What am I doing wrong with my eye makeup?
August 20, 2012 2:17 AM   Subscribe

I volunteered to do my own makeup for a wedding in which I am one of the bridesmaids. I don't typically wear much makeup, but I thought, how hard could it be? I got a bunch of nice stuff from Aveda and am testing it out, watching tutorials, etc. but I seem to be having an eyeshadow fail (and maybe some other stuff).

I wanted to get makeup that didn't have parabens, etc in it, but I'm wondering if that's going to cost me.

So I got some of Aveda's "Petal Essence" eyecolor trios. They're in powder form. I got one of the trios that goes from brown to darker brown (I also bought one that has pale pinks/browns in it as a backup). I have sort of mid-toned tan skin and dark hair.

The first time I used them, sweeping on with a brush, it looked like I was wearing nothing. I watched some tutorials about application and bought their "transformer" which is this clear liquid that supposedly transforms the color into a cream shadow or can be used as a primer. It looked good in the video (though they used other colors and the model had much lighter skin)!

First time, I tried sweeping a bit of transformer on my eyelids, then applying the shadow. Nothing visible. Second time, I put a few drops on the brush and then swept through the darkest brown (which looks a good deal darker than my skin in its compact).

I got a *very* thin amount of color to come across from the darkest, but it's extremely subtle and I was hoping for something a little more obvious for the wedding. The medium tone still didn't even show up.

What am I doing differently? Has anyone had experience with this type of phenomenon, or this type of makeup? I'm using a brush from EcoTools if it helps. Do I need to use more of the liquid or the shadow? Is the "transformer" just subpar (if so, is there another effective primer that is of a more eco/natural sort)? Could the colors be too light for my skin? I feel like the last is not the case because the woman at the counter commented that that shadow would look great with the lipstick I'd bought.

I also bookmarked this thread and this thread, but wondering if there's something different with this particular makeup.

Getting worried as the wedding's a few weeks away and I really want to perfect my look (and hopefully salvage the things I've already purchased). The pencil eyeliner seems to go on nicely, and the mascara. Any other tips for making eyes (and blush for that matter) look amazing for photography -- mixed indoor/outdoor -- also welcome. The dress is a very bright rose, almost red, and I'll probably be going for dramatic lips so I'm doing more neutral eyes.

After reading some other threads I'm also a bit worried about my liquid foundation as it has SPF 15 (from titanium dioxide). The Aveda makeup artist had recommended using that and then brushing foundation powder *over* it to lock it in... is that a bad idea for photography??

Starting to feel like I'm in over my head here. Thanks so much!
posted by iadacanavon to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My experience with Aveda eye makeup is that they are often a bit too subtle; I have had to layer some of their darker shadows quite a few times before I was satisfied with the result. I'm sorry that I don't have any suggestions, though!
posted by catch as catch can at 2:23 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: I suggest buying either new eyeshadow, or buy a Too Faced or Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer (the UD one is called 'primer potion,' and you can get a travel size for 9$), AND a white Nyx jumbo pencil (costs 2-4$) in Milk, or in a brown that roughly matches your eyeshadow.

What does it do? The primer potion serves as a base that helps the makeup both stay on properly, and makes it more vibrant. Then you apply Milk (or an appropriate Brown) all over your lid--it'll make the colours show up better. Here's a very vibrant example of using Jumbo Milk Pencil to make colours more vibrant (go to 2:40 for the primer application followed immediately by Milk). Only apply Milk (or Brown) where you want makeup to go later.

Then, you need to load up your brush with the colour. If the problem is that the Aveda eyeshadow is poorly pigmented, you might have to err on the side of 'putting on more than you think is necessary'. Then tap the makeup brush (so you don't get eyeshadow fallout all over your face), and PAT it onto your eyelids. Do not sweep, swoosh, or drag. Pat. Repeatedly. That maximizes the amount of colour that goes onto your face.

I don't know how dark your skin is, but this Lisa Eldridge video is great for those with moderately dark skin. It goes over EVERYTHING: foundation, where to put the blush, a dramatic lip, and best of all--a subtle brown eye! The eye stuff, which you might find particularly useful, begins at 3:00-ish (don't rush out to buy the stuff she uses--she's a professional makeup artist and that stuff is way too expensive for us mere mortals). From 0:00 to 3:00 is face stuff, like where to put the blush.

For photography: avoid all things glittery, if you can. Also, try to put some of your powder powder foundation on your ears and neck--otherwise, in photos, your face will be of one luminance (generally matte) and your neck another luminance entirely (generally shiny), which is a weird look.

