Don't Know How To Do Eyeshadow? Try These Beginner-Friendly Looks

Like going for a walk or talking to a trusted friend, makeup can be therapeutic. Not only does perfecting a bold red lip or sharp Taylor Swift-esque cat eye release dopamine into the brain, but it also forces you to sit down, look straight ahead, and focus on precision rather than cyclical thoughts. What's more, it's an opportunity for creative expression. 

"Allowing the space to express yourself gives you a sense of identity and personality," Nebraska-based mental health therapist Jane Polinski, PLMHP, PCMSW explained to The Zoe Report, clarifying, "By figuring out who you are and what you're about, it can lead to increased [self-esteem] and positive mindset."

That being said, due to steadily rising prices and the growing number of viral TikTok products, makeup can also feel intimidating. If you're new to the world of beauty, it's best to start with beginner-friendly eyeshadow looks. Not only do the vast majority take ten minutes or less to complete, but they also require fewer palettes and specialty tools. Here's how to get started. 

Use concealer as your eyeshadow base

"I don't care who you are, I don't care where you're from, I don't care. You need an eyeshadow base," beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira asserted in the above video, pointing out that concealer — particularly a thick concealer — can be a great primer substitute in a pinch. Separate a pea-sized amount between both lids, tapping it out with a sponge. Pro tip: Choose a shade a few steps lighter than your skin tone, as this will help your eyeshadow really pop. What's more, a solid base will make the color last longer and prevent any potential run-off in sweaty weather. 

'90s grunge makeup is in

Grunge glam is best achieved in a moving taxi on the way to a concert. Start by messily lining your upper and lower lids with a black pencil or multi-purpose shadow stick from NYX. Next, use your fingertips and a hand-held mirror to smudge your liner, adding more pigment as necessary. As a general rule, cool tones work best for grunge — stick to dark blues, silvers, and purples. Finish off the look by adding tear-like sparkles under your eyes. Because the grunge aesthetic discourages precision, this look is ideal for makeup newbies.

Try the 3 color method

All you need is 3 shades: A dark, a medium, and a light. According to TikTok creator Kaitlynn Bell (@kbellbeauty), "The easiest way to do eyeshadow is you take your main [medium] color all over your lid and you take a little bit of the darker one and you're gonna go into your crease and blend it." Finally, apply a brighter shade to the center of your lid and inner corner. Best of all, you can use your finger as an application tool. Finally, combine your dark and medium shades to lightly line your under-eye, tying it all together with a slick of mascara.

The lazy man's cut crease is the way to go

In the above video, YouTube creator Smitha Deepak showed her followers how to perfect what she calls: "The lazy man's cut crease." Starting with a sponge-tipped applicator, carve out your crease with a medium color — Deepak uses an autumnal orange. If you have hooded eyes, take that line above your natural lid, applying it with your eyes open. Next, "carve out the outer 'V'" before blending and "cutting" your crease with concealer and a small brush. Apply sparkles to the middle of your lid to make your eyes pop even more. 

Cream eyeshadow for the win

If you're an eyeshadow beginner, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the general dustiness of most palettes. Instead, apply a cream shadow (like Elf's no-budge formula or this bestselling Glossier wand) onto your lids, also using it to gently line your under-eyes. For this look, you don't need to start off with a primer or neutral concealer, as this may change the consistency of the eyeshadow formula. Instead, apply a thin layer of translucent powder and you're good to go.

There's no such thing as too much glitter

This look might be one of the boldest and brightest of the bunch, but it's also the easiest to replicate. Using a $6 sparkling Elf wand, generously apply liquid glitter to your lids "Daisy Jones and the Six" style, blending upwards depending on how much you want them to pop. All you need to finish off this look is mascara and, if you're feeling up to it, an equally-bold lip. Keep in mind that rockstar glitter goes best with messy hair and bell sleeves.

Multi-purpose blush sticks are quick and easy

Don't have eyeshadow on hand? Blush can do the trick in a pinch. "I just love how it lifts the face and it's a quick and easy monochromatic look," content creator @stephhui shared in the above video, before applying a cream formula to the high points of her cheeks, carrying it up towards her temples, and lightly dabbing it onto her eyelids. Throw Milk's viral lip and cheek blush stick into your handbag on the go, or opt for the Elf $5 dupe if you're on a budget. To take the look up a notch, use three peachy colors to recreate TikTok's bold "aura blush" trend for a more ethereal glow.

Focus on the inner corners of your eyes

Rather than shading in your entire lid (which can involve lots of trial and error) apply a pop of color to just the inner corners of your eyes. Professional makeup artist Jonet Williamson uses a matte shade of baby pink but you can choose any shade you like. For this eyeshadow look, the only blending tool you'll need is your fingertips, although you can also use a small brush if you prefer. Finish it off with a generous amount of soft pink blush and maybe even your best Barbiecore outfit.

Play with primaries

Hoping to stand out with your next look? Opt for a bold color. As creator Bre Rook advised in a YouTube video, "You're gonna want to have a primer that is white... That's the best way the colors are gonna be able to pick up." Next, go in generously with your chosen shade, layering until both sides look balanced. If you're using a lighter primary — something like yellow — you don't need a white primer. Instead, layer a powder-based shadow over a solid cream instead.

