7 Different Ways to Apply Eyeshadow

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Here at Red Apple Lipstick, we love eyeshadows! Eye makeup is one of the best ways to show one’s creativity when it comes to makeup. We like to think of our eyelids as blank canvases where so many looks can be created. There are so many different eyeshadow colors, formulas, and application techniques that can be used.  

We are sharing 7 different ways, or techniques, for applying eyeshadow in this article. We have some basic and classics, as well as some more fun and creative application techniques that will give your makeup look some variety. The best part is that they are not complicated, they’re all simple and easy to do.  

These 7 different eye shadow looks are easy to do in just a few minutes. You can wear these eye shadow looks day or night and they will wow everyone around you!

Always Start by Prepping the Lids  

For all these different applications, you will want to start by applying a bit of eye primer, such as the Prime Time Eye Shadow Primer, to the entire lid to prime and prep the eyes. You will also want to apply a base color on the entire eyelid, a matte neutral shade that is close to the color of your skin tone that is no more than one or two shades lighter. You are now ready to begin.  

*For the majority of these looks, you can also use a light shimmery eyeshadow shade to highlight the eyes. This is not a necessary thing to do but it does help to brighten the eyes up, especially when doing darker looks or when using all matte eyeshadows. It can be applied on the inner corner of the eye, in the tear duct, as well as on the brow bone. Buttercream and Innocence are perfect highlight shades, Champagne and Sand Castle are also great options.  

The Classic 3 Eyeshadow Application  

The classic eyeshadow application is usually done using three main eyeshadows: a light shade, a medium matte, and a darker matte eyeshadow shade. This can be done with either matte eyeshadows or a mix of mattes with a lighter shimmer shade.   

Apply the medium eyeshadow shade in the eye crease (that folded area above the eyelids), blending it onto the transition area right above the crease using a crease brush like the Crease and Blend Brush.   

Next, with an eyeshadow brush like the Wet/Dry Eye Brush, apply the lighter color on the lids.   

Then apply the darkest color on the outer corner, blending slightly into the crease, for some added drama. Apply and blend out also on the lower lash line.   

Finish the eye look by adding a winged eyeliner if you wish and a couple of coats of mascara.   

Here’s multiple angles of this classic look.

You can also find an example of a classic eyeshadow application tutorial in the Fall Makeup for Wedding Guests article.  

The Basic 2 Eyeshadow Application   

A more basic application of a classic look is using two main eyeshadows. There are two ways you can do this.   

You can apply a medium matte shade in the crease to add definition, and a lighter shimmery shade to the lid to highlight the eyes and make them pop. Using shimmery eyeshadow shades, especially lighter ones is a great way to help give the appearance of brighter and bigger eyes, bringing the focus to them.   

Another option is to apply the darkest eyeshadow shade out of the 2 on the lids. Then use the lighter shade to blend the darker shade out. Using a blending brush like the Crease and Blend Brush, apply the lighter shade into the crease and use windshield wiper motions to blend that out, blending out the edges on the darker shade.   

*For either way on this application technique, you can use either all matte shades or a combo of matte and a shimmery shade on the lids.  

Apply the darker color on the bottom lash line and blend that out for a more complete look. If you are using all matte eyeshadows, you can also use the lighter shadow to blend out the darker one.  

Add eyeliner, either a winged liner or just darken the upper lash line, and some coats of mascara to finish the look. You can also just keep it simple and opt out from applying liner if you prefer.  

here’s a gallery of several versions of incredible 2 eye shadow looks. Click any image to open a Lightbox.

Find examples of these applications in the tutorials found in the Easy Everyday Fall Makeup TutorialEthereal & Natural Summer Makeup Tutorial, and Spring Date Night Makeup Look articles. Also, watch how Ashley uses a very similar technique using 2 eyeshadows in the Everyday Makeup Tutorial Using Customer Favorites article.  

The One & Done- 1 Eyeshadow Application   

For an even more simple/minimal eye look that can be done quickly, the One & Done application technique is your go-to. You only need one eyeshadow for this simple eye makeup look.   

This is great for when you have very little time to do your makeup but still want to look well put together, or when you want more of a natural look. A neutral matte eyeshadow shade is best for this type of look, but you could also use any matte eyeshadow color that you want.   

Start by applying your eyeshadow of choice on the lids using the Wet/Dry Eye Brush.   

Now, take a blending brush like the Crease and Blend Brush and use it to diffuse and blend the eyeshadow out all over the lid.  

You can the same eyeshadow to the bottom lash line or skip this part for a simpler and more natural look. Another great option is to apply a brighter, colorful, eyeshadow shade for a pop of color on the bottom lash line.  

This would be a great look to add a bit of highlight to the inner corners of the eyes and on the brow bone to make the eyes pop. Then finish with winged eyeliner for just a touch of drama and a couple of coats of mascara, or just mascara alone.  

And here’s a gallery of this single eye shadow look. Stunning right? Click any image to open Lightbox gallery.

