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10 Easy Eyeshadow Makeup Ideas to Step up Your Look

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Eyeshadow can be one of the most intimidating makeup products in the game. Unlike, say, blush—which you can just blend into your cheeks, no sweat—eyeshadow (and its BFF, eyeliner) require a little more technique, which might explain why you can barely scroll Insta without seeing an eyeshadow tutorial for beginners. That’s kind of the beauty of it, anyway: You can find a ton of eyeshadow looks that are great for beginners, whether you’re diving into a new eyeshadow palette or looking to amp it up for a big event.

Your eye makeup look is a matter of personal preference, and you can try out different eyeshadow makeup to see what works for you—as well as what works for your eye color and your eye shape. “Some of my best advice for eye makeup newbies is don’t be afraid to experiment,” says makeup artist Lauren O’Leary. “Makeup should be fun and the only way to get good at something or to see how it looks is to practice. Creating looks you want is a lot about trial and error.”

Her number-one eye makeup tip? “Find a photo of a makeup look you like, and try to recreate it on yourself,” she says. “When you try things you haven't before is when you learn what works for you and what doesn't.” Bottom line: eyeshadow application doesn’t have to be hard. Scroll on for the best easy eyeshadow makeup to make your eyes pop, with step-by-step tips.

About the Expert:

Lauren O’Leary is a New York-based makeup artist, model, and beauty expert. She has worked for numerous brands such as GUESS, Saks Fifth Avenue, Maybelline, Allure, Conde Nast Entertainment, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Benefit Cosmetics, NARS, and many more.

1. Classic Cut Crease

Okay, the cut crease is technically an eyeliner trick, in which eyeliner along the crease of the eye creates an outline for a cool, graphic vibe. That makes it an easy pairing with eyeshadow—simply blend shadow onto the lid, and then apply a pencil liner into the crease of the eye, following it from the inner to the outer corner of your eye. Whatever color you choose for the shadow base, consider prepping with an eyeshadow primer. “I love the MAC Paint Pot in Painterly or Soft Ochre, or the NARS Eyeshadow Base,” says O’Leary. “It just helps eyeshadow go on smoother, and last longer. It creates a canvas for the shadow!”

2. Carved-Out Crease

Think of this like a cut crease, but with eyeshadow; as a result, it’s a little more forgiving. “For this, use at least two eyeshadow shades, with one darker that's matte,” says O’Leary, who recommends a neutral or brown tone. Blend that into the crease with a blending brush, and then use a different eyeshadow brush to apply a lighter, shimmer-flecked shade onto the eyelids. That can “pop the center of the eye and make it appear larger,” she says.

 3. Smoky Eye

The smokey eye only sounds hard, but there’s actually a ton of flexibility with it—for starters, “you can do this with any eyeshadow color of your choosing,” O’Leary says. She recommends using a single eyeshadow shade on both the top lid and along the lower lash line. A dark neutral shade, like charcoal or black, “gives a smokier, more sultry eye look and is great for evenings,” she says.

4. Winged Shadow

Applying eyeshadow in a winged-eyeliner formation might seem tricky, but it’s less so if you have an eye makeup tutorial to follow. “Don't be afraid to try things out,” O’Leary says. “The great thing about makeup is you can take it off.” First, apply shadow into a wing shape; you can skip the inner corners depending on how bold you want your look. Then, try a simple hack to perfect the shape of the wing: Use a makeup brush to apply concealer beneath the wing, giving it a smooth edge. It’s a glam look without the work.

5. Waterlined Effect

An underrated makeup idea? Highlighting the waterline, a.k.a. the inside of your lower lash line. Go with a neutral tone you’re comfortable with on the lids, and then choose an eyeliner shade that complements your eye color (for instance, purple for brown eyes). Not only will it offer contrast to the shadow, but it’ll make for a seriously eye-catching look.

6. Fairy Eyes

The idea of fairy eye makeup is pure magic: Opt for a glittery shadow, pair it with a metallic liner, and you're good to go. (Just don’t forget mascara, which adds a welcome contrast to the look.) For bonus points, you can start with a base of a matte, taupe-y shadow up to the brow bones, which will allow the shine to pop a bit more.

7. Smudged Shadow

To get a smudge-y, just-woke-up-like-this look around the eyes, you don't actually need to sleep in your eyeliner. There's an easier way: Apply eyeshadow using an eyeliner brush (which has shorter, stiffer bristles), sweeping it along both the upper and lower lash lines.

8. Everyday Eyes

Natural eye makeup doesn't have to add a half-hour to your A.M. routine. Instead, just sweep a bronze-colored eyeshadow—which works for all skin tones—onto the lid, and then add a nude eyeliner onto the upper lash line. It’s a muted look that still offers just the right amount of shine.

9. Graphic Eyes

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You don't need a steady hand to get in on the graphic trend. Take a cue from this look, which is designed for hooded eyes. (You can tweak the shape depending on your eye shape.) Use an eyeliner to create a small, colorful wing, then tap over the entire lid with a translucent shadow. Add a dusting of sparkle-flecked pigment to the inner corners and boom, you're set.

10. Matte Shadow

Matte shadow is a classic, but it feels more fresh when in a peachy shade like this. For a no-makeup makeup look, wear it without eyeliner and just a touch of mascara. Since it’s matte, it’s more forgiving when you blend it than a shimmer eyeshadow, making it ideal for newbies.

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About the author
Deanna Pai
Deanna Pai
Deanna Pai is a freelance beauty and wellness writer and editor based in New York; her work has appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, and many others.
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Article Last Updated October 6, 2022 12:00 AM