Re: sunblock and foundation, just make sure you don't have too many thick layers built up--it might lead to an unfortunate effect where your wrinkles are accentuated as the foundation 'settles' there. Otherwise that sounds fine.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:45 AM on August 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

High-end make-up is usually returnable; that's part of the premium one pays for it. Bring it back to Aveda, transformer included -- "These were recommended for me but do not show up. I'm sorry; it's far too sheer, it's too light for my complexion" -- and go to a Sephora or whatever and experiment in-store until you find a more agreeable shadow. What you have now doesn't sound salvageable.

The usual routine for a good number of make-up wearers is to apply foundation and then poof on a layer of powder. That'll be a good thing, photo-wise and make-up-wise.
posted by kmennie at 4:21 AM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Flibbertigibbet, your two links go to the same video.
posted by sundaydriver at 4:24 AM on August 20, 2012

Brown eye/dark skin (Lisa Eldridge): Here

I'd also agree with kmennie--if you're up to it, return it. I gave advice assuming you wanted to try to salvage it.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:56 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Either it's too sheer or it's just too close to your skin tone. If you brush some of your eyeshadow across a tissue, does it show up well? If you hold it up to your skin, how close is it in color? You'll probably need to just return this one, but that will help you know what you need to avoid in your next eyeshadow.

Go to a place selling a wide selection where you can try stuff on. Try things that look good on the back of your hand/arm first, then on your face--your arm will get less tired from being repeatedly scrubbed off. Besides Sephora and Ulta, try a Mac (cosmetics) store if you can find one in your area--they really work well with darker skin tones and (just like Sephora) they'll pick out colors for you and put them on you in the store to show you what looks awesome.
posted by anaelith at 4:58 AM on August 20, 2012

I've noticed urban decay's primer potion really helps eyeshadow stick in place, and shows up much better. A bit of foundation should work as well, or even just moisturizer.

You might want to use a sponge tip applicator or even just your fingertip. Really load up the applicator/finger. Typically I'll use brushes just to blend. I think you have to really load up the brush (and then clean it/waste makeup) to have it be as effective as a sponge tip applicator.

Makeup does come in different pigment levels, and you could have just purchased some pretty sheer/natural look makeup that isn't going to give you the look you want.

I'm a big fan of M.A.C. makeup, as it's really strongly pigmented. No idea as to the parabens/naturalness of it. I'd be fairly skeptical of any brand offering natural makeup giving you a dramatic evening look anyhow. I know "natural" doesn't have to mean sheer, but I think thats the way it's marketed.

Any fancy makeup you buy you should test out on your hand, if not get a clerk to put it on your eyes for you. If you've got a Sephora or Ulta near you, you usually can try out anything there. Plus the sephora store brand is good for the price and usually has travel sizes.
posted by fontophilic at 5:55 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: Often what you think your made up face looks like in your bedroom or bathroom mirror is different when photographed. So I would suggest taking photographs of yourself with makeup on (a phone camera is fine) under various lighting conditions. Sometimes sunscreen or foundation with titanium dioxide can show up as ghostly white in photographs under certain lighting conditions. Putting powder on top may mitigate that, but you want to double check before the wedding.

As an aside, when you bought your makeup, did you tell the counter person that you were looking for makeup for a wedding? In my experience the color product (blush, shadow, lipstick) suggestions have differed greatly depending on whether I said I wanted a natural everyday look or an event such as a wedding or party.
posted by needled at 6:08 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: I'm not quite sure if I'm interpreting this "transformer" + powder thing correctly, but if this stuff is pigment makeup that you mix with a base liquid, try mixing them independently in a little dish, then apply with the brush. If that doesn't do the trick, then I agree with returning and getting to Sephora. Smashbox is my fave brand there.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 6:49 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: If the eyeshadow isn't working for you after a lot of experimentation, I would just return it and try something else.

For photography, I personally would go heavier on the contouring - but, if you're not used to applying makeup, it can be hard to get contouring right. Done wrong, it can make you look dirty (done right, with the right products, it will give more shape to your face & give you the appearance of higher cheekbones).

Regarding foundation - many foundations with physical sunscreens reflect white in flash photography. Chemical sunscreens aren't usually a problem, but it varies. If you like the foundation, I would just test it out - put it on, take some flash photos (inside), and see how it looks!

