Eyeshadow palettes bursting with colour may seem like a great idea when you’re standing in the beauty hall of your local department store, cooing over the variety of tones that can be used to enhance your eyes. However, when you get the palette home the shades and sheer number of options often become overwhelming and hard to fathom. How often have you purchased a palette that contains six, ten, fifteen colours and found yourself sticking to only a handful of shades that you know what to do with? Here’s my anatomy of an eyeshadow palette, how to use the different tones and where best to apply them. Start this year as you mean to go on and get to grips with all the
shades within your repertoire, becoming an eyeshadow extraordinaire…
No matter how big your palette or eyeshadow collection, it can always be split into four categories. Looking at it logically, you can split the palette into more manageable chunks and get your head around the different tones on offer. This is the first place to start and ensures endless combinations and looks to create; the four different sections include:
These include the pale shades and neutral tones that can be used to start your look. Understated taupes, pale pinks and creams can be used almost like a foundation for your eyes: they help to create a flawless base and a universal tone from which to work. They also help to neutralise any yellowness, redness or dullness that’s naturally present on your lids, ensuring the shades applied over the top will pop as much as possible. On ‘down days’ I simply apply a wash of this colour, add a flick of eyeliner and lashings of mascara for an understated finish.
Slightly darker in colour, the contouring shades are often browns, greys or blues that bring the complete eyeshadow palette together. These are the ‘mid range’ tones that can be applied all over the lower lid or blended into the socket for subtle depth, complementing the base but equally working well with a darker shade. These are the hardest working colours and can be used delicately to build up a result; I tend to use a fluffy blending brush to gradually add a little more colour and ensure there’s no obvious line between all the tones you add. You can revisit this section of colour when you’ve finished creating your look to ensure everything blends together perfectly.
The darkest and most intense of all the shades within your palette are intended to line and frame the eye for a more impactful result. These tend to be the dark chocolate browns, the deep charcoal greys or the jet black tones with a slightly sparkly finish – using a precise or angled eyeshadow brush, pack the tip of the brush hairs with product and delicately pat along the upper and lower lash line. You can either smudge with your finger, buff with a blending brush or blend as you go by moving the brush upwards. Essentially these tones are designed to replace or complement a dark liner, so use them sparingly and have fun experimenting!
Finally, most palettes contain a slightly shimmering tone that can be used to highlight the brow arch and create ‘light and shade’ around the eye. These shades can also be used in the inner corner of eyes to brighten and ensure your peepers look wide awake; the contrast between these tones and their much darker counterparts creates a really striking finish and a look that’s seen on every celebrity going. It helps to create a professional finish and is the secret to a fabulous smokey eye – don’t overlook these eyeshadows as being not quite your cup of tea!
The key to an eyeshadow palette is looking at it logically, not forcing yourself to use too many colours and having fun. Attempting to use every single shade within one look is a recipe for disaster, so simply pick one tone at a time and build your look up gradually. There are millions of youtube videos illustrating the best way to apply eyeshadow in a more comprehensive and efficient way than I could ever manage, but investing in a few great tools and having a touch of patience will ensure a fab result every time.
How do you use an eyeshadow palette? Do the shades overwhelm and confuse you, or do you just jump right in and start experimenting?
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