Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Essentials: Blending Your Eyeshadows

Pop quiz: what's the most important eyeshadow shade to have in your collection? Depending on your personality, your first thoughts might be taupe, violet, black, chocolate brown. While those are all great to have, none are The One. In fact, this is sort of a trick question because the most important shade of eyeshadow to own changes from person to person: it's a shadow that matches your own skin tone. That might sound boring, but trust me, this shade with unlock a world of beautifully blended eye looks, whether you love a dark smokey eye or neon brights.

In this post I'm going use different methods of creating a smokey purple look on each my eyes: the first being a what-not-to-do, and the second a what-to-do. Both looks will start with an eye primed with Urban Decay Primer Potion, use the same three shades of purple shadows (you could probably get away with two or even one; I just love my purple eyeshadows!) and the same three brushes. The difference is that the better version will also use two nude-y shades and one taupe. I just learned the importance of these neutral shadows in the last six months and am excited to share the lesson with the world. So, let's begin!

For starters, here are the brushes used (after they've been used, hence the purple glow on each). From left to right: Sigma's E35; Sephora's Angled Shadow (not my favorite but currently doing some research on a better option); and Sephpra's Precision Smudge.

And the purples used on both eyes: from left to right, The Body Shop's Mon Cherry; Smashbox's Carbernet; and MAC's Nocturnelle (my first fancy shadow bought at the age of 13 for a school dance, by the way!). Also, I just recently de-potted all my shadows into some Z-Palettes. I was able to remove Shashbox's pans without any problems, but most others I had to re-press into new pans myself so excuse the messy appearance of Mon Cherry and Nocturnelle.

This is the way I used to create colorful looks, and then I'd wonder why they didn't turn out quite as nice as I'd hoped. In this not-great method, I'm starting by applying Mon Cherry to my lid. It's a very pretty shadow but because it's a pinky-mauve, it makes me look kind of sick when applied by itself.

Next I've applied Nocturnelle into my crease with the Sigma brush. 

And here's the look after I've used the pencil brush and Cabernet to line the lower lashline and add some depth with the outer crease. As you can see, even though I blended all the shades together a bit, there are parts where the transition from shadow to skin looks awkward. Especially look at the transition to the brownbone and the inner corner. It just looks incomplete and doesn't "sit" well on my face.

And now, onto a better way to create this look! Here are the same three purple shadows you saw before supplemented with some neutrals. The neautrals, from left to right, are: Smashbox in Butter and Nectar (much more peachy in person); and The Body Shop in Chocolate Linger.

Before anything else, I'm applying Butter all over my lid, crease and brow bone. It may seem silly to apply a shadow that isn't visible, but think of it like the clear base coat you apply before painting on nail polish. If you applied nail polish with no base coat, it'd be OK, but the texture of your nails would be more visible and it probably wouldn't go on as smoothly because the polish would have nothing to grab onto. Similarly, with shadows, having a layer of skin-toned shadow makes anything you apply afterwards go on much more smoothly.

As you can see, I actually started with this eye! The magic of editing. So I've just applied Chocolate Linger to my lid used the angled blending brush.

And now I'm applying Nocturnelle, the mid-tone purple, into my crease with the Sigma brush. This is one instance in which I wish I had video, because what you can't see it that in between all of these steps, I'll go in with some Vanilla or Nectar between my crease and brow bone to continue blending. That's very important, to ease the visual transition from a bright color to your skin tone. I also applied some of Mon Cherry to the lid for a bit of shimmer.

Next I'm creating more depth and further defining my crease by taking Cabernet onto the small pencil brush and creating a sideways V-shape on the outside corner of my eyes, and then blending very well. Again, hard to show in pictures, but once blended I think I went over that a bit with Butter, and then added more Cabernet, blended, added some Nocturnelle, blended, etc. until I had an effect I was happy with. In case you didn't notice, the key word here it blended.

And now I'm taking Cabernet onto my lower lashline with the pencil brush, and then I added a bit of butter around the edges of that and blended a bit. With the under-eye area you do have to be careful of over-blending and making the eye look heavy. 

And that does it for this eye! As you can see in the side-by-side shots below, this is a much more polished and interesting-looking eye look than the first. The colors work well with my face because I've used actual colors that are in my face (most derpy sentence ever, but I think you get what I mean).

Here you can really see the difference that adding neutrals and blending well can make! The left is the better option, while the second looks quite patchy and unblended, and just doesn't look good against my skin. I think that adding the taupe to the lid in the better version made a big difference in making the purple looks smokey rather than garish. 

Such a strange photo (please don't spread it around!) but I think it really shows how much neutrals help. The left is the not-so-great eye, and the right is the better option. And doesn't the right eye look so much smoother, and somehow more natural, even though of course a smokey eye isn't natural. It looks like it belongs on my face more than the left eye does.

So main takeaways are: try using a shadow that matches your skintone all over the lid & crease before you apply anything else, as well as in the blending process, and get yourself a good blending brush like the Sigma E35 or MAC 217. Even if you just want to define your crease with some light brown shadow, these two tools will make a big difference. Hope this was helpful, and please leave any questions in the comments!

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