Here’s Exactly How to Apply Eye Shadow, Step by Step

Apr 21, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Image: Tory Rust

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said, “I just don’t look good in eye shadow,” or “Eye shadow is too confusing,” or “How the hell do you apply eye shadow?” Yeah, we’re going to guess most of your hands are up right now. Because weirdly, sweeping some powder over your eyelids really isn’t as intuitive or as simple as it sounds, especially when you factor in eyelid shape, skin tone and straight-up patience and perseverance, the latter of which tends to be in short supply when it comes to morning makeup routines.

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But never fear, because we sincerely promise that the act of applying eye shadow is not as tricky as it looks. And to prove it to you, we got Ashleigh Ciucci, a makeup master, to break down the most basic of basic eye shadow steps (in GIFs! Easy-to-follow, on-a-loop GIFs! Oh, boy!), so you can finally buy an eye shadow palette and actually use it rather than nervously hiding it in the bottom of your drawer with the promise of “some day.” Click through to see the tutorial and get ready to take a billion selfies — or at least brag to a bunch of people.

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Photographer: Tory Rust

Model: Rachel Besser

Makeup: Ashleigh Ciucci

Hair: Akihisa Yamaguchi

Create a Base
Image: Tory Rust

Step 1: Create a base

If you want your eye shadow to look insanely smooth and expertly done (and, trust us, you do), you need to first create a base by sweeping a nude, iridescent eye shadow — iridescent is easier to wear than matte — over your entire lid, blending it from your lash line to your brow bone with a tapered blending brush, like the Sigma E40 or the MAC 224.

Products to try:

  1. For light to medium skin tones: Smashbox Full Exposure Palette (Smashbox, $52)
  2. For medium to deep skin tones: Tarte Tartelette in Bloom clay eye shadow palette (Sephora, $46)

Define the Crease
Image: Tory Rust

Step 2: Define the crease

It sounds counterintuitive, but subtle, natural-looking eye shadow actually requires layering on a bunch of shadows to give the illusion of depth. Otherwise, your eyes can look flat and dull. So swirl your tapered blending brush over a warm, soft-brown shadow (only a few shades darker than your natural skin tone) and blend it into the outer V of your eye, sweeping it from your lash line to the middle of your crease.

Darken the V
Image: Tory Rust

Step 3: Darken the V

Using a blending brush, like a Make Up For Ever 216 or an E.l.f. crease brush, pick up a darker brown shadow (only a few shades deeper than the last shadow), and smudge it lightly it into the outer corner of your eye near the lash line, then blend it beneath the eye, sweeping it along the first third of your lashes. Don't freak if it looks a little dark — we'll be blending the hell out of it in the next step.

Blend Blend Blend
Image: Tory Rust

Step 4: Blend, blend, blend

As with all makeup, blending is key, lest you look like you finger-painted your face. So swirl your tapered blending brush (don't pick up any extra shadow) over the dark-brown eye shadow you just applied, blending it up into the crease of your eye and across your lash line to really define that outer V. Keep blending in concentric circles until all harsh lines are invisible.

Add the extras
Image: Tory Rust

Step 5: Add the extras

Line your eyes with chocolate-brown or jet-black eyeliner, wiggle on some mascara and then find someone to brag to, because you just applied eye shadow like a pro. HUZZAH!

Originally posted on StyleCaster.

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