4 Celebrity Makeup Artists Tell Us How Exactly How to Apply Eye Shadow

Updated 11/18/19

When it comes to a mesmerizing makeup look, eye shadow often plays a quintessential role and also happens to be totally versatile—especially this season with richly saturated pigments, metallics, and gorgeously glossed eyelids taking over runways and red carpets.

However, knowing how to apply eye shadow can also be one of the more intimidating aspects of our makeup routine. While we have blush, highlighter, and lips down pat, one false step with our go-to brushes and palettes can quickly lead to powder-laden cheekbones or a muddled mess of color up to our brow bones. 

Luckily, makeup artists and their celebrity clientele constantly dish up plenty of inspiration. So as a helpful how-to, we talked to four different celebrity makeup artists to get up close and personal with their favorite eye shadow looks. Plus, they even shared their must-have products. Keep reading to learn how to apply eye shadow exactly like a celebrity makeup artist. 

Tip #1: Swap Black for Brown

'Rock 'N' Kohl' Iconic Liquid Eye Pencil - Verushka Mink
Charlotte Tilbury 'Rock 'N' Kohl' Iconic Liquid Eye Pencil $27

"I prefer chocolate brown to black because it's a bit more subtle," says celebrity makeup artist Monika Blunder. "First, I start by applying Chanel Longwear Cream Eyeshadow in Terre Brulee ($36) all over the lid and then use a brown eyeliner pencil (like Charlotte Tilbury 'Rock 'n' Kohl' Iconic Liquid Eye Pencil in Barbarella Brown, $27) on the upper lash line. This gives lashes an extra-full look while adding a nice dose of drama to the eyes."

To take the look further, Blunder recommends layering a small dose of black eyeshadow: "I also love to take Chanel Longwear Cream Eyeshadow in Noir Petrole ($36) on top of the brown pencil just on the outer corner of the eye to intensify the color and make it a bit more smudgy." 

Tip #2: Embrace Metallics

Marc Jacobs Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette $49

"My go-to eye shadow look always combines both cream and powder shadows," celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney explains. "I always start an eye look with a cream base reflecting the overall look I want to create." She tells us that typically, she'll start with one of her two must-have shadows on the lid: MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork ($22) or for a golden-hued eye, the Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes in Platinum ($46).

From there, she layers on the sparkle: "Marc Jacobs has the most amazing eye shadows, and I am loving the Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palettes ($49). They have a combination of matte and metallic shades in each. I always use a matte tone in the crease to build the shape of the eye, and then I'll choose a color for the lid—I am currently loving metallic tones."


Tip #3: Find a day-to-night eye shadow palette

Dior Designer 5-Colour Palette $62

Celebrity makeup artist Sabrina Bedrani tell us that for her, it's all about having the ability to achieve multiple makeup aesthetics using a minimal number of products. "When it comes to eye shadow, I love the Dior 5 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palettes ($62). The color variety in the palette allows you to achieve multiple looks—either for a soft, bright open eye or a darker smoky one. I usually use a lighter color in the Dior palette as a base and then apply it in the tear duct, as well, to add brightness."

Then, if she's creating a smokey eye for night, she'll opt for a light gold color all over the lid as a base, a shade of copper in the middle of the lid, and then blends it all outward before using a darker brown on the outer corner. The reason? Bedrani tells us it opens up the eye and adds dimension. 

Tip #4: Keep it monochromatic

Nars Pro-Prime Smudge-Proof Eyeshadow Base $26

"First of all, for any of my eye shadow looks I always keep it monochromatic—whether I'm doing bronze, shades of plum, aubergines, or navy," says Sir John, celebrity makeup artist and American Beauty Star series mentor.

To create an easy eye shadow look for the daytime, he tells us he starts with the Nars Pro-Prime Smudge-Proof Eyeshadow Base ($26) to prep the lid and then likes to top it with a beautiful matte shadow. To make sure the end result is clean and put-together, he recommends cleaning up any lingering, fallen pigment beneath the eye with a brush dipped in water-based makeup remover.

Tip #5: Make it waterproof

L'Oréal Infallible Silkissime Eyeliner $9

"When it comes to eye shadow, I make sure the look is waterproof so that it will last through tours, a night of dancing, anything."

For night, Sir John prefers to use a waterproof kohl liner in place of an eye shadow: "I'll take the L'Oréal Infallible Silkissime Eyeliner ($9) and then—with speed—smudge it along the lid since it dries very quickly." After the eyeliner sets, he'll go in with a shimmery shadow (he says he can't pick a favorite) and layers it on top of the kohl liner base for an extra hit of staying power.

Tip #6: Add some gloss

Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant $22

"This looks great in the evening and photographs gorgeously. The flash of gloss on the lid is unexpected, cool, and modern," says Blunder. 

Sir John agrees, explaining that a light dab of gloss adds something extra-special to any look. Plus, it can even help your eye shadow last longer: "I use the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant ($22) on the ball of the eyelid—you only need a little bit. But, if you do the glossy eye, be sure to use a waterproof mascara so it stays in place all night."

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