Options for building an eye design are almost too numerous to list. The basic concept is to shade the eye to accent its shape, or to change its shape by using a progression of light to dark colors across the eye, blending one over the other so that you can't see where one stops and another starts. Here I will explain, step by step, how you can use one eyeshadow or several different eyeshadows to create a well-blended, classic eye-makeup design.
Even for the most formal eye-makeup design, four different colors should be plenty. Whether you use one, two, three or four different eyeshadows, they become a full design when worn with eyeliner, temple contour.
One-color eye-makeup design: This design blends one soft, subtle color all over the eye area, from the lashes to just under the eyebrow, with no patches of skin showing through. You should not wear only a splash of color over the eyelid and ignore the rest of the eye area.
Application: When applying a single color, first place it from the lashes to the crease using a brush. Make sure that you do not extend the color into the inside corner of the eye (off the lid area) or out beyond the lid onto the temple. Also be certain there are no patches of skin showing through on the lid next to the eyelashes. The entire lid at this point is one solid color.
Next, place the color from the crease up to the brow, following the entire length of the eyebrow from the nose out to the temple area. Avoid leaving a hard edge at the back (outside) corner of the eye where the eyeshadow stops. If desired, fade the eyeshadow as you blend up and out from the crease.
This will create subtlety and a soft highlight under the eyebrow. Because the eyeshadow for the one-color eye-makeup design is so soft and subtle, blending and application is quite easy. The best colors for this design include light tan, neutral taupe, beige, pale mauve-brown, pale gray, light golden brown, camel and light auburn. Whatever the color, it should definitely not be obvious.
Two-color eye-makeup design: This is one of the most common, practical eye designs for many women. You can approach this design by applying the lighter color to the eyelid and the deeper color from the crease up to the brow, or you can apply the deeper color to the lid and the lighter color from the crease to the brow. Generally speaking, the under-eyebrow color should be a shade or two darker than the lid color.
You do not want it to be a distinctly different color, just a different shade. The lid can be taupe, beige, tan, camel, gray, light auburn, golden brown or any light neutral shade, and the under-eyebrow color would be a deeper shade of the same color. Women with darker skin tones can wear muted rose, mauve or peach as long as it doesn't make their eyes look irritated or isn't too obvious. Bright, shiny or whitish shadows can look dated and make the brow bone look more prominent and heavy.
Which color and what shades go where? The general rule is that the larger or more prominent the eyelid area is compared with the under-brow area, the darker or deeper the eyelid color can be; the smaller the eyelid area is compared with the under-brow area, the brighter or lighter the eyelid color can be. The notion is that if the eyelid area is already prominent or large, it isn't necessary to make it appear any bigger by applying a light color to it. If the eyelid area is small, it is appropriate to make it more prominent by wearing a lighter color.
Application: Whichever way you choose to apply this design, the lid and under-brow shades should meet — but not overlap — at the crease. As an option for the two-color eye-makeup design, you can use a large round or small round eyeshadow brush to apply the light shade to the lid and the darker shade from the crease up to the brow. Then, using a small wedge brush you can use the light color again as a highlight just along the lower edge of the eyebrow.
This can bring dramatic, but subtle, attention to the shape of the brow and the eye without the need for another eyeshadow color. You can also apply the lighter color from the lid to the under-brow area and use the darker color in and slightly above the crease. Then take the brush and use the darker color to softly shade the back corner of the eye, being sure this shading is an extension of the crease color. For more dramatic variations on this theme, see the descriptions below.
Three-color eye-makeup design: Start by applying either of the basic one- or two-color eye-makeup designs mentioned above. Once you have done that, the third shade, an even deeper color than the two previous colors, is added to the back (outside) corner of the lid or in the crease, or over both the crease and the back corner of the lid.
In this design, the lid and under-brow colors are softer and less intense than the color at the back corner of the lid or in the crease. Regardless of where you place this third, darker color, it can be a beautiful deep shade of brown, charcoal, cedar, mahogany, sable, red-brown, slate, chocolate brown, camel, deep taupe or even black.
Application: If you apply the third eyeshadow in the crease, the trick is to not get the crease color on the lid, but rather to blend it slightly up into the under-eyebrow area and out onto the temple. When sweeping the crease color across the eye, be sure to not follow the down-curving movement of the shape of the eye. The best look is achieved if you blend the crease color out and up into the full back (outer) corner of the eye, and up onto the back of the brow bone.
When you apply the crease color, be sure to watch the angle of your brush as you blend the color from the crease out and up toward the under-brow area. If you place your color with the brush straight up at a 90-degree angle, you will look like you drew on wings.
