Secrets of the Eye Makeup Mavens: Bright Eye Shadow

February 13th, 2013 By  |  17 Comments   

Welcome to “Secrets of the Eye Makeup Mavens!” — a new series of posts featuring simple tips, makeup tools and product recommendations to master popular eye looks, like smokey eyes, pastel eyes and cat eyes.

In this post, the first in the series, I thought we’d explore bright spring eye shadows, like the ones in the recently launched NARS 2013 collection, discuss a few fool-proof tips, and suggest brushes from the mighty MAC Cosmetics permanent line to achieve a flawless application.

Bright eye shadows!

I know. Scary if you aren’t used to ‘em. The thought of seeing electric blues, vivid purples or hot pinks on your lids when you’re only accustomed to wearing neutrals like brown, taupe and beige?

But here’s the thing: you have help. From me. :)

Brights may seem scary at first, but armed with patience, a few tips and the right tools, you’ll be rocking brights on your eyes — in wearable looks — in no time. And this is great timing, too, as several makeup brands are launching brights for spring.

Ready? (Don’t worry. You’re going to be fine.)

1. When a bright eye shadow catches your eye…

The $34 NARS Mad Mad World Duo on the left, available now at NARS counters and

First things first. We need to find you a bright eye shadow that makes you say, “Wow!” A shadow that moves or inspires you.

I really like the bright green and blue colors in the new Mad Mad World duo from NARS.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for anything nautical or tropical, and this duo’s electric emerald and cyan remind me of riding the waves at Waikiki.

2. Gather your tools

From the left: the $25 MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush and $23 MAC 217 Blending Brush, both available now on MAC counters, in stores and online at; and the NARS Mad Mad World Duo

The right tool always makes any job easier, and the $25 MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush and $23 MAC 217 Blending Brush are great tools for this job.

On a tighter budget? Sonia Kashuk has some fabulous bargain brushes over at Target. Her $4.99 Fluffy Eye Shadow Brush can fill in for the MAC 239, while Sonia’s $3.99 Pointed Blending Brush easily holds its own against the MAC 217.

3. Jumping to step 239

Let’s start by loading the MAC 239 brush with shadow by swiping one of the flat sides across your preferred pan of bright shadow.

Next, gently tap the silver part of the brush, called the ferrule, a few times with your finger. That should lighten the load a little and remove some of the excess product, thereby reducing unwanted fallout under your eyes.

Now, with your brush, press the flat side down on your lids a few times to distribute the color along your upper lash line.

If you crave more color, repeat the process, building up the pigment in layers until you’re satisfied.

4. Blending in with the MAC 217

Moving right along. Place the tip of your blending brush (I’m using the MAC 217 for this) on the visible edge of the shadow on your lid, and swipe it back and forth like a windshield wiper to feather out the color.

When you feel like you’ve sufficiently vanquished the harshest edges, gently drag some of the pigment up into the crease. That should create a soft gradient of color, brightest near your lash line, that fades as it moves up into the crease.

And…that about does it for the shadow part of our look.

See! Nothing to fear.

To finish the overall eye look, add eyeliner and/or mascara (if you like). I feel like one or the other polishes the look and gives a little more definition to my lids and lashes.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


17 Comments + Add Comment

  • [...] pretty stoked about it. Today they’re featuring a post I wrote about bright eye shadow (especially if you’re color shy). If you get a chance, hop over and check it out, and if [...]

  • [...] pretty stoked about it. Today they’re featuring a post I wrote about bright eye shadow (especially if you’re color shy). If you get a chance, hop over and check it out, and if [...]

  • Awesome to see you here Karen, thanks for the awesome tips ~ I will be trying this!! wish me luck!

    • Hi Miranda,

      Thank you! Good luck with the eye look. I know you’ll do great. :)

  • [...] upon a time blue eyeshadow and liner were cool. Then they weren’t. Judging from the leagues of models whose eyes were [...]

  • great article

    • Hi Kristy,

      Thank you very much! I’m glad you liked it.

  • Great tutorial, Karen! Excellent, as always. :)

    • Hi Kim,

      Thank ya! :) Are you ready to wear some crazy colors?!?

  • Thanks Karen – love it!

    • Hi Angela,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. :) Hope to hear about your adventures in bright colors soon!

  • Great to see u here! U deserve more exposure; as your writing makes application so accessible! Perhaps, you will be suggesting more products such as Milani-I do not use the drugstore stuff very often, but; the readers of this magazine are more comfortable overall with lower price points.
    Again, congrats!

    • Hi Harmreduction,

      Thank you, you’re so sweet!

      And thanks for the feedback as well. I’ll try to incorporate some more drugstore items. :)

  • Love the post, Karen! And LOVE seeing you write here! I LOVE bring shadows but always end up using them as a liner b/c I can’t figure out how to not look like a reject from a Cyndi Lauper video. Your post really did make me re-think bright colors! I’m totally going to try your tips tomorrow! Thanks so much, ladybug!

    • Hi Krisabelle,

      Thank you bunches, my friend! :) You made me LOL with your Cyndi Lauper comment (girls just wanna have fun!). Let me know how your eye look turns out. You’ll do great!

  • [...] and green eye shadows also sashayed down quite a few spring runways this year, and even though bright shadows can be intimidating, I know, there are ways to make brights a little [...]

  • [...] Bangin’ Bright Eye Shadow [...]

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