Sweating the small stuff might just glam up your look
By Rebecca Peterson, Assistant Editor
Makeup is an art, there’s no doubt about it. It’s also intensely individualistic, because the canvases upon which we practice our art—our faces—are all unique, which makes it a challenge to learn and to teach. However, no matter who you are, if you’re warm, neutral, or cool, or if you have no idea what those terms mean, there are some universal tips that can help dial up your look to a solid 10/10.
Invest in a fluffy blending brush
I absolutely cannot stress how much of a difference having a proper fluffy eyeshadow blending brush can make. If you can only afford one or two brushes—or even just one brush—I beg you, add one of these to your makeup arsenal. It covers and smooths all manner of sins, and can make a five-minute rush job look like a 45-minute $50 makeover from Sephora. Even if you’re smearing eyeshadow on with your fingers (we’ve all done it), if you finish with this brush, everything will look smooth and professional.
Don’t neglect your primer
When I started experimenting with makeup, I completely misunderstood the purpose of primer, and I partially blame that on how primer was marketed. I would apply primer buying in on promises of “skin perfection” and “reduced blemishes.” I was basically expecting an effect similar to that of a tinted moisturizer, and I was vastly underwhelmed by the results. I ignored primer for years, basically assuming it was an invisible product made up by makeup companies to wring more money out of the masses. I would then wonder why my foundation was patchy and would oxidize so quickly, and why my eyeshadow kept creasing after only an hour or two of wear. The best I can do to describe the importance of primer is this: You wouldn’t cook anything in a pan without adding oil or butter first, right? Primer is the cohesive force that keeps your makeup on your face, and that helps blend everything in a way that looks smooth and natural. It perfects the texture of your face, and places a barrier between your makeup and the oils that your skin naturally secretes that would break the makeup down.
Sharpen your eyeshadow with makeup remover
Especially if you don’t have a lot of lid space to deal with, eyeshadow can blend out towards your temples in unflattering ways. Fix this by taking a cloth dampened with a little makeup remover and carefully shape the edges of your eyeshadow. I like to start from the outer corner of my eye and swipe upwards, following the general shape of how I might draw my winged eyeliner. This will instantly give your eyeshadow a controlled and professional edge.
Do your eye makeup first
For a long time, I was baffled by makeup gurus on YouTube and their penchant for doing their eyes first, and the rest of their face afterwards. For me, the face was the canvas you built up from—it didn’t make sense to start with the eyes when they were, to me, the icing on the cake. I also used to use a giant kabuki brush to dust setting powder all over my face (including the eyes) after blending out my foundation, so I think I was worried about fallout from the powder in my eyeshadow. However, when I started using makeup wipes to sharpen my eyeshadow, I realized it didn’t make sense to set my foundation first, only to have to wipe bits away and start over thanks to fallout and shaping. The order I tend to do my makeup in now is eyeshadow, face, eyebrows, eyeliner, setting spray, mascara, lips. This allows me greater control over how I mitigate eyeshadow shape and fallout without having to worry about getting pigment all over my foundation.
Figure out what your eye shape is, and learn how to work with it
I was in denial about having hooded eyes for a long time. I figured that when I lifted my eyebrows and closed my eyes, you could see my eyeshadow, and that was good enough. I would do thick lines of eyeliner, enough that the little lid space that I had would look completely black when my eyes were open—something I’m still occasionally guilty of. It was only when I acknowledged my eye shape and started working with it that I began to really make my eyes shine. There are plenty of tutorials for all kinds of eye shapes—hooded, downturned, round, wide-set, mono-lid, almond, etc. No one eye shape is better than any other, and the moment you start working with the eyes you have rather than the eyes you want, you’ll notice a drastic difference in the overall look of your makeup.