Eye Shadow Techniques: How to Make Your Eyes Pop

eyeshadow techniquesThe eyes are the window to the soul, or, at least, that’s the general consensus. However, whether that statement holds true or not, it’s certainly fair to claim that the eyes are among the first features to be noticed upon introduction. Eye color, eye shape, amount of eye contact; all are taken into account upon first impression, but another, more easily manipulated factor is also taken into account when meeting for the first time: the pigment and vivacity of the make-up applied to highlight the eyes. In the sections to follow, we will first discuss a wide variety of choices when it comes to deciding upon the right eye shadow for you, and then list a few techniques that are commonly used in the application of the shadow.

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Choosing an Eye Shadow

Before discussing the specific techniques that are used when applying eye shadow, it’s pertinent to acknowledge the various different types of shadow that are on the market, along with when they are used and how to apply each.

Matte Powder

  • When to use:

Matte powder is most functional for those who are new to the art of eye shadow application. The product is by far the easiest to apply and adjusts well to nearly every skin tone. This type of powder is a wise choice for those who are seeking out a starter product to experiment with before moving onto more advanced products. In addition to simplicity in usage, matte powder is also quite reasonably priced.

  • How to use:

In order to apply matte powder, simply use a q-tip or eye shadow application tool to spread the product evenly across the eyelid, ensuring that the lid is coated from base to crease. For a more brilliant result, you could also consider purchasing a crease brush when using darker eye shadow colors.

Loose Powder

  • When to use:

Loose powder, as opposed to matte powder, provides a more festive look due to its deep pigment and brilliant color. The powder is less packed than the previously mentioned product and calls for a thicker coating, meaning this product may need to be replenished more often. The price of this product runs a bit higher than matte powder, but the color result certainly will prove to be worth the extra dozen or so dollars you spend.

  • How to use:

While loose powder can be applied in thick layers, an alternative approach to the product is laying on just a thin coating on the crease of the eyelid. Also, smudging a hint of loose powder along the line of your lashes or in the corners of your eyelid provides additional depth.

Sheer Powder

  • When to use:

Sheer powder, which is more similar in form to loose powder than matte powder, is best used when the intention of the wearer is to subtly highlight certain areas of the face in order to draw attention to a specific facial feature. For example, applying this product in the eye region will garner the interest of onlookers and direct their gaze to the color and shape of your eyes. Sheer powder typically ranges in price from $10 to $20.

  • How to use:

In order to apply this product, you’ll need to purchase a small natural-hair brush. A few choice products include the brush in the packaging, but many require that the application tool be purchased in advance. Once you’ve obtained both tool and powder, simply swirl the brush around the lid of the jar and lightly dust the eyelids or cheekbones.

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Shimmer Powder

  • When to use:

Shimmer powder is mostly recommended for use by younger woman due to its tendency to draw particular attention to the corner of the eye, which, in older women, may contain wrinkles. However, for those caught in between their teens and middle age, experts advise seeking out a shimmer tone that consists of subtle flecks of light, rather than an excessive amount of sparkles. Shimmer powder can be purchased for under $10 at most locations.

  • How to use:

Whether the intention be to provide a soft wash of pigment over the eyelids or attract immediate attention to the area of choice, shimmer powder goes on easy and is functional for many different occasions. Simply smudge the product along the line of your lashes or apply gently across the entire eyelid for a richer result.

Smudge Pots

  • When to use:

Pots are best used when in a hurry as the product goes on quickly without a great deal of effort or frustration. While application tools or wands can be used with this product, the most simplified and commonly used method of application is simply the user’s fingers. Pots are especially well recognized for their ability to be blended together with more ease than any other similar product. The typical smudge pot costs approximately $20.

  • How to use:

Smudge pots can be applied by placing a single dot of color in the center of the lid and using a window wiper type movement to cover the lid from base to crease. Additionally, mixing multiple smudge pot colors can create unique pigments, as well as add a touch of originality to your ensemble.


  • When to use:

Wands are advised exclusively for those who know their way around a line of make-up products. It takes a great deal of time and practice to master the art of this product, but once the applicant learns the proper use, they may never return to their old eye shadow products. The relatively permanent nature of this product (until the next face wash) proves to be the enemy of those who make a mistake when using the wand and the answered prayer to those who have been vying for a product that lasts throughout the day. This product typically runs a bit higher than the aforementioned ones, ranging in price from $20 to $30.

  • How to use:

The easiest and most recommended form of application for this product is smudging the want on the pad of your pointer finger, then applying the pigment to the eyelid, smearing from inner corner to outer crease.

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Application Techniques

Now that we’ve discussed the various different types of eye shadow, as well as the result of each when applied, let’s take a look at the three techniques that are most frequently used when it comes to the application of these varied products:

Technique 1: Fine Line

The fine line technique consists of two steps, which, when put together, result in a simple, yet elegant make up style. The most highly recommended product to use with this technique is matte powder.

Step 1: Using either a q-tip or an application tool, fill the brush with pigment from a dry powder shadow.

Step 2: Trace the edge of the brush or q-tip along the edge of the upper lashes of your eyelid. Once the product has been applied, use a clean brush or q-tip to touch up the area, ensuring that nothing but a clean line of pigment along the lashes remains.

Technique 2: One Color

The one-color technique is comprised of two steps, resulting in a bold color statement. Nearly any of the products listed above can be used with this particular technique.

Step 1: Choose a wider brush and dip the application tool into your eye shadow product of choice, tapping the product (once it’s filled with pigment) to remove any excess. If you do not currently have a wide brush in your possession, a finger will make an appropriate substitute.

Step 2: Dust the brush on the entirety of the lid until the pigment has been applied evenly from base to crease. If the product you are using happens to be a darker pigment, apply more product behind the lashes and blend until it naturally lightens at the crease.

Technique 3: Two Shades

The two-shade technique, like the two previously listed, consists of two steps and, when applied correctly, results in a smoky-eye look.

Step 1: Using an application tool, coat the entire eyelid in a neutral tone such as beige or light brown. Make sure to cover everything from lash line to brow bone.

Step 2: With a smaller brush, apply a pigment at least two shades darker than the neutral tone to the space where the brow bone hits the crease. Continue brushing in a half moon format until the eyelid seems to pop.

To learn more about other processes that go into maintaining a healthy body, check out this course on beauty therapy, which covers a wide variety of topics, from facials to eyelash treatments. Also, take a look at this blog post on how to give your eyelids a pop of color.