Girls Guide – How to Wear a Base Shadow
If you suffer from a tragically overdone eye, or if you're a bit confused on how exactly to even wear eye shadow, let's start from the beginning... applying the base color! Read on, girlies, and educate your eyes!
One of the biggest mistakes I see with everyday beauties who primp and preen to look glamorous is that they don’t know how to choose the correct base shadow color for their eyes. It's either too light or too dark, too grey or too pink or too yellow. But fret not, Beauty Banter is here to help!
What exactly is a base shadow, you ask? Well, it's the first color you dust on your lids, or, as Cargo Cosmetics Annesley Broadhead says so succinctly, "It is the foundation to great eye make-up, just like priming a canvas before painting a work of art." It is the building block to a smokey eye or an au naturel one; it's what gives your eye depth, even color, and POP! You can wear a good base color alone to accentuate natural beauty and offer an even hue for discolored, tired or veiny eyes, or you can layer other shadows over the base shadow to create any number of looks and textures.
We asked the A-list makeup artists the following questions:
- Why to use a base shadow?
- What base color is right for each skin tone?
- How to apply the base color?
- When to use cream, powder, matte and shimmer?
Here are the tips, tricks and beauty secrets straight from the mouths of the beauty elite!
Why to use a base shadow?
CARGO’s Annesley Broadhead says, “A base eye shadow brightens the eye area, gives a lift under the eye brow, allows your other eye shadows to blend more easily and prevents messy creasing in the crease area of the eye.”
Lori Taylor of Smashbox explains that, “Base shades in general will even the tone of lid color to ensure that your eyes shadow will appear brighter and more true to color.”
Jillian Veran, Prescriptives Director of Artistry, says that “Most women use an eye shadow to combat 3 issues: Oily eyelids, Discolored eyelids, Extended wear.”
What base color is right for each skin tone?
Mary Beth York of M.B. York Beauty puts it simply, “the lighter the skin tone, the lighter the base color, and the deeper the skin, the darker the base. Someone with very light porcelain skin would do great with a ballerina pink base. Someone with a medium to dark skin tone do well with a medium peachy base.”
First and foremost, Jillian Veran, Prescriptives Director of Artistry, suggest that you, “Determine your skin tone... Look at the tone around your eyes, is it warm? Does it look beige, yellow or gold? If the discoloration around the eye is greenish, yellowish or brownish you are most likely warm. If the color around the eye is pink, transparent or greyish, with a pinkish discoloration under the eye you are most likely cool. If you are warm look for warm tone base colors, such as vanilla, champagne or beige. If you are cool look for base colors such as chiffon, or pearl, or soft white.”
Smashbox’s Lori Taylor breaks it down into light, medium and dark. “The best base shade tones for fair to light skin tones will usually have a nude to fleshly under tone (think fleshy pink) and are best when the have a matte consistency. For a pop to smoky eye nighttime eyes use base shades that have shimmer to widen and brighten. The best bases shade for medium and olive tones will have a yellow base. These tones will even lid color and brighten the eye area. For night it’s always best to add a shadow that is more golden and shimmery. The best shade for darker skins will usually have a bit more color but will always have a warmer or peachy/orange undertone to even out the darkness that a deeper skin can have. For added drama at night you can even choose shades that have a high metallic to give pop.”
MAC's Bianca Alexander, Director of Makeup Artistry, explains that “A matte pale ivory infused with a bit of pink or peach is a key choice for fair to medium skin tones with a rosy or warmer hue. A matte vanilla or bisque is a great essential for fair to medium olive skin tones. A matte pale mango is the perfect shade for medium to deeper skin tones.”
Emmy-nominated celebrity makeup artist and founder of Senna Cosmetics, Eugenia Weston, says, “The palest of shadow is for the fairest skin tone - a pinkish-white tone. For medium skin tones use a warm creamy shade or a pinky-beige tone. For darker skin tones, try a warm beige tone.”
CARGO’s Annesley Broadhead offers this: “Ideally, your base shadow should be about one shade lighter than your skin tone. So if you are fair look for shades in ivory, ecru and linen. For darker skin tones such as African American skin tones, opt for shades in soft amber and golden honey.”
