How to Swatch Eyeshadow


Some of my most popular posts are swatches. I love swatching stuff because:

  1. It gives me an excuse to buy extravagant things and
  2. They seem to be the kind of posts you guys like, and I like writing content that you find helpful and interesting.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think many people choose my swatches over others because I make a point to swatch the true color of an item. If you have dark skin or medium skin or red undertones then chances are the product will look drastically different on you. It’s inevitable. So, when looking for swatches you can either go on a wild goose chase for someone who has swatched the product you’re interested in and has the same skin tone as you, or risk having the colors look different on you.

I don’t know about y’all, but if I’m about to drop upwards of $50 on a palette I want to make sure that it’s going to make me look amazing.

To ensure that everyone can benefit from my swatches I try to do them on a white base, showing the true color of the eyeshadow, rather than what it looks like on my specific skin tone.

If you’re a blogger who’s looking to up their swatching game or even just someone who likes testing out every color of a palette, check out my step by step tutorial below on how I make my swatches.

Step 1: Gather your materials

For eyeshadow swatches you will need:

  • A short eyeshadow brush that can apply shadows compactly. I am using the Elizabeth Mott All Over Shadow Brush.


  • A foundation brush. Here really anything will do. I am using a cheapie $1 e.l.f. brush.


  • Something to swatch. I am using the Lorac Mega Pro 2.


  • A white base. You can choose to not do them on white but like I said, it really helps others looking to get an idea of what the true color is. I am using the white cream color from my Make Up For Ever Flash Palette. You don’t necessarily have to use this specific product, but it does need to be creamy and easy to apply. Also make sure that if you do choose to use a white base that it be free of any glitter. You don’t want to alter the color of what you’re swatching in any way. Even having something off-white or flesh toned can drastically change the color of a swatch.


  • A couple of paper towels. Don’t cheap out on these otherwise you’ll destroy your brushes.


  • Some sort of brush cleaning tool.  You can use rubbing alcohol or a specific cleaning product. I am using the Kiko Milano brush cleaner. I loveeee it and it works just as well as the IT Cosmetics brush cleaner but for a fraction of the cost. Unless you plan on using as many clean brushes as you have shadows, it’s important to have some sort of cleaning tool so that the colors don’t become muddled.

Step 2: Build a canvas


The goal of this step isn’t to create a thick layer of color, but more to mute out your skin tone. Like I said, you can very easily skip this step if your goal is to share how these colors will look on a particular skin type. Because many people like to apply their shadows using a neutral or white base, it helps to see what the shadows’ true color is.


Step 3: Apply the shadows

It’s really up to you how complicated you want to get with this. I particularly like when there’s a rhyme and reason to the application, since that makes it clearer to me as a reader which color is which. If you follow a logical order of the palette you really can’t go wrong.

In the case of this palette I chose to swatch with a small, flat eyeshadow brush which created these cute little shapes. You can use anything from tape to stencils to get your desired shape. Keep in mind though that the more complicated your pattern/design, the longer this will take you.

If you’re swatching something with just a few colors that’s not too bad, however if you’re swatching something like Mega Pro II which has a whopping 32 shades, it might end up being quite the endeavor.


Step 4: Spot Clean Brushes

Since the goal of swatching is showing people the color of something you need to make sure first and foremost that your colors aren’t getting muddled. I can’t stress enough how important it is to start with a clean brush after each swatch.


The cleanliness of the brush makes the difference between bright, pigmented swatches that are true to their color and dull, muddled messes that are useless. I keep a bottle of the Kiko Cosmetics brush cleaner on standby to spot clean my brushes.

This is my hands-down favorite brush cleaner and works almost as well as actually washing brushes. To spot clean the brush I lightly spray a few sprays of the brush cleaner on the bristles and then rub it in circles in my paper towel. When I see that there’s no pigment left on the brush I know I’m ready for my next swatch.

Step 5: Photograph your swatches

Now that you’re done swatching your product make sure to be extra careful to not bump or rub your arm on anything. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending two hours swatching something only to rub your arm on your pants and having all your hard work go to waste in an instant. Make sure to have your camera in close proximity so that as soon as you’re done swatching you can go and take some photos.


The hands-down best place to take photos is obviously outside, so that you can take full use of natural light. If natural light isn’t available then take your photo indoors in an area with plenty of light. Lastly, if you plan on using flash make sure you take a photo with and one without flash. The photos with flash can often look very distorted, so you always want to let people know which photo is which.

As a final added bonus you can label, or in my case number, each swatch so that you can easily reference them when you’re reviewing them.


I hope that this tutorial has been helpful to you, and that you’ve learned some new tips and tricks on swatching makeup! If you have any questions let me know in the comments section below.