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Do You Apply Eyeliner or Eye Shadow First?

May 10, 2019

It’s an age-old question—like the chicken and the egg. In regards to eye makeup, which is supposed to come first: eyeliner or eye shadow? There is a certain level of creativity you can apply to makeup, meaning there are no hard and fast rules that designate when to use your products. (Side note: The same can’t be said for skin care products, however, so you’ll also want to read our guide on layering.) Still, there are eyeliner and eye shadow guidelines that you may find it helpful to follow. Keep reading to learn more about the correct order in which to apply your eye makeup products.


When it comes to eye shadows and eyeliners, it’s best to start with eye shadow, then move on to your eyeliner. The reasoning is pretty simple and will likely have you wondering how you’ve never realized it before. Here are the details: Applying eyeliner before eye shadow can often end up with your eyeliner becoming (literally) overshadowed, with powdery eye shadow covering up and softening the effects of your eyeliner. Unless that’s the makeup look you’re going for, you’ll likely want to use eye shadows first, then apply your eyeliner on top of the shadow. That way, both can remain sharp and crisp—no muddled makeup here. Keep reading for more on the best way to apply eye shadow and eyeliner.


You now know to follow eye shadow with eyeliner, but it’s fair if all your questions haven’t been answered. In fact, we’re prepared for that. Here’s the breakdown of exactly how and when to apply each of your eye makeup products.

Step 1: Prime lids

Before you even break out your eye shadow or eyeliner, there’s something else you should do first. Primer should always be used at the beginning of your makeup routine—assuming you want your look to go on smoothly and wear evenly. (See the Top 4 Reasons to Use an Eye Shadow Primer.) Smooth a small amount of primer over your lids, blending it up to your brow bone. Now, you’re prepped for adding more eye makeup. Pro tip: If you don’t have any primer on hand, use a bit of concealer instead.

Step 2: Use eye shadow

For a style that’s basically effortless—and looks anything but—try applying a light, shimmery eye shadow shade, such as the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow in Little Beige Dress, to your lid. Next, apply a medium-toned shadow, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow in Café Au Lait, onto your crease, and smudge a darker shade, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow in Quartz Fume, along your lash line.

Step 3: Add eyeliner

After you apply your eye shadow, it’s time to line! Using a liquid eyeliner, such as the L’Oréal Paris Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner, apply a line across your top lash line. Keep it thin for a subtle look or go thick and add a flick for something a little fiercer. If you aren’t sure exactly how, check out our article, How to Achieve Your Sharpest Winged Eyeliner Look.

Step 4: Tightline

If you haven’t had your eyeliner fix just yet, there’s no reason you can’t use more. Instead of going for something obvious, consider trying to tightline your eyes to create an “invisible” eyeliner effect. Pull up ever so gently on your eyelid to reveal the space just below your lashes and fill in with a smooth pencil eyeliner, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Waterproof, Up to 24HR Pencil Eyeliner in Nude. Your lashes will instantly look darker and fuller, which is a pretty sweet trick.

Step 5: Curl lashes

Mascara can work many a miracle, but if you want more curl, try using a lash curler. Hold the curler up to your eye and while your eye is open, open the curler. Place your lashes between the clamps, getting as close to the base of your lashes as you can without pinching your eyelid. Close the clamp on your eyelashes gently and hold it for a few seconds. After you release, walk the eyelash curler out and repeat once in the middle of your lashes and once at the tips for a complete curl.

Step 6: Apply mascara

No makeup look is finished without a coat (or two) of mascara. Opt for a mascara that offers both volume and length, like the L'Oréal Paris Unlimited Lash Lifting and Lengthening Washable Mascara, then sweep the brush through your lashes from root to tip. Wiggle the brush as you go to fully coat and lift lashes.

There you go: a complete eye makeup look, all applied in the right order!

Need more reading material—or just more makeup help? Let us help you with both. Next, check out the best Natural Makeup for Every Eye Color.

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