Explained: Eyeshadow

There are so many different types of eyeshadows and each different type generally has a different finish.


So first of all, What is Eyeshadow?

Eye shadow is a product which is generally applied on the upper and lower eyelids as well as under the eyebrows. Eye shadow is used to add depth and dimension, complement and enhance the eye colour, and of course to draw attention to the eyes.

There are so many different types and brands of eyeshadow that it can get a little intimidating trying to find the perfect one for you. Depending on the brand of makeup will depend on the name the product receives but you can generalise eyeshadows into the following categories:


  1. Pressed – Solid product which can be applied wet or dry
  2. Loose –  A fine powder which can be applied wet or dry
  3. Cream/Gel – A wet product normally used as a base to enhance colour
  4. Liquid – A very wet product normally used as a base to enhance colour
  5. Pencil – A solid product that is not quite a cream but does have a ´wet´ texture


Here you can see they difference in application of the different mediums. Pressed powder applies smoothly and evenly while loose powder requires more care to be taken or you will get the lumps as you see above. Cream products can apply thickly or be worked into the skin for a more natural/transparent look. Pencil products apply with a more ´sheer´ finish and building can be harder to do. Finally liquid products can be applied as thick as desired and pull off a bolder effect.

Now depending on your brand you may encounter different finish names or descriptions but again the general finishes can be grouped into these categories:

  1. Sheer – Has a hit of colour and can be an understated hue which can be layered to create a more intense colour
  2. Shimmer – Usually contains shiny elements, sparkles in the light and while it may contain very fine glitter particles is not a true glitter
  3. Glitter – These can be pure glitter or heavily pigmented which large glitter particles
  4. Duo Chrome – This is a colour which appears one colour in certain lights but when direct light hits it can appear another colour
  5. Metallic – A pure metallic colouring giving the impression of gold or silver without involving glitter or duo chrome
  6. Matte – Is completely void of sparkle, shimmer, glitter. This is a bold, flat colour that gives depth


All of these have been used over bare skin using no primer. I will be doing a post on the importance of primers and bases soon. However for a basic 101 on the different types and styles of eye shadow products available I think these swatches suffice for now.

As I mentioned previously, depending on the brand of your product, the product description may differ. One of the brands who do this are MAC as some of you probably already know. Although I cannot supply a full swatch list for MAC, I can give you a break down of their product names to give you an idea of their range compared to the basic categories.

  • Matte – High pigmentation, flat colour, no shimmer or shine
  • Matte 2 – High pigmentation, this time with a more sheer/opaque finish
  • Veluxe- Another highly pigmented matte shadow. This powder is much finer than the others to give a softer blend
  • Matte with Glitter – This one is as it sounds, pure matte shadows with glitter added
  • Veluxe Pearl – Combines the Velux and Frost finishes to make metallic and iridescent shades
  • Satin – Highly pigmented with a more pearl or satin sheen. It is more than a sheer but less than a shimmer
  • Lustre – Another highly pigmented product this time leaning more to the sheer side of products
  • Frost –  Iridescent almost Duo Chrome in appearance
  • Velvet – This shadow would be closely related to the basic shimmer
  • Metallic – This is the same as the basic metallic definition

These are a few of the MAC styles, they bring out special editions, limited editions and change names so it can be hard to keep up but if in doubt you can always visit the MAC website.




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