Electric Eyeshadow




About: I'm a Designer, Creator, Inventor. #1 Hobby - brainstorming. I invented the Unicorn Poop cookie, as published here on instructables. And now I am a metalsmith. <3
I've designed my own LED Eyeshadow and I like it!  The future of makeup is here.  Or maybe just the future of party accessories.  Either way, lights are a real "turn-on" and I love everything that lights up.  I don't really like makeup because I suck at it.  But lights are pretty, so I wanted to high-light my eyes electronically.  This was a major design (and) creative challenge for me.  I'll probably wear this Electronic Eyeshadow out to the club and in YouTube lip sync videos for fun.  I plan on designing a whole array of light up makeup.  What's next? ... Luminous Lipstick!! :D

Everyone, bear in mind that I've never wired an LED in my life, until two days ago, when I started on this project.  I learned about LEDs at an electronic store, when I went in there and asked 100 questions to their poor LED guy.  I made sure to absorb all the basics from him and when I made my first LED strip light up, it was a major affirmation.  From there, I learned how to solder and upgraded my POS $4 iron to a Weller, and now my soldering iron melts solder instead of repelling it.

Disclaimer - I am going to try my best to explain this to you.  LOL.  Note:  I have no idea what I'm talking about, so my terminology may be best for those of you who (also) don't know the lingo.

Step 1: Diagram!

OPTION 1:  If you're a techie - Just look at the drawing, that will be easiest for you to decipher.
OPTION 2:  For lesser techs, you can read the rest.  Or if you're a techie and want to laugh.  :D

I drew this to show what I did.  I tried to color-code it with the few awesome marker pens that I have, so things should line up smoothly until you get to the "oops" area on the bottom left.  I will be using the step by step area to kinda decode my drawing.  The photo is scanned from my notebook so that I could make it as clear as possible!

Step 2: Ingredients

Lots of things are needed for this, so I am going to try my best to remember it all.  :)

A battery case that fits your batteries.  9 volts total is what I used.  (3 button cells stacked)
Batteries that fit your battery holder.  The guy at the store can help you pick one out.  :)
LED strip.  They cut between every 3 LEDs and have their own resistors built in.  NIIICE.
Wire that is thin.  My reel says "Mag Wire" and it's like the size of a hair.  Copper colored, with varnish.
Lighter to burn some varnish off the wire each time you join it to something.
A switch!  Tiny is good for this.  Mine had 3 prongs, but he said to use the middle one and a side prong.
A Multimeter to poke your LEDs to make sure you didn't burn them to death.  To test wires too.
Soldering Iron.  NOT A $4 one!!!  For reals, it took me 3 hours to make 2 connections the 1st night.
A piece of clear vinyl, maybe a foot.  (Sheet plastic.)
Wire, wire cutters.
An old knee-high or stalking for a pouch
Hair clips
Eyelash Glue
Clear adhesive for the plastic

By the way - my LED strips were "Right Angle" so they don't blur light everywhere.  So sweet.

Step 3: Oh Boy. Here We Go.

Cut 4 long wires so that you can shorten them later if you want to.  Burn the tips really quick to get some varnish off.  The wire will turn black where you burn it, just pinch with your nail and scrape the black stuff off and I believe that you will have your wire exposed.  If you don't scratch black stuff off, chances are - you need to burn it again, because that varnish won't allow it to make contact and make a circuit?  :)  

That black portion of stripped wire, scrunch it up into a mess and solder it to the contact pads that look like copper circles on the end of the LED strip.  If you don't bulk up your stripped wire, it takes forever to solder a tiny hair to the strips.  The messy end weaves into the solder, in my opinion.  ;)

Okay, the wire, as long as it has varnish, can touch the other wire and it won't short out.  But just be careful with your stripped portions because they WILL short out.  SO if you need to, cut them so there is less nakedness sticking out, waiting to be touched.  BE SAFE.  lol.  

