When it comes to make-up, let’s face it – eyeshadow can be one of the most intimidating products in your arsenal. Some products like lipstick and foundation take a bit of practice to apply flawlessly, but you know exactly what you’re supposed to do with them. With eyeshadow, on the other hand, it can be tough to figure out exactly which shades in a palette go well with one another. Plus, some companies sell shades individually, so you’re forced to essentially combine a few shades from hundreds of possibilities in order to create the perfect colour combination. Talk about intimidating!
Some palettes have a few tips, including a diagram that assigns numbers to the shades and the portions of your eye they should go in (lid colours, crease colours, etc.), but honestly, it takes some time to truly master it. On your quest to becoming an eyeshadow pro, you’ll likely have a few missteps, but there are a few mistakes that you can easily avoid if you just know about them and know to notice them before you walk out in public with crazy eyeshadow. Here are 13 of the biggest eyeshadow mistakes you’re making – once you know about them, it’s a lot easier to avoid them, and you’ll be applying eyeshadow like a total pro in no time!
13 Not blending enough (or - gasp - at all!)
Eyeshadow can be tough – on the one hand, you don’t want a one-dimensional splash of colour across your lids. On the other hand, you don’t want your eyelids to look like a paint-by-numbers picture clear divisions between every shade. One of the biggest tips to take your eyeshadow game from amateur to seasoned pro is to blend, blend, blend. Once you’ve applied everything, you just blend like crazy until the shades run into one another and create a gorgeous look. Plus, let’s be honest – if you’re not exactly a pro, blending is an absolute gift, because it just makes everything look better even if your application wasn’t quite spot on.
12 Putting on way too much
There are some eyeshadows that are less pigmented than others, so you might find yourself applying a bit more of certain brands than others. However, there are some make-up fiends who take things to a whole new level. Eyeshadow is meant to enhance your eyes – not to surround them with clown make-up. Let’s just put it this way – if your smoky eye is so intense that you resemble a raccoon, you need to be a little less heavy handed with the eyeshadow brushes. Plus, for ladies with paler complexions, a heavily pigmented burst of colour around your eyes pretty much becomes the sole focus – and that’s not what you want when you’ve carefully done the rest of your make-up. What works for high fashion photoshoots doesn't necessarily work for everyday life.
11 Not using primer
Look, we get it – primer isn’t that fun. You put it on, it blends into your skin, and there’s absolutely no change visually. It’s far more fun to layer on gorgeous shades and coats of mascara than to apply your primer. However, if you want your eyeshadow to stay gorgeous all day, primer is an absolute non-negotiable. It prevents creasing and basically ensures that everything will stay exactly as you applied it until you choose to remove it – no smoky shades smudging underneath your eye a few hours after you leave the house. Plus, honestly – it takes about 30 seconds to swipe some primer on, there’s really no reason not to.
10 Putting dark shadow in the corners of your eyes
Many people have heard of the eyeshadow trick of highlighting your eyes by applying some white or very light colour, often with a bit of a shimmer, to the inner corners. It draws the light, and makes your eyes look bigger, brighter, and more awake. However, if you figured the same principle applied to any eyeshadow shade, think again. While white or very light shades will brighten your eyes and make them appear larger, applying a dark shadow to the inner corners of your eyes will just make you look tired and make your eyes look smaller.
9 Matching your eyeshadow to your eye color
When it comes to eyeshadow shades, the majority of women opt for fairly neutral colours. After all, one of the reasons that Urban Decay’s Naked palettes are so popular is that they deliver gorgeous neutral shades – bronzes, champagnes, deep chocolates, shimmery caramels, etc. However, every now and then a girl wants to mix it up and pick something with a bit more colour – why not? Just don’t make the mistake of picking up a shade that’s too similar to your eye colour – while it won’t look awful, it just won’t make your eyes pop as much. Instead, flatter your eye colour by picking a shadow on the opposite side of the colour wheel. For example, for green eyes, opt for a rich burgundy or purple shade.
