8 Steps to Your Perfect Eye Makeup

Young woman with natural hair wearing blue eyeshadow

  Avel Shah / EyeEm / Getty Images

It feels like applying eye makeup is pretty intuitive, for the most part. That is, until you step outside or check Instagram only to see just how much better you could be. You might watch YouTube tutorials, or follow makeup artists, but there are always more insider tricks you can use to amp up your eye game. But before we get into the step-by-step process, there are a couple secrets to ensuring the eye makeup lasts. 

These are: Choose a good quality eyeshadow primer, and a good quality eyeshadow. A good primer, such as Urban Decay's ever-lauded Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $24, can make or break your look. Use it as the base and your eyeshadow will stay put through rain, sweat, and even the heaviest of oily days. In terms of eyeshadows themselves, far too many barely show up on the lid or disappear within a couple hours. If you're wondering the reason for price differencing with eyeshadows, this is it. And if you find a great pigmented shadow you like, stick with it. From there, have fun exploring the various color palettes (and brands) available.

Now that you've got your tools down, 

Step 1: Apply Concealer

Your goal with this first step is to even out the color of the skin around your eyes. 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 (in particular under) your eyes. If you have perfect, non-bluish skin, congratulate yourself and move on to the next step. Don't use concealer under your eyes if you don't need it. It's a huge mistake that reduces the depth of your face if you overdo it. If you do need concealer, apply three dots under each eye, starting at the inner corner where skin tends to be darkest. Place another dot under the pupil, and the third on the outer edge. Finally, pat—do not rub—the concealer in with your ring finger.

Step 2: Prime Your Lids

You prime walls before you paint, and you prime your face (or at minimum your eyes, some people hate face primers,) before you apply makeup. Primer does what it implies—primes—which allows makeup to go on smoothly and last longer. Eyeshadow primer is the secret to keeping your shadow in place for hours. It will keep the shadow looking great through just about anything; although we don't recommend you wear eyeshadow to the gym or to sleep. Let your face breathe.

Step 3: The Actual Shadow

You don't need convincing, at this point, as to why eyeshadow is great. For daytime, you might find it best to use a basic light shadow on your lid and nothing else. A fan-favorite eyeshadow in this category is Stila's Kitten, ($18,) as it's discreet but also flashy enough to just barely give away the fact you're wearing makeup—expect plenty of compliments.

For a bit more drama, try a three-toned palette and build from the lids to brow. Celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal says that you want to blend them into each other sort of like a rainbow. Start with a light color that almost matches your lid, sweeping it across the lid and up to your brow bone. Follow that a medium color—across your lid only. Finally, build on this with a darker color in the crease, and then blend like your life depends on it.

Step 4: Highlight the Inner Eye

This step is a former makeup artist secret that's only become particularly popular in past years. You'll want to use it all the time once you see the results, though. Blend a bit of your lightest eyeshadow (whatever it is) into the inner corner of your eye. It'll brighten your eyes, and even your face, significantly. There's not even a brush needed. You can even just dab a finger into the shadow, and then press it into the inner corner where upper lid meets bottom lid. 

Step 5: Line the Eyes

If you're going for a casual daytime look, you can skip this step. You can also skip it if you have particularly thin or light lashes that liner will overpower. But there is something alluring about a nicely lined eye. Liners make your eyes pop and, if you blend correctly, won't be too obvious.

You can use liquid liners or an eye pencil, but lots of people prefer to use dark eyeshadows for a little less neat of a look. To do this, wet a slanted brush, then dip it in a dark eyeshadow. Line your eyes as close to the upper lashes as possible, from the inner corner to the outer corner. Follow with liner below your eyes. Smudge the bottom line with a cotton swab, as you don't want a prominent line.

Step 6: Highlight Your Brow

Take the same light eyeshadow and dab it on your brow bone, focusing on your mid-brow outward. Blend it in by dabbing it with your finger. Hardcore beauty addicts will want to use a pen like Yves Saint Laurent's Touche Eclat, ($35,) just below and above the brow, but a super light shadow is fine in a pinch.

Step 7: Curl Your Lashes

An eyelash curler will make even the longest and fullest lashes look even better. For added effect, you can heat the curler under a blowdryer for a couple seconds. It can make your eyelashes look bigger, fuller, and they'll curl better. but be careful because you don't want to burn your eyelashes off. 

Step 8: Apply Mascara

Finally, your look will always be best topped off with a little mascara. Simply place the wand of your mascara brush at the bottom of lashes, and wiggle it back and forth while running it upwards. Follow it with another few sweeps of the wand, and apply it to your bottom lashes as well.