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How to Use Liquid Eyeshadow


We’ve all struggled with powder eyeshadow. And as much as we love it, it has its flaws. It can be messy. You can finish a painstaking eye look, only for it to be ruined by fallout. It’s prone to creasing. You need at least two brushes to apply and blend everything together...shall we go on? Liquid eyeshadow, on the other hand, can be applied with a single swipe, it has virtually no fallout, and it lasts all day. This newer style of eyeshadow is often overlooked (or downright confused with lip gloss), but today, we’re making a case for the often misunderstood eye makeup product.

Here, we’ll be going over the basics of how to use liquid eyeshadow and sharing three different ways to apply what’s bound to be your new favorite beauty product.



What is Liquid Eyeshadow?

When you’re looking for liquid eyeshadow in a store or online, you might confuse it with lip gloss at first. It comes in similar packaging and even often has the same doe-foot applicator that many lip glosses use. 

To put it simply, liquid shadows are pigment in an easy-to-apply liquid form. The texture isn't quite as thick as cream eyeshadows, but it goes on smoother than powder shadows and can be fully blended in just a few seconds. Despite its liquid form, it dries quickly when applied to eyelids. As an added bonus, some liquid eyeshadow formulas even come infused with skincare benefits. For example, the PIXI BY PETRA Liquid Fairy Lights formula is packed with chamomile and rose extracts to soothe and hydrate your eyelids. 

Liquid eyeshadow can be shimmery or matte, but chances are most liquid shadows you’ll see will be shimmery formulas like CIATÉ LONDON Eye Lustre Glitter crème-liquid eyeshadow. Sparkly shadows like this are where liquid formulas really shine: you can finally create eyeshadow looks without all the dreaded glitter fallout throughout the day. The liquid formula keeps it all locked in place, resulting in a long-wearing look that requires fewer touch-ups throughout the day.  


What Do You Need to Apply Liquid Eyeshadow?

Most liquid eyeshadows come with doe-foot applicators for easy application, and can be blended with your fingers or with a brush. Blending with your fingers is ideal for quick and easy makeup looks, and the heat from your fingers can actually warm up the product for super smooth application. 

You can also use a synthetic eyeshadow brush set like the SIGMA BEAUTY Basic Eye Brush Set to apply liquid eyeshadow. Be sure to choose synthetic brushes as they're easier to clean and will blend the product better (natural hair brushes will absorb the liquid product).  

Depending on which liquid shadow you go with, you may also want to use an eyeshadow primer, but read up on your chosen shadow first. Many liquid eyeshadows come with a priming mechanism built-in.

WANDER BEAUTY Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadows

How to Apply Liquid Eyeshadow for All-Over Color

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what liquid eyeshadow is, let’s get into how to incorporate this makeup artist-approved product into your beauty routine. Here is a quick step-by-step process to follow. 

Step 1: Apply a primer.

If the shadow you’ve chosen doesn’t specifically mention that it also comes with built-in priming capabilities, you’ll definitely want to start by applying an eyeshadow primer. Just like liquid eyeshadow, there are a few different ways eyeshadow primers can be packaged: in a tube with a doe-foot applicator, in a pot, or in a squeeze tube. You’ll want to apply a small amount to your eyelid and use your finger to blend it in from the lash line to your crease (basically, anywhere that you’ll be applying eyeshadow). 

Step 2: Apply liquid eyeshadow.

If you’re using a liquid eyeshadow like one of these WANDER BEAUTY Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadows, which come with a doe-foot applicator, dip the applicator in the product and apply to your eyelid using small, gentle strokes. Long strokes will make the shadow appear streaky. Continue dipping the applicator into the product and applying it to your eyelid as many times as needed. If you have a liquid shadow in a squeeze tube, you’ll simply apply a small amount on your finger or a synthetic brush and dab that over your eyelid until it’s well blended. 

Step 3: Layer and finish. 

If you’re going for a bolder, more saturated look, you can go in again with another layer of liquid color. Once you have an eye makeup look that’s suited to your liking, add your favorite mascara and eyeliner and you're good to go.

BELLÁPIERRE COSMETICS Liquid Shadow Eye Candy Quad

How to Apply Two or More Liquid Eyeshadows

Applying one liquid eyeshadow is easy enough, but using two or more can seem a bit more intimidating. It doesn’t have to be though: here’s how to do it flawlessly. 

Step 1: Apply an all-over color.

Just like with powdered shadow, you’ll first want to prime and apply an all-over liquid eyeshadow. We love the shimmery shades in BELLÁPIERRE COSMETICS Liquid Shadow Eye Candy Quad. Blend until smooth. 

Step 2: Apply a crease color.

To add dimension, dab a slightly darker liquid eyeshadow to the outer corners of your eye and along the outer edge of your bottom lash line. This is a good time to use a brush over your finger or the doe-foot applicator to get this color to blend seamlessly with the base color. 

You can also try dotting the all-over color and crease color onto your lid at the same time, applying the all-over color more in the middle and inner corners of your lid and the crease color in the outer corner. Then, use a brush to blend. When the formulas are wet at the same time they’ll blend together more seamlessly, but it will require more control. 

Step 3: Apply a highlight color. 

Using a lighter liquid eyeshadow shade, swipe a bit of highlight just below the bottom outer edge of your brow line. Again, using a brush here will allow for more blending power. 

P.S. For a bold look that isn’t quite so sparkly, you can also layer a matte color underneath a thin layer of a more glittery color, like CITY COLOR COSMETICS Iced HoloFx Liquid Pigment or MAC COSMETICS Dazzleshadow Liquid.

PHASE ZERO MAKE UP Liquid Coconut Eyeshadow

How to Use Liquid Eyeshadow as an Accent Color

Liquid formulas are often heavily pigmented and result in a strong makeup look. But if you’re after something a bit more subtle, you can still use liquid shadow as an accent color. Here are two ways to do just that. 

  1. Use it as eyeliner. Using an eyeliner brush like the FURLESS Must Have Pro Precision Eyeliner Brush, dip the brush into your liquid eyeshadow and apply a thin line along your top lash line (and bottom lash line if you like). Allow to dry and voila!

  2. Use it as a highlight color. Typically, when you’re applying a highlight color to a full eye makeup look, it’s something a little bit shimmery. Liquid shadows play that role perfectly. Apply a light, shimmery color (like one of the colors in this PHASE ZERO MAKE UP Liquid Coconut eyeshadow set) that matches the rest of your eye makeup. Using either your finger, the doe-foot applicator, or a brush, blend the color in the inner corner of your eye and under your eyebrow on your brow bone.  


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About the author
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated February 14, 2020 12:00 AM