As is the case for a lot of people that get into makeup, especially those that wear it day to day - eye makeup holds the most interest to me. Face makeup feels like a necessary evil, it's difficult to do right and the results should be basically invisible. Making the perfect canvas - but that's another post. :) Cheeks and contouring is fun, but I have found it to get easier with practice at a decent pace.
Ultimately though, I strive and likely always will - to improve my eye makeup techniques. The only product I've used consistently over the years has been mascara. I used eyeshadow for many, but not all - and any technique I used it was purely winging it as I went. Other items like eyeliner I used occasionally and knew I was bad with it. Never been shy to go a little dramatic in the eye department so I'm sure I had many days of ultra thick dark blue eyeliner and the such. :)
I really gained insight into eye makeup technique via youtube tutorials. I realized how important blending is, what an art it is in itself, and that I could use this to approximate the eye looks I had admired from afar previously. As I've spent more and more time learning techniques, watching people use those techniques, (and attempts to) implementing them myself - I learned some other things I didn't expect.
1) Eye shape matters. I never really considered my eye shape setup. I knew I had fairly light and sparse eyebrows, light eyelashes. Initially I was watching lovely ladies like emilynoel83 and MakeupByTiffanyD. They have almond shaped eyes, very lifted eye skin and shape, arched eyebrows and a ton of space between the crease and eyebrow. There was a lot of frustration early on when I just didn't understand why I couldn't get those "outer v's" to come out like they would show. Learning to work with the shape I have (rounded, slightly downturned, slightly hooded with one eyelid crease that extends past the outer corner) has made things much easier, but still can be frustrating when I want to do something like an eyeliner flick/cat eye (near to impossible as far as I can tell without it being huge).
Eyes straight on without makeup to see what I mean:
2) I was very lucky in the eyelash department. I never appreciated that I have pretty great lashes, I knew they were somewhat long but I was always bummed at how light they are. They aren't straight (they are somewhat curled naturally), they will curl up with just about any mascara, they are long and while not super thick they aren't sparse. My lashes take to mascara very well, I don't ever have problems with mascara transferring and most mascara will look good on me. I don't need the mascara to do a ton of heavy lifting.
Healthy looking lashes with pretty blah mascara:
3) Blending requires very little (if any) product and an extremely light hand. Many tutorials I've watched have used pretty aggressive looking blending, but after much trial and error I find the softest looks seem to come from patient, very lighthanded blending. I often have too much product and end up blending it all over the place, learning to use only the slightest bit of product and blending that out thoroughly before adding more has gotten me closer to achieving those very subtle blended gradients into the lid/up to browbone.
Less than stellar blending, especially from this angle:
4) Gel and liquid liner aren't that scary if you have the right tools. I have recently been using a thicker straight eyeliner brush (Sigma E05) and have been finding it brilliantly easy to lay down a consistent upper lash line. I still struggled with liquid eyeliner, but the pen style applicators are by far easier for me - especially when applying to my non-dominant-hand side. The image above does have liquid eyeliner but it's a little off on the right side eye. I had a little twitch and didn't want to wipe it off and start over completely.
5) Freckles on my eyelids make a difference. I never really considered it, but part of why I have difficulty can be due to the fact that I already have spots of pigmentation on my eyelids. Especially when using brown tones, things can get muddy around the freckles. Going in knowing I'm not going to get a purely visible defined edge of blending or plain sharp edge moderates expectations. I could use a product to blot out the freckles or tone them down, but that can go cakey on my dry eyelids and well, it's just a bit unnatural looking when the freckles are all over otherwise.
Approaching muddied brown copper eye look (with strange color balance that enhances the odd interaction with freckles):
I'm sure I have more, and will have more a year from now but I'd been sort of mulling these things over the past few months and thought I'd share. Always something new to learn!