Following up with my Beginner’s Guide to Lip Products post, is a novice’s introduction to the basic products used on the eyes. This includes primer, shadow, liner, and mascara. Any combination of eye makeup can enhance the face and create an interesting look. That’s the beauty of (eye) makeup–it can range from stunning to simple to fierce to playful. Whatever mood you’re in or person you want to be, you can create and project that image through your cosmetics, and eye makeup has a lot to do with that.
1) Primer: Eye primer is one of those products those outside of the beauty habit don’t really know of, but it’s such an important, useful step. Any shadow can be enhanced with a primer, also called a base, under it. This works by making the shadows more vibrant, decreases problems like creasing and fallout, and helps them last longer. Some provide coverage on the eyelid, others are more invisible. Some are smooth, some are tackier (which helps keep powdery shadow and loose shadows in place).
Urban Decay Primer Potion is a staple in many beauty fans’ collections for it’s ease of use and effectiveness. Another popular choice is Too Faced Shadow Insurance. While the previous two come in tubes, MAC Paint Pots come in small jars and have more color options (both in skin-tone and colorful shades). ELF also makes an affordable drugstore primer.
2) Eyeshadow: A common, popular product among beauty junkies and girls who prefer to stick to the basics alike is eyeshadow. Eyeshadow is a pigment that can subtly or dramatically enhance the eyes. There’s a lot of versatility in the way these products are used, as well as in the formula of the products themselves. There are single shadows, duos, quads, and palettes, as well as pressed, cream, loose, and pigment formulas.
Pressed eyeshadows are powders that are pressed into a pan, making them generally light and easy to travel with. They often can be used wet or dry, and get the best application when used with a brush. There’s a shadow in this form to meet everyone’s needs: matte/frost/shimmer/glitter/satin finishes, ranging from natural to smoky to colorful, sheer to pigment-packed, in every shade of the rainbow at every price point. Be on the lookout for fading, short wear time, or fallout with this formula, though. Wet ‘n’ Wild Trios are some of the best (and affordable) pressed shadows I’ve found at the drugstore, and MAC eyeshadows can’t be beat.
Cream shadows come in an emollient, smooth formula that feels richer (and obviously less dry and more creamy) than powder shadows. There’s still loads of color options with this formula, as well as versatility. This formula can make a great base for sheer powder shadows, and works better than wet powder shadow as an impromptu eyeliner. These shadows are typically housed in glass jars and can be applied with your fingers or a brush. While I love this formula for it’s staying power, beware lesser quality formulas, which can crease or dry out quickly. Maybelline Color Tatoos come in a bold mix of shades, with some softer, skin tones added recently. These wear really well and are quite affordable. For high end shadows, I’m dying to try more of Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Creams.
Loose eyeshadows and pigments are fine powders that boast richer, more vibrant color payoff. They’re not pressed, so they can be more prone to fallout. When worn on the eye, these function much better wet (but a too-wet brush can cause streaky, patchy application!) This formula tends to really sing, with bold color payoff and rich texture. Because of the loose form, these can be reused for other things, such as becoming a lip product when mixed with clear gloss, or nail polish when mixed with clear varnish. This formula has a lot of versatility! I fell in love with indie brand Shiro’s loose shadows, and MAC makes to die for pigments.
3) Eyeliner: Eyeliner is another useful tool in a makeup user’s arsenal. The swipe of liner across the lash line can enhance or alter the eye shape, add definition to the lashes, and add some personality to your look (depending on the color/finish you choose). A flesh tone or white liner on the water line (bottom inner rim of the eye) can make your eyes look bigger and the whites look brighter, helping you look more awake. There are three kinds of eyeliner: pencil, liquid, and gel/cream.
Pencil liner should be soft and creamy enough to draw the line on the delicate skin of the eye without skipping or tugging, but not so smooth that it smudges or has no staying power. Because pencil liners need to be sharpened, there can be some product waste, but this can be avoided by freezing the pencil first. Pencil liners are great for everyday use as they’re easy to use and don’t require any special tools. You can get close to the lash line or make a thicker line and do detailed work. I’ve tried Wet ‘n’ Wild’s liners, but so far, I find that Urban Decay’s range of pencils can’t be beat.
Liquid eyeliner is a thin formula that’s brushed on, and housed in a small bottle. This liner has a shiny, very classic look and is great for making a winged, cat-eye shape. However, this formula is also the easiest to mess up and requires patience and a steady hand to nail down. The fine point of a liquid liner’s applicator also make them great for playing with shapes and doing detailed work to your makeup. Because I’m quite bad with liquid liner, I’ve stuck to Wet ‘n’ Wild’s range, but haven’t been disappointed with it’s affordability, ease of use, and color options.
Cream/gel eyeliners are smooth, rich, and my favorite to use. They’re not as convenient as a pencil, since they require a brush to apply, but they’re not nearly as tricky to make shapes with as a liquid. This formula mostly comes housed in jars with screw on lids. They’re creamy and go on like a dream, but can dry out quickly (put the lid back on while you’re applying your liner to prevent this). Ulta’s gel liners are surprisingly good, and I’m eager to try Bobbi Brown’s as well.
4) Mascara: Mascara is a special product, because it does different things depending on different women’s needs. That’s probably why it’s one of those well-loved items. Mascara comes in a tube and coats the lashes by applying product with the included wand. Depending on the formula, mascara can make your lashes look more voluminous or longer, as well as tinting and curling them. It’s important to know your bare lashes well, as what works for sparse lashes could cause thick natural lashes to clump, and so on. Whatever your needs, be careful of mascaras that clump, run, or dry out. I love Maybelline mascaras, and Benefit They’re Real! is also very good.
What are your favorite products to use on your eyes?
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