- INSIDER consulted a panel of makeup artists and cosmetic designers to learn the most common mistakes people make with their eyeshadow and how to avoid them in the future.
- Make sure to use application tools specifically designed for eyeshadow, rather than settling for a Q-tip or foam sponge.
- To extend wearability and keep eyeshadow colors vibrant, always apply primer first.
- To avoid “raccoon eyes”, apply your eyeshadow before your foundation and concealer.
- Keep an eye on the ingredients label, and stay away from eyeshadows containing talc.
Eyeshadow can be one of the most transformative tools in your makeup arsenal. From highlighter-based shimmery looks to the classic smokey eye, a well-executed eyeshadow look can accentuate your best features and give you a perfect creative outlet for experimenting with different products and color combos.
However, applying eyeshadow correctly is often easier said than done. To help correct the all-too-common snafus associated with eye makeup, INSIDER consulted a panel of makeup artists and cosmetic experts to find out how to totally kill the eyeshadow game. Here’s what they told us to watch out for.
You’re buying cheap brushes.
“Just like how you need tools to do your hair [properly], you also need the right brushes for makeup,” D.C. and Baltimore-based makeup artist Mindy Green told INSIDER.
Rather than shelling out for general brush sets, Green recommends seeking out sets specific to eye makeup, like Sephora’s Smoke Machine Smokey Eye Brush Set orZoeva’s Complete Eye Set. Eyeshadow-only kits frequently include tools like smudge brushes and angled-liner brushes, which are harder to find in general-use brush sets and will allow for more precision when crafting your look.
An excellent set of brushes can also help you avoid another frequent eyeshadow pitfall: poorly-done blending. “Most people don’t blend their eyeshadows enough,” says Marta Bota, a D.C. makeup artist whose clientele includes on-camera personalities from NBC and CNN. “Many [people] want to get creative by using multiple shades from palettes, and I encourage that, but it’s critical to blend properly for a seamless effect. I recommend using natural hair or synthetic blend eyeshadow brushes for application. Once you finish applying, use a separate clean brush to softly go over the area to blend out the hard edges.”
While it can be tempting to save cash on eyeshadow brushes by just picking up a $3 box of Q-Tips, NYC makeup artist Jaimie Zelinger strongly advises against it.
“Q-Tips are a great tool for removing excess eyeshadow, but not for applying,” she explained. And for the even thriftier among us: don’t even think about using your fingertip in place of an eyeshadow brush. “Do not use your fingers to apply eyeshadow! Not only is this unsanitary, but chances are, most of the eyeshadow will remain on your finger and not transfer to the eyelid,” Zelinger tells INSIDER.
You’re forgetting the primer.
“One of the biggest mistakes women make with eyeshadow is that they don’t use something on the eyelid first, like an eyeshadow primer,” makeup artist Taymour Hallal of Paul Labrecque Salon in NYC told INSIDER. Whether you’re using powder or liquid eyeshadow, the pigment needs a base to hold it in place — otherwise, you run the risk of fading, smudging, and smearing throughout the day.
Drugstore brands can do a great job with eyeshadow, but you really want to invest in a high-quality primer, says Atlanta-based makeup guru Naomie of Blushed by Naomie. “Not all primers are created equal, but they can make or break a $2 pallet from the dollar store. Without a great primer, the eyeshadow will not adhere to the eyes well, the shadow will crease, become greasy, and not stand out,” cautions Naomie.
You apply foundation before your eyeshadow.
If you’re a powder-eyeshadow devotee, you probably know the struggle: you finish a gorgeous eyeshadow look and feel great about it… until you catch a glimpse of the dark streaks staining your under eyes and cheeks. “Raccoon eyes” are an annoying and time-consuming error to correct, but luckily, they’re easy to avoid in the first place.
“Powdered shadows can leave tiny particles of dust under your eyes and on your cheeks, and a quick blink, sneeze or mascara misstep can leave you looking like a raccoon,” says makeup artist Zach Dishinger, the 16-year-old co-founder of Formula Z Cosmetics.
“[To avoid ‘raccoon eyes’.] simply apply eye primer, shadow, liner and mascara before you put on your foundation and concealer. If fallout or a smudge occurs, it’s easily wiped away without having to reapply your foundation or concealer making clean-up a snap,” Dishinger advises.
You forget to read the labels on your eyeshadow palettes.
When browsing Sephora for an awesome eyeshadow palette, make sure to check the labels whenever possible. For the best pigmentation and overall effect, you want an eyeshadow without “filler” ingredients that do nothing to boost the makeup’s impact.
If you’re having trouble finding the ingredients list for your eyeshadow, there’s an easy way to tell if it has a high percentage of filler: swirl a brush in the eyeshadow and look for “kickback”. “Contrary to popular belief, ‘kickback’ (the dusty bit of excess that shows on the eyeshadow itself after placing your brush in it) is actually not a bad thing,” Tiffany Sheree Hudson, founder of Sheree Cosmetics, tells INSIDER. “It usually means that the eyeshadow doesn’t have a lot of fillers. Fillers are traditionally [substances like] talc, mica, etc. Good eyeshadow [without fillers] should actually give you kickback.”
Hudson particularly warns against eyeshadows containing talc, which has been the subject of some controversy lately due to its potentially cancer-inducing properties. “While in small amounts, [talc] shouldn’t be harmful, you always want to ensure you know what you are applying to your skin, because your skin absorbs anything that is put onto it. Talc is used in a lot of cosmetic products because it is a cheap filler that makes eyeshadows easy to produce for a cheaper price. But if you want to be on the safe side, choose an eyeshadow without talc,” she recommended.