Some days, all you need is a subtle wash of colour on the lids. Most days, you’ll probably want to do something a little more complicated. A light shade on the lid to open up the eyes, a darker hue on the crease to add depth and dimension, and a highlighter on the browbone to illuminate the look. That’s just the basics. If you feel more adventurous, you can use even six or seven eyeshadows.
But, if you use more than one colour, you have to make sure everything is blended well together. The secret? Well, there are plenty of tips and tricks to make blending eyeshadows easier for beginners, but nothing is a substitute for practice. So, whenever you have the chance, take out your eyeshadows and your brushes and blend, blend, blend. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.
But to help you out, here are some of my favourite tricks:
1. Start with shades in the same colour family
The more similar two shades are, the easier they will be to blend. It doesn’t matter how much you like crazy colour combos such as green and pink, or black and white. These colours are very hard to blend together, so wait until you have more practice or you’ll only make a muddy mess. Instead take two shades in the same colour family (ie, two greens) and blend them into a seamless gradient. If you’ve never done it before, start with browns. It’s impossible to make a mess with browns. Even if the eyeshadows aren’t perfectly blended, no one will notice.
2. Use an intermediary colour to create a gradient
Once you’ve learned how to blend similar colours, you may want to try pairing different shades together. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use an intermediary colour. For instance, if you want to blend fuchsia and blue, you can apply a purple shade between them. If you’d like to do a warmer look, apply orange between yellow and red. This will help you create a seamless gradient with ease. If you’re not sure of what shade will fit well between two contrasting colours, simply check out the colour wheel for help.
3. No intermediary colour? Keep blending to a minimum
Sometimes, using an intermediary colour is not possible. There are just too many colours between dark blue and bright yellow, for instance. These colours will never fade seamlessly into one another and, if you try to make them to, you’ll only make a mess (and create an ugly green shade). In this case, the best thing is to blend as little as possible. Simply focus on blending out the edges, so that there are no unattractive sharp lines.
4. Blend out the edges with a similar, but lighter, shade
If you use a dark or bold shade on the crease to define the eyes, it’s a good idea to use a lighter shade in the same colour family on top of it to blend out the edges and create a nice gradient. This will also make it easier to blend the crease colour with the highlighting shade you’ll use next. Otherwise, the contrast between the two will be too stark and look unnatural.
5. Lighter into darker or vice versa
If you’re a newbie at blending eyeshadows, apply the two colours you want to use on the lid, and then start blending. To do this, the easiest way would be to gently pull the lightest colour into the darker one (some people do the opposite, which works fine too, but it’s just a tad harder). Of course, you don’t have to bring the light colour all over the dark one, but simply drag it enough for them to fade into one another. You want to fade the edges and create a gradient, not lighten entirely the darker shade.
6. Use soft strokes
When blending eyeshadows, use soft, quick and feathery strokes. They will help diffuse the colour more easily. Also, use a light hand and don’t pick up too much product. If you apply the shade too lightly, you can always intensify it, but fixing the opposite mistake will be harder.
7. The right tools
Next to practice, the most important thing is the right brush. You can’t use the flat one you use to apply colours on the lid. It just won’t work that well. Instead, choose a fluffy, domed shaped brush that doesn’t pick up too much colour and allows you to sweep it in whatever direction you need to. Although you don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy a good blending brush these days, my favourite still remains the MAC 217 Blending Brush. It’s pricey, but soft, versatile and makes applying eyeshadows a breeze. Oh, and stay away from sponge brushes. They absorb too much product, and don’t even work that well.
8. Blend over a creamy, smooth base
Eyeshadows glide on better, and are easier to blend, when applied over a creamy and smooth base. You can use either an eyeshadow primer such as Too Faced Shadow Insurance; a nude powder eyeshadow with a buttery texture; or a nude cream eyeshadow. You could also use a coloured cream eyeshadow but, in that case, make sure it will match the colour you’ll apply on top so that it will intensify the shade rather than show through it and ruin it.
9. Take your time
When blending eyeshadows, take as much time as you need. Start by applying (and blending, of course!) a little bit of colour, and build it up as needed. Every now and then, step back from the mirror to see how everything looks from a distance.
But mostly importantly, have fun! Don’t be afraid to be creative, test out new colour combos, or experimenting. And practice, practice, practice!
What are your favourite eyeshadow blending tricks?