In speaking to countless women about makeup over the course of my career, one thing has become very clear: There is no other makeup product that induces more fear than the humble eyeshadow.
Perhaps it’s because of the experiences you had with those lovely shades of blue in the 80s and 90s.
Perhaps it’s because any time you attempt a smoky eye, you end up resembling a racoon (or a victim of a punch out).
Perhaps it’s because you’ve been told your eyes aren’t suited to eyeshadow due to being a glasses wearer, not having enough lid space, having too much lid space… the list goes on.
The good news is that anyone can wear eyeshadow well. But first, it’s crucial you avoid the following 3 [way too common] mistakes women are making when attempting to apply eyeshadow.
1. Not priming your lids
If you’ve noticed your eyeshadow seems to move around, settle into creases or even end up looking shiny, you’re probably not priming your lid properly. What’s priming exactly? It means putting down the equivalent of a base coat so your eyeshadow has something to stick to.
THE FIX: On a cleansed and moisturised face (if you’re oily, I recommend trying Sukin’s Charcoal Oil Balancing range), either put down some eyelid primer using a brush or a matte concealer (the kind that comes in a little pot) with your ring finger. Pat it down so it’s even, then use a tiny bit of setting powder to lock it in place. Now you can begin your eyeshadow routine.
2. Using cheap and/or glittery eyeshadows
I’m all for a budget-friendly makeup kit, but not all cheap eyeshadows are made equal. Some of them are really difficult to blend with uneven pigment distrobution (a fancy way for saying they’re going to look patchy and gross), and often they feature nasty looking glitter (not shimmer — I’m talking about flecks of glitter in a contrasting colour to the powder) that gives off tween vibes and looks particularly bad in flash photography.
THE FIX: Go for matte shades of eyeshadow in very neutral colours and make sure you try them out on the back of your hand to see whether they go on smoothly or look quite transparent and patchy. Cruelty-free drugstore brand NYX tends to create good quality products across their entire range, whereas CoverGirl and Maybelline are a bit hit and miss.
3. Keeping your eye closed while applying shadow
If you have a lot of space between the lid and eyebrow or a lack of lid definition due to hooded eyes, keeping the eye closed the whole time you apply eyeshadow can mean the eyeshadow looks out of proportion or ends up hidden when you open your eye. This means your eyeshadow efforts are either completely wasted or don’t work to open up and define the eye.
THE FIX: When applying your transition shade (the light shade colour that sits in the gap under your brow bone), keep your eye open to make sure it’s being applied where you can actually see it. If you have a lot of space between the lid and brow, you want to break up that space with the shadow. And if you have hooded eyes, your aim is to create the appearance of a shadow where the crease should be, which you can only do accurately with the lid open.
There’s obviously more to nailing your eyeshadow than avoiding these issues, but these big 3 are the perfect starting point, so give them a try and see how you go. If you want to dig deeper, I’d love to invite you into my free mini makeup course, #READYINTEN where I’ll walk you through the steps to creating a low-maintenance beauty routine. Hope to see you there!
Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.