Eyeliner Vs Eyeshadow

The eternal debate between eyeliner and eyeshadow continues to baffle many makeup artists. Struggling to decide which one to prioritize can be a common concern. But fret not! 

We delve into eyeliner vs eyeshadow, offering clarity on their purposes and guiding you on when to choose one over the other. 

Prepare to master the art of eye makeup effortlessly and elevate your cosmetic game with confidence. 

What is the Difference Between Eyeliner and Eyeshadow?

Eyeliner is a pigmented product typically applied along the lash line to define and accentuate the eyes. It comes in various forms, such as pencils, liquids, and gels, offering versatility in creating different looks. 

On the other hand, Eyeshadow is a pigmented powder or cream applied on the eyelids to add colour, depth, and dimension to the eyes. It allows for creativity in blending and shading to enhance eye shape and appearance.

What is Eyeliner

Eyeliner is a cosmetic product used to accentuate and define the eyes. It is applied along the lash line to create various effects, such as making the eyes appear larger. You can add intensity to the gaze or achieve a specific makeup look using it.

Eyeliner application

Types of Eyeliners

Gel eyeliner

Gel eyeliner typically comes in a small pot and is applied with a brush. Its creamy texture allows for smooth application (with a gel eyeliner brush) and precise lines. It offers versatility, allowing users to create both bold and subtle looks with ease. Gel eyeliner is known for its long-lasting formula, making it ideal for all-day wear without smudging.

Pencil eyeliner

Pencil liner is a classic choice known for its convenience and ease of use. It comes in pencil form, making it effortless to apply along the lash line. Pencil eyeliners offer control, allowing users to achieve soft, smudged lines or precise definitions. They come in various colours and are suitable for subtle and dramatic eye makeup.

Liquid eyeliner

Liquid eyeliner has a fine brush or applicator, delivering intense pigmentation and sharp lines. Its liquid formula provides a smooth and precise application, making it perfect for creating intricate designs, winged eyeliner, or bold graphic looks. Liquid eyeliners are favoured for their long-lasting and waterproof properties, ensuring a flawless finish throughout the day.

Felt-Tip eyeliner

Felt-tip eyeliner features a marker-like tip that provides control and precision during application. It offers the ease of a pen while delivering intense colour payoff and sharp lines. The Felt-tip liquid eyeliner pen is suitable for creating thin and thick lines for various makeup styles and preferences. They are unique in their user-friendly design, especially for those new to eyeliner applications.

How to Apply Eyeliner

Prepare & Choose 

Start with clean, dry eyelids free from any oils or residue. This ensures a smooth application and helps the eyeliner adhere better. Then, select the type of eyeliner you prefer, whether it’s gel, pencil, liquid, or felt-tip, based on your desired look and comfort level with the application.

Hold & Start

Hold the eyeliner tool like a pen or brush comfortably in your dominant hand, ensuring a steady grip for better control. Begin applying the eyeliner from the inner corner of your eye, working outward toward the outer corner. This helps create a natural gradient and prevents a harsh line.

Draw Short Strokes

Rather than attempting to create one continuous line, draw short, small strokes along the lower or upper lash line. This allows for greater precision and control, especially for beginners.

Build Thickness

Gradually increase the thickness as desired. You can always add more eyeliner, but removing excess is challenging without starting over.

Wing (optional)

Wing (Optional): If you want to create a winged eyeliner look, extend the line slightly beyond the outer corner of your eye, angling it upward toward the end of your eyebrow. Connect it back to the main line and fill in any gaps.

Check Symmetry

Throughout the process, periodically check both eyes to ensure symmetry in the eyeliner application. Adjust as needed to achieve balance between the two eyes.

Finish & Clean

Complete with mascara. If you make any mistakes or smudges during application, use a cotton swab dipped in makeup remover to gently clean up and refine the lines.

What is Eyeshadow

Eyeshadow is a cosmetic product that adds colour, depth, and dimension to the eyelids. It enhances the eyes’ appearance and is available in various shades and finishes. Eyeshadow is applied to the eyelids as part of the makeup routine to create different looks and enhance facial features.

Eyeshadow application

Types of Eyeshadows

The two common types of eye shadow are cream and powder. 


Cream eye shadows come in a creamy consistency, typically in pots or sticks. They offer intense pigment and are easy to blend, providing a smooth application and long-lasting wear. Cream eye shadows are versatile, suitable for creating bold, vibrant looks or subtle, everyday makeup.


Powder eye shadows, on the other hand, come in pressed or loose form and offer a wide range of finishes, including matte, shimmer, and metallic. They are lightweight and buildable, allowing for customizable coverage and easy blending. Powder eyeshadows are preferred for their versatility and ability to create a variety of eye makeup looks.

Pros of Using Eyeshadow

Enhances eye appearance

Eye shadow adds depth and dimension to the eyes, enhancing their natural shape and colour. By using different shades and finishes, you can make your eyes appear larger, brighter, and more defined, drawing attention to this focal point of the face.

Versatility in looks

With a wide range of colours, textures, and finishes, eye shadow offers endless possibilities for creating various makeup looks. Whether you prefer a subtle, natural appearance for daytime or a bold, dramatic look for a special occasion, eye shadow allows you to express your creativity and style.

Blending and transitioning

Eyeshadows are designed to blend seamlessly together, allowing you to create smooth transitions between colours. This blending ability enables you to easily achieve gradient effects, smoky eyes, or intricate designs, ensuring a professional and polished finish to your eye makeup.

