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5 incredible tips for eyeshadow we learnt from Rae Morris

January 1 | 4 minute read

Rae Morris Hero 16x9

Words by Arabella Roden

Originally published on | November 15

One of the most influential professional makeup artists on earth, Rae Morris’ work has graced international catwalks, campaigns and celebrity faces.

She’s also one of Australia’s original makeup influencers, before there even were influencers. For many of us, Morris was the first beauty authority we turned to, with the first of her hefty makeup tomes published more than a decade ago in 2008.

She’s written five more since then (hint: the latest, Makeup Masterclass, is a MECCA must-have), as well as releasing her acclaimed brush collection inspired by the work of calligraphy artists in Japan. And as luck would have it, Morris is all too willing to share her insider tips. Here she tells MECCA how to carve out the perfect eyeshadow look, as well as spilling her secrets on how to avoid fallout, tips for tricky hooded eyes and how to figure out what colours suit you best. Class is in session!

1. Shape comes before colour

When creating an eyeshadow look, use a neutral transition shade to sketch out the shape before going in with colour. “‘Carve out’ the eye shape – find one that you’d usually contour with based on your skin tone,” advises Morris. “Create the shape of the eyes you want first, then accentuate with colour.”

Not sure which shape to create? The answer’s in… your hair (yes, really)! Morris’ trick is to think about how you usually wear a ponytail – pulled up high or pulled straight back.

“If you wear a high ponytail, take the eye up for a lifted, ‘cat’s eye’ effect,” she says. “If you pull your ponytail back, the eye should be more horizontal or ‘open’.”

Another pro tip? Always look straight ahead and start sketching under your eye first, before connecting to the top. “A fine pointed brush is essential for that delicate work around the lash line,” says Morris.

If in doubt, Morris recommends concentrating your shadow (and liner) on the outer third of your eye – a particularly good tip if your eye shape is naturally rounded.

Shorter brushes give you more precision
Rae Morris

2. Use an eye cream to farewell fallout

Ah, the sworn enemy of bold eye makeup – fallout. While it’s often inevitable when using pigmented powder shadows, Morris has a few tricks up her sleeve to minimise the damage.

First? “Do your eye makeup first” – after all, you can’t ruin a base you haven’t created yet! Next, Morris preps her under-eye area with a thick eye cream or moisturiser (we love Tatcha’s The Dewy Skin Cream). Not only does this make catching and whisking away fallout easier, it also helps to soften fine under-eye lines (unlike translucent powder).

Finally, the ultimate trick to minimising fallout is to use cream eyeshadows. Morris is a fan of Ellis Faas Eyelights and Creamy Eyes as well as Laura Mercier’s classic Caviar Stick.

3. Do the heavy lifting on hooded eyes

Hooded eyes? No problem. Morris, a hooded eye-haver herself, says the key is creating space between the lash line and the eye socket. “If you have a heavy eyelid, give yourself a little eye lift by drawing the socket slightly higher than where it sits naturally. You want to give the lid some space,” she notes.

When you add your contour, create a shadow at your temple which ‘pulls’ the eye shape up and creates a lifted effect, extending it to the puffier part of the lid to make it appear smaller. Morris also advises contouring the eye socket with her Jishaku #6.5 Angle Eye Blender brush. “Lift the eyebrow and let it drop [onto the brush], then blend the contour. The heavier the eyelid, the better,” says Morris.

A top tip for using colour on hooded eyes: “Keep it to the outer corner, place the colour under the eye, or wash it out at the socket.”

When it comes to colour, some can be very complementary while others can make the eyes look tired.
Rae Morris

4. It’s all in the brush

According to Morris, how you put eyeshadow on your brush is just as important as the brush itself (and the shadow). “Put the product just on the tip and with gentle pressure, you can get very fine strokes,” she advises. “And because you’ve kept the surrounding bristles clean, they will do the blending for you.”

For those of us with less-than-precise eyeshadow skills, travel-sized brushes are the saviour we’ve been searching for. “Shorter brushes give you more precision,” confirms Morris.

And finally, if you have a favourite brush, buy two and keep one clean as a blending brush to fix any mistakes.

5. Choose your colours wisely

“One of the biggest questions I get asked is, ‘What colour suits me?’” says Morris. “When it comes to colour, some can be very complementary while others can make the eyes look tired.”

Of course, you can always rely on the ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ skin undertone trick and match your eyeshadow to that colour family: “I usually ask, if you wear jewellery, do you wear gold or silver? If you can wear both, you’re in a tricky pocket! But if you wear gold, you’re usually in the warm family – they wear more browns and greens, rather than black or white. If you wear silver, as I do, and you mainly wear black and white, you’re in the cooler family,” Morris explains.

However, Morris reveals there are two colours that are universally flattering as they are both warm and cool: “One is mahogany (that’s why our natural lip and cheek colour suits us all) and the other is navy blue, which is a great colour for eyeliner and eyeshadow. That’s why a lot of uniforms are navy, because it suits everyone!”

Deeper jewel tones are also very flattering on all eye colours: “They’re modern, sexy and smouldering,” says Morris. “Go darker than you think you should and keep these colours close to the lash line.”

Another pro tip from Morris is to use the natural colours present in your eyes to determine your shadow. Her book, Makeup Masterclass, contains colour wheel references for a wide variety of real eye colours, developed with a consultant from Pantone.

“One tip is to pick a colour that is already there in your eyes – for example, dark brown with dark brown, olive green with hazel,” advises Morris.

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