I’m a Makeup Novice, But These 9 Natural Eye Shadow Looks Are Easy

I know that it’s a strange thing for me to admit as a beauty editor, but I really hate doing my makeup. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the therapeutic aspect of it, and I love how it makes me feel once it’s all done, but for the most part, actually applying my makeup just stresses me out. Why? Because I’m useless at it. Sort of. I suppose if I’m being fair to myself I should say that, after years of absorbing tips from makeup artists, I’ve become quite good at applying my base products. But as someone who likes a no-makeup makeup look and struggles with any sort of practical creativity, I feel it’s safe to say eye makeup is not my forte.

You see, I like my eye makeup to look natural. For the most part, I either leave my lids bare or simply smudge a brown shadow over them with my finger and hope for the best. Although I appreciate strong, graphic eyes on other people, I sadly don’t have the artistic ability to execute such looks on myself. And so, while others are busy scrolling Instagram, saving down trending makeup looks to experiment with, I spend my time engrossed in natural eye shadow looks, wondering how the hell I go about doing them myself.

Last week, as I scrolled through my saved natural eye shadow looks, I decided that it was finally time to try something new and experiment with some more intricate natural looks. To help, I reached out to a close beauty-industry pal (and one of the best makeup artists I know for natural, wearable looks), Madeleine Spencer,and discovered I’ve been making some serious mistakes in my quest for a great natural eye. To avoid these issues, keep scrolling for the nine best natural eye shadow looks around, along with some of Spencer’s top tips.

I’ll admit I already knew that taupe and brown are the shades to reach for if you want a natural look. What I didn’t know, however, was that the depth of the tone is also important. “Don’t use shadow that’s lighter than your skin tone, as it’ll look chalky,” advises Spencer. Opting for a cool-toned wash will help give eyes dimension without looking like too much.

Price shown is members’ price. These creamy shadow sticks are some of the easiest to use. Just scribble over your lid and smudge out with your ring finger for an impressive natural-looking eye in a matter of seconds.

Peach isn’t an eye shadow shade I would previously have considered. As far as I was concerned, peach was a colour, and I didn’t think there was any room for colour in natural-looking eyes. Turns out I was very wrong. Amy’s look proves that a basic wash of peach across the lid and along the lower lash line can look beautifully natural. The trick? Keep it matte. “Powder shadows with no glitter or sheen look most natural,” says Spencer.

This cute compact from Fenty contains three peachy mattes and some subtle shimmers if you want to amp up your look for the evening.

I live for a dewy makeup look. I’m all about that healthy-looking glow. And while I know expert advice is to keep things powdery and matte for a natural look, for days when my skin is looking drab, I’m turning to this dewy eye look for inspiration. Super-long lashes with a subtle wet-look shimmer over lids seems like the ultimate summer eye look.

Luckily, I already had this shadow in my collection, so I know that it’s the perfect product for achieving such a look as the one above. Because it’s not too pigmented and doesn’t dry out to look chalky, it’s a great way to keep things subtle.

When I think of gold eye shadow, I tend to imagine high-shine, glittery finishes that are best suited for nights on the town. However, this super-natural look proves me wrong. Pressing a slightly shimmery gold shadow (one without tonnes of pigment) onto lids delivers an elevated, low-effort look. 

This quad isn’t full of rich pigments. Instead, it gives lids a summer-ready, shimmering finish that can be built up for more intensity if you so desire. My go-to look at the moment? Just a dab of the peachy shade in the corners of the eye blended into one of the deeper, brown shades in the crease.

I have never considered pink a particularly easy eye shadow colour to work with. Once again, I was wrong. It’s all about choosing the right shade that works with your natural skin tone. Opting for a light, baby pink seems to be the best way to avoid making eyes look swollen. Also, go for a shadow that has a very subtle shimmer and avoid applying underneath the eye.

Glossier’s Lidstar in Slip is, as far as I have found, the best universal pink shadow around. With a bit of glitter (but not too much), it couldn’t be easier to swipe the cream over lids and blend with your finger or a brush for a quick, natural (but still evident) look.

Makeup artists have been trying to teach me this insider secret for years, but I’ve always struggled to get to grips with it—until now. Tightlining is the process of using a black shadow or creamy liner along the lash line and carefully smudging it to create the illusion of thicker lashes. In the past, I’ve found that it makes my eyes look too heavy, but it turns out the secret is in what you do with the shadow around it. “The most natural eye shadow trick is to graduate colour from darkest at the lash line to lightest closer to the brow. [Using] three shades is a good and easy way to go—with a rich colour by lashes, a transitional one on the part of the lid that moves/the mobile lid, and lightest underneath the brow,” reveals Spencer.

This creamy stick is great for smudging into lashes—it has more blendability than a standard liner but more hold than your usual black shadow.

Didn’t think that a smokey eye could look natural? You’re not alone. In fact, I’ve always considered a smokey eye to be a bold, night-out sort of look. Turns out making it look natural (like Laura Harrier’s look here) is easier than you’d think. “The cardinal rule for natural-looking eye shadow is to stick to enhancing your natural shape,” says Spencer. “Take a good look at where your hollows are and where light bounces off your eye, and that will give you a guide for shape if you’re applying shadow for a smokey effect.”

Opting for a palette that steers clear of black is a great way to keep your smokey eye looking natural. The matte browns in this quad will create a beautifully light smoke.

Glossy eyes are definitely something I could get on board with. “If shadow scares you and you want something very natural, smudge a little eye gloss or dab a little bit of Vaseline on your lid to add dimension,” says Spencer. At the moment, I’ve been reaching for a taupe powder and layering a gloss over the help keep things looking dewy and natural.

A little goes a long way with this gloss. Apply a little bit to your finger, and then dab it onto your lids to avoid stickiness.

Again, I know makeup artists might say that shimmer is a no-go for natural looks, but for a natural-looking evening eye, I’m taking notes from Hailey Bieber’s look by Nina Park. Apply a light-brown wash over the entire lid, blend it up to the brow bone, and then apply a small amount of creamy shimmer to the inner corners, blending it upwards. 

Use the doe-foot applicator to create a thin line in the inner corner and blend the cream up with a small brush.

Next up, trust us—these 13 makeup brands will never fail you. 

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