What Are the Different Eyeshadow Techniques?

S. Reynolds

The most popular eyeshadow techniques include the smoky eye, cat eye, simple eye, and natural eye. Each of these styles uses different colors of eyeshadow to create the desired effect. Eyeshadow styles are generally divided into two distinct types: nighttime looks and daytime looks. Eye makeup for going out at night tends to be much darker and more dramatic than daytime makeup.

Daytime eyeshadow looks tend to be neutral and light.
Daytime eyeshadow looks tend to be neutral and light.

The simplest eyeshadow techniques consist of a few products and tools, and are best for women who want to create a fast yet polished look for work or a daytime social function. In order to create this look, one must use two neutral colors in similar shades. The lighter shade is applied over the entire lid as a primer, then the darker shade is applied in the crease of the eye, from one corner to the other, and the two are blended with an eyeshadow brush. Eyeliner can also be applied over the shadow along the edge of the eyelid. The look is typically finished with one coat of mascara, usually in a shade of brown or soft black.

Smokey eye shadow creates a sexy nighttime look.
Smokey eye shadow creates a sexy nighttime look.

The natural eye technique is typically used to create a fresh, outdoorsy look that does not appear "made up." Three similarly shaded eyeshadow colors are used for this look. The lightest shade goes over the entire lid, from the brow to eyelashes, and the darkest shade is applied in the crease. The second darkest shade goes over the eyelid from eyelashes to crease, but only on the outer half of the eyelid. A clean brush is used to subtly blend all three shades.

Smoky eyeshadow techniques are dark and usually best for nighttime functions. The makeup can be very dramatic and sexy. Pale eyeshadow is applied all over the eyelid up to the brow line. The next darkest shade, which is usually gray, is applied over the eyelid to the crease and under the lower eyelashes. The darkest shade, which is usually black or dark gray, goes over the upper lid to the crease, and everything is blended with a clean brush.

To create the smoky eyeshadow look, dark colors ranging from brown to purple or black often are used. Adding extra eyeliner is not generally necessary to create the effect, but some women prefer more definition. In this case, black eyeliner typically is the best type to use. Finally, two coats of black mascara are applied only to the upper lashes to complete the look; if mascara is applied to the lower lashes, smudging may occur.

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