How To Apply Wet Eye Shadow Like A Pro

There's more to it than just dampening your applicator and jumping right in.
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There's more to it than just dampening your applicator and jumping right in.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a big time eye shadow addict. And when I’m looking to add a little dimension and texture to my look, I often wear my shadow wet. The idea sounds simple enough, but if you really want to milk it for all the look it's work, a little technique must be employed.  

First of all, let’s talk tools! Sure, you can use plain old water to dampen your brushes, but I like to use setting spray. It enhances the shadow and makes it more adhesive. My spray of choice is Urban Decay B6 Vitamin-Infused Prep Spray, but I know a lot of people like to use a spray like MAC’s Fix Plus, or even eye drops. You don’t have to use a specific brush, but I usually reserve a couple of eye shader brushes (one for pan shadows, one for loose pigments) and a liner brush for wet use only.  

As far as application, I typically spritz my brush until it's damp (not sopping wet) and dip it directly into the product. For pan shadows, I try not to get the entire pan wet so it can still be used for a dry applications. If I’m using a loose pigment, I’ll typically shake a little into the container lid and dip my damp brush into that. 

What shadows you can use wet? I’m not big into beauty rules, and I think you can make virtually any shadow work wet or dry, but there are some types and textures that lend themselves better to a wet application.

Pressed Pigments

loreal infallible eye shadow

L’Oreal Infallible in Amber Rush, worn dry at left and wet at right.

Pressed pigments usually pack some pretty intense color saturation on their own. Add a little moisture and they give a kind of semi-foiled look. L’Oreal's Infallible 24hr Eye Shadows are my favorite pressed pigments. 

Wet/Dry Shadows

shea moisture eye shadow

Shea Moisture Wet/Dry Eye Shadow in Claudia, worn dry at left and wet at right.

Eye shadow that's formulated for wet or dry use is an obvious pick, and Shea Moisture Wet/Dry Pan Shadows are among my top picks. I use the Claudia shade dry to fill in my brows and I use it wet as a dark brown liner. Claudia is a matte shadow and I tend to prefer to use those wet as liners. 

Metallic/Shimmer Shadows

makeup geek eye shadow

Top: Makeup Geek Shadow pan in Homecoming, worn dry at left and wet at right. Bottom: Lorac Pro Palette in Champagne, worn dry at left and wet at right.

As far as your regular shadows go, I tend to think that metallic and satin finish shadows are best for wearing wet, especially on the lid. As with pressed pigments, they yield a high-shine, semi-foiled effect. 

Loose Pigments

makeup geek loose pigment

Makeup Geek Loose Pigment in Insomnia, worn dry at left and wet at right.

My favorite shadows to wear wet are loose pigments. On their own they can be a bit hard to pack onto the lid, but when dampened they adhere beautifully and often have more intense color.   

Here are the shadows worn wet together. I have Insomnia on the lid, Homecoming on the center of the lid, Claudia in the crease and as a liner, Champagne as a brow bone highlight, and Amber Rush as an inner corner highlight.

I hope this was helpful! What tips or tricks do you have to add? Definitely tell me your favorite wet/dry eye shadow formulas in the comments!