Does your eyeshadow crease? Do you struggle to get a good blend? You might just need to make a few simple changes. The secret to good eye makeup? Good basics. This means a decent set of brushes, lid primers and quality matte neutral eyeshadows. Plus, a basic understanding of key makeup terms so you can follow a tutorial with confidence.


Where eye makeup can be applied.
A basic guide to eyeshadow placement (there are no rules but this is a good starting point).


Think about the tools you currently use to do your eyeshadow. Do you have one sad, old brush that does everything? Or do you have a nice brush set but you’re not sure what to do with it? The reality is, you can’t achieve a beautiful blend without the right brushes.

Small tapered brush, Medium tapered brush, Medium fluffy brush, Large fluffy brush.

The absolute essential for eye makeup is a blending brush. I use a combination of sizes and styles to achieve most eye makeup looks. The fluffy brushes are good for blending shadows together and creating a soft edge. Tapered blending brushes do a similar job but in a smaller, concentrated area (very useful for smokey eyes).

If you only get one blending brush, make it a medium fluffy (my favourite is a MAC 217). It’s a multitasker that can achieve a simple eye look without a lot of effort. However, if you want a great smokey eye, you really do need the lot!

Flat Shader Brushes

Flat shader brushes are the best tools for applying the main lid colour. They allow for precise placement, in addition to retaining the intensity of the eyeshadow pigment or glitter.

Definer/Smudge Brushes

Definer brushes (or smudge brushes) are used for applying eyeshadow close to the lash line or smudging eyeliners.

Angled liner brush, Thin liner brush

Much better than the flimsy brush that comes with liquid liners. They can be used for gel, liquid or powder (or even to wing out kohl pencil). My favourite is the angled brush but I think this comes down to personal preference.

Spoolie brush

The underdog. Spoolies are a handy tool that can be used for eyebrows, lashes and knocking off annoying specks of dried mascara and glitter.


NARS Eyeshadow Base (front), MAC Paint Pots (back)

I’m a strong supporter of the eyeshadow primer. They offer longevity, help eyeshadows ‘pop’, and the opaque versions can cancel out redness, veins, stray eyebrow hairs and pigmentation. Marvellous!

Not all primers are created equal. I use NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base on everyone. It’s that good! If I need to create a blank canvas I like to follow up with a Paint Pot by MAC. I usually choose a slightly lighter shade than my client’s skin tone to make eyeshadow stand out. Urban Decay primers are also a good shout. I like to set them in the crease area (avoiding the eyelid) with a skin tone matte eyeshadow or a translucent powder.

You can use a concealer but it’s risky. You have been warned.


Charlotte Tilbury Palette, MAC individual eyeshadows


They are the boring, often murky looking, matte shades. They are essential for blending and creating beautiful eye makeup looks. Necessary for both simple and complex styles.

Transition shades go from ivory, right through to medium brown/grey. They are cool or warm toned. At the very least you need a mid-tone neutral to place in your crease.

The transition theory can also be applied to colourful looks (light, medium and dark matte purples, for example).

For darker, smokey looks, you would also need dark browns, greys or even a black (sometimes referred to as smoke shades). A decent eyeshadow palette will have a range of matte shades included.


Whilst you might like to use matte shades exclusively, shimmer and glitter formulas can add extra dimension and make your eyes a focal point. They are usually applied on the eyelid and blended with transition shades. Light shimmery shades are great for highlighting the inner corner and brow bone to achieve a brighter, lifted eye.

And don’t let anyone tell you you can’t wear glitter over a certain age. Rubbish! I’ve applied silver glitter to a lady in her 70s (on her request) and she looked fabulous. Use finely milled formulas, apply sparingly and you’ll be just fine.



Do your eye makeup before foundation and concealer. This means you can apply your eye makeup without worrying about making a mess. You can then wipe away the fallout under your eyes with a cotton pad and micellar water before doing the rest of your makeup. Hello clean, bright under eye concealer. Just don’t forget to use a clean fluffy brush around your eyeshadow to make it seamless.

Well loved MAC Paint Pots

I’ve demonstrated a lot of this information for my Instagram TV video. Head to my eye makeup blending tutorial to see these tips and products in action.

Would you like a personalised makeup lesson? I offer 1-2-1 and small group lessons tailored to your requirements. Get in touch to find out more.

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