How to Apply Eye Makeup in Just 8 Steps

Woman applying eye makeup
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When it comes to making up your eyes, there are a few insider beauty tricks you can use to amp up your eyes and your game. Here, I show you how to apply your eye makeup using these tricks. If you do it correctly, your eye makeup will last all day. 

The Secrets to Eyeshadow That Lasts All Day

Before I get into my step-by-step, I have to share my secrets to eye makeup that lasts all day.

  1. Eyeshadow primer. If you use a quality primer (I recommend Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion, buy it from Amazon), your eyeshadow will stay put through rain, sweat and even the heaviest of oil slicks produced by the skin.
  1. A quality eyeshadow. There are simply too many eyeshadows out there that hardly show up on the lid or if they do, they seem to disappear within a couple hours. Once you find a great pigmented shadow, you are gold. I swear by Christian Dior eyeshadow No. 708 (buy from Amazon), because it's beautiful on blue and green eyes, but you can find lovely shadows at the drugstore as well. See my list of The Best Eyeshadows on the Market Today.
  2. A dab of light color in the corner of the inner eyelid. This is a makeup artist secret to brightening eyes. More on this below. Just make sure not to make it too obvious.
  3. Heat up your eyelash curler. I like to blow a burst of hot air for no more than 3 seconds onto my eyelash curler before I curl my lashes. Just make sure to test the metal on your arm before you clamp down. 

Now, onto the fun! It really only takes 8 steps to absolutely gorgeous eye makeup.

Step 1: Apply Concealer to Your Dark Bits

Your goal with this first step is to even out the eye area.

This means applying concealer and dotting it with the pad of your finger or a concealer brush to the blue-ish, purple-y places around your eyes. If you have perfect, non-bluish skin, congratulate yourself and move on to the next step.

Here's how to apply concealer:

  • Apply three dots of concealer under each eye. Start at the inner corner where skin tends to be darkest, then under the pupil and the third on the outer edge.
  • Pat, never rub with your ring finger (this finger tends to have the softest pad) until the concealer disappears.

If you have dark, under-eye circles, you may need to go a step further. See How to Cover Up Dark, Undereye Circles.

Step 2: Prime Those Lids

Just as you prime a wall before you paint, you can prime your face before you apply makeup. It goes on smoothly and lasts longer. Eyeshadow primer is the secret to keeping your shadow in place for hours. Eye base will keep shadow in place through workouts, torrential rains, a good cry and even a night's sleep.

Again, I recommend Urban Decay's Primer Potion, which you can get at Sephora or buy online at Amazon. To apply, you just put a dot on each lid and blend it in.

Step 3: Line the Eyes

If you're going for a casual, I'm-not-wearing-makeup daytime look, you can skip this step. But I do love a nicely lined eye. Liners help make your eyes pop and if you blend correctly, it won't be obvious.

You can use liquid liners or an eye pencil, but I prefer to use dark eyeshadows as eyeliners. Wet a slanted brush like this popular eyeliner brush from Amazon, then dip in a dark eyeshadow.

Line eyes as close to the upper lashes as possible from the inner corner to the outer corner.

Follow with liner on bottom eyes. Smudge the bottom line with a Q-tip or your finger. You don't want a prominent line.

For a smokey eye, use a brush to pat in a dark eyeshadow along the upper lid and below the lid. You don't want a stark line, instead, you want to blend it so it's "smudge-y."

Step 4: A Few Swipes of Eyeshadow

Eyeshadow is great because it covers up any veins in your lids and helps make your eyes pop.

For daytime, I like to use a basic light shadow on my lid and nothing else. My absolute favorite eyeshadow is Stila's "Kitten" (buy from Amazon). I've turned on so many people to this shade when they compliment my shadow.

For a bit more drama, try a three-toned eyeshadow palette and build from lids to brow. You want to blend them into each other like a rainbow,  celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal once told me.

Start with a light color that almost matches your lid. Sweep the color across the lid and up to your browbone. Follow with a medium color across your lid only. Build on this with a darker color in the crease. Blend the colors well.

Step 5: Highlight the Inner Eye

This step is a makeup artist's secret and a trick I use all the time. 

This step involves only the inside part of the eye. Putting a bit of your lightest eyeshadow in the inner corner of your eye will brighten it significantly. I usually dab a finger into my lightest eyeshadow in my palette and then I press it into the inner corner of my eye where the upper lid meets the bottom lid. This totally makes eyes "pop."

Step 6: Highlight Your Brow

Take the same light eyeshadow and dab it on your browbone, concentrating on your mid-brow outward. Blend with your finger. I like to use Yves Saint Laurent's Touche Eclat (buy from Amazon) just below my brow and just above it, but a super light shadow will do you.

Step 7: Curl Your Lashes

An eyelash curler will make even long lashes look more gorgeous. For added effect, you can heat the curler under a blowdryer for a couple seconds. Test curler before applying to lashes because you could burn yourself.

Step 8: Apply Mascara

Place the wand of your mascara brush at the bottom of lashes and wiggle back and forth. Follow with another few sweeps of the wand. Apply to bottom lashes as well.