Thousands of years ago, ancient Egyptians would use everything from powdered lead to crushed precious stones to enhance the shape and colour of their eyes. Thankfully, today’s modern woman has far more options. We’ve never been so spoilt for choice with the number of colours, textures and formulations available to us. However, getting the desired effect is another matter.

We’ve put together a simple eyeshadow guide to demystify its application. Whatever your age, eye shape and skin colour, we’ll help you identify the best eyeshadow palettes for your needs. Confidence is key, and with this guide putting your eyeshadow on will be a breeze ¬– you’ll be able to integrate it into your daily beauty routine in no time.

Eyeshadow Texture

Most eyeshadows come in one of these three styles. Creams are an excellent choice for beginners as they're easiest to blend and you can simply swipe them on with your fingers. Powders usually require a brush so can be trickier to control, but have the advantage of lasting longer. Loose pigments (think bright, shimmery colours and glitter) are the ones to choose when you really want to pack a punch.

Eyeshadow Finish

Matte shadows work well for a natural everyday look, and they look great with all skin types. Frosted or satin eyeshadows are more eye-catching but tend to draw attention to fine lines – try using them to accentuate the outer corner of your upper lash line instead of as a base for a more subtle effect.

Eyeshadow Brushes

There’s a dazzling array of eye makeup brushes available. While they all serve a purpose, you don’t need to rush into buying one of each right now. Investing in a good quality application brush and blending brush should be more than sufficient for simple and natural eye makeup looks. You can branch out into crease, contour and lining brushes as you improve your skills.

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Eyeshadow Tips

Whether you want to pull off a dramatic smoky eye for an evening out or are just after a bit of everyday enhancement, these tips will help you to perfect your look every time:

  • Remember to blend: For a smooth fade of colour with no visible lines, blending is the perfect technique to use for a professional application.
  • Start with less: It’s easier to add more colour than remove it. Start with a small amount, and build up from there.
  • Balance light and dark: As a rule, light and frosted colours will draw attention to an area, while dark and matte shades recede it.
Eyeshadow Apply

This simple formula is the basis for most makeup looks. It'll define, open up and add depth to your eyes. Use earthy brown tones for a natural daytime style, or stray into inky blacks and rich greens or purples for a sultry smoky eye.

  1. Prepare your base: Start with a clean eyelid. Apply a concealer up to your brow bone to cover up any patchiness. If your eyelids are oily, you can follow this with setting powder. Now select your base colour (a mid-toned neutral shade) and apply it all over your eyelid, blending upwards towards the brow bone using a blending brush.

  2. Define your crease: Use a colour that's one or two shades darker than your base colour. Take your application brush and apply this shade to your crease, then use your blending brush to smudge it in. Depending on the depth of your crease, you might need to apply more of this shade for it to be visible.

  3. Add depth: Using a dark shade, go over the top and bottom outer third of your eye. Gradually build up colour until you've achieved the desired level of intensity. An everyday look will require a lighter hand while an evening occasion gives you more leeway to go bold.

  4. Finishing touches: Apply a thin layer of eyeliner to your top lid. If your eyes are prominent you can line the bottom lash line as well, and finish off with swipe of mascara. You could also add false eyelashes if it’s a special occasion.

The best thing about eye makeup is that once you get the basics right, the sky's the limit. Experiment with your favourite shades and find a set of colours that work for you. You can really get creative with your looks, and our step-by-step guide is the perfect starting point.