(Photo above: Jodie Austin Cypert modeling eye shadow play. Photo by Jodie)
Introduction to Eye Shadow and Products to Help You Get Started
The first color of eye shadow I ever wore was a pastel lilac purple that I would thickly and hastily coat onto my lid with my finger after gym class in the 7th grade (it was the late 90s). The whiteish-purple powder would coat my eyelashes too, and, probably paired with the Paul Frank shirt and Jncos I was wearing, I looked like a normcore snow princess whose eyes were just blinded and frostbitten in a whiteout snow storm. I retrospectively support my young self for giving it a go and experimenting with a new look, no matter how haphazardly. Sometimes I still use my fingers to blend and apply eyeshadow, but I’ve learned that makeup brushes are your friends, friends that you can blow on to prevent any excess powder getting all over your lashes and cheeks. (That last line may need some further tweaking and editing.)
I’m guessing that most of you prefer natural, nude, everyday looks for school or professional life—unlike me who likes to look like a drag queen whenever possible, in any context. If you DO want bright and adventurous, check out the Urban Decay Electric Pressed Pigment Palette to help you get started experimenting with really bold looks.
Urban Decay Electric Pressed Pigment Palette
If you want more neutral colors, to do a nude look or a subtle daylight smoky eye, I’d still stick with Urban Decay products. They have a lot of palettes to choose from and you can also create your own. The Naked1, Naked2, and Naked3 are the most popular palettes the brand has curated. I have Naked1, and I use it almost every day. This is a good palette to build natural and also more dramatic looks with since it offers an array of colors but nothing bright or neon. It has light colors to add highlights, a great, brightening gold color that make my blue eyes stand out and go well with the rosy, yellow undertones of my skin, deep shimmery and matte browns to blend with, shimmery black to line and shadow with, and a really lovely dark steely blue “gunmetal” color that compliments any color of eyes nicely. My only complaint is that too many of the eye shadows in the palette are shimmery, and it is harder to get a matte, natural look with the palette. It’s also hard to blend and make subtle some of the shimmery colors without more matte colors to mix them with.
Urban Decay Naked
Other people have complained about this “lack of basics” problem too, which is why Urban Decay released a smaller Basics palette, followed by the Basics2. You could get one of the smaller Basics palette if you want a simple, limited palette to help you work on a natural look, especially if you are just getting started with eye shadow.
Urban Decay Basics
Urban Decay Basics2 (this link offers a helpful comparison of the Basics palettes from the makeup blog From Head to Toe)
Naked2 and Naked3 offer a different range of color selections form Naked1. All of them provide colors to highlight with, blend with and shadow or darken with–it just depends on which colors you like best and will use most often. Naked3 notably has more rosy/pinkish hues to it, which may not be ideal for you if you are already too rosy.
Urban Decay Naked2
Urban Decay Naked3
MAC, of course, also makes eye shadows that everybody loves. Most of the products I am linking to on this site take you to Sephora—as a kind on one-stop shopping site for makeup. However, you can’t buy MAC products at Sephora–you have to order MAC online or go to Macy’s.
You can also experiment with cheap drugstore brands. The Nouveau Cheap makeup blog insists that some Wet N’ Wild palettes have shadows that are tantamount to Urban Decay. However, I’ve never had much luck with cheap eyeshadows–the brightness and durability of these shadows always pale in comparison to more expensive, department store products.