In Praise of the Lonely Eyeshadow Single: You Don't Need a Palette To Create Interesting Eye Looks

I'm going to show you how versatile an eyeshadow single can be.
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Hannah L.
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I'm going to show you how versatile an eyeshadow single can be.

Eye shadow palettes are so hot right now. Well, I guess they have been for some time. We're living in the age of the superstar palette! Urban Decay, LORAC, and any number of makeup brands are creating beautiful compacts full of magical colors that instantly trigger my grabby-hands response. Increasingly it's possible to get your hands on great palettes at the drugstore, too. I've noticed that Maybelline, L'Oreal and countless other brands have launched their dupes of the Naked palettes recently.

I'm away from home for a couple of months, and I left most of my makeup stash behind, including my favorite W7 In The Buff palette. In the interests of saving space, and with the knowledge that I would most likely buy more makeup while I'm away, I just packed a few eyeshadow singles. And I have really been enjoying using them! Eyeshadows I hadn't picked up in months are suddenly mainstays in my routine again. 

And I'm going to show you how versatile an eyeshadow single can be.

The first thing to note is that eyeshadow singles get a lot more versatile if you have a variety of brushes. For these looks I used the Double Ended Smokey Eye Brush from Revlon, the Ecotools Full Eye Shadow Brush and a double-ended brush from Laura Mercier that was limited-edition about eight years ago. You can get one end of it still — it's the Cream Detail Brush. I also used a setting spray to wet some of the shadows. My trusted favorite is NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray. Also shown is eye primer (obvi), concealer, and some micellar water and cotton for cleaning up the graphic look.

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Let's jump in!

Look 1

This one is a no-brainer: doing a cat eye with a dark brown shadow for a softer take on the look. 

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I dampened Kevyn Aucoin The Eyeshadow Single in 106 Coffee Bean with a spritz of setting spray, and then mixed everything into a paste with the short, fat end of the Revlon brush. Then I just lined away! 

The great thing about this approach is that it's easy to build up layers of color to get a more intense line, but that the first or second pass also looks really nice, giving you a little bit of definition.

Talk to me!

  • Do you use eyeshadow singles, or are they languishing at the bottom of your drawer?
  • What other techniques can I use to mix it up with eyeshadow?
  • Anyone got a recommendation for a midnight blue eyeshadow?