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Eyeshadow Foiling: What It Is, How to Do It, and Why It Can Make Any Eyeshadow Beautiful

Updated on September 24, 2019
Alisha Adkins profile image

Alisha Adkins is an author of horror and speculative fiction. A self-described "aging goth," she has a strong interest in creative makeup.

TheMakeupChair: Foiling Eyeshadow Techniques

Eyeshadow Foiling: What Is It?

Foiling is a relatively new cosmetic trend that involves spraying a mixing medium onto an eyeshadow or pigment to transform its appearance, increasing its pigmentation and giving it a metallic, tin-foil-like finish.

What You'll Need to Foil

Eyeshadow, brush, mixing medium, and mixing surface
Eyeshadow, brush, mixing medium, and mixing surface

Foiled Eyeshadow

Foiling any eyeshadow will bump up its drama factor.
Foiling any eyeshadow will bump up its drama factor.

What You'll Need

In order to foil eyeshadow, you'll need just a few simple tools:

  1. Eyeshadow or pigment - Although foiling can be done with any powder eyeshadow or pigment, in my opinion, the cheaper and less pigmented the shadow, the better, I mean, why waste the good stuff? What else can you do with the duds in your collection, so you might as well make use of them through foiling.
  2. Mixing medium - MAC's Fix+ Spray is frequently used for foiling, but it retails for $22 a bottle, and since e.l.f.'s Makeup Mist & Set spray works just as well at $3.00 a bottle, it's my preferred product.
  3. Surface for mixing - a jar, lid, or even plastic cup would probably suffice for this, but I made the one time $12 investment in a stainless steel 5-well makeup palette. This surface makes the process infinitely easier and can also be used for mixing foundations. It also comes with an accompanying spatula tool that is quite useful for scraping eyeshadow onto the palette (and can also be used for depotting). Note: it is extremely important to have a surface for mixing because spraying your mixing medium directly on an eyeshadow can damage it.
  4. Flat, stiff brush - You'll want a flat, stiff brush suitable for both mixing the shadow with the spray mixing medium and also applying the resulting foiled liquid.

Makeup Geek: How to Foil Pigments

How to Foil Eyeshadow

Foiling eyeshadow is actually quite an easy process to do. Just scrape off a bit of your desired eyeshadow onto your mixing surface. Spray some of your mixing medium (about 2 sprays) over it. Mix it with your flat, stiff brush into a paint-like consistency. Then paint over your eyelids with the brush. Wait for it to dry (this can take a couple of minutes) before trying to blend or add non-foiled eyeshadows. The foiled eyeshadow will dry down to a manageable powder finish, but while it is wet, you will not be able to work with it.

Foiling: First Attempt

It was a bit like painting with makeup...
It was a bit like painting with makeup...

Unfoiled vs. Foiled

Almay Intense i-Color Trio for Greens 204 - normal swatches (the ones that are hard to see) next to their foiled counterparts
Almay Intense i-Color Trio for Greens 204 - normal swatches (the ones that are hard to see) next to their foiled counterparts

My Adventures in Foiling

As with any medium, there is a little bit of a learning curve when foiling.

My first attempt was not entirely successful. I found myself painting with makeup; it wound up getting away from me and ended up just looking kind of weird. But hey, that's what makeup wipes are for, right?

For my second attempt, I used some extremely lackluster Almay eyeshadows I had been intending to throw away.

Wow. Foiling made all the difference. Suddenly those muddy colors came alive, becoming pigmented, metallic, and beautiful.

And suddenly, just like that, I was in love with foiling. It makes crappy eyeshadow useful!

Drab Eyeshadows - Unfoiled

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Almay Intense i-ColorAlmay Intense i-Color
Almay Intense i-Color
Almay Intense i-Color
Almay Intense i-Color
Almay Intense i-Color

Same Eyeshadows: Foiled

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Almay Intense i-Color - FoiledAlmay Intense i-Color - Foiled
Almay Intense i-Color - Foiled
Almay Intense i-Color - Foiled
Almay Intense i-Color - Foiled
Almay Intense i-Color - Foiled

Why You Need Foiling in Your Life

Foiling is the next big thing right now in the beauty world simply because metallic shadows are popular, but it has more pragmatic uses.

The real reason to foil is this: you know all those eyeshadows you've bought and then regretted purchasing? You know, the ones that have little to no pigmentation that just sit in the bottom of your drawer? Well, now they may actually give you some color pay-off!

And, on top of that, there's yet one more reason to venture into foiling -- a far less utilitarian, but more creative, one. When you take dry eyeshadow and turn it into wet pigment, you have the opportunity to mix your shades. In other words, you can mix two different eyeshadows (or more, I suppose) together to create your own shades.

Foiling is such an exciting innovation because it really elevates makeup's creative potential.

With some imagination and practice, foiling may bring your makeup to new levels of artistry.


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    • pmccray profile image


      4 years ago from Utah

      Wow this is news to me. Thanks for posting. Shared.


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