Just take your brush, swirl it around the pan of your bronzer, tap the excess and blend into your lid! You could even use your fingertip.

Should eyeshadow go up to your eyebrow?

Just ask any beauty blogger or makeup artist and we’re sure they’ll tell you that blending eyeshadow up to your eyebrow is one of the biggest beauty faux pas you can make – unless you want to look as though you’ve just stepped out of an 80s music video, that is.

Different eyeshadows go in different places but, as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to blend your transitional shades into the crease of your eyelid, and carefully take your darker mattes up and out towards the brow bone.

This technique will likely take a little bit of trial and error to get right, but practice really does make perfect, so don’t get disheartened if you find yourself struggling to nail the technique right away. 

However, though it’s not recommended that you take your main eyeshadows up to your brow, you can use a light, shimmery shade to accentuate the overall eyeshadow look that you’re creating.

Many people like to apply either a highlighter or translucent/iridescent shimmer shade just above the brow bone and in the corner of the eye to help pull focus and enhance both the eye and the eyeshadow look.