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EYESHADOW BASICS: Types, Textures, and Tints for Your Skin Tone

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Consider this your Eyeshadow Bible. We’re breaking down the beauty basics for acing stunning everyday eye makeup looks. Consider this your cheat sheet for all things eye makeup — get ready for tricks + tips to fly! — and once you’ve got it memorized, you should be able to execute runway-level tutorials just like that. Now, if you’re just beginning to apply makeup or are a seasoned pro there’s always a list of dos’ and don’ts to keep handy when reaching for a palette.  Scroll lower to familiarize yourself with the absolute basics; the types or formulas, textures or finishes and finally the perfect shades for your skin tones.

Types of Eyeshadow

  1. Loose Glitter
  2. You’ve often seen these pots of flakes in myriad shades. The ‘infamous’ smoky eye or Pat McGrath’s glitter lip would never be possible sans these. Recommended by beauty experts all around the globe, it’s easy enough to master this application technique: Dip and dab. Use water or setting spray as a base, dip an eyeshadow brush into the pot, dust off excess and line your eyelids.
  3. Powder
  4. The most blendable of the lot, you’ll easily recognize these highly pigmented colors sitting in individual pans. Available in multiple finishes (more on that later) they can loosely be classified into two self-explanatory types; loose and pressed powders. Beloved by makeup rookies due to their ease of application, these eyeshadows boast of intense color-payoffs for a smooth, stunning finish.
  5. Cream
  6. Simply put most pencils, pots, and crayons usually fall into this group. With blendable properties on par with its predecessor it’s no wonder these take the pedestal when it comes to relying on one formula. Pro-tip though: avoid these on hot, humid days for fear of creasing. And, as attractive as it may seem, steer clear of making the mistake of using a finger as an applicator.
  7. Liquid
  8. Easily mistaken for lip gloss, liquid eyeshadows too come in sleek, translucent tubes too. But don’t be fooled by their elaborate packaging ’cause these babies are as easy to play around with as powders. One word of caution, they dry out quickly so keep application as quick as possible. Also, if you’re prone to oily lids, we suggest skipping these altogether as they crinkle as easily as creams.
  9. Baked
  10. These eyeshadows are cream-based but baked in an oven to dry them down. Easily recognized by their peculiar dome shape they often appear to have a marbled-effect. Ultra-smooth with a very velvety finish they glide on effortlessly and can be applied either dry or wet. This basically makes it your go-to eyeshadow formula for any day-to-night event.

Eyeshadow Textures

Now, let’s get to the fun part– textures aka the finish.
  1. Matte
  2. Mattes usually contain a high-level of pigment and are ideal for shaping and structuring eyelids. Thanks to a flat finish, mattes don’t reflect light thus being ideal for contouring and defining. Use them wet for a more dramatic effect and dry for a more shaded, subtle outcome.
  3. Shimmer
  4. With almost equal parts shine and sheen this texture looks great on all skin tones. The high-shine finish suits younger faces best. Also, it’s great for sheer to full coverage as it doesn’t sink into creases.
  5. Satin
  6. This favorite lies somewhere between chalky mattes and shiny shimmers. The semi-matte texture is a hit among newbies and mavens alike. As opposed to the full-blown reflecting pigments in its previous sparkly sister, these offer a soft sheen for a more exquisite look.
  7. Frost
  8. Do you remember what Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and JLo had in common in the 90s? Well, besides brown lips and chokers around their necks, frosted lids (duh). The most iridescent of the lot, silver eyeshadow with white particles gained cult-status with pop-stars and heroines alike.
  9. Glitter
  10. With specks or flakes of actual glitter these are particles that need glue aka water to keep them from falling off. Like we mentioned earlier, most iconic looks use this texture to amp up the glam quotient while creating a memorable eye look. But be forewarned it does sink and settle into creases. 

Eyeshadow Tints

Moving into the tints for each skin tone…
  1. Warm
  2. It’s not news that gals with a warm skin tone would look good in warm hues. So, reach for the corals, pinks, oranges and even yellows. Pastel tones and nudes complement your skin perfectly. In the metallic family reach for gold, copper and hues of bronze for a goddess-like vibe.
  3. Cool
  4. Cooler skin tones look best in cool blues, purples and pink. Colors like burgundy, brick, cherry and crimson in the red family, fuchsia and hot pink are great additions. When it comes to metallics shiny silver and white gold look gorgeous. Or better yet opt for deep wines or teal.
  5. Neutral
  6. If you’re blessed with a neutral skin tone, you can wear pretty much any hue your heart desires. The best part, you can play chameleon and never be fearful of looking washed out.
    Next time you want to switch from day-time neutrals to date-night glam you have all your fundamentals down.
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