Eyeliner Or Eyeshadow First? What’s the Right Order?

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Makeup is a personal thing. You get to choose the products to use plus the style of makeup you want to achieve. It is a great way of expressing yourself. 

Doing your own makeup and figuring out what works for you is the best thing to do. When it comes to eye makeup, do you apply your eyeliner or eyeshadow first

It’s just a matter of preference.

Some will always stick to applying their eyeshadow first while others do the opposite. The opposing sides have their own reasons and both are valid.  

However, we know there are newbies out there who still haven’t figured out what works best for them. In this article, we’ll help you figure out why some would prefer to use their eyeliner first while others use their eyeshadows first. In that way, you can better figure out what works best for you.

But before we focus on the order of application, let us first differentiate the two products.


Eyeliner vs Eyeshadow: What’s The Difference

Eyeshadow Sticks

Eyeliners and eyeshadows come in different forms. It could be hard to distinguish them just by looking at them. There are actually eyeshadow sticks  that look similar to eyeliners .

However, the two differ in function.


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Eyeliners are used to define your eyes. They are applied around the eye.

Eyeliner helps with eye contouring so you can make it smaller, bigger, narrower, or wider. That would depend on the eye shape that you have. 

Eyeliners are usually in pencil form, but they can also be a liquid pen or in a pot as a gel liner.

Most eyeliners come in black or brownish shades. But nowadays, they now come in all sorts of colors. 


Eyeshadow Before and After

Eyeshadows are those that you apply to your eyelids. Sometimes you apply them under the eyes to blend the whole look. These are the ones that come in a variety of colors and you can blend colors for different effects. 

They come in different finishes and they could come in various forms.

Most eyeshadows come in a pan and are in powder form. However, there are now eyeshadows that are in cream, liquid, or pencil form.

Makeup is Personal!

Although they are different, makeup is personal. You can use your eyeliner as a substitute for your eyeshadow or your eyeshadow as a substitute for your eyeliner. 

Some people apply their eyeliner over the lash line and a bit on the eyelids. Then simply blend with a brush for a smokey eye look.

Some people may also use their eyeshadow with a moistened angle brush to outline the eye or create a winged line.

It’s simply a matter of preference.

Many people make do with what is available and being happy with the results you get is what matters most. 

Eyeliner Or Eyeshadow First: The Case For Each

Depending on the effect you want to achieve or the products you are using, you can apply either eyeliner or eyeshadow first.

Below are some scenarios when it is best to apply your eyeliner or eyeshadow first. 

Apply Eyeliner First

Do you want to achieve that sultry smokey-eye look? Applying a pencil or gel liner on your lash line first will work well for this effect. Once you’ve lined your lash line, take your brush and add some eyeshadow to it.

Use that brush to smudge the lines for a blended look. That will better blend in your eyeliner with your eyeshadow so there isn’t a harsh line.

It will create a flawless transition. 

Some people like to use eyeliner before their eyeshadow, even if they are using liquid eyeliner. Liquid eyeliner is usually used to create that sharp, defined outline around the eye.

The cat’s eye style is famous for that winged eyeliner effect. 

Perfecting the winged eye or cat’s eye by using eyeliner is quite challenging. Sometimes, you need to redo it all over again to get it right. And even if you’ve got one eye perfect, you have to match your lines and curves on the second eye!

If they end up uneven, erase the liner, usually with a makeup remover. If you’ve already applied eyeshadow, you’ll have to remove and redo that as well.

If they end up uneven, erase the liner, usually with a makeup remover. If you’ve already applied eyeshadow, you’ll have to remove and redo that as well.

That’s the reason why some beginners prefer to start with their eyeliner followed by their eyeshadow.

Apply Eyeshadow First

Some more experienced and even newbie makeup enthusiasts would prefer applying their liquid eyeliner  over their eyeshadow because they want to maintain the sharpness of the line they create with the eyeliner. 

When you use a pencil liner, the order you apply it doesn’t really matter. It will still look a bit blended compared to liquid liner.

Even with a pencil eyeliner, some still prefer to use it after their eyeshadow to better contour their eye. They could just darken it up a bit to create a better definition. 

Using Eyeshadow Without Eyeliner

Although you can use both eyeshadow and eyeliner, you can also just use an eyeshadow. Some people who have been used to using both may not be comfortable with it. However, it can still work. 

Some say it produces a more youthful look because it is more natural, especially if you carefully select the colors of eyeshadow to use.

You can successfully do a smokey eye look with just your eyeshadow. 

Final Thoughts

Do you do eyeliner or eyeshadow first? Depending on what you want to do, and your experience level, you might choose to apply one before another.

Some people prefer to apply their eyeliner before their eyeshadow. This helps create a smokey-eye look. Additionally, some do this so they can easily redo their eyeliner if they need to. 

Others prefer to use their eyeshadow before their eyeliner. This is to help maintain the sharpness of the lines created, especially by their liquid eyeliners. 

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).