What’s a Transition Shade and Why Do Makeup Pros Use Them?

Some days, swiping on a single coat of mascara feels right. On others, a smoky olive eye shadow or gold-flecked pigment better suits your mood. And when you’re looking to dip your brush into something bold, makeup pros recommend starting with a “transition shade” before applying any color to your lids.

So what exactly is a transition shade?  According to makeup artist and YouTube star Christen Dominique, it’s the shadow that lays the groundwork for your entire eye look, giving the area a “natural, soft dimension.” When buffed into the crease, this shade allows the colors that follow to blend into one another seamlessly. For example, if you’re sporting a deep burgundy on your lids, an orange transition shade will help to diffuse the red edges and create a warm gradient along the eyes. 

During an episode of The Glow Up, Dominique sat down with PureWow beauty director Jenny Jin to walk us through her mesmerizing makeup routine (think glowing skin, reflective highlighter and high-shine lip gloss). The eye shadow expert swept a taupe transition shade along her crease before deepening the look with a chocolate brown just below it. The effect: a marriage of smoky bronze tones that faded into a cream color below the brow. The transitions between shades were so smooth you couldn’t tell where one shade ended and the other began. 

Along with her blending tips, the beauty guru gave us lessons in realistic contouring, applying false lashes and following your passion (no matter how daunting it may feel). 

Grab your makeup bag and follow along here:

purewow author

Senior Social Strategy & Trends Editor

From 2017-2023 Michaela Magliochetti held the role of Senior Social Strategy & Trends Editor covering wellness, horoscopes, trends and more.