If you love bright eye makeup, there are a few things you need to have in your arsenal. Eyeliner, brow makeup, and mascara are all important, of course, but we’d argue that no makeup collection is complete without a pigmented eyeshadow (or several). Shadow can be used to add color to your lids, sculpt a sultry smokey eye, or simply put the finishing touch on your everyday makeup look. But in order for your shadow to look its best, it needs to have good color payoff—in other words, it needs to actually show up. Luckily for you, bold and bright is what we do best. Here, we’ll explain some of the factors that can contribute to poor color payoff. Plus, we’ll offer up some tips on how to make eyeshadow look more pigmented when it’s not quite as vibrant as you’d like. All that—plus a look at our favorite pigmented shadow palettes—ahead.
Why Does My Shadow Always Look Dull?
If you’ve ever had a shadow that pops in the pan but not on your lids, you probably wondered why: What could make a pigment look so good in the package but so lackluster on your skin? Truthfully, there’s no single answer. There are a few things that can contribute to underwhelming color payoff, including:
- Using an under-pigmented shadow
- Using the wrong shade for your skin tone
- Skipping eye primer
- Using the wrong tools
- Not blending your shadow properly
The good news: Most of these factors are well within your control. Keep reading to learn how to make your shadow look brighter, bolder, and more pigmented.
How Can I Make My Shadow Look More Vibrant?
First things first: If the products you’re using aren’t pigmented enough, you’re unlikely to get intense color payoff—you can’t simply will your makeup into being more colorful. So if vibrancy is a priority, make sure you’re using high-quality shadows, such as those in our Ultimate Color Palettes. Each palette contains 16 pigment-packed shadows that deliver bold, one-swipe color. Plus, the vibrant shades are true-to-pan and offer all-day wear without fading or fallout.
Aside from using pigment-rich shadows, there are some tips you can employ to ensure you get the most color payoff possible. One of the easiest ways to boost vibrancy is by using eye makeup primer. Priming your lids helps create a smoother surface, allowing your makeup to apply more evenly. Many formulas, including our Ultimate Shadow and Liner Primer, also help boost color vibrancy and extend wear. So if dramatic, bright eye makeup is your goal, definitely don’t skip the primer.
Additionally, using the wrong brushes to apply your shadow can make the pigment spread out too much, which can leave your shadow looking lackluster. For intense color payoff, pack on your shadow with a flat brush, like our Pro Flat Detail Brush. Once your shadow is as bright as you want it, you can blend the edges with a fluffy brush to soften the look.
Pro Tip: Spritz your brush with water or setting spray before applying your shadow to help your eye makeup pop.
Do You Have to Use Shadow Primer for Bright Eye Makeup?
Where makeup is concerned, there are no absolutes. What we mean by that is: No, you don’t have to use shadow primer. But if you want your pigment to reach its full potential (like if you’re after a neon eye makeup look), priming your eyes is key.
If you don’t have a dedicated eye makeup primer, you can use concealer to help prep your eye area. Look for a medium-to-full coverage concealer that closely matches your natural skin tone, and apply a thin layer all over your lid with your finger or an eyeshadow brush. Then, set it with a translucent powder before applying your shadow.
What Color Shadow Makes Your Eyes Look Brighter?
Think back to kindergarten, or first grade, or whenever it was that you were taught the color wheel. Your art teacher probably told you about complementary colors. These are the hues that lay opposite one another on the color wheel (green and red, for example, or blue and yellow). When placed side-by-side, these contrasting shades help one another stand out.
That concept applies to makeup just as it does to art class. If you want to make your eyes look brighter, you’ll want to pick shadows that contrast with your natural eye color. So if you have green eyes, you can bring them out with reddish or pinkish shadows. Meanwhile, bronze, gold, and copper shadows make blue eyes stand out, and cool-toned purple shadows help add depth and dimension to brown eyes. It’s all about contrast.
That being said, your eye color doesn’t have to dictate what color shadow you choose. You can create a head-turning bright neon makeup look with Ultimate Color Palette in I Know That’s Bright, or turn your lids into a summery sunset with Tropic Shock. Ultimately, makeup is about having fun, so try not to get tied up in arbitrary “rules.” Experiment—and let your creativity run wild.