Eyeshadow Primer: Matte Eyeshadow Palette & Glossy Eyeshadow Essentials

The options are mindblowing: eyeshadow primer, glossy eyeshadow singles or a matte eyeshadow palette. Every week there's a new Insta / YouTube collaboration: will these magic powders work for my skin tone? How do you filter through all these choices to find the right formula, finish and shade for you? Problem solved. We've created the Essential Guide To Eyeshadow to help your search. We've broken down all the options from cream, powder, liquid and gel formulas to matte, metallic, shimmer and frost finishes and even shared some recommendations to help you choose the right shade for your eye color.


As with lipsticks, formulas have come a long way. Now you can play with creams, liquids, powders, pens and pencils in as many mattes, metallic, frost and satin finishes to dupe that look you see on the red carpet. Let's break it down.

For the beginner, powders are an easy to blend formula. Available in an infinite number of shades with a satin, shimmer, and metallic finishes, powders come in both loose and pressed powder formats. Loose powder can be highly pigmented and will have an excellent color payoff. But loose eyeshadow can be messy, more difficult to blend without a brush and definitely best left at your home base. A pressed powder format is easy to blend and easy to carry out and about for touch-ups. If you have oily skin, keep aware that some powders will change hue as your skin's natural oil is absorbed into the powder.

Cream eyeshadow is a great choice when you want your color to last all day. Easier to apply and blend, this formula is packed into pots and tubes. Throw into your makeup bag, and you're away. Cream eye shadow can also act as a base for powder eyeshadow, to keep the color in place all day long.

Liquid eyeshadows are often a lightweight formula available in tubes with an applicator wand. A liquid formula will more easily crease, so you'll need to experiment to perfect this product. Our top tip: allow the liquid to dry between adding additional layers and shades.

An eyeshadow pencil or pen is the answer for easy on-the-go, precision application. Available as a jumbo or slim tip with a no budge / smudge formula, you'll have more control with a cream eyeshadow stick to perfect your look.

A gel formula is usually offered in a gloss, metallic or shimmer finish. Available in pots and tubes, this formula is provided in subtle hues as a topper for your base, or a quick on-the-go splash of color.


When you've made a decision on formula and shade, your next choice is finish. Whether it's a smokey eye, a bold, colorful runway fashion, your every day go-to style, knowing the ins and outs of the finishes will help you pick the perfect palette.

A matte eyeshadow will have zero shine, shimmer or sheen. A matte eyeshadow palette works well on any skin since it won't draw attention to fine lines. Similar to the lipstick formula, a liquid matte shadow will have a high color payoff and last all day, but tends to be a dryer formula. More brands are creating matte cream eyeshadows which are easier to blend and combat dryness. Either way, we recommend starting off with a primer to prepare your eye makeup.

A satin shadow will have a strongly pigmented color with a soft, barely there shine, like satin. If you want a bit of shine, but want to avoid any focus on fine lines, you should choose a satin finish over a shimmer, frost or metallic finish. Depending on the formula, a satin shade can have more moisture than a matte shade.

When you want to make a statement, look no further than a metallic eyeshadow. All that glitters is available in gold, silver, bronze, copper as well as a whole range of red, green and blue foils. But like any foil, a metallic can draw attention to crinkles and creases.

Whereas a metallic is a full-on heavy metal, a shimmer eyeshadow combines the shine of satin with a hint of reflective metallic sparkle. Available in many shades, you will get the color payoff with just a hint of shine.

Frost is similar a metallic but is an iridescent eyeshadow created by adding in bright white or silver to the finish to reflect the light. Sometimes referred to as Pearlized, the finish will be soft, and the shade may be lighter. If you have fine lines, a frost may be a finish to avoid since it will draw attention to fine lines.

Similar to a topper for your lips, glossy eyeshadow is having its moment. Packed in a tube or pot, you can amp up your eyes with glossy lids by adding shimmer, shine and even a pop of glitter anywhere you need to. An eye gloss can be transparent or have a hint of color, and no surprise, some quick thinking brands have created lipstick as eyeshadow for a double dose of wow!


For most of us, the explosion of eyeshadow palettes is a blessing and a curse! Having 50 shades in a single eyeshadow palette gives us infinite possibilities. Deciding which shades suit our eye color and skin tone becomes an everyday drama of analysis paralysis. It doesn't need to be that way, with a little advance planning. Before you load up on this month's beauty haul, get familiar with color wheel basics - no, we are not talking about repainting your bedroom. While you are probably familiar with a color chart at the local paint store, the basics of the color wheel are entirely relevant for your makeup bag as well. When you want to make your eyes, lips, and cheeks stand out, you just choose a color which sits on the opposite side of the wheel to the shade of your skin tone, skin undertone, and eye color to intensify what mother nature blessed you with.

Palettes are a great way to try out a variety of complementary shades that brands have created with celebrity and vlogger MUAs. Essential palettes can start with two shades and grow to more than 50 shades for an all-out, mind-blowing, "I have no idea where to start" special edition. A girl would be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. So where to start? Which shades should be used where? We have no problem breaking a rule or two, and the hues you choose will depend on the look you are creating. But the same principles of contouring apply to eyes as well: using lighter shades to highlight areas you want to stand out (browbone and light, the lower lashline) and darker shades on areas you want to create shadows (the crease of your eye, outside corner of your eye). When choosing singles or palettes, our recommendations are to choose three complementary shades from the same color family.

