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Eyeshadow 101: Basics + Tips & Tricks

While eyeshadow is typically used to accentuate and enhance the eyes, by adding depth and dimension, but it can also be used to correct any negative aspects.

Eyeshadow 101 Basic Tips and Tricks Makeup Blog

In this blog post, I’ll go over all the basic of eyeshadow, as well as:

  • The differences and benefits between highlight & shadow, as it applies to an eyeshadow application

  • How to apply eyeshadow in order to draw attention to the eyes

  • How to recognize and correct a variety of problematic areas of the eye

  • How to apply eyeshadow in order to create the illusion of ‘lift’ to the eye, which will give a more youthful appearance


The area directly above the eye and just under the eyebrow is where eyeshadow will be placed. If you're looking to achieve a more intense or dramatic look, you can also place the eyeshadow under and/or around the outer-corner of the eye.

The Eye Fold Brow Bone Upper Lid Outer Corner Lower Lid Tear Duct Eyeshadow Makeup Blog
This eye area is broken down into the following sections: the upper eyelid, the lower eyelid, the fold, the brow bone, the outer-corner, and the tear duct.

The skin in this area may be tighter for some, while looser on others. Those with more youthful eyes tend to have a smoother and more taut area in which to apply eyeshadow, while those with more mature eyes may have an uneven surface on the upper-lid (generally referred to as a “crepey eyelid”.

It's also important to note that when it comes to width & height, this space can vary quite a bit for each individual.



There are numerous different types of eye-shapes, as well as eye-folds. Eye-shapes tend to be round or oval, with varying types of folds. The area between the upper-lid line and just under the brow is the space where you should concentrate on, when applying eyeshadow.

The eye-folds are generally broken down into the following categories: the flat eye, the slight fold, the recessed eye, the heavy fold, the Asian slight fold, and the Asian heavy fold. It’s important to note that the eye-folds can either be one of, or a combination of, those categories.

Depending on the placement of the eyeshadow, it can either help lift-up or pull-down any of the eye shapes and/or folds, ultimately creating an illusion of something that doesn’t exist. For example, you can create the illusion that a ‘heavy fold’ is more like a ‘slight fold’, reducing the heaviness of the fold, thereby opening and lifting up the eye (this will help give lift to the entire face and, on a mature person, will create a more youthful look).

Below are illustrations of the various, common types of eye-folds. While some of you may have one of these exact eye-folds, others may have a combination.

Flat Eye Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Flat Eye
Slight Fold Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Slight Fold
Recessed Eye Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Recessed Eye
Heavy Fold Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Heavy Fold
Asian Slight Fold Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Asian Slight Fold
Asian Heavy Fold Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Asian Heavy Fold


While eyeshadow is often used to enhance the eyes by applying color, it can also be used to help bring balance to the eyes and, ultimately, the face.

Eyeshadow can be applied either before or after your base and eyebrows have been finished. However, some people prefer to do their eyebrows before applying eyeshadow, since the eyebrows will frame the eyes, thus helping to determine where the eyeshadow should be placed.

When applying eyeshadow, the most important thing to remember is where and how the eyeshadow is placed, as it can greatly affect the desired outcome.

Cleansing Face Skincare Eyeshadow Makeup Blog


Prepping the skin is an essential factor for a good eyeshadow application. To ensure a smooth eyeshadow application, be sure to cleanse and moisturize the eye area (if you have oily eyelids, avoid moisturizing this area—too much moisture can cause the eyeshadow to move).

Blending Eyeshadow Makeup Blog


Blending is the key to a flawless eyeshadow application. The goal is to have a smooth gradient of colors where one color transitions into another color, without any harsh edges. Having a proper blending brush will make a huge difference between a decent and an amazing eyeshadow application. I recommend using one brush for each color choice and a separate, clean brush for blending (if you mix brushes, it can cause the application to look muddy).


Highlight and shadow are the two key elements of the eyeshadow application. Each shade has a specific purpose: the highlight shade should be a much lighter shade of color than the shadow, while shadow should be a darker/deeper color than the highlight shade. The highlight shade draws attention to an area by pulling it forward, while the shadow shade will push an area backward, creating depth.

The placement of highlight and shadow is determined by the type of eye fold, since each fold has its own required needs. However, there are a few key elements that apply to most eye folds:

  • Keep the eye lifted

  • Eyeshadow should not exceed the outer-corner of the eye (if the shadow is placed past the outer-corner of the eye, it can cause the eye to droop, dragging it down)

  • Harsh edges should be well-blended and softened (an un-blended edge can appear harsh and messy)

  • Generally, the inside edge of the shadow (closest to the nose) should not exceed below the tear duct, since shadow below the tear duct can make the eye appear to droop (one exception to this rule is when working with Asian eyes, since it may be necessary to go slightly past the tear duct)



The following examples of eyeshadow placement are illustrations for corrective positions. However, with some eye folds, there may be one choice. For example, the Asian Slight Fold has three unique application choices, each with a different result. Furthermore, the Asian Heavy Fold may utilize elements taken from the three choices for the Asian Slight Fold.

Flat Eye Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Flat Eye

This eye shape is slightly concave. It’s called the Flat Eye because it doesn’t have a fold or tissue that overhangs, nor is it recessed. Also known as the “perfect eye shape”, the Flat Eye is perfect for a wide-array of eyeshadow looks and applications.

Slight Fold Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Slight Fold

The Slight Fold requires just a minor correction, in order to enhance and open up the eye. By placing the highlight shade on the brow bone and upper lid, it will give dimension against the shadow.

Recessed Eye Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Recessed Eye

The recessed eye typically has little-to-no fold. Therefore, on the area that protrudes from the eye the farthest (usually just below the brow on the bone). Depending on the amount of space available, there is little-to-no highlight applied under the eyebrow.

Heavy Fold Eye Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Heavy Fold

Attention should be drawn to the area of the lid where the skin hangs down at its heaviest point. Making this type of correction can make a huge difference in lifting the eye, producing a more youthfully-shaped eye.

Asian Slight Fold #1 Eye Eyeshadow 101 Makeup Blog
Asian Slight Fold #1

As with most Asian eye shapes, the lid is generally less pronounced and the fold hangs over the lid in varying degrees, creating a somewhat flat appearance to the eye. With the proper use of highlight and shadow, it’ll add dimension and give the appearance of a more open and rounded look to the eye (this is also known as an imposed caucasian).