Eyeshadow for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

woman with smokey eyeshadow makeup


Ashley Rebecca is a freelance makeup artist in New York City with an extensive list of clients, including editorial and celebrity. Her attention to detail, product knowledge, and overall experience has set her apart as a go-to beauty guru and trusted expert in her field. She combines her love for makeup and writing by bringing her clients and readers the latest scoop on what is relevant in the industry. With exclusive opportunities to see new product launches such as NYFW, print, editorial, television, and celebrity, she's always in the know of what's up-and-coming.

Mastering eye shadow can be tough—there's applying, blending, patting (not to mention tons of various brushes)—but there are ways to ensure you’re doing it right. While eye shadow can seem intimidating at first, it’s actually not as complicated as you might think. The first step is finding what products you like, of course, and what look you feel your best in. So, let’s break down various eye shadow textures so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. 

Cream Eyeshadow

Tom Ford Cream Color For Eyes
Tom Ford Cream Color For Eyes $46.00

Cream eye shadows are one of the easiest products to apply, because you can do it with your fingers, no major tools required. Cream textures are softer and tend to blend better when warmed, making them easy to pop on your eyelid with your finger and get on with the rest of your day. Some creams come in sticks, pots, matte, or shimmery formulas and can be worn alone or under powder eye shadow as a color enhancer or base. 

Powder Eyeshadow

Pat McGrath Eyedolls Eye Shadow
Pat McGrath Eyedolls Eye Shadow $25.00

The most common type of shadow is powder, and you’ll find that most powder shadows come in palettes with two or more colors to choose from. You can also purchase single powder eye shadows if your style is more about committing to one color, but the palettes can really be fun. This is where the artist in you can come out and experiment with different colors. Powder shadows come in matte and shimmery finishes.

Liquid Eyeshadow

Stila Shimmer & Glow Eyeshadow
Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow $24.00

Liquid eyeshadows are usually a creamy, liquid texture that will dry down to a powdery finish, so you kind of get the best of both worlds with these. They normally come with a doe-foot applicator or wand, making the application super easy and precise all in one. 

Now that you’ve got your textures down, let’s go over some eyeshadow looks you can try.

The Cut Crease 

This is a really popular eye shadow look, because no matter what eye shape you have, when using this technique you can make any eye shape appear more open. The crease of your eye is defined by using darker shadow and not blending it as much to show the contrast between your eyelid and crease. When you use contrasting eye shadow colors, everything looks much more defined, and you can create the illusion of the eye looking wider. Simply pick the palette of colors you want to use, and define the crease with a darker shadow than the one applied on your lid, blending in a back and forth motion to hollow the crease out. Using a brush that has a tapered end to it is ideal, as this will blend the easiest in the crease without a lot of shadow fallout. 

The Smokey Eye

Kendall Jenner
Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

The biggest misconception about the smokey eye is that it takes hours to perfect, which is totally not true. One of the easiest ways to create this look is to use a gel waterproof eyeliner that is soft, and line the top and bottom of the eyes, smudging the liner with a brush or your finger as you go. This instantly adds the smudgy smoke effect and takes less than a minute to do. The next step is to lightly apply a darker color cream or powder shadow on top of the eyeliner, blending it out with your brush until you get the dramatic effect you want. A smoky eye can also be any color you want it to be, not just black or brown. Finish with two coats of mascara to tie the look together. 

The Monochromatic Eye

This eye makeup look literally takes seconds to create, as it’s one wash of color on the lid and doesn’t require a lot of excess blending or mixing colors. You can opt for a bold blue or vibrant hue, or keep it neutral, tying the blush and lip color together in the same tones to create an overall monochromatic makeup look. Apply a cream or powder shadow on the lid and blend outward until you feel it looks right. You can also extend the color lightly all the way up to the brow bone to create a gradient effect. 

Model with glitter eyeshadow

Related Stories