How to Apply Glitter Eyeshadow Like a Pro Makeup Artist

lizzo glitter eyes


Call it the Euphoria effect, but we're sold on glitter eye looks. Glitter instantly enhances any eye shape or color by catching the light and picking up the natural shades that comprise your iris. And while it may seem messy and difficult to control, it's super easy to create a glitter eyeshadow look using loose pigment and materials you probably already have at home (like tape and cotton swabs...stay with me). The application process takes just a few minutes, even if it's your first time experimenting with glitter.

The two major glitter types are going to be loose glitter and liquid glitter. Loose glitter is a bit harder to work with (and thankfully below, you'll find our helpful tips), but really delivers on the pigment and is great for eyeliner/precise looks. Liquid glitter typically comes with its own applicator, can be easier to use, and is great for an all-over-the-eye glitter look.

Meet the Expert

Matin is a celebrity makeup artist and non-toxic beauty advocate, with clients among the likes of Angelina Jolie, Rebel Wilson, Awkwafina, and more.

Ahead, celebrity makeup artist Matin shares a step-by-step guide to creating a beautiful glitter eyeshadow look.

01 of 10

Gather Your Materials

To recreate Matin's glitter eyeshadow tutorial, you'll need:

  • Cotton swabs
  • Loose glitter
  • A mixing medium (alternatively, you can use setting spray)
  • Tape
  • Clean spoolie brush
02 of 10

Prepare Your Area for a Mess

As we all know, glitter is a pain to clean up. So before you even start your glitter eyeshadow journey, you want to make sure to prepare your area for a mess. Move all of your other makeup out of the way and put down paper towels on your vanity or bathroom counter. This way, all you have to do is throw away the towel, and clean-up is done in a snap.

03 of 10

Clean and Hydrate the Lids

Before any makeup look, you want to make sure that your face is clean and hydrated. Use a gentle and hydrating cleanser like Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser ($19) and follow up with a hydrating routine.

One major thing you probably want to avoid is using any hydrating product with oil—oil is going to make it a bit harder for your glitter to stick to your lid. Using a Korean hydrating toner instead—we love the Laneige Cream Skin Toner ($33)—is a better option to keep your lids hydrating without the extra slick, greasy feeling.

04 of 10

Apply Primer

NYX Glitter Primer
NYX Professional Glitter Primer $6.00

Your primer is the step that is going to hold your entire look together. Not only does it help your glitter stick to your lid, but it also helps to keep the color looking vibrant all day long.

It's fine if you have a regular primer, but if you really want to make sure you don't end up with glitter fallout all over your face by the end of the night, it's a great idea to invest in a specially made glitter primer. To apply, squeeze out a tiny, pea-sized or smaller amount onto your finger and gently tap it onto your eyelid.

05 of 10

Use an Under-Eye Mask

Eyeshadow Shield
Yaomiao Eyeshadow Shield $12.00

To catch any glitter fall out and to prevent it from getting all over your face, we also suggest you use an under-eye mask.

They're pretty easy to use—simply remove the sticky backing and apply the patch directly underneath your eyes to catch any fallout that can potentially mess up your whole look. Once you're done with your makeup look, you can simply toss them in the trash.

06 of 10

Apply a Base Shadow

After your primer, you'll want to apply a neutral-toned eyeshadow. Why? It'll help keep your glitter look rich and pigmented, absorb any extra oil to prevent creasing, and stop your glitter from smudging or transferring all over your face.

Ideally, you want your base shadow to match your glitter color as much as possible to help the glitter pop and look as vibrant as possible.

07 of 10

Dip a Cotton Swab into a Mixing Medium

Mehron Makeup Mixing Liquid $13.00

Start the application process by dipping your cotton swab into a mixing medium. Matin recommends the above option from Mehron, as do many other makeup artists. The mixing medium will help give the glitter more of a spreadable consistency, helping it glide across the eye when you go to apply the glitter in step four. Note that you can use setting spray if you don't have a mixing medium on hand, but the glitter will have less staying power. If you choose to use setting spray, spritz one end of the cotton swab until it is wet (but not dripping wet). Whether you use a medium or a setting spray, be sure to keep one end of the cotton swab clean and dry so you can use it to clean up the look later.

08 of 10

Roll Your Wet Cotton Swab in Loose Glitter

MAC Glitter
MAC Glitter $23.00

By now, one end of your cotton swab should be wet from being dipped into the mixing medium. Once you've completed this step, roll the wet end of the swab in the loose glitter of your choice, ensuring that the entire bulb of the cotton swab is covered in glitter. You can use anything from chunky stars to loose glitter powder, as long as the glitter isn't pressed into a compact or pan (like traditional eyeshadow).

09 of 10

Roll Glitter Onto Eyelid in Upward Motions

To create your glitter look, you might opt to create more of a glitter eyeliner look by keeping the pigment closer to the lash line, or you can go full throttle and cover your entire lid in glitter. To create an eyeliner look, tap the glitter onto your eye using patting motions with the cotton swab, moving slowly across your lash line.

To cover the entire lid (as Matin is doing in this tutorial), use a rolling motion to sweep shadow in an upward motion from the lash line to the crease of your eyelid. Using a rolling motion helps to evenly distribute the glitter across your lid, which is often a pain point when it comes to applying loose glitter.

10 of 10

Clean It Up

spoolie brush
Wayne Goss Spoolie Brush $12.00

You can easily remove any excess or clumped glitter by using the clean end of your cotton swab, just sweep anywhere that's unevenly concentrated. To create sharp edges along the crease or "wing" of the eye, swipe your clean spoolie brush along the desired edge (the soft spirals of your spoolie are extremely effective at picking up glitter from the skin).

Once you have your desired glitter eye look, you'll want to remove any fallout from under your eyes and on your cheeks. Matin has an easy, affordable way to do this: Tape. Using either medical tape (preferred) or basic Scotch tape, simply dab areas (sticky side down) of the skin where there has been glitter fallout. If any tape residue is left on the skin, simply go over this area with micellar water or a makeup remover wipe. Once all of the excess glitter has been removed, go about your normal makeup routine, just be careful not to mess up your glittery lids.

More glitter is always a great idea. And if you want to go all out with your glitter look, you can also think about applying glitter to your eyebrows or eyelashes. We're especially love an eyebrow glitter moment (you can use it under, over, or even on your brows), or an all-over glittery body, courtesy of an illuminating body shimmer.

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