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9 Ways You're Not Using Your Eye Shadow to Its Full Potential

Oct 18 2014 - 2:00pm

Did you know you have a double agent in your makeup bag? Lipstick may get all the love for being a multitasker, but that title truly belongs to the humble eye shadow. Sure, you've mastered all kinds of smoky-eye looks [1], but with the right palette, you can master your whole face (brows, cheekbones, and hairline included). We've rounded up nine ways you could be stepping up your eye shadow game, because there's no need to restrict its fabulousness to an area the size of a postage stamp. Scroll down, and prepare to be amazed.

Source: Flickr user idhren [2]; Front Page Image Source: Flickr user pumpkincat210 [3]

Effortless Eyeliner

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it doesn't matter if you want a bold, sharp line or a smudgier, hazier look — your good old eye shadow can play the part of eyeliner. Bonus: This is especially handy if you're traveling and don't want to worry about packing a pencil sharpener. For a stronger look, dip a damp, fine-pointed brush into a dark shadow, and apply as close to the lash line as possible. Make your line as thick or as thin as you like — feel free to get creative.

Fill In Your Eyebrows

You don't have to buy a fancy pencil or gel to give your brows a boost [4]. In fact, using a powder shadow on your brows can look much more natural (you can blend any harsh lines or excess color). Fill in your arches using a stiff, angled brush and a matte shadow the color of your brows. Blend out with a spoolie brush to soften the appearance of your arches.

Conceal Under-Eye Circles

If your dark circles can't be tamed with just your average drugstore concealer, try using a matte orange powder or cream shadow [5] underneath. It may sound crazy, but if you think back to middle school art class, orange is opposite shade of blue on the color wheel, which means mixing the two will cancel each other out. After covering up those circles, apply foundation on top to hide any traces of orange.

Get a Sun-Kissed Glow

If you don't feel like making an investment in a true bronzer, use eye shadow instead. Cream, powder, shimmer, matte — it's all good. Just use a color that has a yellow, orange, or red undertone like a true bronzer to avoid looking washed out. If you're using a cream formula, avoid looking like a glitter bomb hit you by mixing a little bit of moisturizer with the shade before applying with your fingertips. For a powder shadow, apply with a big fluffy brush and buff out any excess sparkle with your regular loose powder.

Highlight Your Assets

We can't preach enough about the awesomeness of illuminators [6], but we'll let you in on a little secret — you can use your eye shadow for the same thing. Again, what kind of shadow you use doesn't matter, but try to pick a shade two shades lighter than your natural skin tone. Apply to high points of your face, including cheekbones, brow bones, and the bridge of your nose, then blend away any obvious lines.

Contour Like a Professional

Before we bought an actual contouring kit, we used eye shadow for this (like many makeup artists do). Use a color two shades darker than your natural skin tone, and blend away. Our lazy girl's guide to contouring [7] makes it supereasy.

Hide Your Tattoos

While your ink is totally cool, you still might want to cover it up before Great Aunt Edna's 95th birthday soiree. Use an eye shadow the color of your skin's undertone [8] on top of your tattoo before applying foundation for a surprisingly smooth complexion [9]. We're not going to lie — this process can be pretty time consuming and would be best for little pieces of art. First, apply a primer to the area; after, smooth a light coat of foundation on top to help lighten the tattoo's appearance. Protect this step with a coat of hair spray (seriously!). Once that's dried, use a patting motion to heavily apply your shadow on the tattoo. Add another coat of hair spray, and then layer full-coverage foundation on top. Set with more hair spray, and attend your family party without fear of snide comments.

Darken Your Hairline

Maybe you're hoping to even out your hairline, would like a bolder widow's peak [10], or (like our girl Khloé Kardashian here) you want to fill in your part so your self-tanner isn't as apparent. You can accomplish all these things with a matte eye shadow that matches your hair hue. Use an eye shadow brush to apply the powder formula of your choice to your scalp — try a fluffier brush for your part but one with firmer bristles for your hairline.

Make Your Own Nail Polish

Despite the burgeoning range of lacquer options out there, you may still not be satisfied. And that's OK! All you need is clear nail polish and some finely milled powder shadow (mineral pigments work best) to become your own manicure mixologist. It may come out a little on the matte side [11], so slap on a glossy topcoat if you want a shiny finish. Just spill an old crumbled eye shadow onto a paper plate, breaking up any lumps with the back of a spoon, and carefully mix 10 to 15 drops of clear polish with the pigment. If the color is too thick, add some more clear polish, then paint away!

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