How to Apply Eyeshadow Like a Pro

Celebrity makeup artists share their step-by-step tips.

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Eye shadow application

BriAnne Wils

If you've ever gotten your makeup done professionally, then you know eyeshadow can take your whole makeup look to the next level. But if you don't often wear a lot of makeup, eyeshadow — and all of the palettes and brushes that come along with it — can feel pretty intimidating. Luckily, it doesn't have to involve hours of watching YouTube videos.

To help you get started, we spoke with makeup artists Adam Brechaud and Keandra Snagg to find out everything there is to know about how to apply eyeshadow correctly, so you can create looks ranging from no makeup makeup to all-out glam. Discover all of their pro tips and tricks, ahead.

What tools will I need to work with eyeshadow?

First, you'll want to make sure you have a good set of professional makeup brushes. Next, choose an eyeshadow you're dying to work with, as well as a good primer. Then to finish off, grab your favorite mascara and eyeliner. And don't forget to get creative.

Brechaud, who has worked with numerous celebrities, including American Horror Story star Sarah Paulson and Bridgerton actress Nicola Coughlan, stresses the importance of discovering what works best for you, rather than following trends. "The fun part of makeup is there really are no rules," he stresses.

Oh! And don't be afraid to use your hands if that's easier for you. "Some cream eyeshadows apply and spread easily with your finger," Brechaud shares.

However, if you're more into brushes, Snagg, the head makeup artist for ABC 7 NY, recommends the Laruce Beauty Tapered Blending Brush and Short Shadow Brush. "[They are] super soft and affordable," she explains.

VIDEO: The Unexpected Eye Makeup Color That's About to Be Everywhere

How do I apply eyeshadow?

Lucky for you, we've created a step-by-step guide with the help of our pros.

Step 1

Before applying any makeup, you want to ensure your skin and makeup brushes are clean.

For your skin, look for a hydrating facial cleanser like LLHOMD Beauty Pomegranate Collection Refresh Face Wash. Formulated with aloe vera, vitamin E, and pomegranate extract, this product will help to keep your skin moisturized and bright.

As for your eye makeup brushes, give them a good wash with something as simple as Dove Antibacterial Hand Wash or Dial Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap. Then, make sure to lay flat so they dry properly.

Step 2

priming the eye

BriAnne Wills

Prep your eyes by sweeping some primer across your lids.

"I find it helps the eyeshadow stay and look more pigmented," says Brechaud.

On the other hand, Snagg opts out of primer, and instead sticks with products such as cream blushes, cream eyeshadows, and vibrant eye pencils as her base. "It helps matte eyeshadows pop and the shimmer eyeshadows illuminate more while lasting all day," she says.

"Primers or cream shadow colors can be an easy way to add depth or gradation to your look," adds Brechaud.

Step 3

After your primer has been applied, it's time to build your base. The easiest way to create a beginner eye is to opt for a makeup palette with complementary colors. "Mented Cosmetics Everyday Eyeshadow Palette [is] great for beginners because it has shimmer and matte eyeshadows that are easy to apply and compliments all skin tones," shares Snagg.

While the color spectrum is your oyster, it's good to keep in mind that there are four general shades you will use to build the perfect beginner eyeshadow look: a neutral color on your base, a medium shade in your crease for depth, a darker color for the outer corner of your eye, and a shimmer shade or lighter color to highlight underneath your brow and for your inner eye to open them up.

"If you like to play with deep dark [tones] like deep browns, purples, greys, and blacks, try using a smaller brush to help control where you place the shadow," instructs Brechaud. For bright colors like red, blue, pink, and green, Brechaud reveals that they "tend to all apply and blend slightly different." So make sure to keep this in mind when you are trying new colors. "Give yourself extra time to play and the grace to learn," the makeup artist advises.

Step 4

Start off with the neutral color and place it over your entire lid. Then you'll want to define your crease (where your lid and brow bone meet) with something that's complementary for the base. So for example, say you are using a light brown; you may want to use a slightly darker brown for the crease, then blend it out.

neutral eye shadow

BriAnne Wills

Step 5

For the outer corners of the eyes, start by taking an angled brush and applying a color darker than what you used on your crease. You'll want to create a V-shape from your lash line to the outer portion of your eye crease — and remember, start with just a little bit of product, then work your way up.

"Applying too much product is a repeated problem with everyone these days. Technique, the right brushes, and patience are key," Snagg shares.

darker eye shadow

BriAnne Wills

Step 6

Once you're done, you'll want to finish off your look with a highlight. Choose a shimmer shadow within your color palette, apply underneath your brow bone and in your inner eye, and watch your eyes pop!

shimmer eye shadow

BriAnne Wills

Step 7

Finally, you'll want to blend everything together. Although your eye makeup consists of four different colors, it shouldn't look like it. Spend time blending so the colors meld together and you don't have sharp lines. Blending brings the entire look together.

Step 8

After applying your shadow, now is the time to use your eyeliner. Snagg is a fan of The Lip Bar 'Straight Outta Patience' Eyeliner. "It's super black, soft, and long wearing," she reveals.

Brechaud also shares that it's important to pay attention to the eyeliner formula before applying. "Some stay 'wet' and 'moveable' longer and some almost immediately 'dry' and want to stay in place," he explains. "Depending on your eye shape and liner abilities, the first can be helpful as you have more time to move and apply it. However, if you have a smaller eyelid or a hooded eyelid, this type of liner can get all over quickly if you blink or look up before it's dry. In [this] case, the second type of liner might suit you better."

eyeliner application

BriAnne Wills

Step 9

Finish off your new eye look with your favorite mascara (or faux lashes if you prefer).

mascara application

BriAnne Wills

Are There Any Hacks I Should Keep In Mind While Applying Eyeshadow?

"Take either your favorite bronzer or blush and use it as an overall monochromatic look," suggests Brechaud.

final look

BriAnne Wills

Photographer: BriAnne Willis, assisted by Katy Andrascik. Hair: Madison Sullivan. Makeup: Hiro Yonemoto. Production: Retouching: Kevin Lee. Kelly Chiello, assisted by Amanda Lauro.

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