Powder eyeshadow is a cosmetic applied to the eyelids to alter the appearance of the eyes. It usually contains a combination of minerals, which give it bulk and help to keep it in place, and pigments, which give it color. Powder eyeshadow is available in pressed or loose forms, and may be sheer, matte, or shimmery in appearance. It may be applied using cosmetic tools or one’s fingers. Varying one’s eyeshadow application technique can produce vastly different effects, from a minimal, “wide-eyed” look to a sultry “smoky” eye.
Almost anyone who has ever shopped for cosmetics is aware that there is an extremely wide variety of powder eyeshadow products available. Despite the perceived differences between these products, however, most are made from the same basic formula. In general, a powder eyeshadow consists of minerals such as mica or talc, which give it bulk, elements like zinc, which help it cling to the eyelid, and compounds such as silica, which make it spreadable. Perhaps the most important ingredient, from an aesthetic standpoint, is the pigment which gives the shadow its color.
It is possible to purchase powder eyeshadow in both pressed and loose forms. Fans of loose shadow hold that when applied, it looks smoother and more natural than pressed shadows. Many find that loose formulations can be messy, however, and thus prefer pressed products.
In addition to offering a rainbow of colors, most powder eyeshadow manufacturers produce shadows in a variety of finishes, each which produces a different look. Sheer shadows, for instance, add just a hint of color to the eye. Matte shadows are very heavily pigmented, and are usually used to create a bold eye. Shadows with a shimmery finish offset their pigmentation with a sparkle effect, and can be used to create a soft, romantic eye.
There are several different tools which can be used to apply powder eyeshadow. Using a sponge applicator, a cotton swab, or one’s finger tends to deposit a heavy amount of shadow on the lid. Fluffy makeup brushes, on the other hand, generally leave just a light “sweep” of shadow.
Varying one’s powder eyeshadow application technique can produce vastly different effects. For example, applying just a hint of white, shimmery shadow to the brow bone and the inner eye can create a minimal, “wide-eyed” look. Dark shadows which are heavily smudged around the lashes and into the lid’s creases, on the other hand, produce a sultry “smoky” eye.