Using Shadow to Create Different Eye Designs

Crystal Schwanke
purple eye shadow
See step by step pictures on applying eye makeup...

Eye shadow designs can be used to make you look sexy or polished, correct your eye shape, or just to have a little fun. The beauty of eye shadow is in the way you can completely change your look with a few swipes of color and some blending.

Popular Eye Shadow Designs

The Basic Smoky Eye

The most common smoky eyes are black and brown, but you can do them in any color you wish. Just choose a medium and dark shade of one color, then a highlight shade that is close to your skin tone.

  • Apply the medium color from the lash line to the crease and along the lower lash line.
  • At the crease, begin to diffuse the color up toward the brow bone, but don't go all the way up to the brow.
  • Apply your highlight shade under the brow and blend it down slightly into the medium tone to create a smooth gradient of color. Finally, concentrate the darkest color at the lash line and blend it slightly up into the medium tone. You may find that it helps to layer your liner and shadow until you get the desired intensity.

The Pin-Up Look

The pin-up look uses matte shadows, so skip anything with shimmer. The lid shade should be close to your skin tone, the crease color should be a shade or two darker, and the highlight shade should be lighter than your skin tone. The eye shadow design for this look is simple because the power of the pin-up look lies in the cat eye liner and red lips. The shadow is there to provide a smooth, silky backdrop for the eyeliner.

The Professional Look

The professional look is similar to the pin-up look, but there is more emphasis on the outer V of the eye and less focus on the liner.

  • Apply a base color that is similar to your skin tone from the lash line to the brow bone. Choose a light-medium neutral shade with undertones that emphasize your eye color.
  • Apply it across the lid, followed by a slightly darker version of the same shade blended into the crease.
  • Finally, choose a dark color in the same color family (or dark brown, gray, or black) to apply to the outer V. The outer V is like a V lying on its side, with one arm in the outer section of the crease and the other arm along the outer section of the upper lash line.
  • Highlight the brow bone with a satin shadow color that's a shade lighter than your skin tone.

Using Eye Shadow to Correct Your Shape

Make Your Eyes Appear Closer Together

Choose two shadow colors-one dark and one light. Apply the darker one on the inner one-third of the lid, from your lashes to your brow. Fill in the rest of your lid, from lash line to brow bone, with the lighter color.

Make Your Eyes Look Further Apart

To make your eyes look further apart, choose a light color and a dark color. Apply the light color to the inner two-thirds of the lid, from lash line to brow bone, then concentrate the darker color in the outer one-third of the lid (or the outer V).

Fake a Crease

If you don't have a crease and you'd like to or you have a crease on one lid but not the other, you can use eye shadow to create the illusion of one. Choose a matte eye shadow that is two or three shades darker than your skin tone and sweep that across the lid in a windshield-wiper motion where a crease would be. Fill in underneath with a matte or shimmery color of your choice.

Enlarge Your Eyes

Choose light, medium, and dark shades of shadow to make your eyes look bigger. Apply the light shade from the lash line to the brow bone. Sweep the medium shade into the crease. Take the dark shade and use it as eyeliner, starting at the middle of the lash line and working your way out. Blend it up and out for a hazy, not harsh, line.

Minimize Your Eyes

If you have large, protruding eyes, stick to medium to dark shades on the lids and stick with matte shades to downplay their prominence. Line the entire lash line with dark shadow, and make sure that the liner on top meets the liner on the bottom at the corners.

Counteract Deep Set Eyes

Never use a dark shadow on the lid if you want to counteract deep-set eyes. Instead, opt for a shimmery light or medium-tone shadow for the lid, then blend a darker color just along the outer edge. If you want a crease color for extra dimension, choose a medium-dark tone and be sure to blend it up and out of the crease so that it won't disappear when your eyes are open.

Getting Creative with Your Eye Makeup

If you really want to make a statement with your eye makeup but you don't have a steady hand, a couple of hours, confidence in your blending abilities, or the patience to freehand a design yourself, you can always opt for press-on shadows like Color on Pro. These come with a design intact. Designs range from relatively tame but beautifully blended to wilder looks, like animal print and application is simple. Peel the backing off of the design, press it against your lid, and rub. Once you remove the card, you'll set the shadow with powder.

Practice Your Designs

Whether you're perfecting your smoky eye or trying out a new press-on design, it's always best to practice before a big event. You'll be able to find the designs that complement your eye shape and facial features the most, merging techniques from multiple application methods when necessary.

Using Shadow to Create Different Eye Designs