Head on over to the Bright Summer Makeup Look Tutorial article, where you will find a step-by-step tutorial using this application technique.  

Smokey Eyes   

Smokey eyes are super popular and quite flattering on anyone. Perfect eye look for evening and formal makeup but can also be worn for a daytime look.   

This technique consists of a dark shade of eyeshadow being applied to the lids, then blended out with a lighter eyeshadow shade to give a smokey effect as the name implies. Use all matte eyeshadows or have the dark shadow be a shimmery one. You will need three shades, a light, medium, and dark shade.  

Start by using the Wet/Dry Eye Brush to apply the dark eyeshadow on the lids.  

Then take the medium color eyeshadow to blend out the edges of the dark shade using the Crease and Blend Brush.  

Use the lightest shade to blend everything out for a smooth and seamless transition.   

You will want to apply the darkest eyeshadow shade to the bottom lash line as well and blend it out with the medium shade.  

Finally, complete the look by adding a winged eyeliner, or darkening the upper lash line, and some coats of mascara.   

Here’s a gallery of easy smokey eyes, so sultry! Click any image to open.

For more on smokey eyes and a step-by-step tutorial, head over to the Simple Smokey Eye Look & Lipstick Pairings article. Check out the Springtime Smokey Eye Tutorial article as well.  

Halo Eyes   

Another popular eyeshadow application technique is the halo eye. This is a great technique to use when you want to give the illusion of larger, bigger eyes.  

For this type of look, you will need three shades, both matte and shimmery shades. You will need a darker, a medium, and a light eyeshadow. The medium eyeshadow will have to be a matte one, while you want the light color to be a shimmery one. Your darkest color can be either a matte or shimmery formula, this will depend on your personal preference.  

Apply the darkest shadow to the inner and outer corners of the lids with the Crease and Blend Brush.  

Next, use the medium eyeshadow shade to blend the edges of the darker shade, blending in the crease and going a little bit above it.  

Now take the Wet/Dry Eye Brush and apply the lightest color on the center of the lids. Pack the eyeshadow on, slightly blending into the darker shade.  

On the lower lash line, you will want to apply your blending shade as well (the medium eyeshadow shade). You can also pop a highlight shade into the tear ducts and brow bone if you wish.  

Finish with eyeliner and mascara or just mascara alone.  

Oh how I love this look! So easy too. Here’s a gallery of what the Halo eye shadow look looks like.

You can find a more detailed, step-by-step, tutorial of this eyeshadow application in the Shimmer Eyeshadow for Brown Eyes-Step by Step Tutorial article.  

Monochromatic Eyeshadow Look  

This is a fun eyeshadow application! Monochromatic makeup application is becoming quite popular these days, it’s a makeup trend where you use shades that are in the same family color for the entire face, eyes, lips, and blush.   

When it comes to eye makeup, you can pretty much accomplish the monochromatic technique using any of these eyeshadow applications talked about here. From the One & Done application to the more dramatic Smokey Eye, the monochromatic technique can be done any way you wish as long as the eyeshadows used are in the same color family.   

You can find an example of a tutorial for this application technique in the Pink Monochromatic Springtime Makeup Look article.   

The Ombre (Gradient) Look  

This application technique is a bit similar to the classic application, except for the placement of the eyeshadows is different. Just like the classic, you will need three main eyeshadows, a light, medium, and darker shade. It can be different color shades that go well together, or they can be in the same color family, like a monochromatic scheme. You can also do either all matte shades or a combination of mattes and shimmery shades.  

You will want to place the lightest eyeshadow shade using an eyeshadow brush in the inner third of the lids. Then apply the medium shade in the middle third, making sure to gently blend into the light shade for a smooth transition. Apply the darkest shade in the outer third of the lids, lightly blending it into the medium color for that smooth transition, and also lightly blending into the outer corner crease.  

To smooth out the edges of your eyeshadows, you will want to use a lighter medium matte shade that compliments your overall eyeshadow look. Using a blending/crease brush, such as the Crease and Blend Brush, pick up some of this eyeshadow shade and place it in the crease using windshield wiper motions to blend out the edges. Blend out across the entire crease taking it just above, into the transition area.  

Finish by either darkening the eyelash line or adding a winged eyeliner along with a few coats of mascara.   

These are just some of the eyeshadow applications techniques out there. There are a few more but these are the best ones that will give you a beautiful look without being overly complicated. We hope you give these a try if you haven’t already. Let us know your thoughts and please share some of your favorite eyeshadow application techniques in the comments below.  

Frequently Asked Questions:  

When applying eyeshadow, what goes on first?  

No matter what kind of eyeshadow look you are going for, you first want to prep the lids. Apply primer and give it a couple of minutes to dry, then, apply a base eyeshadow shade.   

 How do you apply eyeshadow in order?  

There is not a set rule for the order of how to apply eyeshadow, this will all depend on the eyeshadow application and makeup look you’re going for. You do, though, want to start by first applying a matte neutral color that is close to the color of your skin tone as a base color.    

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