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Breaking Down Beauty: The Anatomy of Eyeshadow Shapes

By Sheila Arkee

Over the course of 365 Days of Eyeshadow, you’ve seen me combine all sorts of colors together, to create all kinds of interesting looks.  I’ll occasionally do something totally off-base, but there are three basic techniques I use to apply shadow.

Here, for you all, are those technique broken down into detail, which will allow you to see exactly what effect different techiques accomplish. As a point of reference, here’s my eye, without any makeup.

The three basic techniques are:

1. Outer Corner -

2. Crease -

3. Smokey Lid –

The final looks all emphasize eyes in different ways. Let me show you how!

For each of these technique breakdowns, I’m using two basic colors – Stila’s Primecolor in Kitten as the base, applied all over the lid, and MAC’s Embark eyeshadow as a contour color. The brushes I use vary by technique.

1. Outer Corner

Hands down my favorite eyeshadow technique of all time, a lighter color is placed on the lid, with the darkest shadow color is applied in a sideways “v”/less than shape on the outer edge of the shadow to really maximize the eye shape. This technique makes really opens up the eyes and it works for every single eye shape, I promise!  For more detail, check this past tutorial on how to accomplish this look.

Here’s the look in its most basic condition – no mascara or eyeliner.

I use a concentrated blending brush (MAC’s 217) to get a really well defined contour in the outer corner. Blending is key to all eyeshadow looks! Start with small amounts of shadow and gradually build up.

Here’s the look with mascara added – I’m using MAC’s Plush Lash in all of these looks, along with MAC’s Boot Black liquid liner.

And here’s the final look!

2. In the Crease

Putting the darkest shadow in the crease is a nice way to emphasize the eyes. With this technique I don’t typically use an extremely dark shade, but a medium color works really well. This technique is fantastic for people with deep-set or wide-set eyes, to give the eyes a nicely contoured shape.

Here’s the look in its most basic condition.

I use a blending brush that’s a little less concentrated than the 217 to get a softer blend on the eye. In this example, I’m using MAC’s 224 brush.

Here’s the eyes with mascara.

And here’s the final look with liner and mascara.

3. Smokey Lid

Smokey, smokey, smokey! Smokey eyes evoke glamour, and it’s the go-to technique for a special occasion. This is a shadow application that does not maximize the eyes, however! In comparison to the other looks it makes the eyes look a little smaller. It’s the sultry allure of the dark shadow rimming the lids that makes it so attractive!

Here’s the look in its most basic state.

To acheive a really great smokey lid, I use a flat brush to get a concentrated lid application (a Sonia Kashuk brush), and then blend the color into the crease with a soft blending brush (MAC’s 224 brush).

Here’s the eye with mascara.

And here’s the final look with liner and mascara.

It’s no big secret that I love eyeshadow! The beautiful thing about eyeshadow is that there are so many different ways to express your creativity.

Now, take these techniques and get to blending!

Eye Shadow Application Basics Painted Ladies

  • Y

    This is really helpful! My eyeshadow always ends up muddy-looking. I think I need more practice. I love your 365 Days of Eyeshadow! Great looks!

  • Wendy

    Thank you for reminding me that I don’t need to incorporate all these looks at once. Sometimes the simplest is the prettiest.

  • winnie

    Love this post!Provided me a larger insight on blending and eyeshadow techniques.

  • admin

    Eyeshadow is so versatile – I’m so glad you all like the breakdown!

  • ShannoninBC

    Awesome share! Thanks :) I love checking your website for your daily looks and reviews, appreciate all the effort!

  • admin

    Thank you, Shannon! I love doing this for everyone!

  • http://pammyblogsbeauty.blogspot.com Pammy

    What a great tutorial! I am a big fan of the “outer v” application as well. So universally flattering!!! :)

  • Sandra

    OMG love it!!! Thank you so much for these great tutorials!!

  • http://psychopixie.wordpress.com Julia Mathias

    I was trying to think about how I would define the way I usually apply eyeshadow and I think it’s actually a mix of outer lid, and crease. But with my mom’s eyes for example it has to be outer lid, she looks really weird with the crease look.

  • admin

    Julia – I find myself doing a similar thing, at times!

  • Giselle

    I do the outer corner and crease too! I have small eyes so doing both really help

  • Suziesaurus

    Found your post through CinnamonKitten’s blospost.

    This is a great post – Thanks for sharing! Taught me i should stay away from the crease technique since my eyes aren’t set deep! Thanks!