The softer the angle and the fuller the sweep, the softer the appearance, so be certain you blend out and slightly up from the lid area toward the under-brow area. If you have a small eye crease area, a precision shadow brush will make a controlled application and expert placement foolproof.
If you apply the third color at the back corner of the eye, the color hugs a small section of the lid, blending out and up into the crease and temple area. I explain this step in more detail for the four-color eye-makeup design.
Four-color eye-makeup design: In this design, you again start with the one- or two-color eye-makeup design, then add a darker color to the crease and an even darker color such as black or deepest gray to the back corner of the eye. Shading the back corner of the eyelid involves the arts of placement and blending. Because this area almost always requires a dark color, blending is essential to make it look soft, with no hard edges.
Why bother with a crease color and more shading at the back corner of the eye? The best part of this full eye-makeup design is that it shades, defines and creates movement by adding a shadow in a curved flowing motion that follows the natural shape of the eye.
The difficult part of this design is blending the crease color across the entire length of the eye without making it look obvious, choppy or smeared. The goal is to tuck the color just in the crease at the fold nearest the nose and have it hug the crease until you get to the back corner of the eye, where you start the movement of the eyeshadow up and out onto the brow bone. Again, this sweep of color should not look like a stripe across the eye.
Application: Be sure to knock the excess eyeshadow off your brush, and apply the color with very small strokes over the back corner of the lid only. The problem here is keeping the color on the back of the lid only. If you don't know how to handle the brush, the back wedge can take up more than half of the eyelid (looking more like a mistake rather than carefully blended shading) or look like a stripe across the temple.
As mentioned above, when you apply the crease color, be sure to watch the angle of your brush as you blend the color from the crease out and up toward the under-brow area. If you place your color with the brush straight up at a 90-degree angle, you will look like you drew on wings. The softer the angle and the fuller the sweep, the softer the appearance, so be certain you blend out and slightly up from the lid area toward the under-brow area.
Remember, the center or fold of the crease area is always the darkest, so start your brush there and blend out in each direction. Concentrate your efforts on how much of the crease area you want to shade. You can start all the way at the front part of the eye area under the front third of the brow, then follow the crease through the center, blending slightly up toward the brow. As you approach the back corner of the eye, begin your movement up and out toward the temple, aiming toward the eyebrow.
- Matte powder eyeshadows in an array of neutral tones from light to dark are your best bets for a classic, sophisticated eye design that accents the shape and color of your eyes.
- Unless you're using just one eyeshadow color, use at least two eyeshadow brushes for application.
- Prime the eyelid and under-brow area with a matte-finish concealer, foundation and/or powder before you apply eyeshadow. This helps to ensure a smooth, even application and (if you have fair to medium skin) will also neutralize the red and blue coloration of the eyelid.
- Tap off any excess eyeshadow from your brush before applying — this will prevent overapplication as well as flaking eyeshadow.
- If you really want to make the color of your eyes "pop," choose a contrasting color in a soft tone and apply this to the lids. Blue eyes come alive with pale peach or cantaloupe hues, green eyes seem richer with light bronze or caramel tones, hazel eyes become more alluring with chestnut and golden brown shades, and brown eyes are nicely accented by almost all neutral tones.
Eye-Design Mistakes to Avoid
- Do not overcolor the eyes; too many bright colors can be distracting, not attractive.
- Do not create hard edges; you should not be able to see where one color stops and another starts. Practice your application and blend well!
- Do not wear bright pink or iridescent pink eyeshadows; they make eyes look irritated and tired. Muted or pale pink is an option, but be very, very careful. If it makes the eye look irritated or "red," it isn't the color for you.
- Do not wear shiny eyeshadows of any kind if you are concerned about making the skin look more wrinkled because they exaggerate the appearance of lines. If you have smooth, unlined eyelids and prefer a touch of shine, apply it sparingly and look for a low-wattage glow instead of distracting glitter.
- Do not apply lipstick or blush over the eye area; it might sound like a time-saver, but if you have a lighter skin tone, it can make you look like you've been up all night crying. However, most bronzing powders can work as eyeshadows.
- Do not match your eyeshadow to your clothing or your eye color. If you have blue eyes, blue eyeshadow would make the blue of your eyes look duller. And complementing your clothing is at best dated; besides, what do you do if you're wearing red or black?
- Unless your goal is short-lived, messy eye makeup, avoid eye glosses and other greasy colors at all costs. These may look intriguing in photographs, but are more annoying than alluring in real life because they smear and smudge all over the place in a very short period of time.
This article is an excerpt from Paula's web site, www.cosmeticscop.com.