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When Eyeshadow Won’t Stay Put

By Amalah

Hi Amy!
Whenever I put on eye shadow I always end up with tiny specks of it scattered under my eyes. And around the corners of my eyes. And well, just sort of everywhere.
I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong to cause this fallout of shadow and trying to wipe it off just makes it worse. I usually end up smearing it so it becomes even more obvious that I am a make up application idiot.
I use nice brushes to apply the shadows and I tap them or blow on them after sweeping them through the shadows but before bringing them to my face. And I don’t use loose eye shadows (mainly because this problem is SO MUCH WORSE when I do. Seriously, circus clown worse).
Suggestions? Tips?

Well, let’s see. Without requesting that you YouTube your makeup application, allow me to take some wild guesses:
1) You’re not washing your brushes out often enough, so even though you THINK you’re applying the right amount of shadow, the brush is still scattering specks from last week all over your face. Use your face wash to gently clean your brushes out as often as you can — particularly if you use darker shadows or use one brush for multiple colors.
2) You’re not using primer. A good shadow primer or eye base helps keep the shadow on your lid, with less powder-y slippiness, particularly around the corners.
brushes.jpg3) You’re using the wrong-sized brush — if the brush is too big and/or the bristles are too loose, you’re going to have issues keeping the shadow where you want it. Likewise if the brush is too small and requires multiple strokes across your lid. (And just because something is labeled “eyeshadow brush” doesn’t mean it’s automatically the right one for you and your particular eyelids.)
4) You’re sweeping the brush too close to your lash line, thus getting speckles of powder in your lashes, thus scattering the speckles when you blink.
5) You’re just plain flat-out not an eyeshadow brush person. Honestly, I’m not that much of one too. I’ve got them, I use them, I still prefer my fingers a lot of the time. Especially when applying my base color or blending multiple shades together. For precise work I may use a very small brush, but I may also grab a Q-Tip. I’ve usually chalked this up to laziness (it’s fast! easier to wash your hands than a set of brushes! I forgot to take the brush out of my makeup drawer when I retrieved my shadow and going back for it would waste WHOLE PRECIOUS SECONDS!), and I understand that touching my shadow palettes is probably not the best thing for maximizing their shelf life, but you know what? It works. It might work better for you, too.
Speaking of Q-Tips, that’s exactly what you need to use to clean up the shadow fallout, NOT your finger. Dipping it in some eye-makeup solvent is your absolute best bet (although water can work in a pinch), and then lightly dab it (NO RUBBING) under your eyes and gently poke the corners to clean up the excess. This is what I do if I’ve applied my shadows too quickly, or used a dirty brush, or just spaced out for a second and accidentally painted the top of my cheek with a generous sweeping of NARS.

Published June 26, 2008. Last updated June 26, 2008.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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