  1. A light shade, to highlight area above your crease, up to the brow bone, and from the inner eye to the lower lashline

  2. A medium shade to create the high impact wow factor on your lids.

  3. A dark shade to fade your crease into the background and create contour to your eyes.
If you want to create drama and impact, opt for a fourth shade, the darkest shade in the color family, for the outer corner of your eyes.

Best Shades For Your Eye Color

So what shades will make your peeps pop? Grab that color wheel!

The best eyeshadow for GREEN eyes? Search for shades in purples, pinks, plums, wine and rose gold. For the day, look for purple eyeshadow palettes serving up soft pastels, lavender, violets, purples, and a neutral eyeshadow palette with taupe, while for the evening, highly pigmented shades with a hint of gold and yellow. Avoid harsh black eyeliner and instead opt for a plum, eggplant or deep grey hues. When planning your go-to day look, we recommend neutrals in taupe, pale mauves and champagne eyeshadow. Keep intense color closer to your lashline. When you want to amp up the drama, look for intense purples which will intensify your green eyes.

The best color eyeshadow for BLUE eyes? Think rich, warm hues. The best eyeshadow palette for blue eyes will include shades of orange, red, and peach. Metallics with gold and bronze will contrast perfectly with blue eyes too. Again a black eyeliner against softer orange and peach will look too harsh - choose a brown or copper metallic. For the day, stick with matte eyeshadow in shades of pale orange, rust, sienna, and coral eyeshadow ... any hue with a hint of browns and reds. For the evenings, all that glitters in bronze, copper, and gold eyeshadow will achieve a dramatic and sophisticated look.

The best eyeshadow for BROWN eyes? Your choices are endless. Brown is not a primary shade on the color wheel, but instead a mix of red, black, yellow and blue to achieve the various hues of light to dark brown. Experiment with intense color with blue, plums, greens or keep it subtle with neutral nudes. We recommend any of these eyeshadow colors for brown eyes. For eyeliner, look for a shade which complements your palette's shades; dark blue, dark green, and black. To create your everyday signature style, choose palettes with green, bronze and nude eyeshadow, and for evenings, we recommend a mix violets, chocolates, and white gold for a bold look that makes an impression.

The best eyeshadow for HAZEL eyes? Since hazel eyes are a mash-up of green and brown flecks, choose shades that play off the green streaks of your eyes such as browns, copper, and bronzes, or the brown specks of your eyes with pinks and metallics such as rose gold eyeshadow. Look for palettes with golds, greens, and purples. For eyeliner, choose a shade that complements browns and purples, such as an eggplant hue. Include browns, greens, and golds for your earthy day look, and when you want to go bold, try purple, dusty pink and dark red eyeshadow, topped off with a subtle metallic wash.

The best eyeshadow for GRAY eyes? You have the rarest eye color of all with a mix of grey, blue and green. Play up the blue in your eyes with coral, peach, and orange. To showcase the green flecks within grey eyes looks for palettes with purples, violets, plums, and wines, paired with eggplant or brown eyeliner. For your office look, we'd suggest cool toned eyeshadow in blues with a veil of smokey grey. And when an event demands attention, grey eyes make the perfect match for a smokey eye with grey, charcoal and silver eyeshadow.

Applying Your Eye Makeup In 5 Simple Steps

Now that you have sorted your formula, finish and shades, it's time to grab your eyeshadow brushes and start creating art!

  1. Apply an eyeshadow primer.
  2. Whether it's your face, lip or eyes, you want your makeup to last. That's where a primer comes in. An eye shadow primer creates a smooth surface so your eyeshadow will glide on easily. When your primer dries, you will have a base which resists creasing and keeps your eyeshadow in place longer. Primers will also boost the color of your eyeshadow. All good reasons to make this a necessary first step.

    PRO TIP: if you find eyeshadow shields difficult to use or don't have one in your makeup bag, apply a light dusting of translucent finishing powder below your eyes on your cheek area. You can easily brush away any fallout after working on your eye makeup.

  3. Using your lightest shade, highlight your brow arch.
  4. Starting from the inside corner of your eye, use a precision eyeshadow brush to apply your lightest shade and then use a blending shadow brush to move color outwards to highlight the arch of your brow along your brow bone. Then starting in the inner corner again, using a precision shadow brush to blend your highlighter shade below your tear duct.

  5. Using the second lightest shade, apply shade above your crease.
  6. Using an eyeshadow blending brush, work from the outside of your eye toward the inner corner, blending above the crease.

  7. Using the second darkest shade, contour the eye into the crease.
  8. Just as you would contour your face, you want to create a shadow in your crease to highlight the colors above the crease and below on your lid. Using a precision shadow brush, start from the outer corner of the eye and blend into your crease. Be careful not to completely cover the highlight shade you have just applied.

  9. Apply a mix of the contour shade and the second lightest shade on the bottom lash line using an angled liner brush to keep a tight line on the waterline of your lower eye, until you reach the highlight shade you have applied in Step 2.
  10. To create a bit more drama, apply a dark, matte black shadow on the outer corner of each eye using a smudge brush or blending tip brush.

    Ready to take it to the next level? Start by curling your lashes, applying mascara and then your eyeliner as the final step. If you opt for faux lashes, apply those after your first coat of liner using an angled liner brush and then apply a 2nd coat of liner to hide any of the lash edges.

Follow our recommendations, and you'll soon be the eyeshadow queen that everyone has programmed at the top of their favourites for the best advice and tips. Your secret's safe with us.

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