Creating a fabulous eye look is seriously an art form (there’s a reason that they’re called makeup artists). But learning a few simple tricks of the trade can take you from eye shadow zero to eye shadow hero. We asked makeup artist Matthew Waitesmith, founder of Artis, to spill his favorite eye shadow hacks.
Apply a Light Beige Base to Make Shadow Pop
Many people suggest using a pure white base to make shadows look their best, but Waitesmith says that will make your eyes seem cartoonish. “The results will certainly pop, but it will likely look artificial.” Instead, he says to use a very light beige shadow base, like MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Painterly ($21, maccosmetics.com), because the undertones are more natural than a stark white. This will help to reflect light waves back so any shadow applied over it will be truer to the shade they are in the pan.
Use a Large Oval Brush to Apply All Your Shadows
You can forget using a separate brush for every different color of your shadow look. Waitesmith says that you can use the Artis Oval 3 Brush ($32, artisbrush.com) to apply each layer, including under the lower lash line. Simply sweep your base color over the lid, and then add more product to the targeted areas you want to be deeper with the same brush, just using different ends of the elongated brush head. Blend out with clean fingertips.
Create Depth With One Shadow
You don’t need to use multiple shadow colors to create a complex-looking eye look. Waitesmith says to simply look for an eye shadow with a complex mix of pigments. “They aren’t just one color, but instead have several over-and-under tones, sometimes mixed with subtle pearl or iridescent particles,” he says. “It looks dimensional because when you see it up close, you realize it has several pigment components and light refracting particles.” Try a multi-dimensional shadow like MAC’s Woodwinked ($16, maccosmetics.com) for an effortless effect that looks like it took time.
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Use Post-It Notes to Make A Crisp Edge
Everyone has different standards for blending, but if you’re a fan of the perfect outer edge, this one’s for you. Waitesmith says to apply a Post-It note to the outer edge of your eye to create a distinct line at the corner of your lid. Blend as needed, peel the note off, and voila—no rogue eye shadow.
Use Shadow as Liner
If you’re feeling a soft, blown-out liner look, turn to shadow—not liner. “Eye shadow makes a great soft-looking eyeliner,” says Waitesmith. He recommends wetting a liner brush, like the Artis Linear 1 Brush ($25, artisbrush.com), with a small amount of water. Then, draw on the shadow with a steady hand. Warning: He says to be careful about regularly wetting your shadows. “Most powder eye shadow formulas aren’t designed to withstand a moist environment, and if they don’t have the proper preservatives, a wet eye shadow pot can become a breeding ground for microbes.” Small amounts of water, people.
Use Darker Shadows to Make Eyes Seem Bigger and Farther Apart
“The ideal classic spacing for eyes is for both eye openings to be the same and for the distance between the eyes to be the same measurements as the eye opening,” says Waitesmith. “Most people don’t have these classic mathematical measurements, so sometimes we can use makeup to stimulate these classic proportions.” First, start with a lighter shadow applied all over the lid to create contrast. Then, he says to use a darker shadow beside the outside corner of each eye, blending outward toward the hairline. Then, trace a line of that same dark shadow along the upper and lower lash lines. “Using both shading applications together will make the eye look like it shifts outward from the center of the face,” he says.
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