PSA: Foiling Your Eyeshadow Will Make It Last So Much Longer

woman wearing metallic shadow

Your lid crease is spot on, brows are filled in, blending is on point and your meticulously applied eyeliner is perfection. So, you pat yourself on the back and head out the door quite impressed with your glam self—only to check the mirror a few hours later to see it all has almost magically disappeared.

Even if you're using the most trusted pigments and primers, eye shadow still has a tendency to fade, smudge, and transfer. But in light of this beauty problem, makeup artists have discovered a solution over the years: A technique called foiling that is meant to intensify color and extend the life of your look.

The straightforward process is pretty simple, and really just involves mixing your eyeshadow with either a setting spray or a base to help it last longer and stay in place. Instead of swiping on a powdery shadow and praying it sticks, foiling creates a bit of a paste or cream texture by mixing mediums and changing the consistency to something a bit thicker and more viscous.

What Is Foiling?

To "foil" your eyeshadow means to mix metallic, powder pigment with a makeup base (like primer or setting spray). Makeup artists use this technique on red carpets to intensify color payoff and prevent eyeshadow from fading, smudging, and creasing.

"Foiling eyeshadows are my favorite way to get more mileage out of your shadows and glam up your look," says makeup artist and VP of Education & Experience at Ever/Body Kelli J. Bartlett. "It can be as simple as adding a flash of metallic, or as fabulous as gilding gold foil to your eye." Ahead, Kelli gives us a step-by-step guide on how to master this process at home to achieve a glam look that will last all day.

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Choose Your Favorite Shadow

You don't want to grab just any shadow, as it may change pigment or texture once it meets moisture. First things first, Bartlett says to make sure your eyeshadow is up to the task. "I typically choose metallic shadows that are approved in a wet/dry formulation, such as select Tom Ford, Chanel, or MAC."

She adds that loose pigments can also be quite fun to foil, but they often require a little more practice to get the consistency right. So if you're a beginner, stick to your favorite shadow. Then, work your way up to playing with pigments.

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Dampen Your Brush With a Mixing Medium (Primer or Setting Spray)

Once you've chosen your shadow, it's time to add the mixing medium. You'll want to wet an eyeshadow brush with either a setting spray or primer (Bartlett recommends setting spray). If you typically apply shadow with your fingers, note that a brush definitely simplifies things when it comes to foilings, allowing for more precise application.

"I like using a few spritzes of Glamsquad Ah-Mazing Spray ($28) because it was specifically formulated to act as both a setting spray and mixing medium," she says. "As in, it activates upon mixing by using a high glycerin content."

Another option is mixing the shadow with a tiny bit of your favorite eyeshadow primer or complexion primer to create a creamier consistency. Whether your weapon of choice is primer or setting spray, just don't oversaturate your brush or shadow. It should have a slightly damp feel, but never full-on wetness.

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Apply the Shadow Using Tapping Motions

Now, the fun part: Apply the shadow. "A universally flattering approach," according to Bartlett, is to foil the eyeshadow over the iris of the eye or inner corner of the eye. This way it will perfectly reflect the light and give, "a sexy flick every time you blink."

Using your dampened eyeshadow brush, swirl the bristles in the pan to pick up plenty of product. Tap the excess (you'll notice that less shadow falls off than usual, thanks to the setting spray), then apply shadow by lightly tapping your brush on the lids. You may choose to focus on the inner corners or middle of the lid (above the iris) as Bartlett suggests, but all-over foils look amazing, too.

If you want to create a mix of matte and metallics, apply a powder matte shadow first (without the foiling technique), then foil your metallic hue of choice on top. Once it's applied, simply swipe on your favorite liner, apply mascara, and et voilà—you'll have a professional eye makeup look that will last all day.

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