Another note, if you're paranoid, like myself, you can turn your multimeter to the LED thing (triangle and a line), and poke the two sides of the LED and if it lights up, it's still good.  You can also do that with the wires, to make sure you stripped them right, and made good connections.  Just hold the burned and stripped tips to the pokey sticks, one red, one black.  The guy said that if it BEEPS on the multimeter, then you've made a circuit, or a connection.  The multimeter saved my sanity because I tested everything to make sure I was doing it the right way.  Fabian, at Orvac Electronics, you are my Savior.  <3

Recap, you now have 2 strips of 3 LEDs and you have 2 wires attached to each one.  Congrats!!!  This took me forever!  Hahah.  Oh, oh oh!!! And if you want to see them light up, and make sure it's all good...then you can stack the 3 batteries between your fingertips and put the positive end on the positive side of the battery stack and negative to negative on the other wire...and *BAM!*  Excitement!

Step 4: Planning.

Okay, you need to make this according to your face.  Figure out which one will be for which eye and keep in mind that you need the wires at your temples.  Also, make sure your LEDs are pointing in the direction you want them to.  Because they only go one way.

I used the tip of my finger to hold the strip where I wanted it, then I took the set of wires and slid and pulled them to where I wanted them to be.  If I needed to make a cut, I would bend the two wires to hold my place.  The "far side" eye (not close to the batteries), I pulled those wires up over my head so they didn't trail across my face and give you the unclean-robot look.  It makes it perfect to hide in your hair, also.  Just give extra length in case.  The "close side", I extended it a little beyond my ear and gave extra length again, in case.

Now you have your wires bent to clip.  Go ahead and clip them.  At this point, you will know which one is for which eye, determined by length of wire.

Step 5: Making the Move.

I learned that you can connect these strips together and have the positive with the positive, neg to neg and it would be a complete circuit.  That way, you have one switch, one battery case.  SO cool.

Now you need to bring your eye strips into one circuit.  So take your short eye, plan where you want the connections to be made and bend them, so you know where to burn and open the varnish.  Take the long side's wires and twist the stripped tips to the mid-line, open and stripped area that you just made.  You can test this circuit with the batteries again, and see if it makes both strips light up.  If it does...then you can solder your new connections, to make one running circuit!  So freakin' cool!

Step 6: Switch It Up!

Okay, to put the switch in, put it on your positive line.  Just clip where you want it to interrupt in the positive wire.  Isn't that cool, I learned that the switch just goes on one wire and interrupts the current.  I never knew that.  :)  Okay, if you have a 3 prong switch, I was told to use the middle one, and a side one (didn't matter which side).  But don't trust me.  It worked, but it was an educated opinion.  Haha.  Don't base any of your projects on my words.  ;)

Anyways, make sure that your wire ends that you just cut, are burned and stripped of varnish.  Loop them into the holes on your switch and twist them nicely.  TEST IT! :D  If it lights up, go ahead and solder the leads to the switch.  TA-DuH!  I made my first object that has a switch and that's so amazing.

Step 7: Battery Case!

The battery case has two prongs.  Just follow the metal to find out which one is positive and which is negative.  ;)  I learned that.  I bent the prongs very carefully, slightly flat.  Then I wound my stripped wire tips to the correct prong and soldered them on there.  I even blocked the wire from falling off, by accidentally blobbing solder next to my solder.  Haha.

Oh, and while I did this, I took the batteries out, because I thought it would be safer to do that.  I would do less damage, if I were to do any.

Step 8: Incognito.

Now it's time to make a case/holder/hider of your choosing.  I picked a light fabric, pantyhose.  Black to match my hair.  I basically shoved all of the extra wire into the folds of the fabric and hand-sewed it shut.  Wow, that was the easiest part of this entire project.  I figured that if the batteries die, I can just seem-rip my way into the sack and replace them.  I mounted my switch in the sack too, and the only thing that pokes out is the little black switch part.  It works really well!  And everything is so well-hidden.  

I also sewed a few loops onto the top of the sack, near the wire, where I wanted the wire to be supported most...and those loops are used for hair clips, when hiding the batteries in my hair.  So great. :)

Step 9: The Eyeshadow Holders.

Now you need to cut up the acrylic sheeting to size.  Make sure that you have space on each side and that it's tall enough to fold over.  Clip some slightly strong wires and peel the adhesive backing off the LEDs.  Put the wires on the LED strip.  Put the strip on the plastic.

Next, get a clear glue to hold the folded over part of the acrylic, to seal your little eyeshadow pads.

The wires will be a little "attaching" pad and it will allow you to design your eye-lighting.  Just make sure to not bend them too many times.  I have mine bent the way I want the lighting to shine, so I won't be bending them again.  I also made my wire reach a millimeter above the LED strip, so it would be a little more stable.

