How to Pick Your Perfect 5-shade Compact

Complementary colors can enhance your eyes to a whole new level.
Complementary colors can enhance your eyes to a whole new level.

Many would argue that the eyes are the most important feature to focus on when choosing a makeup concept. But not all of us have the makeup expertise to mix and match colors to create the perfect nighttime smoky eye or barely there daytime look. A single layer of eye shadow adds a little color and helps to even out skin tone, but the real impact comes from applying multiple colors that coordinate and knowing where to apply and how to blend. Enter the five-shade compact. There are a couple advantages to buying your eye shadow in a prefab compact. Perhaps, most importantly, the colors are chosen because they coordinate with each other, so it takes the guesswork out of figuring out what colors blend well together to achieve a certain look. And even though a high quality five-shade compact can cost upwards of $50, it's still typically cheaper than buying each color as a single.

Wearing multiple shades of eye shadow adds depth and dimension to your eyes; much like layers of paint do the same for a painting. But this is only achievable if the colors work well with your skin tone and your eye color. As far as skin tone goes, if you're pretty fair, darker and yellow colors may look unnatural, while medium- and dark-toned skin doesn't fare well with too-light colors that contrast too much. For eye colors, warm colors like browns and peaches work best with blue eyes, while earth tones and purples work well with green eyes. If you have brown eyes, you're lucky in the eye shadow department, because you will most likely look good in just about any color. Keep reading for tips about how to apply the different colors in a five-shade compact.

Highlight, Mid-tone and Deep Eye Shadow Colors

Five-shade compacts come with five coordinating colors that can be used all together or individually to create your desired look. The base color is typically the lightest earth tone color and it gets applied all over your eyelid and brow bone. The purpose of the base color is to provide a solid matte base for the rest of the colors, so it's wise to skip the shimmer for this step. Mid-tone shades are used for contouring and should be at least two shades darker than your base. These colors get applied to the crease and the outer corner of the eye. If you want to use the next darker mid-tone, it should be applied to the outer corner of the eyelid. The deepest color is typically used as eyeliner or over your regular eyeliner to help set it in place.

The last shade is highlighter, and if you've never used it, you're missing out. A dash along the brow bone and dots in the inside corner of the eyes will brighten your eyes and make them pop. Its function is to add a little glow, so it should be applied last. If your eyes are wrinkled or you have loose skin, it's best to minimize shimmer in these areas. And to make sure that you don't have any lines between the colors, you'll need to do a little blending. To do this, just use your applicator brush as you're applying each color and gently feather up and out to minimize any harsh lines. Once your application is finished, you can go back and touch up any areas you missed. If you're creating a look for a big event and blending multiple colors is new for you, you'd be wise to try it out a few days ahead of time to work out any kinks before the big day.

Related Articles


  • "Eyeshadow 101." Sept. 3, 2012.
  • "Eyeshadow Application." Sept. 3, 2012.
  • "Eyeshadow Color." Sept. 3, 2012.
  • "How To Use An Eyeshadow Quad." Oct. 30, 2010.
  • "How to Choose the Right Eyeshadow for your Eye Color." Sept. 3, 2012.