How to apply the base color?
Eugenia Weston, of Senna Cosmetics, has a great pro tip: “MAKEUP ARTIST RULE: Light brings forward. Dark shades recede and define. Color rounds out an area.”
Borghese’s makeup artist and radio beauty correspondent, Omari Ozwald instructs: “To make eyes open pop and sparkle use a shimmery shadow just below the brow and blend down to crease. Apply a wash of color over the lid and blend upward on to crease.”
NARS International Lead Makeup Stylist, Uzo Ukaeje says, “A cream shadow should only be applied to the eyelid blending upwards towards the crease. This will allow for easier and smoother blending when darker powder eyeshadows are layered on top. Use your finger to apply cream shadow or with a brush for more precision.”
Jillian Veran of Prescriptvies gives us the step-by-step on applying powder shadows versus cream: “powder should be swept lightly across the entire eye lid to brow, using a larger sized shadow brush. Cream Eye Shadow should be applied with a concealer brush then tap out with your finger.” And as a note-to-self, “Don’t make your base eyeshadow too thick or you will grey out anything else you put over it, keep it sheer and pat it in.”
CARGO’s Annesley Broadhead instructs, “For an ultra long wearing effect apply a bit of foundation or concealer on the lids first, and then follow with your base eye shadow. Your base eye shadow should be applied over the entire eye area from lash line right up to the brow. Use a nice full brush that is densely backed and not too fluffy.”
When to use cream, powder, matte and shimmer?
Tarte’s makeup artist, Jasen Kaplan, breaks it down very simply: “For a dramatic eye or impactful color, use a cream base shadow. I like to use a concealer brush to apply the cream to the eyelid, then I pack the powder pigment on top with a sable blender brush! This gives a long wearing impactful look. For an all day shimmery lid, use a cream shadow as your base and set it with a loose pigment shadow. My favorite is rose gold! For a softer more diffused shadow, use a skin toned powder eyeshadow all over the eye from lash line blended up to the crease. This gives you a "clean canvas" to blend your other shadows on top. I like to use a deep peach blended into the crease for a natural looking shape and a shimmery vanilla in the corner of the eyes to "pop" the look, leaving the lids base soft and natural.”
NARS International Lead Makeup Stylist, Uzo Ukaeje, explains when and why one should use a cream shadow: “Cream shadows with a subtle pink pearlescent shimmer or ones with a bronze shimmer make regular powder shadows glisten when used as a base.”
MAC’s Bianca Alexander offers these amazing tips: “Go for matte or velvet textures as a base when building a sculpted or smokey eye with matte shadows. This will insure a smooth application of color and avoid “skipping”.” Bianca suggests using a shimmery base “when building a uniform wash of color, a sculpted contour, or smokey eye with matte shadows. This will add a different dimension to the eyes by mixing up the textures a bit, and will add a touch of glamour.” And finally, “Creamy textured shadows can be used as a base for matte textures as well, but are quintessential for shadows or loose pigments that have a shimmer or frost.”
Senna’s Eugenia Weston explains how to create that sexy POP: “Use shimmer shadows in the inner corner of the eyelid in a 'V' shape, this is an especially good trick on deep-set eyes to make them POP. Also apply in the center of the lid and under the brow bone as the reflective finish makes the shape stand out more. Women that have a lot of wrinkles should stay clear of metallic's and shimmer as they act as little mirrors reflecting wrinkles more.”
WOW! That's a lot of information to wrap your head, fingers, eyes around! But next time you're in the market for a new base shadow, refer back to these tips and tricks and you'll be vamping it up on the catwalk known as real life!
For our must-have base shadow round-up - the best of the best base shadows tried and tested - check back tomorrow!
And for the full interview with each makeup artist, including their personal base shadow picks (and even some AMAZING tips on how to create a smoldering, smokey eye), click HERE and read away!
Thanks so much to all of those that contributed to this fabulous post: MAC, Nars, Smashbox, Cargo, tarte, Borghese, Senna, M.B. York Beauty, Prescriptives, Clinique and Lancome! Love and Besos!