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Are you new to makeup? If so, all of the eyeshadow options may seem exhausting. The average woman owns 12 different eyeshadows! While you don’t need to own that many eyeshadows, it is useful to know how to find the best eyeshadow, which can include the best colors, palettes, and more.
Eyeshadow Basics to Know
Before we cover finding the best eyeshadow, it’s worth it to know some basics of eyeshadow, buying the product, applying it, and caring for your products. This will not only help you find the best product but you’ll also know how to care for it.
Many palettes have colors for specific purposes, but you may also enjoy using certain colors on specific parts of the eye. To make the best purchase, knowing the lingo is crucial.
Here are the different parts of the eye for eyeshadow application:
- Upper lashline: area on the upper lash, where eyeliner is applied (though you can apply shadow here
- Lower lashline: area on the lower lash where eyeliner is also applied (but you can also apply shadow here)
- Lid: the part that covers your eyeball
- Crease: area between your lid and browbone
- Browbone: area right under your eyebrow
- Inner corner: the inner part of the eye
- Outer corner/outer V: outer corner of your eye
Know Your Eye Shape
There are different shading techniques for each eye shape, so it’s important to know your eye shape before choosing eyeshadows or a palette. Here’s a breakdown of each:
- Double lid: fold over your eyes when open
- Monolid: no defined crease
- Almond eyes: inner and outer corners are aligned
- Hooded eyes: lid and crease aren’t visible when the eye is open
- Downturned eyes: inner corners are lower than outer corners
- Upturned eyes: outer corners are higher than inner corners
- Protruding eyes: eyeballs are set forward
- Deep-set eyes: eyeballs are set back in the sockets
- Wide-set eyes: inner corners are far from the bridge of the nose
- Close-set eyes: inner corners are close to the bridge of the nose
Keep in mind, some people have two different eye shapes. Be sure to read each description and if more than one describes your eye shape.
The Different Formulas
Eyeshadow comes in multiple formulas. Pressed eyeshadow is the most common and popular, but cream, liquid, and loose pigments are also popular formulas. Choose the best formula depending on preference
Run-Down of Different Eyeshadow Brushes
When it comes to eyeshadow application, the brush you use matters. Going back to the parts of the eye, there are eyeshadow brushes you use to apply different shadows, depending on where you’re applying them.
Here’s a breakdown of the different brushes:
- Precision shadow brush: smaller and contained head, packs on pigment
- Large shadow brush: larger and fluffier, sweeps on a pigment (I usually use this on my lid)
- Blending tip brush: blending brush that has a defined tip, ideal for blending small areas
- Blending shadow brush: blends larger areas
- Precision liner brush: small and pointy brush used to apply liner or shadow to the lash lines
- Angled liner brush: angled brush used to apply liner on the upper and lower lids and even to apply brow powder (I also use these to apply a sharper V on my outer corner)
- Smudge brush: blends eyeliner and shadow on the lash lines
How to Intensify Your Eyeshadow Color
So you purchased a seriously intense eyeshadow color but it’s still not intense enough. What do you do?
I personally continue building color, until I get the payoff I want. However, many also recommend you wet the brush first (I wouldn’t wet it too much, though, just dampen it). Some also apply white eyeliner to the lids, though I’ve never tried this.
When Should You Apply Your Eyeshadow?
Oh, the ongoing debate in the makeup world. When do you apply eyeshadow? Do you apply it before or after foundation, or what? I personally apply eyeshadow first, before foundation. When there’s fallout, the foundation will easily remove the extra pigments (I will cover this later).
But some prefer applying eyeshadow after foundation. Many have told me their foundation/contouring process takes the longest, and they would just rather get it out of the way. My foundation/contouring process takes no time but I focus more on the eyes, so I feel the same way about getting my eye makeup out of the way.
Don’t Forget the Primer
No matter what eyeshadow color you’re wearing, always apply primer first. Primer creates a barrier between your skin and the eyeshadow pigment, ensuring your shadow stays longer. Without primer, you risk your shadow falling/wearing off and creasing.