8 Using the applicators that come with the eyeshadow
Look, it’s convenient that most eyeshadows come with mini applicators within the packaging – perhaps you’re on the run and need a quick touch up and don’t want to lug around your whole makeup bag. However, stop to think – have you ever seen a make-up artist use those teeny applicators for a professional job? No. Because they’re horrible. The teeny sponge tip delivers a punch of colour, but it’s tough to blend out the splotchy shadow it delivers. You don’t need to splurge on the most expensive brushes – but, if you want your eyeshadow to look polished and fabulous, pick up a set of brushes from the drug store. Even the cheapest ones will be better than the plastic applicators your eyeshadow came with.
7 Applying too much below the eye
There are constantly different trends when it comes to the world of make-up, but one that did absolutely no one any favours was the decision to apply a ring of colour around the entire eye. Above the eye is where your eyeshadow art should play out – from highlighting your brow bone to defining your crease to blending several shades across your lid, it’s where you have the most room to play. However, some women also like to dab a bit of colour along their lower lash line. That’s totally fine, and can often look gorgeous – just be careful not to put too much below the eye, or you’ll just end up dragging your whole look down and appearing tired.
6 Putting your concealer on before your eyeshadow
The order in which you put on your make-up is really just a matter of preference, but if you want to keep your look clean and sharp, there’s one tip you should know – never put your concealer on before your eyeshadow. Why? Well, even if you’re a seasoned pro who has been blending with the best of them for years, when you apply your eyeshadow, there will likely be a few pigments that fall below your eye – and if you’ve just applied concealer, all that loose powder will stick right to it. Make things easy for yourself and apply eyeshadow, then concealer when you’re done. I mean, who wants to ruin all their hard work?
5 Using liquid foundation instead of primer
You know that you don’t want to apply eyeshadow to your bare lids, but you’ve run out of primer, so you swap out some liquid foundation instead. After all, they’re both just neutral nude shades that create a base for your colourful shadow, right? Wrong. Foundation has a totally different formula than primer, and even though it may make the colours pop initially, it’s more likely to stick in the crease, cake up, and basically just make your eyeshadow super unflattering. If you don’t have primer, skip it for a day – don’t try to create some type of substitute.
4 Using way too many colours
While most women keep their eyeshadow shades fairly neutral for their average daily look, it can be a ton of fun to pick some wild shades for a night out. After all, why not punch up your LBD with a vibrant purple smoky eye? However, when you’re going for bolder shades, just remember – life isn’t a YouTube tutorial. While it’s fun to experiment with crazy looks, stepping into a bar with a neon rainbow on your lids won’t get you the type of attention you’re looking for. We totally support rocking a bold look, but try to at least keep things within a similar colour family – you don’t need to use every shade in your palette at once.
3 Using one shade
You don’t always feel like carefully blending four different shades for the perfect eye makeup look, we get it. And there are definitely ways to rock a simpler look – a very sheer wash of one colour can be gorgeous. However, if you’re not blending any colours, make sure to keep your eyeshadow sheer. If you apply a heavy layer of a single shade to your entire eye – lid, crease, brow bone, etc. – you’ll just look like you stepped out of a two-dimensional cartoon.
Adding a bit of light, reflective eyeshadow to the inner corners of the eyes can have a huge impact. Your eyes will look brighter and more open, and it’s a great chance to add a bit of shimmer or glitter to your stable of matte eyeshadow. However, just because the colour is light doesn’t mean that there’s no limit to how much you can put on. Just like a heavy-handed smoky eye can look atrocious, having huge, piercing white chunks of shadow in the inner corners of your eyes will just make you look strange. Highlighting should make you look more bright and refreshed up close – someone shouldn’t be able to spot it from across the room.
1 Going too heavy above the crease
Ah, the crease – for eyeshadow rookies, it can be tough to know exactly what shades you’re supposed to put there, how much, where the lid actually turns into crease and where the crease ends, etc. It takes some time to figure it all out, but there’s one thing you should definitely avoid – going far too heavy with your crease colour. Now, shading the crease can take your eye makeup to the next level, so as long as you blend it out properly, it’s not a step you should skip. However, just be careful with how much you apply – it’s better to have a look that’s a bit too light than to go far too heavy with your crease shade.