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How To Define The Outer "V" Eyeshadow

Photo of a closed eye with pink eyeshadow over the lid and silver eyeshadow highlighting the brow bone and inner corner

One of the basic eyeshadow techniques that all makeup fans should know is how to create dimension and depth by defining an area of your eye known as the outer “V”. This refers to the area between your lash line and crease. The hardest part about getting this right is that everyone has different eye shapes, but with our tips and tricks and a little patience you’ll be rocking this look in no time.

Materials You Need To Do Your Outer “V”

There are a couple of things that you’ll need to successfully define your outer “V”. Make sure you have everything on this list:

four M.A.C. eyeshadow brushes

You will need an eyeshadow brush similar to one of these

  1. Primer. A decent eye primer will make even the cheapest of eyeshadows stay on all day long. If you don’t know already, the primer is a sticky, clear base for your eyeshadow that acts as a sort of glue. It’s extremely helpful for anyone who has oily eyelids and can help keep your eyeshadow looking vibrant all day.
  2. An Eyeshadow brush. You’ll need a short, rounded brush to apply eyeshadow with. If you don’t have a lot of lid space, you may find it easier to use a smaller brush.
  3. A blending brush. This brush should be different from the one you use to apply eyeshadow with. It should be a fluffier and slightly bigger. You’ll use this brush to blend different shadows together. It’s very important that this brush is completely clean.
  4. Eyeshadow. To define your outer “V,” you only really have to use one color. However, for the look we’ll be describing, you’ll need four different eyeshadow colors. We’ll be creating a gradient that allows you to define your outer “V” in a gorgeous, dramatic way. To get our look, you’ll need two light colors and two dark colors.

How To Choose The Right Eyeshadow To Define The Outer “V”

Eyeshadow quad which has the words Browbone, Lid, Crease and Outer corner written on each shade so you know where to put it

An eyeshadow quad will help you place your eyeshadow

As we’ve just mentioned, to create a beautiful gradient eyeshadow look that will define your outer corner, you’ll need to select two light eyeshadows and two dark eyeshadows.

When selecting your two light colors, you need to have one color that’s slightly lighter than your skin tone to highlight your brow bone and inner corner as well as a color that will be used to apply to your entire lid. This color can be any shade you want. The two darker colors will be used for defining your crease and outer “V.” You’ll need to make sure one of those colors is darker than the other.

A lot of eyeshadow quads or palettes will come with 4 shades for this exact purpose, and some may even include a guide that shows you where to put each shadow. If you will be using more than one color, avoid cream or loose powders. Cream shadows can be tricky to blend, so they’re better for an overall wash of color rather than a complicated gradient look. Loose powders or pigments are also hard to work with, so it’s best to stick with traditional pressed eyeshadows.

The Basic Outer “V” Eyeshadow Look: How To Define Your Outer Corner

This guide will take you through a look that defines your outer “V” using four different eyeshadows. If you just want to apply eyeshadow to your outer corner and nothing else, skip directly to step 3.

Step 1: Applying your lid color

The first step is to apply a wash of color like the pale pink we see all over the lid in this photo. The end result should look something similar to this:

Pink and purple eyeshadow look with a defined outer V

Pink and purple eyeshadow look with a defined outer V (photo: pinterest.com)

Before applying any eyeshadow, make sure you apply your eyeshadow primer all over the lid as well as the area just outside your lid so that your eyeshadow has a surface to adhere to. You can also use a white eyeliner pencil on top of this before adding shadow to make your eyeshadow really pop.

First, apply the desired eyeshadow over the lid. If you’re using four light and dark eyeshadows, this should be the second lightest color. The best way to apply eyeshadow is to gently pat it into your lid using your brush. If you use wiping or painting motions, the shadow won’t be as pigmented.

Be sure to take your eyeshadow up above your lid (into your crease) as well, fading it out using your blending brush – you don’t want any harsh lines that separate the eyeshadow colors. The idea is for the color to gently fade and blend into the next color. Be sure to clean off your blending brush after use.

Step 2: Defining your crease

See how this artist uses a pencil that she later smudges out with eyeshadow to define her crease:

Step by step infographic on how to get an eyeshadow look with a defined crease and outer V

Defining the crease (photo: pinterest.com)

Now we’ll start to define our crease. Of the four light and dark eyeshadows, you’ll want to take the lighter of the two darker colors and apply it to your crease. It’s a good idea to start out with a matte eyeshadow so you can create definition more easily.

If you press down on your brush ever so slightly, you should feel the bone just above the eye socket. This is where you want to define your crease. Use the same patting motions to apply your eyeshadow. It may be helpful to look up rather than tilt your head down.

