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What is Eyeshadow?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 21, 2024
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One type of makeup that is used to enhance the eyes is commonly called eyeshadow. While it is frequently used to shade or "shadow" the eyes, it is also used to lighten, brighten, and make eyes appear larger. Many different types of enhancements can be achieved through different uses of color, shading, and blending techniques.

Many popular eyeshadows come in powdered form and contain talc, but there are also cream and liquid shadows. Cream shadows should be used above the crease of the eye and are not recommended for the area below the eye, as they can develop a crepe-like texture, adding years to the appearance of the eyes. Liquid eyeshadow creates a "wet" or shimmering appearance and both cream and liquid shadows work well as a base for powdered eyeshadow.

The traditional way to use eyeshadow is to apply different shades from one corner of the eye to the other, blending from light to dark. Starting with light colors from the inside corner and blending to dark will make eyes appear farther apart and larger. Keep in mind that light colors are used to highlight and accent the shape of the eye, while dark colors are used to shade and gently change the shape.

Eyeshadow can also be used as an eyeliner. Gently sweep eyeshadow on with an angle brush just under the lower lashes or just above the upper lashes, following the lash line closely. Most shadows can be used wet or dry, but when wetting eyeshadow be sure to wet the same area each time, keeping the rest dry. Once eyeshadow has become wet, it will not apply as easily unless you wet it again.

A common mistake when applying eyeshadow is using a color that matches your eyes. Technically, colors that would be opposites on the color wheel are the ideal shades for drawing attention to your eyes. If you have blue eyes, you are probably thinking orange is not going to work for you, but consider the different shades of orangey colors such as peach or soft melon. Green and hazel eyes are complimented by strong, warm colors such as chocolate browns and colors found in sunsets, while people with brown eyes can wear nearly any shade they choose, since their eyes are a neutral color.

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Discussion Comments
By PurpleSpark — On Jan 13, 2011

@medicchristy: The smokey look is definitely a popular look now. It’s pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it. You should apply your other makeup first, except concealer. You should use concealer after you are finished with your eye shadow. You will also want to prime your eye lids. I use concealer as a good base for my lids.

Use a neutral colored base shadow over your entire eye lid. I use a beige color. Line your eyes with a black eyeliner pencil. Get as close to your lashes as possible. Using the brush that came with your eye shadow, apply black eye shadow over the eyeliner. Take a Q-tip and gently smudge the eye shadow.

Apply a light brown or gray shadow to your eyelid. Go all the way from the lash line to the crease of your lid. Gently smudge the shadow. Coat your lashes with black mascara.

By medicchristy — On Jan 12, 2011

I love the "smokey eye" look but I have no idea how to apply my eye shadow to make it look that way. Any suggestions?

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