We've all been there: You fall in love with the perfect colorful eyeshadow shade, only to apply it and discover that it doesn't look nearly as pigmented on your skin tone as it does in the tube or pot. While there's a time and place for understated eyeshadow, sometimes you just want that dramatic, ultra-bright, eye-catching effect (we love a bold makeup moment!). Luckily, there are a few tried-and-trusted makeup tips you can use to make any eyeshadow appear extra-pigmented on your lid without too much extra work. We chatted with makeup artist Lauren Berlingeri about easy ways to make your eyeshadow look bright, bold, and beautiful every time you apply.
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Concealer isn't just for brightening up your under eyes and covering breakouts. Depending on what shade you use, this versatile makeup product can also help dial up the pigment in your eyeshadow. "Prepping the eye with a concealer that's about two shades lighter than your actual shade will definitely make the shadow more pigmented and pop a lot more," says makeup artist Lauren Berlingeri. "When using a concealer, you're taking away any discoloration on your eyelid and smoothing your eyelid out." This creates the ultimate bright, smooth base for shadows to contrast against.
If you do use a concealer on your lid, you'll want to make sure to use a matte concealer formula—ideally one that can help to control oily skin. Most eyelids are naturally oily and too much oil on the lid will cause the shadow to move around and crease.
Using an eyeshadow primer is always a good idea to help keep your makeup locked in place all day long, but if it's a boost of vibrancy that you're after, only certain primers will work to create the results you're looking for. Berlingeri suggests skipping any translucent primers and instead looking for eye primers that contain a bit of pigment (like the SMASHBOX COSMETICS Photo Finish Lid Primer or the TRESLÚCE BEAUTY Se Preparó Eyelid Primer).
These will help make shadows look more pigmented in the same way concealers do—by brightening up the lid and creating contrast. Plus, primers are formulated with an extra component that helps everything set. "Primers that have no pigment would just make the shadow last longer. They aren’t for making eyeshadow more pigmented," Berlingeri explains.
The method you use to apply your shadow can make all the difference. When applying eyeshadow to the eyelid, resist the urge to immediately reach for a blending brush to blend (we know, it’s hard—YouTube has taught us well). Instead, Berlingeri says, "Stamp the eyeshadow on and then blend matte shades. If you blend first you're not going to see a lot of color pay off." Stamping with a shader makeup brush will pack more product onto the lid more effectively. And where there's more product, there's typically more color. Only once you've built up enough color should the blending begin.
Have a bit of makeup setting spray on hand? "Another way to make your powder eyeshadow pop on the lid is to spray your brush with a little setting spray first and then apply it on your lid," says Berlingeri. Spritz just a bit of product on an eyeshadow brush so that it's damp but not wet. Then, tap your brush into a powder eyeshadow and stamp it onto the eye. Not only will this help the shadow look brighter, it'll also help it to stay set for longer. Note: Berlingeri says that this technique works better on shimmery shades than matte ones.
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Yup, it really can be that simple. If you find yourself without an eyeshadow primer or an eyeshadow brush, you always dab a (clean) finger into a powder eyeshadow and then pat it onto your lid. While this method may not be the most precise, it can help increase the color payoff of your shadows because you can control how much product you pack on at one time—as opposed to using a brush, which can loosen the pigments and lead to more fallout overall.
Another way to boost eyeshadow pigmentation is to layer different types of eyeshadow formulas on top of each other. For example, Berlingeri says, "I love to use a powder eyeshadow and then a liquid eyeshadow on top to make the shadow really pop." Alternatively, using a cream eyeshadow first and then topping with a powder can help to boost pigmentation. An added bonus is that we get to play with more of the products in our makeup kits, which we’re always game for.
While concealer or a pigmented primer are likely to provide more vivid results, creating a white base coat across your entire eyelid using white eyeshadow or creamy white eyeliner will provide a similar result if you're in a pinch or on a budget. This can be a great quick fix if you don't have setting spray, concealer, or a primer on hand. Simply apply a white cream or powder eyeshadow all over the lid, then apply the eyeshadow color of your choice. If you opt to use an eye pencil, just make sure the pencil is soft enough that it can be applied and blended easily across the delicate eye area.
If you tend to love a super pigmented eye makeup look, try stocking up on cream eyeshadows, eyeshadow sticks, and liquid eyeshadows instead of powder formulas. These types of shadows are often more heavily pigmented than powder and can provide a higher color payoff for a super-saturated look without extra steps or effort.
Trying to pull off a vibrant purple eyeshadow look? Grab all the purple powder eyeshadow shades in your makeup kit, whether they’re matte, satin, shimmery, or metallic. In order to build up the boldness of your chosen shade (it doesn’t have to be purple), you’ll want to layer on each shade individually. By laying down a matte shade first, then following up with a satin, shimmer, or metallic in the same color family, you’ll be creating extra dimension that adds to the overall pigmentation of your eyeshadow look.
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