Professional Eye Shadow Techniques

Top Secrets Revealed...

Professional makeup artists use stunning eye shadow techniques on celebrities and models that, to most of us, seem absolutely out of reach.

This is not true, not entirely anyway. There are a handful of professional makeup artists who are masterfully brilliant, creative and innovative with their use of color, style and applied technique. Kevyn Aucoin, Billy B, Pat McGrath.... are perfect examples of gifted talent whose work seems untouchable in the world of professional makeup artistry.

With the exception to those really artistically gifted, most accomplished professional makeup artists have developed their skill and expertise on study, practice, experience, creative risk taking, and most of all, a love of makeup.

Visit the MAC makeup counters of the world and experience great ability as a result of good training and practice....they do a great job at helping you with good technique and choosing product right for you.


'The Right Stuff'

Professional makeup artists use an arsenal of quality tools that are designed for specific tasks to achieve high precision detail.

Makeup brushes are critical to the precision of makeup application;

The right tools are just as important as the makeup itself.

Bobbi Brown; pro makeup artist, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and author.

No matter how artistic a person is, without quality tools and products even a genius like Michelangelo would not have been able to paint the Sistine Chapel.

Kevin Aucoin; the late top makeup artist and author, from his book Face Forward.

It is especially important with eye shadow techniques, because the zone is small and there is a lot of detail to the eye area.

In general, eye makeup brushes should be soft haired, but firm and ideally, long handled (short handles are for on the go convenience). Bristles should not be floppy soft, too coarse or easily pulled out of brush.

You do not need to purchase an arsenal, but you will find the below assortment on the "must have" favorite brushes list. Ideal brushes that will help you perform eye shadow techniques with high precision and professional looking results:

  • medium flat eye shadow brush, with rounded head, for placement from upper lash to brow bone, great for shading and blending
  • medium round tapered brush for contour blending
  • small flat, square brush for precise shadow placement, pushing into lash line and setting pencil liner
  • small flat angled head for precise placement of shadow, and fine wet or dry shadow lining
  • an eyelash curler is critical to opening and widening the eye, creating a fresh appearance, and longer, fuller looking lashes....

photo of eye makeup brushesThere are a ton of great quality brushes out there in the marketplace. Remember, natural soft bristles that are firm are ideal. Your budget will dictate your choices...of coarse the dream set is *Kevyn Aucoin Brush Set (and is a top pick by beauty magazines like Allure).

If you buy them individually, consider brushes by MAC, Paula Dorf or Bobbi Brown, but really there are many to choose from.

On a tight budget?....Sonia Kashuk has very well priced, quality makeup, tools, cases, and brushes at Target. The next step up would be Sephora brand.



Professional makeup artists have a specific process they follow every time they apply makeup and an inventory of high performance products that they can rely upon for beautiful long wearing results.

Overall style objective, the nature of the products used to achieve those style objectives, placement area, and color strength, help determine the exact sequencing of specific steps in the process.


Before you begin with eye shadow techniques you must begin with:

a. Clean Canvas-Generally, they start with the face as a whole; a clean canvas with an appropriate skin care regime completed.

b. Primer (optional step)-Then the face, including the eye area is primed with special products called "primer" or "fix" to ensure smooth application of foundation and concealer.

c. Foundation/Concealer-Foundation perfectly matched to skin tone is applied in small increments with sponge or foundation brush and blended to a smooth, flawless looking finish.

d. Loose Translucent Powder-With a large powder brush, excess tapped away, loose powder is lightly dusted and disperse over face area with heavier placement in eye area (excess will be swept away later).


Then eye shadow technique can follow.

e. Tissue- A tissue is often placed under eye area, to catch pigment dust and remove residual shadow from brushes. This helps keep the finish clean and precise and the results dramatic.

f. Eye Shadow- With most eye shadow techniques, placement of eye shadow begins with the base shade, usually the lightest, brushed over upper lid from lash line to brow bone. A slightly deeper shade is applied to the natural contour between the brow bone and the upper lash lid area, called the crease.

Eye shadow techniques at present, really work the area under the lower lashes with multiple shades of eye shadow. Placement of a medium shade wide and soft under the lashes, with a darker shade finely and precisely under the lash line, creates a very defined and dimensional look.

