Eye Shadow Basics

I did a poll on my Instastories and gave everyone two options to vote on the December monthly beauty tip; eye shadow basics and face contouring – and it was a close vote, but eye shadow basics won out so here we are! I’m so excited to share some eye shadow application tips with you this month, which is just in time for those holiday parties. Holla!

Putting on eye shadow intimidates some people, and then other’s can’t go a day without it. I see everything across the board when I do makeup lessons, so I’ve put together some simple steps to create a basic “b” every day look. 🙂 Nothing too exciting here, but I think it’s a good start if you feel like you have no clue what to do when you see a bunch of eye shadow brushes or an eye shadow palate.

The Eye

I think defining the terms of the eye is a good place to start so that when I say lid, or crease, or brow bone, you’ll know exactly where I’m referring to so you can do this at home on your own! So here is a quick snapshot of the different eye areas that I’ll be referring to.


Areas you’ll highlight (use lighter colors) are: Brow bone & possibly lid and inner eye area as well.

Areas you’ll contour (use darker colors) are: Crease, outer V and possibly your lower lash/waterline with eyeliner.

Color Selection

The basics of eye shadow application involve simple highlighting and contouring – so when selecting colors, it’s important to remember that you need colors that are light and will highlight the eye, as well as colors that are deeper in color and will help to contour your eye. You also want to ensure you’re creating dimension but selecting different types of shadows too. For instance, if you select a really shimmery shadow for one color, you should make sure to also include a matte color. And then I always recommend a base shade, something light almost skin colored for yourself, and this will be applied as a starting point over your entire lid area. I also love primers that prevent creasing – these typically help your eye shadow colors show up true to the color you see in the pan, and help your shadow be transfer proof so it doesn’t end up moving throughout the day using your skin oils as a bus to get from your eye lid to under your eyes by 5 pm.

Here are a few eye shadow palate rec’s along with my very fave crease-proof product.

MAC Basic Bi*** Palate

This one has some really gorgeous and basic every day colors, along with a couple fun ones for a night out too.


Tartelette Tease


MAC Paint Pot

I love this stuff in either Bare Study, Painterly or Groundwork depending on your skin.

Image result for mac paint pot

The Tools

When you see an eye shadow look you love on Pinterest or online, you may be trying to re-create that look at home, but not achieving success because of the tools you have. Or you have the right tools, but don’t know how to use them. So I’m going to go over some really basic brushes that will make applying eye shadow second nature for you.

The first brush I recommend is a stiff bristled, paddle shaped eye brush. You’ll use this style brush to apply your primer, or a base shadow all over your lid. I personally like a larger style brush so I can cover more surface level saving time and having to dip into product less as well. But if you do have a smaller surface area/lid – you may not want to go with a larger style. I like these two from MAC. MAC 287 is bigger & 283 is smaller.

MAC 287


MAC 283

Image result for mac 283 duo fibre eyeshadow brushI also use this style of brush for concealer, highlighting, and shaping out the brow as well so it’s not just for one type of product, which I LOVE. There are SO many good brush options out there, so what you’re really looking for is:

  • A paddle style
  • Synthetic fibers (less irritating to skin and better application)
  • A brush that isn’t jam packed with bristles, a brush that is too full and with too straight of bristles isn’t going to blend the product appropriately.

The second style of brush that I’m going to recommend is a tapered, blending brush. I like to have a few blending brushes, but I always grab MAC 221 for most people I do makeup on because of it’s very tapered shape, bristle length and fullness. I can be accurate with the tip of this brush, but then apply more pressure to use more of the bristles to get the perfect blend.

MAC 221

Image result for mac 221 brush

For eye shadow, I believe you can get away with just having a couple brushes for your everyday look. You can use your blending brush for a few colors in one sitting since, I often do. But if you’re looking for a more robust collection, feel free to message me for additional recommendations.

And always remember to try to clean your brushes weekly! 🙂

The Application

Now that you know terms for the eye area, how to select colors & which brushes to use, let’s get into actually putting shadow on now!

It’s important to look at your eye and decide where is your lid, where is your crease and where is your brow bone – those are the most important areas. I feel like a lot of people mistake their lid for their crease line, so when I apply shadow to the crease on them, it’s much higher on their lid than they are used to because they’ve been creating a crease line on their lid area.

First, take the paddle style brush and apply a neutral, skin colored shadow (or the paint pot) all over your eye lid surface area, all the way from your lash line and blending up onto your brow bone a bit. The reason it’s good to do a base first is so that you’re creating something for the other shadow’s to adhere to. When you start putting shadows on your bare skin, your oils will cause them to move throughout the day, so having this all over base on first is key to making your shadow last longer.

Second, take a darker tone eye shadow and use your tapered blending brush for some contouring. Get some color on the tip of your brush, and tap off the excess before going in on your crease line. Start in the middle of your creaseline and using a windshield wiper motion, move your brush back and forth to get a good blend. The reason I recommend starting in the middle of your crease is because then there isn’t a solid deposit of color in any specific area – and then it’s blended more evenly.  It’s also important to ensure you’re holding the brush near the middle of the handle so that you have more wrist flexibility to blend better. If you’re holding your brush too close to the bristle head, you’re probably not going to be able to blend very well. Hand placement IS important!

Third, you can highlight with the first paddle style brush. Select one of the lighter and maybe even shimmery colors, and place this color on your brow bone and possibly even your inner corner and lid.

Then you could go back in with an even darker color to contour more in your outer v if you wanted to! Or just keep it simple to start and do one contour color and one highlight! Either way, blend – blend – it’s your very best friend! So using those back and forth windsheild wiper motions along with tiny little circles is the best way to get your blend on. 🙂

This is a very basic overview of eye shadows, and if you’re looking for more, you could always DM me! Or if you’re local, I do makeup lessons! Check out my makeup services page here for pricing.

Happy Shadowing Loves!

PS – If you’re looking for the discount code on that adorable felt letter board in my Instagram post, follow this link.