I don’t often work with cream shadows in my tutorials, because most of the time I want to let the shadows speak for themselves. But there are times as well when you need a cream base to really take the intensity up a notch.
Above is a very quick tutorial for a metallic silvery-minty party look, as well as lots of swatches plus a couple of before-after shots to show you how I like to layer creams and powders.
1.There are 4 types of cream shadows in general
Old-school creamy - MAC Cream Color Bases and elf Cream Shadow Duos are the creamy kind that don’t really set. I usually give this a miss on the lids as they will crease in 5 minutes.
Solid pots and sticks - Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks, Maybelline Color Tattoos, MAC Paint Pots, Make Up For Ever Aqua Creams all belong in this category. They are hard at room temperature but will melt slightly on contact. These are the most common, but also problematic because many of them dry out after awhile and become impossible to use.
Bouncy creams - Chanel came out with the first ones in their Illusion d'Ombre range, and then Dior had Fushion Monos which are equally beautiful in texture and color. Lancome came up with limited edition Hypnose Drama Eyes creams but the textures are a little more hit and miss. But overall, these jelly- and mousse-like textures are the latest generation cream shadows and combine smooth intensity, incredibly dimensional multi-pigmented colors AND long-wear. Even when they start to dry out, they don’t go all hard and are still usable for a long time. By far my favorite texture but they tend to only come from more expensive houses.
Liquids/Creams - These easy to use creams come in tubes with doe-foot applicators or squeeze tubes and many are available in drugstore ranges. They set and stay on fairly well, but the textures tend to be quite sheer once blended out, although they are also easiest to work with for beginners who want subtlety.
2. Pick complementary tones for a quick win.
If you’re working with neutral brown toned shades, pick a brown cream shadow. If you are doing a blue-toned look, try a blue toned shadow.There are no rules, but just remember that applying cool toned shades over clashing warm toned bases and vice versa and neutralize colors and make everything look muddy or just sludgy and grey. (On the other hand, if you have a shadow that is too brassy and orange or yellow for your taste, a silvery base can help to cut the yellow-ness.)
Beige and black goes with anything so it depends whether you want a smoky look or a soft look.
3. There are different textures/finishes.
Matte and Satin - and I include beige eye primers along with this group cos they work the same way; these allow shadows to stay true to their original textures
Metallic/Pearl - usually the most popular and commonly available finish; these can help intensify the shine of shimmery shadows and help them look even more metallic.
Sparkly - a lot of the bouncy mousse-like shadows tend to be in the sparkly category where you see a ton of little flecks and sparkles when you look close. Often, the little sparkles show up through a layer of shadow, so if you want to jazz up a regular powder shadow, a sparkle shade works.
4. Play with duochrome shadows and pigments.
Often, the same color will look completely different when applied over different bases. (See the last image above; Winter Veld mica from Coastal Scents is a beige pink pigment with an icy blue shift when it hits the light.) This means you can combine different creams and powders and come up with completely different looks.
A cheap source for duochrome shades is mineral makeup sellers online. Often, these loose pigment shadows aren’t formulated with enough or the right type of binders (it’s easier to get the formulation right with pressed shadows) and don’t stick to the lids very well, so pairing them with cream shadows is perfect.
Ultimately, you CAN just pop a cream shadow on your lids when you have 2 minutes but I find many colors tend to look patchy and uneven on their own, and they’re really at their best as intensifiers and transformers for powder shadows.
If you’ve never tried interference pigments, go check out elf’s Eyeshadow Transformer palette and pop each of the shades over a dark cream shadow.
My favorite sources for pigments are coastalscents.com and tkbtrading.com. Not every color is great for use directly on the lids (these are almost pure color pigments and supposed to be mixed with fillers and binders), and I’d stick with the shimmers and metallics unless you’re a pro and DIY blending and formulation.
Just make sure you get the sample sizes because you can get a ton of colors for just $20. Invest in the full 1 oz packs/jars only if you’re a makeup artist and need to use truckloads of pigments on a regular basis.