Palettes vs Singles
Should you buy eyeshadow singles or a palette? There are no rules! If you see a single shadow you love, get it! If you see a palette you love, get it! But for most, palettes are more convenient. You get a variety of shades and you can find all types of eyeshadow palettes on the market.
Blend, Blend, Blend
A mistake that beginners make is they don’t blend. Blending softens your shadow so it doesn’t muddy up your look. Blending is integral if you use more than one color since blending them will better combine them.
As stated in the brushes section, you’ll want to use a specific blending brush. This will achieve the best results.
The Way You Look in the Mirror Matters
This is especially important if you have hooded eyes. Tilt your head slightly back when applying eyeshadow to your crease. This way, you can control the color you apply, blend better, and see your crease more clearly.
Don’t Flip If There Is Fallout
Fallout is an inevitable part of the eyeshadow application process. What is fallout? Fallout is the eyeshadow pigment that falls around your face when you apply the shadow. But you can reduce and remove fall out easily. As I said, I apply my eyeshadow first and then clean up the fallout with the foundation. It’s also recommended that you tap your brush to remove excess dust.
I’ve seen other creative ways to prevent fallout.
Apply colorless powder under your eyes before your makeup, then wipe it all away with a face powder brush. I’ve seen some people apply tape under their eyes, though I wouldn’t recommend this since it may irritate the skin. They do make eyeshadow shields for this purpose.
Simple cotton swabs and balls will also take off any excess pigment.
Setting Spray Is Your Friend
Want your eyeshadow to last all day? Spritz your face with some setting spray after eyeshadow application. I’ve also heard of people spraying their face before and after eyeshadow/makeup application, though I’ve never tried this before.
Always Clean Your Eyeshadow Brushes
I can’t stress this enough. Clean your eyeshadow brushes regularly. Dirty eyeshadow brushes make it more difficult to apply and blend eyeshadow. The color payoff also won’t be as accurate or intense as it is in the pan. Not only that, but dirty makeup brushes can harbor bacteria.
How often should you wash your brushes? If you wear makeup frequently, I recommend washing them once a week. I don’t wear makeup too often anymore, so I make it a point to wash my brushes when the brushes are loaded with pigment and it becomes too difficult to blend.
Practice Makes Perfect
Applying eyeshadow can be daunting for beginners and you may not get the perfect look right away.
Fear not — practice makes perfect. When I was younger, I used to spend my evenings looking at pictures in magazines and imitating the looks as close as I could. That’s how I learned how to apply eyeshadow. And these were in the days before YouTube, so you all have it easy now!
How to Choose the Best Eyeshadow Colors
One of the best parts about eyeshadow shopping is choosing different colors! But what if you don’t know which color to wear?
Other Makeup You’re Wearing
While I’m someone who believes there are no rules to makeup, some eyeshadow colors look best with certain makeup shades you’re wearing.
For example, if you’re wearing a bold lip, avoid wearing bold eyeshadow colors. Then again, I break this rule constantly because one of my typical looks is a smoky eye with either red or plum lipstick. Don’t judge me, I’m forever Morticia Addams!
Some color combinations look amazing together. Here are a few examples:
- Champagne and coral
- Golden eyeshadow with red lipstick
- Violet and taupe
- Emerald green eyeshadow and a nude lip
- Burgundy or maroon lips and a copper eyeshadow
- Blue eyeshadow and coral lipstick
Certain eyeshadow colors look best with specific skin colors and undertones. Here’s a general breakdown for skin color:
- Pale: copper, bronze, and pink
- Medium-pale: cinnamon, gold, rust, and red
- Olive: cool-toned shades, like teal and emerald green, to tone down the olive undertones, and neutral shades such as golden brown look more natural
- Dark brown: every eyeshadow color looks flattering on you!
- Dark: don’t be afraid to go bold with bright and metallic colors, such as teal and purple. Coral and rose gold is best for a toned-down look
What about your undertone? Look for colors that emphasize your unique undertones. If you have a cool undertone, opt for cool colors such as greens, blues, and purples. If you have warm undertones, opt for warm shades such as orange, gold, and red. If you have a neutral undertone, you can wear any shade!
Many people match their eyeshadow with the color of their outfits. But I also like matching my eyeshadow with the type of outfit I’m wearing.
