The key to good eyeshadow is blending, blending, blending! Back in the day of my first Wet ‘n’ Wild quad, I just slapped those shadows on with the sponge-tipped applicator and called it a day. With a little bit of blending you can create beautifully simple looks all the way up to complex looks that use more than the standard three shadows.
Before getting started with blending, there are a few key points you should know:
1- Know your eye shape and type. I have deep set eyes, which does impact how I apply my shadow.
2- Know the basic parts of the eyelid: the lid itself, the crease (right above the curve of the actual eyeball, basically), and the brow bone (just under your eyebrow).
3- Get the right tools– You don’t need to have high end brushes, but you should invest in a good blending brush. There are many options $10 and under at drugstore prices. Also, I recommend having a good shader brush as well.
4- Use a shadow primer. This will smooth out the lid and ensure that your shadow stays all day.
Now, let’s have a very dramatic look at poorly applied eyeshadow and how it can be fixed with blending!
This is a matte shadow from Illamasqua called Forgiveness. I applied it all over my lid, without concern about these choppy parts since we’re blending it out! I used a MAC 239 brush for this, which is just a shader brush. Because my eyes are deep set, I applied it up into the crease a bit. This is just looking like a big ol’ bruise right now.
Next, I applied MAC Antique Green pigment into and above the crease. I often apply above the crease because of my eyes shape! See how this has very harsh lines? You don’t want your shadow to look like this. The colors should seamlessly blend together, almost like a gradient effect.
Enter my favorite blending brush: the MAC 217. TIP: Do not blend with the brush that you applied your shadows with. The only shadow I apply with the blending brush is the brow bone shade, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
There are two main motions I use while blending, and the most common is the windshield wiper motion, taking broad strokes back and forth with the brush. Make sure that you let the BRUSH do the work. Don’t press hard if you think it isn’t working; just keep blending. If you wear contacts like I do, pressing hard will make them move around under the lid! Time will vary depending on the stiffness of the shadows. Some shadows just don’t blend very well (especially matte shades), especially if they are chalky. I typically use the windshield wiper motion starting from the outer corner.
The other way that I blend my shadow is an “automatic car wash” stroke. I simply take the blending brush, and go back and forth in small strokes left to right, until I reach the other side of my eye. I find this method more precise when it comes to using bold colors.
While you’re blending, only blend the edges and lines, not the rest of the lid.
I apply my lid shade and crease shade, then blend, and apply the brow bone shade last, then blend some more. Here, I used Bare from the Stila In the Light palette since it was handy.
Another option is to apply a neutral base all over the lid and up to the brow bone first, which helps the other colors transition better. Usually this is a matte shade that is close to your skin tone. I do this on occasion, but not all the time. It completely depends on the type of look I want to achieve, and whether or not I’m wearing a cream base, like a MAC paint pot.
Even if you’re only wearing one shadow, you want to make sure that it is blended so there are no harsh lines. You can get a multidimensional look with just one shadow if you have a good blending brush.
Blending brushes: My favorite is the MAC 217 ($24). A dupe for that is the Sigma E25 ($10). EcoTools has a set of eye brushes that has a nice blending brush, and the entire kit is around $10 for 5 brushes, maybe even less than that. I wrote a review of that set here. Sonia Kashuk has a variety of crease brushes available at Target, and you can even get ELF blending brushes for $1. My recommendation on the drugstore side is definitely EcoTools!
Eye primers: There are so many great eyelid primers out there. This is an absolute must for me. An eyeshadow base will keep your shadow on longer and ensure that it stays crease free! I like the NYX HD Eyeshadow Base ($7), but another affordable option is the ELF eyelid primer, which is only $1. High end favorites include Too Faced Shadow Insurance and Urban Decay Primer Potion. Milani is said to have a good eyeshadow primer, but I haven’t used that one.
My two biggest blending tips: Don’t be afraid of blending, and practice, practice, practice! Sometimes a look you’re trying to achieve won’t turn out how you imagined. Have fun with it, and don’t get discouraged! 🙂