Smoky eyes, cat eyes and the like may look good on paper, but in the real world, we don't all have the time (or skills) to master multi-step eye makeup looks. Not to worry; this week I've rounded up two easy-to-master eye-shadow techniques that are fast and stunning.
Easy does it
One of the simplest and most attractive techniques for highlighting eyes is called a color wash.
A color wash is the application of eye-shadow color from the upper lash line to the brow bone, typically in a neutral or subtle hue of eye shadow. (For our purposes, we're not talking about a color wash of turquoise eye shadow here.)
I turned to celebrity makeup artist Amanda Shackleton, whose clients have included Sarah Michelle Gellar and Rosario Dawson, for some quick and easy tips on mastering this technique.
"I'm a huge fan of color-wash eye shadows," she said. "They keep color on the eye without being too over the top."
Shackleton recommends starting by applying a matte eye primer all over the eyelids. I like Urban Decay Primer Potion, $12 at Sephora. Next, dust the lids with powder to "set" the primer so that the shadow color of choice can be applied evenly.
"In order to get a delicate even color across the lid, without getting patchy, this is a step you cannot miss," Shackleton said.
Next, she recommends using your ring finger to apply color across the lower lid before blending the shadow up and out toward the outer corners of eyes, again using the ring finger. When finished, take a Q-tip and clean around the edges of the shadow. "Remember to make sure it's a washed-out appearance," Shackleton said. "The point of this look is to see the color, but keeping a faded quality."
Kick it up a notch
With the color-wash technique mastered, you can move on to shadow looks that are slightly more complicated but are by no means intimidating. This is my smoky-eye technique, simplified.
Start by applying a nude or champagne-hued color wash. Next, apply a shade of brown that is a few tones darker than your color wash to the creases of eyes only and blend upward, just at the outer corner of eyes. Grab your eyeliner of choice, preferably a pencil in a medium to dark brown (these shades are more forgiving than black), and apply liner to the outer half of the upper lid only.
Finish with several coats of mascara on the bottom and upper lashes, preferably in a highly pigmented, waterproof black.
The end result is a flattering shadow look that can be done quickly and expertly, ideal for those of us who want to master looking great in just minutes.
— Carolyn Brundage is the founder of TampaBay.PrettyCity.com, a guide to the best in local beauty. Need beauty advice? Tweet up with Carolyn at @tampabaypretty.