Makeup 101: How to Blend Eyeshadow

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A pet peeve of mine is when people don't blend their eyeshadow properly. Whether you are doing a smoky eye or a simple, everyday look, blending is key. When blended, eyeshadow looks so amazingly beautiful and I feel like just a little bit more effort would have made those eyes look so much more beautiful and put-together.

I picked up a couple of tips here and there about eyeshadow blending in my years of playing around with makeup, and I thought I might share them here.

First off, brushes! Now I must stress that you can blend eyeshadow without brushes, and you don't need to go out and buy these brushes. But brushes make the whole process a lot easier and quicker, and if you use the right brush, the finish is a lot more polished too. Here are my favourite brushes.

MAC 239 brush

The MAC 239 brush, or Sigma E55 Eye Shading brush (or in my case, simply brush similar to these two brushes), is the perfect brush for packing on product when you first apply your eyeshadow. These brushes are great because they pick up and deposit a lot of product onto your eyelid. This way, you get a solid block of intense colour on your eyelid from the get-go.
You can also use your fingers in place of this brush, simply reapply a couple of layers to achieve the intensity you want.

Sigma E25

The Sigma E25 blending brush (or its 217 MAC equivalent) is the hero of blending brushes. This is the perfect blending brush, whether you have large, small, or extra small eyes. This brush is made perfectly for blending out product and is fool-proof! It is tapered at the tip (forgive my brush - it's a little splayed because I had just cleaned it for this shot) so you can get to the very edge of the eyeshadow and blend it out into a nice haze of colour. It is also perfect for the crease

NP Set Crease Blender Brush

When you want your crease to look a little more defined, you need a brush that is more tapered at the tip, and I have found that the NP Set Crease Blender brush serves my needs perfectly. It is small enough so that it fits into my crease, and fluffy enough so that the crease colour doesn't get deposited as a strong line, and also fluffy enough so that I can blend my crease colour with it, without having to use another brush.

Now on to the actual techniques!

Initial Application

When I apply my base eyeshadow to my mobile lid, I like to use my fingers. This way, I can warm up the product, and really pack it on. Just circle your clean finger into your eyeshadow, then push onto your lid. You can twist or drag your finger a tiny bit after pushing the eyeshadow down onto your lid. This will pack it onto your lid. When I need a more intense colour, I use a primer and the MAC 239 brush.


When you are using light or neutral colours, your fingers are more than good enough to blend the colour out. Darker colours are less forgiving, so I would recommend using the E25 brush.
What you want to do when blending, is go back and forth in a window-wiper motion. It is fine to blend in smaller window-wiper strokes instead of sweeping back and forth across the entire lid - whatever makes you feel more comfortable. At the very outer edges of your eyes, try to blend in small circular motions - this will give the eyeshadow a more blunt edge and avoid any excess eyeshadow being deposited there.

The key is to blend and keep blending until your eyeshadow creates a gradient of colour from the lid to the brow bone. If you end up wiping off most of the eyeshadow on your mobile lid, you can just reapply your eyeshadow and then blend again - less blending will be required after this step. It sounds like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it, it takes under a minute to complete.

This is important: Just because the edges of your eyeshadow look soft, does not mean that your eyeshadow is blended! You want to create a gradient of colour fading out into nothing!
There are some makeup looks that require a stronger eyeshadow edge, but as a general rule, no lines, not even soft ones, are acceptable! Here is an example of a soft edge, but incompletely blended eyeshadow - a big no-no!

Dark and Matte Eyeshadows

As you can see, darker coloured eyeshadows are much less forgiving and can look a lot more harsh when applied. The same goes with matte eyeshadows. They require a little extra attention and care, but in the end, the result is exactly the same.

Instead of fingers, I recommend using the Sigma E25 (or MAC 217) brush to blend. Again, finger-blending is possible, but the brushes just make it easier.
When blending darker colours, I find it handy to have an extra E25 on hand. This is because when you are trying to create a gradient of eyeshadow that blends out into nothing, a product-loaded brush is only going to deposit more eyeshadow where it is not needed! An extra brush is perfect at times like this.

The Crease

I am a huge fan of the crease colour. I find that a matte brown eyeshadow ties looks together beautifully, and makes the finished product look a lot more professional. My current favourite crease colour is the Sleek Face Contour Kit in Medium.

When applying your crease colour, use a blending brush and apply directly into your crease (this should be where the very edge of your eyeshadow is). The reason why I recommend blending out your eyeshadow first before applying a crease colour, is that it makes it easier and quicker to apply eyeshadow this way, even though you could technically do both at the same time.
The crease colour should also blend into nothing towards the brow bone.

The NP Set Crease Blender brush comes in when you want a more defined crease. This deposits the crease colour more cleanly into the crease, instead of the wash of colour that the blending brush would deposit. Use the same window wiper motion, but with this brush you might want to be a little more light-handed, because the bristles are quite long and can be a little bit difficult to control. Also, being too heavy-handed can result in a strong line being applied, which is an absolute horror to blend out, trust me.

I hope these little tips help you out the next time you're getting ready! Thanks for reading and have a gorgeous day x

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