If your outfit is simple and only features a color or two, play up your eyes with bolder colors. Teal and cobalt blue are great examples. But if you aren’t a bold makeup person, then some classic colors that match with everything include rose gold, terracotta, and mauve.
If you’re wearing an outfit that’s rich in color, I suggest opting for traditional colors. These include nudes, pinks, soft purples, and subtle reds if you want something more eye-catching. Metallics are a great choice if you want something bolder. Examples include copper, gold, and bronze.
Many people like styling their eyeshadow with their eye color. Here’s a list of the different shadows that look great with certain eye colors:
- Black: silver, gold, bronze, and any metallics
- Brown: you can wear practically any shade, but the shades that look best are green, purple, bronze, dark blue, and copper
- Blue: rich browns, earthy tones, gray, gold, bronze, and dark/smoky colors
- Green/hazel: taupe, neutral pink, red, earthy tones, purple, and gold
- Gray: silver and icy blue, though this eye color is also versatile
Mixing Eyeshadow Colors
Let’s say you want to mix things up (literally) and combine different eyeshadow colors. This is a great way to create definition and spice up your eyes! But how do you know which eyeshadow colors mix well and which ones don’t?
A good first course of action is to only use the same colors in a palette. Makeup brands are very smart with the colors they choose in a palette; they only use colors that you can mix and match.
Let’s say there are two colors you want to mix and they’re in two different palettes. Pairing a warm color and a cool color is always a classic method. For example, gold (warm color) and pink (cool color) is a great color combination.
You can also refer to these tried and true color combinations, which include:
- Blue and cinnamon
- Gold and nude
- Coral and blue
- Gray and beige
How to Choose the Best Eyeshadow and Palette
Now that you know the basics of wearing eyeshadow, you can choose your best eyeshadow. You can also opt for a palette if you want more options. Here’s how to choose both.
While you may love colorful eyeshadow, some occasions call for basic colors. For example, many workplaces have strict dress codes on makeup.
Always consider the occasion when choosing eyeshadow colors. It’s best to have a natural and basic palette for these moments.
What if you tend to only wear basic eyeshadow and want to spice things up? Parties and holidays are the perfect opportunities to experiment and go crazy. If you find an eyeshadow color or palette that stands out to you, don’t be afraid to buy it and have some fun with the pretty colors.
In addition, more palettes are becoming versatile, offering both basic and fun colors. These palettes are great to buy if you’re not sure what look you want or if you change up your look constantly.
Going by Your Eye Color
While we mentioned choosing eyeshadow shades for your eye color, did you know that many makeup brands make palettes specifically for eye color? These colors are expertly chosen because they complement certain eye colors. It’s a guarantee the colors in those palettes will look amazing on you.
All eyeshadow singles and palettes are different sizes and there’s no right answer on the size of your palette. If you wear makeup daily or love changing up your look, you should choose larger palettes. If you wear makeup seldomly, choose a smaller palette or maybe individual singles.
As stated previously, more makeup brands are becoming smarter about their palettes.
They may combine basic, colorful, and smoky shades in one palette to appeal to everyone. You can also find palettes that include highlighters, bronzers, and even lipsticks all in one palette. This is ideal if you like your products all in one place.
There are also other reasons to buy a versatile palette. If the palette has a black or brown shade, you can use an angled liner brush and use that color as your eyeliner so you don’t have to buy a separate product. Another example is using corals and pinks as blush.
The Best Brands for Eyeshadows and Palettes
While there are best practices when shopping for eyeshadows and palettes, everyone is going to look for different qualities and factors in an eyeshadow. That’s why I’m boiling down this list to eyeshadow brands I recommend, rather than individual products and palettes.
If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you know I swear by Urban Decay eyeshadow. They were the first high-end brand I discovered and have countless palettes and eyeshadow singles from them.
And I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Urban Decay has a serious cult following, especially with their Naked palettes. You can find numerous colors in both their singles and their palettes, so you can achieve any look with UD colors.
The quality of UD eyeshadow also stands out. Their shadows are extremely blendable and so buttery when you apply them. The shadows are always long-lasting and their colors, even the neutrals, are so vibrant.
