"Glitter is my makeup of choice." ~Kesha
Black eyeshadow is quite the potent little tool in one's makeup kit, yet is so often overlooked. Used in a sheer wash it can be very subtle, or used in a more opaque way it can create much more drama. Alone it creates big drama, while under other colors makes for less intense, sophisticated drama.
Depending on your eye shape it can create added dimension for your eyes when used in the crease and outer corner. Worn with soft neutrals you'll most likely use a more sheer wash of black, and blend carefully. When using black along with stronger, more intense colors you can go heavier with the black.
It can also be used layered under other colors- one example is the classic 'smokey' eye. When layering you'll probably have better results if you either use an eyeshadow base, or apply your black powder shadow using water to create a more intense base. A black pencil (or any other color pencil, for that matter) is also very good to use as a base if you don't have a black shadow. Then layer your other color(s) over the black. Again, whenever using black you do have to blend any edges very, very well, or it looks really messy. Either that, or get good at creating a perfect sharp line.
When you use black in the above methods with other colors you greatly expand your eyeshadow options; in a sense you at least double your entire collection of shadows. Of course many colors can be mixed for unexpected and often beautiful results- but this post is all about black shadow. When you layer a black shadow under another color you are using the black as an 'underpainting.' This is definitely worth trying when you have a color that's maybe a bit too bright for your coloring, or that maybe overpowers your eye color, making it go dull; a black shadow underneath, sheer or more intense, may alter the bright color just enough to make it work for you. And, if you do have low contrast, soft coloring and find that black is just too intense for you, you can use brown, taupe or gray in exactly the same ways outlined above.
All black shadows are not created equal, either. There are dense, rich ones, sheer, dusty ones, ones with big silver glitter, little gold glitter, iridescent glitter. Some are black with a purple cast, or green cast, or bronze cast. Some are not quite brown, not quite black- rather somewhere in between. All have their uses. And you can find them at every price level- many of the really inexpensive drug store brands may work perfectly for your needs. If you like working with black shadow you might want to start a collection of different ones- maybe sheerer and/or a brown/black for day, and some with more intensity and glitter for evening.
As mentioned above black shadow must be applied carefully and blended well or it can look messy. Also be aware that there's often a lot of 'fall-out' with black shadow. There are different ways to deal with fall-out- you can do your eye makeup first, before foundation and concealer and simply wipe off the fallout with moisturizer and then apply foundation and concealer and the rest, or if you've already done the rest of your makeup you can put lots of loose, translucent powder beneath your eyes and simply brush off the fallout along with the excess powder when done. Or, when you're done use the brush you applied your foundation with to wipe over and clean up the fallout. Some people like to hold a keenex under the eye while applying shadow….there are probably endless ways of dealing with fallout.
For ideas on how to work with black shadow, look on Pinterest and youtube. Endless inspiration there!