Common Eyeshadow Mistakes You're Making And How To Fix Them
Up your game with these sneaky shadow hacks.
The world of eyeshadow can be a very confusing one to navigate.
Beauty gurus on YouTube and Instagram make the fanciest, most complex of looks look like a simple three-step operation, but when you try to recreate their ideas it ends up looking like someone gave you a glitter-topped black eye. Not cute.
Before we talk eyeshadow, it's probably time to check out all the times that Chloe Ferry proved she's queen of the crop tops...
The professionals might make it look easy, but there’s a whole lot more to perfecting your eyeshadow than just grabbing a brush and whacking on the colour.
There’s shape, shade, size and shimmer all to consider - not to mention pigmentation, blending, tones and highlights in the mix too. Say what?
If you’re forever laying down your shadow, looking in the mirror and wondering what went wrong, these are the eyeshadow mistakes that you might be making. And, more importantly, how to fix ‘em all.
You get eyeshadow all over your cheeks
There’s nothing more annoying than bouncing your base to new levels of marble smooth perfection, and basically performing actual vanishing charms on each of your spots with concealer - only to then cover your whole face in dusty eyeshadow.
Luckily, this one’s easily solved. Just do your eye makeup as the first step in your routine next time. That way, you can wipe away any fall out before going in with your foundation.
Either that, or invest in Shadow Shields (£12.11, Amazon), which are little stickers that you can pop underneath your lower lash line to catch any pesky dropped shadow. GENIUS.
Your eyeshadow creases like a beeyatch
Fed up of leaving the house with a makeup look that NikkieTutorials would be jealous of, only to check two hours later and find that it’s creased af and smudged down to your chin? Happens to the best of us.
Investing in a good eyeshadow primer will solve all of your problems in life, as the formula will act as a magnet for holding your pigment in place and stop all of that annoying creasing, fading and smudging.
Some of the best include Benefit’s Stay Don’t Stray (£20.50), Urban Decay Primer Potion (£17.50), and the bargain NYX Proof It! (£6.00).
Your eyeshadow looks too harsh
Fact: you can never underestimate how much blending your eyeshadow really needs. Even if you sat for an hour doing tiny swirly movements over and over, it probably wouldn’t be quite enough.
Blending is the key to any professional looking finish, but you also need to be using the right tools to achieve that desired difused effect. Step AWAY from the crappy foam applicator that comes with every palette and go for fluffy brushes instead.
You don’t have to drop your life savings to kit yourself out, either. Spectrum brushes are a great place to start (and also very aesthetically pleasing) or you can grab a Real Techniques set on the high street.
Your colour choice looks weird
It goes without saying that actually, you can wear whatever colours and whatever style of makeup you want to wear. There are no rules, so you do you babe. But if you’re applying shades that don’t think look quite right on your own face, it might be time to give a bit more thought to the undertones of your eyeshadow.
If your skin has yellow undertones, it’s likely that a warmer colour palette will be more flattering on your eyes, while pink undertones generally suit cool toned shadows a little better.
Similarly, blue eyes will pop with coppers, peaches and oranges, while brown eyes look uhmazing with blues and purples. Green eyes and golds or berry tones are also a match made in heaven.
Your eyes look dry and flakey
Just like you look after the rest of your face with cleansers and moisturisers, your eye area needs some special attention to keep it in tip top condition. Dry or flakey skin around there will only lead to your shadow looking patchy and uneven.
Keep the delicate skin around your eyes hydrated by adding an eye cream into your morning/evening skincare routine. It’ll keep your makeup looking on point and also give you longterm benefits, too.
Check out Origins GinZing Refreshing Eyecream (£21.00) to brighten and depuff the area, or Kiehls Creamy Eye Treatment (£26.00) to gently moisturise.
Your eyeshadow looks kinda flat
Say hello to your new best friend - highlighter. It’s not just for the tops of your cheekbones and your cupid’s bow. Highlighter also works perfectly for bringing some added dimension into your eye looks.
Add a touch of sheen or shimmer to the inner corners of your eyes to brighten the whole look and make your peepers appear bigger and more awake. A touch of highlight to your brow bone will also help to lift things.
For added depth in a more dramatic look, don’t forget to smoke out your lash line, too. Take the colour that you’ve used for the majority of your eyeshadow and blend it along through your lower lashes with a detail or pencil brush to tie everything together.
You get mattes and shimmers mixed up
When you think about it, putting together an eyeshadow look is basically just a more detailed, small-scale version of highlighting and contouring. Use your mattes and shimmers to the same effect as you would use your face products.
Light glitters or shimmers are designed to bring the colour forward and emphasise the area, while matte shades will create depth, shadow and definition.
In general, try and keep your pretty shimmers on the centre of the lid, while your darker mattes are best in the crease, the outer corner and the lash line.
Your smokey eye is one big mess
Hands in the air if you add one shade of black and two shades of shimmer to create the ultimate smokey seduction - and BAM, you may as well have been punched in the eye. Cool.
It’s easier to add more shadow than remove it when you’ve gone too far, so go in super softly with your intense shades and focus on blending them properly before building up the impact.
A bonus top tip is to start by blending a neutral brown toned eyeshadow into your crease first. It’ll help to blend out any dark, dramatic shades later on.
Make sure you're using a great concealer on your under eye dark circles, too. A dark eyeshadow look will only emphasise them, so define your smokey eye further with some bonus skin brightening.
Your shadow shape never looks quite right
Having YouTube tutorials to follow with makeup is both a blessing and a curse. It’ll teach you a load of new techniques, but they’re only creating a look designed to suit their specific face and eye shape.
What works for them might not look quite right on you. For example, if they have a load of lid space but you have hooded eyes, it’ll take some complicated tweaks to create the same final effect.
In general, you wanna aim to blend your shadow up towards the tail of your eyebrow. Place the majority of the pigment on your outer corner and blend it into a soft, upwards and outwards shape. It’s more flattering than focusing it all at the corner of your eye, and will make the whole area look lifted and fleeky.
Your pigment just ain't up to scratch
And last but not least, you’re kinda fighting a losing battle unless the eyeshadow that you’re working with is willing to do all of the hard work for you. Some palettes pack serious pigment, while others have almost zero colour pay off.
And it doesn’t just rely on you spending a fortune, either. Do your research before investing, and swatch beforehand if possible to track down the perfect buttery, blendable and high performing shades.
You’ll find high quality palettes for high street prices from brands like Makeup Revolution, Morphe, Zoeva and Sleek. Once you've found the right formula, you're already half way there.
Words by Lucy Wood