Then, take your blending brush and use small, gentle windshield-wiper motions to blend the color. You don’t want any product on your blending brush – all you’re doing is making the two eyeshadows blend seamlessly with each other and softening the eyeshadow applied to the crease. When you blend, you’ll lose some of the color and shape, so don’t be afraid to start out bold with the crease.

Be patient – blending may take slightly longer than you expect. When you’ve finished blending, it should look much less dramatic and the colors will appear to fade into each other. If the colors look muddy or you can’t distinguish them from one another, you’ve done too much blending! If you’re still unsure, try using an eyeliner pencil to create the desired shape, then blend it out.

Step 3: Defining your Outer “V”

Follow this quick visual guide to defining your outer “V”:

Visual guide on where to apply eyeshadow to define your crease and outer V

Visual guide on where to apply eyeshadow to define your crease and outer V (photo: pinterest.com)

Take a shade darker than the one you’ve just used to define your crease and begin to apply it from the outer end of your eye up until slightly below your brow bone in a “V” shape. The start of your “V” should continue along your lash line – no lower. You can actually feel where your outer “V” is by feeling very gently with your finger for where your eyeball ends and the bone begins. This curve will more or less outline that area.

Try to avoid bringing the “V” above your crease, as this is where we’re going to highlight the brow bone. Your “V” shape may overlap with some of the eyeshadow in your crease, and this is just fine. You can define as much or as little of your crease in your “V” as you want, depending on your eye shape and the look you’re going for. It’s best to use a matte or semi-matte eyeshadow for this step as well.

Now you’ll need to blend with a clean blending brush. Move your brush in small circles for blending the outer “V.” You may have to go back in and apply more eyeshadow with your eyeshadow brush after blending to achieve the results you desire.

You might need to try a few times before you get the right “V” for your eye shape- you can always start again or alter the shape using makeup remover and a Q-tip. It’s worth it to take the time to find out what works for you. If you like, take some of the same colors you used to define your outer corner and line your bottom lash line with it.

Step 4: Highlighting Your Brow Bone and Inner Corner

Photo of a closed eye with pink eyeshadow over the lid and silver eyeshadow highlighting the brow bone and inner corner

Both the brow bone and the inner corner is highlighted (photo: pinterest.com)

Finally, go in with a shade slightly lighter than your skin tone and define your brow bone. You can also highlight the inner corner of your eye. Blend the eyeshadow on the brow bone with the eyeshadow in the crease as well as the eyeshadow in the inner corner with the with the eyeshadow on the lid. Again, make sure to use a clean blending brush.

After you’ve finished applying your eyeshadow, top your look off with eyeliner, mascara, or whatever else you like! For extra staying powder, lightly tap on some translucent powder over your eyeshadow. This will make sure you won’t sweat off all of your hard work!

How to Make Your Outer “V” If You Have Hooded Eyes

Many people have hooded eyes, including lots of celebrities like Blake Lively, Selena Gomez, and Taylor Swift. This means that the lid of your eye isn’t totally or at all visible when your eyes are open. There’s nothing bad about this – this just means you’ll be applying eyeshadow slightly differently.

When you define your crease, place the eyeshadow slightly above where your actual crease is. It’s easy to tell where to put your eyeshadow – you know your crease eyeshadow is in the right spot if you can actually see it when your eyes are open. If not, bring the shadow up a little higher on your brow bone.

Don’t forget to blend here as well.

The picture shows you really well where to put eyeshadow in order to have a defined crease and outer corner.

Then, for your outer “V”, pat your darkest shadow on in a v shape, elongating the eye and taking the “V” up into where you’ve just defined your “crease” (above your actual crease). This may leave less room to highlight your brow bone, but that’s fine.

Infographic showing step-by-step how to define your crease and outer corner for hooded eyes

Defining The Outer “V” For Monolids: Get Gorgeous Definition On Asian Eyes

Defined outer V eyeshadow look on Asian eye with partial monolid

You can define your outer V no matter what eye shape you have (photo: glamradar.com)

Many Asians and some Caucasians have monolids, which means that they lack a visible fold or crease below the brow bone. Both monolids and double eyelids are both extremely beautiful, and it’s easy to create an eyeshadow look for either one.

Visual guide on where to apply eyeshadow to define outer V

Defining outer V properly (photo: bunbunmakeuptips.com)

When you do the outer “V”, use the same technique to find where the curve of your eyeball ends and place your eyeshadow accordingly. You should start the “V” right as your lash line ends and softly draw the line curving upwards. You’ll want to take it well above your eyelid and blend it into where your crease would be.

Your outer”V” may not be as large or pronounced as the outer corners of other types of eyes, but that’s fine! Defining your crease (whether you have a fold there or not) is totally optional. You can do fantastic looks with just the defined outer “V” alone.

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