Go for viral glossy eyes

As celebrity makeup artist Ash K. Holm explained to Vogue, "The glossy-eye trend is definitely a look that anyone can recreate no matter how long you've been practicing makeup." Start off by priming your eyes before going in with a neutral shadow to define your crease. Next, pick your main color — pastels make for a beautifully classy base — and press it into your lid. Finally, apply a non-sticky lip gloss onto your lid for that signature "wet" makeup look, adding a touch of mascara to really set it off. 

Use tape to make straight lines

It can be hard to free-hand straight lines, but tape can help. As demonstrated by TikToker Michelle Doria (aka @michellekdoria) in the above video, start by patting down a white primer with a makeup sponge. Next, apply tape diagonally in the direction of your temples — this will create a cat-eye effect. Next, go in with your chosen colors. She applies a light shade of purple to her lids before adding definition with a darker color, also using it to line her lower lash line. Finally, peel off the tape, clean up the edges with concealer, and add a dusting of sparkles.

Easy editorial

If precision isn't your thing, abstract editorial eyeshadow could be perfect for you. Use your fingers to draw sunlight rays emanating from your lids, create a splatter-paint effect with your bristles, or use the base of your brush to stamp colorful polka dots onto your lids. The possibilities are endless. As TikTok makeup artist William Grande recommended to Glamour, "Base your look on something that inspires you — for example, an abstract piece of artwork, or perhaps work from a theme."

Put your bronzer to good use

Plenty of makeup products have multiple uses. If you don't have a neutral-toned eyeshadow palette on hand, simply use your bronzer to naturally darken your lid and define your eye socket, as seen in the above video from TikTok creator @_yaliah. When it comes to blending, a fluffy brush works best. If you've warmed up your cheeks with a cream bronzer, use the same formula on your eyes. Sticking to the same products across all areas of your face will help your makeup look more natural. You can repurpose your go-to highlighter on the center of your lid too.

3D appliqués take your look to the next level

HBO's "Euphoria" changed the beauty landscape completely, popularizing graphic liners and introducing us to the fabulous world of 3D glam. For this look, start off with an easy layer of rose-tinted shimmer shadow before using eyelash glue to map out where you want to place your pearls. Next, a wax-tipped pencil will help you pick up your gems (check out this supply on Amazon) and arrange them onto your lids. Finish it all off with a dash of mascara, and you're good to go.

Line up your colors

This beauty hack has been tried and tested on social media. Line up four to five eyeshadow colors in a horizontal gradient on your lid (darkest to lightest going towards the inner corner). In a viral TikTok, @ipsy suggests a dark brown, burnt caramel, a gold-tinted shimmer, and a sheer beige. Simply blend them all together using a fluffy brush to create an effortless smokey eye. Although neutral tones are far easier to manipulate as a beginner, this hack also works well with sparkly blues, pinks, and purples.

Two-toned looks are totally unique

A mismatched eyeshadow look might result in a few sidewalk double-takes, but it's definitely the best way to set yourself apart from the masses. Go all-out and opt for complementary colors like orange and blue, pink and green, or even black and white. Like maximalist creator Sara Camposarcone, start with a generous helping of powder-based shadow, carrying it above your crease and using it to line your bottom lid too. Then, add a layer of glitter, brush up your brows, and don't skimp on blush. 

Learn which tools work best for you

If you're going for precision, eyeshadow sticks are far easier to wield than most brushes, especially if you're a newcomer. TikTok creator Jenesis Alonso (aka @jenesisalonso) uses a yellow shadow stick from About Face to draw a partial arch over her crease, also using it to define her inner corners and extend her outer corners too. Finally, she fills in the gaps with a shimmery yellow eyeshadow. For this step, you can use your fingers as an application tool.

Under-eye charm

It's trendy to look tired, at least in the world of high fashion. Almost as if in direct contradiction to the viral "Clean Girl" beauty trend dominating TikTok, dark circles are having a moment. "Too much concealer changes the shape of your face — you lose dimension," make-up artist Hannah Murray explained to British Vogue. As demonstrated by it-girl Iris Law on Instagram, red eyeshadow can create an edgy under-eye look, playing up your natural depth when paired with a swipe of silver chrome shadow on your top lids. Complete the Indie sleaze-inspired look with a smattering of gold sparkles. 

Create your own stamp

Although you can certainly buy a pre-made eyeshadow stamp on Amazon, where's the fun in that? Whether you make your own with scrunched-up paper towels, wildflowers, or like @sweetmutuals on TikTok, a tomato vine, stamps can be a great way to show off your creativity. When working with stamps, liquid eyeshadows are most effective. Arrange your colors on a paint palette before dipping in your stamp, applying it directly onto your lids and the bridge of your nose. Finish off one of these fairy-esque looks with a dash of mascara, iridescent highlights, and colorful eyeliner in your waterline.

Perfection isn't everything

The bottom line? It's totally fine if your makeup runs during the day, or your shadow creases, or if blemishes start to peek through your carefully-blended concealer. Especially when it comes to colorful eyeshadows, embrace the process rather than perfection. In some ways, the most revolutionary looks are the "imperfect" ones. As skin-positive creator Sofia Grahn wrote on Instagram, "I know it was easier [to bare my skin] once I started to gradually defy what I believed I needed to do to feel comfortable."