Long-lasting wear

High-quality eyeshadows are formulated to be long-wearing, providing hours of colour without fading, creasing, or smudging. Whether you’re attending a busy workday or a night out, eyeshadow stays put, ensuring your makeup looks fresh and vibrant throughout the day or night.

Customizable Intensity

Eyeshadows can be layered and built up to customize the intensity of the colour. Whether you prefer a sheer wash of colour for a subtle look or intense pigmentation for a statement eye, eyeshadow allows you to control the level of coverage and opacity, catering to your preferences and desired effect.

Enhances makeup look

Eyeshadow complements other makeup products, such as eyeliner and mascara, to complete a cohesive makeup look. By coordinating eyeshadow colours with the rest of your makeup, you can tie your entire look together, achieving harmony and balance in your overall appearance.

How to Use Eyeshadow

To begin using eyeshadow effectively, it’s crucial to prep your eyelids by applying an eyeshadow primer or concealer to create a smooth base, ensuring that the eyeshadow adheres well and stays vibrant throughout the day. 

Next, carefully select eyeshadow shades that complement your overall makeup look, considering factors such as your eye colour, skin tone, and the desired intensity of the look you wish to achieve. 

Once you’ve chosen your colours, start by applying a base shade—a neutral colour that matches your skin tone—across your entire eyelid, providing a foundation for the rest of your eyeshadow application. 

Following this, add depth to your eyes by applying a slightly darker shade to the crease, creating dimension and contouring the eye shape while simultaneously applying a lighter shade to highlight the brow bone and inner corner of the eye, adding brightness and dimension. 

Finally, blend the eyeshadows seamlessly using a clean blending brush, ensuring no harsh lines or uneven transitions between colours, and finish off your eye makeup look with a coat of mascara to enhance and define your lashes, completing the overall look with polish and precision.

Using Eyeshadow as Eyeliner

Eyeshadow-eyeliner adds versatility to your makeup routine. To achieve this, dampen an angled eyeliner brush with water or setting spray, then dip it into your chosen eyeshadow shade. The moisture intensifies the pigment and ensures a smooth application. 

Start from the inner corner of your eye and carefully glide the brush along the lower lash line, gradually building up the colour for your desired intensity. This technique offers a softer, more diffused effect than traditional liners, perfect for a subtle or natural look.

Read also: Can you use face primer on eyes?

Additional  Ways to Use Eyeshadow for Makeup

Lip gloss-Eyeshadow can double as a versatile lip product. Mix a small amount of eyeshadow with clear lip gloss to create a custom lip shade. This allows you to experiment with unique colours and finishes, from subtle shimmers to bold metallics.

Highlighter-Certain eyeshadows, particularly those with shimmer or satin finishes, can serve as stunning highlighters for the face. Lightly dusting a champagne or gold-toned eyeshadow on the high points of the face—such as the cheekbones, brow bones, and cupid’s bow—adds a luminous glow and enhances facial features. 

Pro Makeup Artists’ Tips When Applying Eyeliner and Eyeshadow

  • Use primer for longer-lasting eyeshadow.
  • Tightline for a fuller lash effect.
  • Set gel liner with matching eyeshadow for durability.
  • Angle tape for perfect winged liner.
  • Apply concealer to correct mistakes.
  • Layer eyeshadows for depth and dimension.
  • Blend, blend, blend for seamless transitions.


Should I apply eyeshadow or eyeliner first?

The general rule of thumb is to apply eyeshadow before eyeliner. This way, you can create a base and blend colours seamlessly without smudging your eyeliner. Eyeshadow acts as a foundation, providing a backdrop for eyeliner application and helping it adhere better to the skin. By applying eyeshadow first, you can adjust the intensity and shape of your eye makeup. 

What do you put on eyelids before eyeshadow?

Before applying eyeshadow, prep your eyelids with an eyeshadow primer or a concealer. Eyeshadow primer helps create a smooth base, evens out the skin tone, and enhances the colour payoff of eyeshadows. It also prevents creasing and prolongs the wear time of your eye makeup. You can also apply a thin layer of concealer on your eyelids for a similar effect.

Can you skip using eyeliner?

Yes, you can skip using eyeliner if you prefer a more natural or minimalist look. Eyeliner is not a mandatory step in eye makeup; the decision to use it ultimately depends on your preferences and desired makeup style. You’ll still create a softer, more subtle appearance with eyeshadow alone.  

Which types of eyeliners and eyeshadows should I avoid if I have sensitive skin?

If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid eyeliners and eyeshadows that contain harsh chemicals, fragrances, and dyes. Opt for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and dermatologist-tested formulas specifically designed for sensitive skin. Avoid products with ingredients such as parabens, sulphates, and phthalates, as these can potentially irritate sensitive skin.

Summary of Eyeliner Vs Eyeshadow

In the timeless battle of eyeliner vs eyeshadow, the real winner is your creativity. Whether you prefer the precise lines of eyeliner or the vibrant eyeshadow hues, remember that makeup is an art form meant to be explored and enjoyed. Embrace experimentation, mix and match, and don’t be afraid to break the rules. 

Let your eyes tell your story, whether it’s with a dramatic wing or a subtle wash of colour. So, the next time you reach for your makeup bag, remember: the canvas is yours, and the possibilities are endless.

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