1. Start with an eye primer
Aye, primer! And ahoy, matey! As any self-respectin’, makeup-lovin’ pirate be knowin’, ye should always start yer eye looks with a bit o’ eye primer fer the best eye looks, yargh!
OK, that was wackadoo. Sorry! But it’s about 93 degrees in my house right now, and I feel loopy.
No joke, though, eye primer is such a crucial step, and one I never skip, barring extenuating circumstances (like 10-minute makeup looks because I’m feeling lazy or I’m running way behind), when I wear powder eyeshadow.
Just like the kind of primer painters use, eye primer fills the little gaps on the surface of the skin, making lids nice and smooth, which in turn makes products layered on top of them last longer without settling into fine lines or applying unevenly on dry patches. Eye primers also keep your eye makeup from shifting around while intensifying powder shadow colors, which are all great things!
Most (but not all) eye primers have a creamy consistency similar to eye creams, and they come in lots of different kinds of packaging. Some come in a tube that looks like mascara and have a doe-foot applicator. Others come in squeeze tubes, and others come in pots.
They usually come in different shades, too, although some are un-tinted — with the idea for those being that they won’t interfere with any other colors you layer on top. Some lightly tinted varieties can also color correct discoloration on the lids, and those tinted ones aren’t supposed to interfere with whatever shadows you pop on top of them, but I find that they usually do tweak them a little.
I think un-tinted colorless primers are good choices for beginners because they can be used with a wide variety of looks, and my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE one of all time is NARS Pro-Prime Smudge-Proof (not just for beginners, but for anyone), which I know I mention every 10 or 15 minutes. 🙂 But I totally stand behind it. I try new primers all the time, and I have yet to find anything I like better.
A tube will last me about half a year. Your mileage may vary, but for what it’s worth, I wear a LOT of eye makeup.
2. Invest in some quality brushes
You know that whole “right tool for the job” thing? It’s totally true. Fingers and foam applicators will work sometimes, but sometimes you can’t get the precision you need without the right shaped brush, especially when blending.
Here are three kinds of brushes that I find myself using a lot…
- A flat eyeshadow brush — These are good at pressing eyeshadow on the lids and in the crease, and getting a lot of color on the skin quickly. You can also use them to apply shadow along your lower lash lines.
- A tapered blending brush — Great for blending. They come in really handy when you’re working in the crease. They diffuse colors well over large spaces which makes for beautifully blown-out gradients, and you can also use these for quick washes of color all over your lids.
- A fluffy domed brush — These can also be used for blending, but they have a denser, more compact head than tapered blending brushes, so they don’t diffuse color to the same degree. Good for when you want to smooth out edges without completely blowing them out, and some people also like to use these to apply color into the crease.
There are countless brush options out there at every price point, but for natural hair brushes, I really like the MAC 239, MAC 224 and MAC 217. I think Laura Mercier’s brushes are also great, as are Sonia Kashuk’s.
3. If you plan to do a lot of blending, lay down a light layer of another powder product first, on top of your primer
This is totes key, girlfriend, especially if you plan to do a lot of blending, like for a smoky eye!
Start by dusting a light layer of powder — I just use a translucent face powder and a tapered blending brush — on top of your primer, BEFORE you start applying your eyeshadow. The powder will help smooth everything out even more and will soak up any areas that are still wet with primer, so your eyeshadow won’t look patchy.
It’ll also give your lids a bit of slip like a lubricant…made of powder, so that products layered on top will glide on without any resistance.
Just three little things to hopefully help when you plan to apply powder eyeshadow. 🙂
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,