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How to Use An Eyeshadow Palette to Create Any Look You Want


It’s easy to oooh and ahh over every release of a bold, sparkly, or shimmery eyeshadow palette, but figuring out how to actually use them? That’s a whole other story, especially when you’ve already got your standby favorite eyeshadow palettes on hand. But cracking the color code doesn’t require a degree in Art History, or even makeup artist credentials. All you need are the right eyeshadow brushes and a propensity for color. Scroll on for our complete guide on how to use an eyeshadow palette, and get ready to swipe right.



What Color Goes Where?

While eyeshadow palettes may look like a kaleidoscope packed in a small box, there’s order to even the wildest variety of shades. Most eyeshadow palettes come in three categories of colors: lights, mediums, and dark shades.

Where to Apply Light Colors

Think of the lightest shades as mini spotlights for the grand stage that is your makeup look. Just as our favorite highlighters go on the tops of your features, the light shades should be applied to your brow bone and on the inner corner of your eyes. These are the spots that will reflect max light, giving you brighter eyes and adding depth and interesting contrast to the darker shades that come next.  

Where to Apply Medium Colors

Medium shades are the team players of your eyeshadow palette. They can be used to build and create any makeup look, depending on how dramatic you’d like to be. A natural makeup look relies on medium color shades that are the same color, or slightly darker than your skin tone, applied evenly across your entire lid. 

Amp up the dimension by applying the darker medium shades in the creases of your eyes with a smaller, tapered eyeshadow brush. Got shimmery medium shades at your disposal? A tiny swab over the center of your lid is all you need to brighten up the makeup look. Nix the lighter medium shades if you’re going for a smoky eye, and swap in those darker mediums shades instead to create some glam. 

Where to Apply Dark Colors

The darkest colors in your eyeshadow palette are your liners and your contour colors. They’ll require the most wrangling, but the payoff is spectacular. Use the darkest colors to outline a V in the crease of your eye for the perfect cut crease that gives the illusion of giant eyes. Or give your trusty liquid eyeliner a break and add the boldest pigmented color along your upper lash line for a fun pop of pigment.

How to Use an Eyeshadow Palette for a Natural Look

Going for a natural look doesn’t mean forsaking all fun and color. Get the best of both worlds with a palette that combines neutral brown standbys with a few pops of gold and blush glitter shades. One of our favorite neutral-toned palettes is WANDER BEAUTY Wanderess™ Rush Eyeshadow Palette, which is perfect for designing an everyday look that’s anything but boring.

Step 1: Apply eyeshadow primer.

Don’t let your natural oils wreck your eye makeup with creases or smudging. Save your best blending–and your time–by applying an eyeshadow primer across your lids, using your fingers to dot along your upper lashline and up to your brow bone. The best eyeshadow primers are lightweight formulas with a matte finish, letting your eye shadows take center stage.

Step 2: Build your base.

For a natural look, you’ll want to use a neutral shade just a few shades darker than your natural skin tone. Dip your favorite fluffy eyeshadow brush in a shade like “Charge” or “OTW” and spread across your entire eyelid. 

Step 3: Define your crease.

Swap your fluffy brush for an eyeshadow brush with short, tapered bristles and add depth to your eyes with a darker shade, like “Swift.” Apply along the crease of your lid, where your eyelid would naturally fold.

Step 4: Blend + highlight.

At this point, you’ve probably got some harsh lines to contend with. Use a blending brush to smooth out the area where the base color and dark crease color meet, until the blending looks seamless instead of paint-by-number. Add highlighter with an extra dusting of the lightest color, like shimmery “Charge,” just under your brow bones and in the inner corners of your eyes to get an extra pop.

How to Use an Eyeshadow Palette for a Smoky Look

Don’t put away everyday makeup staples like WANDER BEAUTY Wanderess™ Rush Eyeshadow Palette just yet. While the soft copper and sienna colors might seem too muted for glam looks, they can just as easily be used to build a smoky eye. The key to a powerful smoky eye is building an eye makeup look around a rich dark pigment that blends well. 

Looking for something even smokier? Try a smoky eye palette like the versatile HUDA BEAUTY Obsessions Palette in Warm Brown. We love the dense pigmentation of these colors, particularly when paired with golden chrome shimmer, like in “Warm Brown #5.” It’s subtle enough to use on the center of your lids as a casual highlighter, or it can easily be built up for a max glam look. Start your smoky eye with the chocolatey brown of “Warm Brown #4.” For more tips on building a smoky eye, check out our guide on creating a smoky eye in minutes.

How to Use a Brightly-Colored Eyeshadow Palette

Candy-colored days and decadent nights out can be yours with just a few swipes of rich, jewel-toned colors across your lids. But bright lavenders, shimmery teals, and rich coppers can also work for your fluorescent office days too. A palette like THEBALM COSMETICS What's the Tea?® Ice Tea Eyeshadow Palette can easily be adjusted to whatever makeup look you’re dreaming of. Use a short angled brush and reach for the brilliant blues in the “The Buzz” or the pinky shimmers in “He Said, She Said” to instantly add glitz to a natural look. 

This palette comes with two eyelid primers in a neutral and black shade, essentially tripling the color potential and creating the ultimate choose your makeup adventure. Craft bright smoky eyes with the cool blue-based lavender of “Kiss and Tell” and the blue black eyelid primer, or nix the pigmented primer altogether for a grey goddess look with “Talk of the Town.”


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About the author
Angela Velez
Ipster, Carly Rae Jepsen superfan, pesto lover
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Article Last Updated March 20, 2020 12:00 AM