In fact - that's my best advice for wedding makeup (whether you're a bride or bridesmaid). Do your makeup. Put on a shirt similarly colored to your dress, or the dress itself. Then, take a lot of photographs - outdoor photographs in sunlight (if the wedding is outside), indoor photographs without flash, indoor photographs with flash. Are you happy with how the makeup photographs? If so - you're good! If not, you probably have a specific problem you can fix.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:08 AM on August 20, 2012

There's very few eye shadows that will instantly show up the way you want them too after one swipe across your skin. Usually you need to load the brush up with colour and go over it multiple times. (This is a good thing, it makes it easy to put on the amount you want, rather than too much all at once.)

It sounds like your not very experienced with putting on makeup. Can i suggest that you go to a Sephora or a department store makeup counter, and get a makeover where the makeup artist teaches you how to do your makeup? Usually the makeover is essentially free - at Sephora, paying $50 for the makeover includes a $50 gift card to buy makeup. They can show you what products to use and how to use them, and it'll probably make it all less stressful for you on the day of the wedding!
posted by Kololo at 7:49 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: Noting that the OP suggested that she wanted eyeshadow without parabens.

You'll want to return the Aveda eyeshadows and look at a mineral pigment eye shadow. It should be a loose powder, like these. (I have a few of these, I'd get 'soft brown' and 'cafe latte'.)

Apply the dark powder in your eye crease, blending over your lid overall. Use the light on your brow bone and a smidge in the corner of your eye. Blend.
If you'd like to use the dark powder as an eyeliner, a little bit of water on a brush to apply it carefully should do you fine.
posted by msamye at 9:03 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: I have never had luck with Aveda cosmetics. They seem to be just to light. If you aren't into MAC and really want to move more toward natural, you can go to Sephora and look at Korres or Josie Maran. I do not suggest getting your makeup done there, however, as Sephora associates are not makeup artists. If you want the technique, go to a MAC, Bobbi Brown, or Laura Mercier counter.

Someone above linked to the Lady Eldridge. Check out her videos for natural makeup (under Basics, first) to get a good idea of how to make things work in really simple terms. AS mentioned above she does use a lot of pricey stuff, but she is a big fan of NYX and ELF, tow brands that come in under 5$ US for almost all products.

Wedding makeup almost always calls for false eyelashes. She as a tutorial. Don't worry! The cheapies at CVS are fine!

If this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship with you and makeup, get good brushes. Luckily, some excellent ones can be had for cheap: EcoTools.

Good Luck!
posted by oflinkey at 9:04 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: to echo pixiecrinkle, my best success with powder shadow and transformer combos, (though not your specific combo) goes:

1. load up a dry brush with a buuuuuunch of color. both sides, one for each eye. if the eyeshadow is soft at the surface this is not a problem, but if it's been comprimised and skimmed over by mixing product on it, get something firm and scratch the surface up so you can get a bunch of pigment.

2. dab some of the medium onto a mixing surface. cup, or sometimes the brushwell in the eyeshadow palette works well.

3. with the loaded brush, grab a little medium and keep adjusting, wiggling the brush to mix pigment and medium, until you like the texture. paint it onto clean eyelids, one side each eye, and don't fidget it to blend until its dry. and when i say clean, i do mean put the moisturizer then the foundation everywhere else but the eyeshadow area.

use more, go bigger than you think you need; a heavy-lidded, siren, sophia loren look. if you have time, experiment with a bunch of different shadow shapes; you might be surprised what looks good on you. once you have your bright lipstick and dress it will look balanced, since it is all neutral.

i think your foundation sounds fine, although of course test if you can, as suggested upthread. the type of powder to NOT apply to set it if there is flash photos to set the foundation, is a silica/HD powder. i would make an effort to do an under-cheekbone, all around the edge of the face contour with a non-sparkly bronzer or contour shade, as it will help fight flattening out in photos.

if you have a friend who's hand with the brush you admire, have them come over and help untangle these answers with you!

and don't forget, if your neck ends up a different shade than your face, that can (and should!) be addressed. and if your dress has a low neckline or is strapless, highlighter on your collarbones and clevage may make you feel superpretty (can be pearly eyeshadow if that's what you have around). good luck!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:23 PM on August 20, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the good suggestions. I was looking around at many online reviews and in addition to what was said here, apparently Aveda can perform a little bit lighter than some shadows, but no one outright said it didn't work. It sounds like I'm not patting/layering enough. I'll check out the primer and perform various of the techniques suggested here before giving it up completely, appreciate the suggestions of Sephora naturals stuff, foundation techniques, etc :)
posted by iadacanavon at 6:46 PM on August 21, 2012

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