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

Updated 04/21/19
African American woman getting her makeup applied
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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. 

Tip #1: Swap Black for Brown

When it comes to her celebrity clientele, it's more appropriate to ask who Monika Blunder hasn't worked with. From Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to Nina Dobrev to Emilia Clarke, she's been behind many of our most-loved eye shadow looks. Her favorite: a rich, sultrily smudged smoky eye:

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

"I also love to take Chanel Longwear Cream Eyeshadow in Noir Petrole 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. To add some intensity, take the same cream shadow used on the lid for the lower lashes.

"Last, take an eye gloss and pat it in the middle of the upper eyelid. This looks great in the evening and photographs gorgeously. The flash of gloss is unexpected, cool, and modern. And of course, don’t forget to curl your lashes and pile on the mascara. I love four coats."

Tip #2: Embrace Metallics

If ever you're in want for some serious eye candy, head to celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney's lust-worthy Instagram account (or watch her Lived-In Liner Tutorial). She regularly works with top models and has a special knack for creating the shimmery eye shadow looks of our dreams. Most recently, her favorite is a sparkling metallic eye:

"My go-to eye shadow look always combines both cream and powder shadows. I always start an eye look with a cream base reflecting the overall look I want to create. I cannot live without MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork ($22). If I am doing a golden eye, I will start with Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes in Platinum, another must-have in my makeup kit. 

"From there, I build the look. Marc Jacobs has the most amazing eye shadows, and I am loving the Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palettes. 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.

"To finish, I"ll intensify the crease with a slightly darker shade and run it along the upper lash line for some added definition. Next, I'll highlight the inner eye to make the eyes pop—the color choice will depend on your eye and skin tone. Tools are also important, and I highly recommend investing in good quality brushes like those form MAC."

Tip #3: Find a Day-To-Night Eye Shadow Palette

Responsible for looks seen on Margot Robbie, Michelle Williams, and Alicia Vikander, Sabrina Bedrani gives us the inside scoop on how to create her go-to "open" eye shadow look and how she gives it a smoky upgrade for nighttime—with the same exact palette:

"When it comes to eye shadow, I love the Dior 5 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palettes. The color variety in the palette allows you to achieve multiple looks—either for a soft, bright open eye or a darker smoky one.

"For prep, I like to use an eye primer before applying the eye shadow. It prevents powder shadows from creasing, intensifies the color, and keeps makeup in place for hours. I usually use a lighter colour in the Dior palette as a base and then apply it in the tear duct, as well, to add brightness.

"For a smoky eye, I'll use a light gold color all over the lid as a base, and then will use copper in the middle of the lid, blending it outward before using a darker brown on the outer corner. This creates dimension and will open up the eye."

Tip #4: Make It Waterproof

Celebrity makeup artist and television star Sir John is known for his amazing eye looks. From denim liner to universally flattering brows, he's always giving us major inspiration when it comes to our beauty aesthetic. Unsurprisingly, when I talked to him on the phone, he had a wealth of tips to share:

"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. They also need to last. I make sure the look is waterproof so that the shadow will last through tours, a night of dancing, anything.

"For the daytime, I'll start with the Nars Pro-Prime Smudge-Proof Eyeshadow Base ($27) to prep the lid and then I'll go in with a beautiful matte shadow. To finish, I'll clean up any lingering, fallen pigment beneath the eye with a brush dipped in water-based makeup remover.

"For night, I love using a waterproof kohl liner in place of an eye shadow. I'll line the lash line, and then—with speed—smudge it along the lid since it dries very quickly.

"Next, I'll layer a pretty shimmering shadow on top, or for something extra-special, I'll turn it into a glossy look. Not only does a glossy lid look great, but it will help shadow last longer. I use the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant on the ball of the eyelid—you only need a little bit. However, if you do the glossy eye, be sure to use waterproof mascara so it stays in place all night."

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