Highlighter and Shimmer along the brow bone.

g. Eye Liner- Pencil or liquid is placed strategically along the lash line(s).

tip-Eye liner placement is a critical eye makeup application step. Why? It is the key to setting the tone of a particular style. For example recent popular rimming of entire eye area lash lines with liquid liner set the tone for that "rocker girl chic" eye makeup style. Its absence enhances the "pale chic" look.

h. Eye Lash Curler- A very important step to opening up and playing up the eye area with the finishing touch, mascara.

i. Mascara- Placing the wand at the base of the eye lashes, it is jiggled as the wand moves up along the lash through the very tips.

j. Brows-Even if its just brush and place with gel, eye brows need to groomed; shaped, touched up and placed.

k. Eye Area Clean Up- With Q-Tips and brush, excess shadow dust, powder and spots are removed.


Know The Zones

When it comes to eye shadow techniques, professional makeup artists view the eye area as a zone that is divided into many smaller sections, each having specific eye makeup products and specific tools associated to it.

eye shadow techniques

The above diagram shows the eye on your left divided into four general zones;

  • A. upper lid from lash line to crease
  • B. the crease which naturally occurs over the eye ball
  • C. the brow bone for highlights
  • D. the lower lash area.division. 

Of coarse,these zones can be divided further into mini zones depending on the technique being used.

The eye on the right is the general overall zone of the eye. It seems obvious but I can't tell you how many times I have seen eye shadow well beyond those parameters.  Makeup should be placed neatly and blended well, typically not extending out of the eye zone (unless a special style objective is trying to be achieved i.e. 'cat's eye'). Doing this will help achieve a precise high impact look.

Many eye shadow techniques, can be effectively achieved using these three critical brushes; medium eye shadow brush, medium tapered eye shadow brush, and a small angled eye liner makeup brush.

1. Medium Eye Shadow Brush-

Use a medium head eye shadow brush, with soft but firm natural bristle hair, and a complimentary eye shadow in a light to medium shade. Sweep across the upper eye lid with a medium eye shadow brush starting on the inside and moving along the upper lash line to the outer corner, from the out corner back to the middle, over lapping blending strokes. Move upwards to the crease or into the brow bone area in horizontal sweeps (blending into the brow bone, not above).
*Note-Color should diminish and blend well as it reaches the imaginary lines of the eye zone.

Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush is a good one to consider.

2. Medium Round Tapered Eye Shadow Brush-

Using the medium sized round tapered shadow brush, and a slightly deeper shadow shade, apply shadow in the natural contour of the eyelid, under the brow bone, in the shape of a shallow arc. Blend well both downward and upward being sure that the contour does not extend beyond the imaginary lines on either side of the eye.
*Note-Color should diminish and blend well as it reaches those imaginary lines.

Paula Dorf Sheer Crease Brush is one to consider.

The next step in eye shadow technique is applying the highlight shade, the lightest shade, at the brow bone and above it, blending it along and under the actual eye brow with focus being on the outer side. The Medium eye shadow brush great for this task too.

3. Small Angled Eye Makeup Brush-

This brush is great for eye shadow techniques that include blending pencil eye liner, softening harsh lines, and applying precise wet or dry eye shadow along lash lines. This angled brush is also great for placing powder to fill brows.

Cargo Eye Lining Brush is one to consider.


Practice Makes Perfect

Professional makeup artists become accomplished and sought after through study, practice and experience.

When I say study, these people study the detail of what distinguishes one style from another. This is particularly important when it comes to eye shadow techniques. They know and have tried many of the types of makeup product available for continued possible upgrades of products they use in their application system and the potential of new great discoveries.

They also determine which makeup products they can cut $ corners on and which ones they should splurge on.

apple graphicEye shadow techniques that create a polished, professional looking finish require ATTENTION TO DETAIL, PRECISION, BLENDING AND MORE BLENDING, EXPERIMENTING AND PRACTICE....

Experiment on yourself and on others. Nothing helps improvement like practice. Your application skill will get better as you come to know which and how much product, which shades, application techniques, strategies etc., that are most effective for you. Try building your application repertoire up to a number of "looks" that will be event appropriate ranging from daytime wear, casual evening out, to special events.

Last word on eye shadow techniques...

Like anywhere in life that requires skill, great eye shadow techniques come with practice. It takes a little time to investigate the subject, acquire the knowledge to do it, and then it comes down to pure and simple practice.

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Spring 2018

Happy Spring 2018!

I would like to let all of you know how much I appreciate your support:) Please enjoy this west coast beach sunset as you soak up the beauty info. Grab some quick makeup tips or give your look a complete overhaul.

Something beautiful is on your horizon.



Yasmin, Editor

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P.S. The mystery girl strolling the beach? My sister Sarah, who has been my "go to" model over the years. Thanks Sis!



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