Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:22 AM ET
Thanksgiving is almost here, holiday parties are next, and before we know it, we'll be ringing in the New Year. With so many celebrations around the corner, now is the time to break out of your regular makeup routine and elevate your eyeshadow look. TODAY style editor and author Bobbie Thomas is here to share some helpful finds and clever tips.
When it comes to applying eye makeup, half the battle is just staying inside the lines. Boost your confidence with pre-cut, peel-and-stick eyeshadow stencils from Eye X-Plosivs. Available in almond, oval and elliptical shapes, the stencils are reusable, and 6 pairs come in each pack.
If you're often frustrated with excess shadow or mascara collecting under your eyes, a Butterfly Lash Guard may be your solution. The hands-free shield slips onto your ears to cover below your lash line, and can be custom contoured to the bridge of your nose (Eye X-Plosives Stencils $3.95; Lash Guards $14.95).
You can also repurpose household items such as sticky notes, tape or a concealer pencil to help create your own borders. Whatever you choose, just be sure to blend and soften the edges.
Applying primer to your eyelids helps even your skin tone and provides a smooth surface to apply makeup on. It also increases your shadow's staying power. Many under-eye concealers, like gloMinerals' Concealer and Neutrogena's 3-in-1 Concealer, can also be used as primer. And formulas made specifically for eyelids are designed to work well with added layers and can offer added benefits. Popular picks include Rimmel's Under Cover Shadow Primer, Too Faced's Shadow Insurance, and Clinique's All About Shadow (Rimmel Exaggerate $3.99; Too Faced Shadow Insurance $20; Clinique All About Shadow $19.50).
Eye shape and shading
Now that you're prepped and primed, it's time to shade. Most eyes look best with a subtle drop shadow effect, and it's usually most flattering to follow the natural contour of your eye shape. Apply shadow starting at the outer corners, then drag and blend product into the crease below your brow bone, while allowing the color to fade.
If your eyes are set far apart, use shadow to visually extended your eyes inward. Do this by applying shadow first from the inner corners outward along your lash line. If your eyes are close together, you'll want to do the opposite, and add more shadow at the outside corners to visually extend and create the illusion of broadness. The bottom line: It's all about balance.
If you're convinced you can't blend well, just add water. Wet/dry eyeshadows are extremely versatile and easy to use. Water will boost the pigment's intensity, and help you place product more precisely. First, wet a small round-tip brush, swipe only on one side of the palette, then apply like an eyeliner.
Next, switch to a slightly softer/fuller brush, swipe on the dry side of the palette, and then use to blend over the shadow you applied while wet. This will not only deliver a two-tone look of depth, but also set and lock in your color longer. Cult-favorite collections include Urban Decay's Shadows (available in 78 shades, $18), Laura Mercier's Baked Eye Colours (also available in Petite Bonbons, $23-25), and Physician Formula's Baked Collection.
Bonus tip: brushes
A double-ended brush, like Stila's #15 or Revlon's Smoky Eye Brush, can put everything you need at the flip of your fingertips (Stila #15 Double Sided Brush $32; Revlon Smoky Eye Brush $5.99). They both offer up a smaller tip for smudging or precise application and a fuller, softer tip for blending and highlighting.
Our resident style editor and author of The Power of Style, Bobbie Thomas shares the buzz about beauty, fashion, and more here on TODAY and at Bobbie.com. Consider her your go-to girlfriend, style MacGuyver, and wikipedia for women, who you've seen in her underwear. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.