Step 10: Installation!

Alright, you're DONE!  Now it's time to install.

Separate your hair, so that you have a chunk to overlap your battery pouch.

Clip it in!  Take the long wire over your head and hold it up to your eyes to figure the angle and placement.  Bend the wires.  Put a thin line of eyelash glue across the attaching side and put it on your face!

For less pain, less blood, less hair loss...Don't apply directly to the eyebrow.  I've never used eyelash glue, so I had no idea how potent it was.  I'm now missing a chunk of eyebrow.  But my Electric Eyeshadow was worth it.  :D  If I wear this to a club, I would probably apply it in the same place, on the eyebrow...but with less glue.  I put too much, I ... yeah.  It's behind me now.  I put the chunk of eyebrow into my husband's palm and he asked what it was.  I told him it was my eyebrow.  He kinda freaked out and I told him to guess where it came from.  He pointed out the spot.  Damn it.  lol.  That means it's noticeable.  

This is a true testament to the beauty/pain relationship.  I sacrificed, and I saw the light.  :D <3


Whether you do this for fun, photography, dancing, parties, a costume...you're going to love it.  I love it.  Thanks for looking at my instructable and good luck with your own.  The difficulty comes from not-knowing what you're doing.  And the design.  But I've done the design for you.  So that takes some stress away.

:D  Take pics and attach them, if you do it!

Step 12: Removal.

If you do this carefully, you can pull the glue off in one strip and only lose a few hairs.  :)  I had 50% accuracy.  And I am down quite a bit of my left eyebrow.  Just be careful, gentle...and maybe you'll get (it) off easily.

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    22 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You're a genius! Looks like a great thing to wear to a night club!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    wow! love it! I just bought LEDs from Ebay, then realized I had no idea how to make them light up. I'll try to follow your advice! I wanted to add them to hair pieces and brooches I make. Thanks!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing! I am going to try to build this for tonight!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I want to try and make these for a party, but im sure its going to be dark inside- is it really difficult to see with them on? they look fantastic and i think they are just the sparkle my outfit could use- i'm just worried i'll be running into walls all night.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am trying to figure out an LED project for a costume and this was totally encouraging and awesome. My project isn't the same as yours, but seeing someone else who has never soldered or made a circuit before, create a wearable electronics project definitely gave me a little confidence boost. "Before she made this, she knew as much as I do and she didn't burn anything down or electrocute herself and her project works!" and also, "I'm not the only person who knows nothing about circuitry who decided that making something pretty and glowy was a good reason to learn!" Thanks!


    7 years ago on Step 11

    Have decided I'm going to try this but instead of using plastic strips I'll use plastic butterfly wings with the big wings to the outside. Amazing tutorial though, love it so much!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool,not sure how your eyes are going to like it if you leave it on for a long time though......

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Do they shine at your glasses?
    If so. Can you see in the dark with your glasses on or only blue light reflected?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    as long as there is lighting, i can see. but if it's dark, it's so crazy, the sensation of having lots of light at your face, and nothing else around. verrrry interesting! :D so it's great and non-irritating, no matter what's on or off, as long as it's not pitch-black. :)

    and they don't aim at my glasses, because they are right-angle LEDs, so if there is any reflection, it's minor. (they just point down, and into my brows, pretty much)

    you should have started peeling the eyelash glue off from the middle outward and more of a scratching /rubbing motion i glue lots of stuff on my face for parties ets and thats the technique i use when i find glue in my hair


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very interesting concept. Good instructable.

    For sticking on the eye shadow you might try the glue actors use for mustaches, beards, noses, etc. It's called spirit gum. There are also other types/brands for sensitive skin. You can also get a remover which might make it less painful. 

    Have a look at http://www.mallatts.com/commerce/catalog.jsp?catId=20

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    i have spirit gum, but it's a little touchy, i thought about using that, but the remover is gross. although, less painful! haha. :D i was okay with the pain, just upset that i took part of my face with it. i learned a lesson, less glue, less hair. ! :)

    but you know what....next time i will try it. because i like where the led strips sat on my face. in terms of spirit gum, the last time i used it was for..vagazzling. and i will continue typing so that sentence looks less conspicuous.