There are 1,000,001 tutorials that show you how to DIY the trickiest and most dramatic eyeshadow looks out there. But since we’re not guestlisters at year-round galas, we’re in serious need of a beauty tutorial that can help us master looks we can actually wear week in and week out. So we’re breaking down the beauty basics with Eyeshadow 101: Our go-to guide for acing stunning everyday makeup looks. Consider this your cheat sheet for all things eye makeup — get ready for tricks + tips to fly! — and once you’ve got it memorized, you should be able to execute runway-level tutorials just like that. Now grab your makeup kits: Brit beauty school is officially in session!


Before you even think about reaching for that sparkly shadow, let’s get up close and personal with your features, specifically: your eye-shape. As you’ve probably read before, there are certain looks and styles that flatter each unique eye shape best, but that can be tricky to identify. So instead of sweatin’ it over confusing charts and labels, concentrate on your ZONES — the key areas that define everyone’s eyes. These six areas are universal, and so are the two techniques used to prettify them to perfection: highlighting, or brightening; and contouring, or blending and reshaping.

Follow these six steps and you’ll always be set:
 – Highlight the brow bone

– Contour the crease

– Highlight the lid

– Contour the outer corner

– Highlight the inner corner

– Highlight and contour the lower lash line


Now that you’re hip to what areas of your eyes to focus on, it’s time to get more acquainted with your materials and tools: the shadows and brushes.

There are two common types of shadows: ones with a cream base — we’ll call that the advanced shadow — or ones with a powder base, which are much easier to blend and layer. We recommend starting out with the later variety and investing in a neutral palette like Urban Decay’s Naked2 ($54), then introducing a cream shadow like a vivid Maybelline Color Tattoo ($6) when you’re ready to go pro (or just have a little fun!). Finally, there are four basic eyeshadow brushes. Really! It’s time to put that tiny foam applicator to rest! You won’t believe what a difference the upgrade makes — the switch gives you greater control + accuracy. Add these four essentials to your makeup bag stat:

Mac 249 Large Shader Brush ($22): Use this flat brush to highlight the brow bone + inner corners and your eyelid.

Mac 217 Blending Brush ($24): This fluffy tool is perfect for contouring the crease of your eyes.

Eco Tools Shading Brush ($5): Use this wide, pointed brush to add either highlighter or contouring shadow to a more detailed area like the outer crease.

Mac 266 Small Angle Brush ($20): This thin, angled brush is great for smudging highlighter or contouring shadow along the bottom lash line.


Now for the fun part: putting what we’ve learned to use with three so-simple tutorials! This trio of everyday (+ night!) looks should serve as fitting inspiration for becoming makeup artist-level familiar with your facial features. ‘Cause remember, these commuter-chic looks using the shadows and brushes we mentioned above are the base for the most swoonable red carpet eyes imaginable.

Every Day Natural Beauty: For a natural glowing look every time you leave the house.

1. Begin by highlighting your brow bone, inner corners and lids with a bright reflective color like the Urban Decay Naked2 palette’s Sin with your flat brush.

2. Now contour the crease in your eyes with a medium matte shadow like Urban Decay’s Buck.

3. Pro tip: Balance your eyeshadow and help bring out that natural glow by applying a small amount of the blush you are wearing into the inner creases of your eyes with your fluffy brush. This warms up the eye and ties it in with the hue that is on your cheeks. I am wearing Nars’s Orgasm ($34). (Yeah, it’s that good :P)

4. Finish off the look with a little eyeliner and a coat of your favorite mascara.

So chic! Make this fresh faced look your AM go-to.

The Any Occasion Smokey Eye: Add onto your already luminous day makeup to get a smoldering evening-ready look in just three easy steps.

1. Using your shading brush, apply a smoldering black color like Urban Decay’s Creep to the outer corners of your crease.

2. Apply the same color onto the outer edge of your lower lash line.

3. Apply a small amount of a shimmering gold like Urban Decay’s Halfbaked with your flat brush directly onto the center of your lid to create a pop of color.

Ready for ANY occasion? We think so!

Color Cream Quickie: Master challenging cream shadow by using it simply (and knowing one especially clever beauty hack!).

1. Add a small amount of ‘hold’ or long-lasting eye color like Maybelline’s 24 Hour Color Tattoo in Edgy Emerald to your outer crease and along your upper lash line using your finger.

2. Then apply it to the outer corners of the lower lash line with your ring finger.

3. Pro tip: Apply a small amount of the cream shadow to the wrong end (aka the handle) of any brush and tap it onto the areas where you want a little more drama.

Done and done! We’re definitely gonna use that last beauty hack again and again!

Oh, and here’s a gratuitous photo of me and Turkey Temple. He’s pretty into blush.

Do you have any tips on applying basic eyeshadow looks? What other beauty basics do you want us to help you master? Tell us in the comments below.