Hey everyone! So when it comes to loose eyeshadows/pigments, they may look nice in the pot but be a pain to apply if you don't know what you're doing or what you're using. I know a lot of people shy away from indie eyeshadows due to the fact that the vast majority of indies sell loose, not pressed eyeshadows. I'm here to tell you how to get the most out of loose eyeshadows and what to pair with them for the greatest effect (with minimal fallout).
Get the Right Kind of Brush:
Using a specific type of brush will make the biggest difference with loose eyeshadows. I personally prefer flat, shader-style natural hair brushes for packing on color or when I'm using them dry. I'm partial to the Sonia Kashuk Small Eyeshadow Brush and Morphe M508 Smudger Brush. If you do plan on using the loose eyeshadows wet, you'll want a flat synthetic paddle brush. Concealer brushes work super duper well with this, I like the Cover FX Blemish Primer Brush but truly you can find a soft paddle-shaped synthetic brush at your local craft store.
Pair Them with the Right Products:
With loose eyeshadows, there are a lot of products that you can pair them with to get the best effect. These include Primers, Eyeshadow Bases/Cream Eyeshadows, Glitter/Sparkle Fixatives, Water-based mixing mediums, and Pencil Eyeliners.
Primers are a product meant to increase the longevity of your eyeshadows by acting as a barrier, preventing the oils naturally secreted from your skin from breaking down the eyeshadow which causes creasing. Examples include Milani's Eyeshadow Primer and Too Faced Shadow Insurance.
Eyeshadow Bases/Cream Eyeshadows are a colored product, slightly sticky to grab the eyeshadow to help enhance the pigmentation. However, these may make your eyeshadow prone to creasing so it's typically paired with primer. Examples include NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil and Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadows.
Glitter/Sparkle Fixatives are a glycerin-based product, meant to be used after a primer to enhance eyeshadows. It helps prevent fallout by helping eyeshadows stick better, intensifies duochromes, and gives the look of a foiling without the use of water. Examples include Darling Girl's Glitter Glue and Fyrinnae's Pixie Epoxy.
Water-Based Mixing Mediums are a water-based product that you use with loose eyeshadows to apply wet, which intensifies the pigmentation. lt also helps to prevent fallout by helping eyeshadows stick better, intensifies duo chromes, and gives a foiled effect. Examples include using plain water or Darling Girl's Superstar Serum.
Product Pairings Based on Eyeshadow Finishes:
I wanted to share how the products above can have different effects depending on the finish of the eyeshadow. What you may use with your shimmery eyeshadows may not be what you use with your matte eyeshadows and vice versa.
Suggestions for Loose Shimmery Eyeshadows:
Shimmery eyeshadows are very common amongst loose eyeshadows. Dare I say they're a fairly standard finish, especially among indie brands. Here's how different products can create a different effect with a shimmery eyeshadow (using Silk Naturals Chic eyeshadow).
On bare skin, it looks fine albeit drab. Over primer, the color is moderately enhanced. When applied wet or over Pixie Epoxy (the glitter/sparkle fixative), the color looks more metallic. Over a white base, the color looks a tad bit brighter and lighter whereas it looks smokier over the black base. You get the strongest intensity and metallic-ness when applying it wet or using Pixie Epoxy.
Suggestions for Loose Sparkly Eyeshadows:
Sparkly eyeshadows are great but let's be real, they are super prone to fallout. Here's an example of how different products can create a different effect with a sparkly eyeshadow (using Baroque Cosmetics Hoplite).
On bare skin, it looks fine but a tad sheer and the sparkles aren't sticking as well. Over primer, the color is more enhanced and the sparkles are sticking better. When applied wet, the pigmentation is incredibly enhanced and it looks super metallic and bright. Over Pixie Epoxy (the glitter/sparkle fixative), the color looks more metallic. Over a white base, the color looks brighter and lighter. You get the strongest intensity and metallic-ness when applying it wet.
Suggestions for Loose Duochrome Eyeshadows:
Duochrome eyeshadows have been described as the "gateway product for indie brands" because so many indies do duochromes well. If you're not familiar with them, duochromes are an eyeshadow that have a contrasting shimmer/effect to the base color, which typically comes out when angled in the light or paired with a black base or glitter fixative. Here's an example of how different products can create a different effect with a duochrome eyeshadow (using Fyrinnae Cosmetics' Arcane Magic Eyeshadow in Dark Fantasy).
On bare skin, you mainly get the black base with very little of the green duochrome. Over primer, more of the green duochrome comes out but it doesn't look very intense and you lose some of the black base. When applied wet, the pigmentation is enhanced, looking more even and bright. Over Pixie Epoxy (the glitter/sparkle fixative), the duo chrome is incredibly bright while still maintaining the black base. Over a white base, the color looks lighter and the black base appears more grey while over the black base, the green duochrome is super bright and bold. You get the strongest intensity and metallic-ness when using it with Pixie Epoxy and over a black base.
Suggestions for Loose Matte Eyeshadows:
It used to be that loose matte eyeshadows were a rare beast but lately they've been increasing in popularity. More brands have been coming out with loose matte eyeshadows but a lot of people still have problems. Here's an example of how different products can create a different effect with a matte eyeshadow (using Silk Naturals' Bareback Eyeshadow).
Loose matte eyeshadows are different because there are more products you shouldn't pair with them than products you should. Over bare skin, it looks a little sheer. It looks better over primer but is chalky/crusty when applied wet. Over the white eyeshadow base, the eyeshadow stuck too well so it created uneven dark spots in the swatch.
I got the best effect using a pencil eyeliner (I used NYX White Eyeliner Pencil) as a base. The pencil eyeliner is the perfect product to use with loose matte eyeshadows because it's the right texture to grab onto the eyeshadow without being too creamy that it looks patchy or uneven.
You'll see that I didn't bother swatching the matte eyeshadow with Pixie Epoxy or another glitter/sparkle fixative. A common complaint about Pixie Epoxy is that you can't use it with matte eyeshadows; however you shouldn't anyway since the two aren't meant to be together. You see that light spot near the top of the Wet swatch? That's what happens with the matte eyeshadow mixed with water; it applied chalky, dull, and kind of crusty. You'll get a gluey effect trying to pair it with a glitter/sparkle fixative like Pixie Epoxy.
Basically, use a white or colored eyeliner as a base for your loose matte eyeshadows to get the best look. I actually prefer eyeliners in the wooden packaging because the ones in the plastic packaging tends to be too creamy.
If you're in need of product recommendations, feel free to check out the ones I listed below! (Affiliate links used)
- Milani Eyeshadow Primer
- Too Faced Shadow Insurance
- Urban Decay Primer Potion
- NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base
- Darling Girl Primped and Primed Eyelid Primer
- NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil
- MAC Paint Pot
- Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow
- Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hr Cream Gel Eyeshadow
Water-Based Mixing Medium