Eyeshadow Basics: The Tools. Primer, Eyeshadow and Brushes

This is the first part of a short series on eyeshadow. We'll talk about eyeshadow primer, brushes and eyeshadow.

   One thing I learned is that the less you know about makeup, the harder it is to work with crappy materials and tools. I spent my teenage years wondering why the applicators that come with eyeshadow and later very crappy brushes left blobs and streaks on my eyes -- and once I got my first nice brushes everything was so much easier! It's like switching from broken crayons to felt tip pens in preschool.
    So if you want to learn to use eyeshadow, you need a couple of well-chosen tools. While I recommend a few brands, your local cosmetic review sites / forums will help you  find the best value-for-money products available where you live.

Eyeshadow primer: 

   Seriously, get a good primer. A smooth surface will make it easier for you to paint your eyes and blend the colours together, it will make the colours look better and it will make the shadow stay put all day. It is better to have a great primer and crappy shadow than the other way around. I recommend primers from Urban Decay, Zoeva and Rival de Loop.


   If you are just starting out, you don't need anything expensive since you don't know what works for you. Sure, you can splurge for the amazing MAC shadows if you can afford them, but for most of us a small palette from the drugstore is usually fine. One with several browns and beiges is a good start.
    I am very dedicated to neutrals so I got the Zoeva neutral palette, but you don't need to get such a huge thing, just a couple of shades are enough.


    The brushes or applicators that come in eyeshadow sets are useless. Chuck them into a garbage bin. Get yourself a couple of proper eyeshadow brushes, they will make the work much easier for you. Don't think that just because you are buying a pricier brush it will be good -- some are really crappy. Here is a trick: move the brush over your hand -- if the hairs go inwards, it has a good quality, if outward it's crap (this works especially for powder and blush brushes). I recommend MAC, Eco Tools, Lumiere minerals, Everyday Minerals, E.L.F., Hakuro, Studio Tools, Maestro. HM and Essence brushes are also surprisingly ok. In a pinch you can also buy good painting brushes from artist supplies stores.
   Which brushes? A set (like the ones from Eco Tools) are fun, but if you want to pick up your brushes individually, I recommend getting these:
A round flat small stiff brush, to apply colour on the lid (above, right) -- it gives an even and intensive look. The tip can be used to line the top or bottom lashes or to highlight under the brows.
A soft blending brush, to blend, obviously. (above, center).
     These two are the basics, which you should absolutely get.
A small domed brush (above, left) can be used instead of the two above as it is ok for both applying colour and light blending. It is also great for applying colour on the crease.

Here are all my eyeshadow brushes, all from Lumiere mineral cosmetics except the one on the right:

   Apart from the three I just described, I own the double brush that has a crease brush on one end (I used it a lot in the beginning as it makes painting the crease very easy), and the lining brush on the other (for drawing on a line with an eyeshadow). Double brushes are cheaper than buying two separate brushes, but annoyingly they cannot be stored upright.
   The last one is a thin, stiff brush but I don't use it a lot. This is the only one that
I'd like to own a short stiff brush is nice to have for blending eyeliner. Over time you will discover what you like, so don't buy too many in the beginning.

   Next time I will be walking you through very basic eyeshadow application and look.

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