The Great Eyeshadow Tutorial

Dear Home-Ec 101 Goddesses,

Help! I have a fancy party Saturday night, and this is the first time I’ll have been all duded up in years. I bought makeup today. Can you give me a crash course in applying eyeshadow?

I Ain’t Girly

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

Let me just warn you ahead of time that I have an appointment to get my eyebrows done on Saturday. They look horrible right now. So you’ll just have to imagine my eyebrows don’t look as horrible as they do.

Stuff I used to get this look: (left to right) crease brush, Sephora; angle brush, #263 MAC; eye pencil, Eclipse, Arbonne; smudge brush, Sephora; all over shadow brush, Sephora; Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in Very Black; MAC eyeshadow in Antiqued; MAC eyeshadow in Saddle; Smashbox Jet Set creme eyeliner in Lust. Pictured but not used (because it gets really glittery and I remembered I’m not going anywhere, on top left) MAC pigment color powder in Melon. Used but not pictured, Estee Lauder Pure Color Eyeshadow in Honey Drop.

Start with a clean, dry face. Some people like to do the eye stuff last, I like to do it first. I am horribly clumsy and have ruined the under-eye concealer magic more than once by bumping it with my eyeliner brush or mascara brush. So I always do the eyes first, that way I can easily wash off any stray mascara or eyeliner.

I always start by lining my eyes. Not everyone does it in that order, but because of the aforementioned clumsiness, I do the part I’m most likely to mess up first. I like to use a gel or creme eyeliner. I use an angle brush to apply it. My favorite angle brush is MAC’s #263 angle brush. It’s a little expensive, but if you take care of it, it will last forever.

To line with an angle brush, just hold your eye steady and gently draw a line just above where your lower lashes start. If you have a hard time drawing your line straight, you can use the brush to gently tap the line onto your lashes. That’s how I first started lining my eyes, until I got the hang of drawing the line (fairly) straight.

If you don’t use creme or gel eyeliner, the second easiest method is to use an eye pencil. Actually, I think I’m faster with the eye pencil, but the gel eyeliner looks better. Use an eye pencil that has a very soft “lead”- it works better and is easier to apply. I really like my Arbonne eye pencil, but it’s pretty expensive and you have to deal with Arbonne ladies calling, emailing, and sending you letters. When I run out of the Arbonne pencil, I will go back to the MAC eye kohl in Smolder.

Anyway, draw the line just above your eyelashes. Same as with the brush, only you can’t tap the color on like you can with a brush.

Sometimes I use the smudge brush for my eyeliner, sometimes I don’t. Usually the reason I use the smudge brush is because I haven’t gotten the line as perfect and smooth as I would like. Then I very gently rub the smudge brush over the top of the line, to slightly blur the line.

Using an all-over eyeshadow brush, start with the darker color of eyeshadow, putting it in the lower, outer corner of your eye to about halfway in the middle of your lid. The picture looks like I have some eyeshadow on the top of my eye, but I don’t, it’s a shadow. (My husband took the pictures and he’s not a great photographer.)

Dust off your brush and apply the next lighter color on the middle third of your eye. Go on top of the darker color. Don’t worry, we will blend this all in very soon.

Here’s what it looks like pre-blending. Just a big mess of color on your eye. Don’t worry, we’ll fix that, I promise.

Take your lightest color and put it on the inside corner of your eye. Brush it up and over your eyelid, into the crease. You can go a bit higher than your crease if you want.

Now it’s time to blend. Use your all-over eyeshadow brush to blend the colors together. I like to use small, circular motions to blend, but you may like sweeping motions. Use what works best for you.

Use the crease brush to push the color back into your crease. (This step may or may not be necessary. I always do it because my mother taught me to always do it. But I’ve forgotten it before and didn’t look weird, so there ya go.)

All blended, it should look something like this. No, that’s not eyeshadow extending toward my nose. That’s another shadow. Again, bad photography, haha. But please excuse the truly horrid looking eyebrows. That’s not bad photography, that’s lazy eyebrow waxing.

Finally, just apply mascara. Two coats, top and bottom is what I do.

Here’s what it should look like all finished. Nifty neato!

A word about brands and brushes, etc: I use fairly expensive makeup. I don’t consider that a necessity. I have expensive makeup largely because nobody in my family ever knows what to give me for present-giving holidays so I finally started asking for makeup. You can use the drugstore brands with good results, I promise. As a matter of fact, I have used many different expensive and drugstore brands of mascara and good ol’ Maybelline Great Lash is my favorite.

As far as brushes are concerned, you don’t need as many fancy brushes as I have to get a good look. The brushes I would highly recommend having are the angle brush for applying eyeliner and the all-over eyeshadow brush. And if I could only get one brush, it would be the eyshadow brush. You can’t do the greatest job of putting your eyeshadow on if you have to do it with one of those spongy things that comes with eyeshadow.

My way is definitely not the only way, but I think it’s the best way to get good results without taking a ton of time.


  1. I Ain't Girly on October 21, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Ivy, thanks again. I — and my eyes — looked faboo last night. And I actually enjoyed being girly. 🙂

  2. Kate O' on October 20, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Nice! I need to do an entry or two like this sometime. I love doing party makeup. Maybe next time there’s a party, you can come get made up over here and we can take pictures of each other doing our makeup. That’s some seriously girly fun right there!

  3. Jasi on October 20, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    I’m SOO lazy. I use L’Oreal Mineral make up, a bronzer for face and vasoline lips. Then onto eyes it’s Maybeline cream shadow quad, I sweep with my finger in clockwise rotation- light all over, medium on lower portion, dark at the center, blend and top with super light brow high lighter. Then a double swish of Neutrogena Wax-Free mascara (the best!) and I’m done. Liner doesn’t love my eyes, they’re too dark, too deep. But this stuff works.

  4. Margo on October 20, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    I looked on MAC’s website – didn’t see smashbox eyeliner. . .. ? But I did see the fluidline you referred to – and since I have a hard time thinking of gifts for people to get me, I’ll probably recommend some nice makeup this Christmas!

  5. Badbadivy on October 19, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Margo- the one thing I don’t skimp on is eyeliner. I’ve found when you get the good kinds, it really looks nicer, and they last longer too.

    I also love MAC’s fluidline gel eyeliner, that’s probably my fave kind, but I like the smashbox, too.

  6. Margo on October 19, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial! I didn’t come from make-up women, and I’ve never figured out how to use eyeshadow. My basic routine is foundation used as coverup around my eyes, a smudge of eyeliner on the top and a whisk of mascara on the top lashes. Thanks for the recommendations for makeup kinds, too. I have a cheap eyeliner right now and I’m leaning towards trying one of the ones you recommend.

  7. I Ain't Girly on October 19, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do this! I’m off to do a practice run now. 🙂

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.