How to Apply Eye Makeup for Your Eye Shape: A Guide

One style doesn't fit all.

asian woman with green eyeshadow

Roman Shalenkin / Stocksy

If you’ve ever viewed a beautifully packaged eye shadow palette with wariness and just a tinge of fear, we hear you. There are so many different colors and formulations that it’s hard to know how to apply what and where. Then there’s the question of how to apply it so that it best flatters your unique eye shape (we know, yet another factor to consider). But fear not: Today, we’re tackling the art of proper application and the products that’ll give you the best delivery.

We spoke with makeup artist Brett Freedman (he's responsible for Camilla Belle’s ever-flawless makeup) and got his tips on the right shadow application technique to complement any eye shape, whether small, downturned, etc.—because the eyeliner-mascara combination you’ve been wearing since middle school is probably ready for an upgrade.

How To Apply Eye Makeup for Your Eye Shape
Getty Images / Cristina Cianci

Meet the Expert

Brett Freedman is an LA-based celebrity makeup artist and the founder of the Brett Freedman Beauty line of professional makeup products. He has previously worked on campaigns for Revlon, Neutrogena, and Pantene.

Almond Eyes

 Getty/Steve Granitz/Contributor

Freedman declares almond-shaped eyes “the most fun eye shape to make up.” For daytime, he suggests using a matte taupe color (like Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Shadow in Warm Taupe, $12) over the lid, into the crease, and upward toward the brow bone. Then use a deeper matte shade (we like MAC Eye Shadow in Charcoal Brown, $17) on the outer corner and blend both lines together with a rounded eye shadow brush.

“To really make your eyes pop, add a champagne shimmer pencil (like NARS Velvet Shadow Stick, $29) or shadow to your inner eye and tear duct area,” Freedman suggests. He says to avoid the urge to use shimmer over the entire lid and crease because it can make that area too prominent: “You want your actual eyes to pop, not the makeup!”

Round Eyes

makeup for round eyes
Getty Images

When it comes to round eyes, Freedman says the key is to apply the most vivid part of the makeup on the top lash line and on the outer corners. “You want to keep the bottom lash line very minimal,” he advises. He suggests drawing a soft, smudged taupe line on your lower lash line using a product that’s lighter than the color on your top lid. “I use just a touch of mascara to finish the look,” he says.

“Round eyes tend to read cute,” Freedman says. “If you want a sexier feel, play up your eyes [by applying a darker shadow] upward and out.”

Hooded Eyes

makeup for hooded eyes
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“When I work with an actress with hooded eyes, I tend to take the lid out of the equation,” Freedman explains. He uses a smoky taupe eye shadow (like Urban Decay Eye Shadow in Pistol, $20) along the lash line, over the lid, and up into the crease, skipping any lighter shadow. Use this technique if you have uneven lids as well. “A light lid will just highlight your lids and make them look more uneven,” he says.

To create more dimension and bring out the shape of hooded lids, Freedman uses a deeper shadow (try Make Up For Ever Eye Shadow in Espresso, $17) along the lash line and blends it into the taupe color. “This recesses everything, instead of highlighting the hooded lid or monolid,” he says.

Downturned Eyes

How to make eyes appear lifted
Getty/Bryan Bedder

Like the technique he uses for round eyes, Freedman suggests keeping the darker shadows on the top lash line. “Dark, smoky eyes can bring out the droop even more,” he says. “You want lift—so lots of lashes on top, minimal on the bottom.”

To help the eyes look lifted, Freedman suggests using brown mascara on the bottom lashes instead of black—that way, there isn’t anything too dark that will pull the eyes down. He also swears by the power of expertly placed highlighter: “Highlighting the brow bone will help pull attention upward!” Try Benefit Watts Up ($30) or Anastasia Beverly Hills Highlighting Duo Pencil ($23) directly under your eyebrow arch to counteract drooping.

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