M∙A∙C Cosmetics Senior Artist Ashley Rudder shows how to use M•A•C’s Nordstrom Naturals Eyes X 15 palette, a Nordstrom exclusive, to create two classic, head-turning looks.
Knowing how to work every color in an eyeshadow palette can be intimidating, but that’s where I come in to help. I’m here to unshackle you from your current eyeshadow rut with a touch of makeup theory and a couple of placement options. As a guide, I’ll be referring to the Nordstrom Natural Eyes X 15 palette. If you don’t own an eyeshadow palette already, this is a brilliant option, since it is comprised of Nordstrom’s best-selling M∙A∙C Cosmetics eyeshadow colors.
Your eyeshadow and your clothing wardrobe are very similar: You want to have a range of pieces so that you can dress appropriately and with style! I want you to be able to curate your eyeshadow looks based on your mood, so let’s start by first discussing textures.
For a quick look that is polished and effortless, matte shades will anchor your look. Matte shadows look good with anything and can be dressed up or down. Matte textured shadows have a smooth, flat appearance and a rich, saturated color payoff. These textures look sophisticated, elegant and, due to their light-absorbing nature, add depth in the contours of your eye as well.
While mattes are a great staple, a mix of textures is necessary to create a luxe look, which brings us to frost-textured shadows. For a more conservative use of frost, I recommend using eyeshadow with a velvet finish, such as Vanilla. For nighttime, a veluxe pearl-textured shadow like Woodwinked amps up any look. It’s all about the time of day you choose to wear your frost shadow. For a nighttime look, you can push the envelope and play with light, and a reflective frost shadow will draw attention to the eye. When using frost, remember to start soft with matte and satin textures, then you can work your way up to frost, and then, the mother of all frosts—glitter.
Color depth is all based on your skin tone. To keep it simple, we’ll use the terms light, medium and deep.
Light Shades: 1–2 shades lighter than your skin tone.
When you use shades that are lighter than your skin tone, it creates a spotlight effect. Just like spotlights on a stage, you need to strategically place lighter shades on special features to celebrate them or to distract from another area. Popular places to highlight (no matter your age) are the highest point underneath the brow or the tear duct area. Remember: matte shades are great for day and as you transition to night, you can dial up the reflective quality of the shadows you choose.
Medium Shades: 1 shade darker than your skin tone.
Medium tones are usually used as blending shades or to contour softly. Use them to buff any color of shadow back into skin, giving your shadow application that coveted professional blend.
Deep Shades: 2–3+ shades darker than your skin tone.
Use these shades to add depth and richness to a feature, like the lash line as eyeliner or into the crease of the eye.
Knowing your bone structure is everything when applying your eyeshadow.
First, you’ll need to locate your orbital bone. Use your pointer finger and feel around your eye for the hard bone that surrounds and protects your eyes. Your crease is not where the fold of your eyelid is; it is actually where your orbital bone is. This is where the darker colors should go. When you apply your darker shades on the bone and not your fold, you will still be able to see all of your hard work when your eyes are open!
A beautiful eyeshadow application is basically like creating a gradient of color on the eye to make it appear shapelier. In order to stay in control of your look, you should start by using your medium shades first. Medium shades prime the eye for lighter and darker color placement.
Choose a medium color in a matte texture like Omega, Saddle or Wedge, and use a fluffy crease brush like 224 Tapered Blending Brush or 217 Blending Brush to blend it into your crease. Use the 219 Pencil Brush under your lower lash line. Blend the color outward to give yourself room if you wish to apply deeper shades next.
Apply a deeper matte shade like Saddle, Brun or Embark to your crease. Remember to leave a halo of your medium eyeshadow shade above it to blend. If your darker shades need more blending, put a bit more of your medium tone on your blending brush to soften the edges. If you use more of the dark color, you’ll run the risk of the color getting too dark.
You can add a third deeper shade to the outer crease if you desire. You will want to use a smaller blending brush like the 219 Pencil Brush to do this, as to not cover up your other two colors.
Finally, take some creative liberties: your eyelid and your brow are available for a lovely matte or frost shade of your choice, depending on the time of day or occasion when you will be rocking your new eyeshadow look.
Look 2: The Smoky Look
The coveted smoky look is all about placement and achieving the perfect blend.
Remember: you can achieve a smoky eye with any color variation! Eyes on M∙A∙C palettes feature four color waves (Amber Times Nine, Burgundy Times Nine, Navy Times Nine and Purple Times Nine), which all allow for creating smoky looks in multiple colors.
Starting with a medium color (based on your skin tone) in a matte texture such as Omega, Saddle or Wedge, use a fluffy crease brush like 224 Tapered Blending Brush or 217 Blending Brush to blend it on your eyelid starting from your lash line. Bring it up onto your brow bone, and use the 219 Pencil Brush under your lower lash line. If you plan on using more shades, blend this color up higher to give yourself room to apply the deeper shades next.
Use a deep matte, satin or frost textured shade like Mulch. Be mindful to leave a halo of your medium eyeshadow shade above it to create that perfect blend. Again, if your darker shades need more blending, put a bit more of your medium tone on your blending brush to soften the edges. If you use more of the dark color, you’ll run the risk of achieving panda eyes and not the airbrushed effect that we are going for.
Next, you can add a third deeper shade to the lid if you desire. You will want to use a smaller blending brush like the 219 Pencil Brush to do this so that you don’t cover up your other two colors, and wrap it around the eye close to your lash line. This is when things get sultry so proceed with caution!
With this makeup theory, palette and color placement, your options are endless! If your eyeshadow isn’t quite looking how you want it, come by your local Nordstrom’s M∙A∙C counter and a M∙A∙C Artist can walk you through the steps to achieve your perfect eyeshadow look in person.
As always, share your final looks with me @MAC_Ashley_R on Twitter!