Nars is definitely on the high-end and expensive side, but you won’t look back. I personally swear by their concealers and lip products, but their eyeshadows are also amazing. Their colors are all very versatile and look amazing on anyone, regardless of skin tone and eye color.
Even though this brand is pricey, you get what you pay for. You’ll likely be using their palettes frequently. My only complaint is that they don’t offer too many big palettes compared to other brands like Urban Decay, but they’re ideal for daily wear.
I’m always supportive of recommending cheaper dupes, and Milani is an affordable brand I recommend to anyone who’s looking for great quality makeup. Their eyeshadows are all smooth, easily buildable, and I don’t experience fallout which is a rarity. They also last all day.
Before, my only complaint was their palettes and pans were all small. But looking on their website, it seems like Milani has added larger palettes to their collection. And even their large palettes are cheap, such as this gorgeous palette that’s only $20!
I have an eyeshadow single from Naked Cosmetics and I like it.
This brand is becoming more famous because of the clean ingredients. None of their products contain oils, talc, fillers, or even waxes. The pigment on the shadows is amazing. The shadows are also versatile — you can use them as eyeliner, bronzer, or blush.
For those who want high-end eyeshadow that is still affordable, I will always recommend Sephora Collection. I’ve owned a couple of their palettes and have multiple eyeshadow singles. The pigments are amazing and the shadows are long-wearing. My only complaint is they’re not the most blendable.
I’ve only used a little bit of Marc Jacobs makeup, but I love what I’ve used so far. While their palettes are small, this brand features a wide variety of colors. The eyeshadows go on like butter and are all silky smooth.
Nyx is very much a hit or miss for me, but I do like their eyeshadows and eyeliners. As a drugstore brand, Nyx offers a lot of versatility. You can find a variety of colors and finishes in their shadows. My only complaint is that not all shadows are highly pigmented, but they do blend easily.
I’ve personally never tried Huda Beauty and I always hear different things about this brand, but I always hear people raving about Huda’s eyeshadows.
Looking at her website, the eyeshadows here are very fun and you’ll never get bored of these eyeshadows. You can also find palettes for just about any look, so there’s serious versatility here.
Reading reviews, many people comment on the texture. I’m reading they’re very creamy and some shadows are even formulated with coconut oil and aloe.
Finally, I’m ending this with another drugstore brand. When I first started wearing makeup, Revlon was one of the first brands I tried. I had their little palettes and would never follow the directions when applying the shadows.
Even being a drugstore brand, I do remember these shadows were blendable and had a creamy texture. Overall, this brand makes beautiful eyeshadows if you want something simple without spending a ton of money.
Need More Eyeshadow Recommendations?
If you want specific eyeshadow recommendations, I recently reviewed the Urban Decay Wild West palette and I absolutely loved it! Take a look at my review and try the palette out for yourself.
Question: Do You Need to Clean an Eyeshadow Palette?
Answer: I honestly never have. But looking around online, some people say they clean eyeshadow residue with a makeup wipe.
However, I would clean eyeshadows and palettes if you got them from a friend or if they’re dusty. All you have to do is spritz some rubbing alcohol on the shadows and let it sit if you’re sanitizing them. If you’re cleaning off dust, lightly wipe off the alcohol. I would use a tissue.
Question: How Long Do Eyeshadow Palettes Last?
Answer: Eyeshadow palettes usually remain good for two years. Even after that, you may be able to use them, but they may not be as hygienic.
Question: Can You Use a Broken Eyeshadow or Palette?
Answer: I’ve had this happen — you use a palette frequently and either one or several colors break. Can you still use the palette? If you love the color that much, save the leftover pigments and wear them as loose powder.
But if several of the shadows are broken, I would just replace the palette. I guarantee that you’ll find a similar dupe somewhere.
If you’re new to makeup, choosing the right eyeshadow can be daunting. Applying eyeshadow can also be difficult for some people, such as knowing where to put specific colors and mixing the right shades. The way you apply shadow also depends on your eye shape, the colors you choose also depend on your eye color and skin tone, and more. Use this guide when selecting your next eyeshadow palette!