Makeup tricks for making eyes appear larger?
July 20, 2007 1:51 PM   Subscribe

What tricks can I do with makeup that will make my eyes appear larger?

I'd like to make my eyes appear larger. Right now I feel as if my lips overpower my face even though I do not wear lipstick or gloss. Are there any tricks I can do to make my eyes appear larger? I'm light-skinned, strawberry blonde hair with blue eyes if that matters. I normally wear a neutral taupe/brown eyeshadow and sometimes a dark brown eyeliner. Should I be lining top and bottom lids? Would a thick liquid liner be better? Should the liner be thicker on bottom than on top? Will a blue eyeshadow bring them out more even though it immediately makes me think of the 80's? What are the secrets?
posted by Ugh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Are you using an eyelash curler and wearing mascara? That will help a lot. The shu uemura eyelash curler is an industry favorite.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:54 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I remember hearing you want a light eyeliner, not dark, to make your eyes look bigger. Here's a pretty good guide to applying white eyeliner, which will at the very least brighten your eyes and draw attention to them.
posted by piratebowling at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have similar coloring as you and here is what I started doing (and I get many compliments on my eyes):

I use stone colored shades in the crease of my eyelids, with lighter colors on the actual eyelid. I will use a bit of eyeliner in the bottom lid- but just to the middle- never al the way to the inside- and then smudge a dark color under my eyes for a soft defining of the area.

I use mascara on both upper & lower lashes- I really like Dior mascara for this.

Also, after using the mascara, I will go over my eyelid just above the lash line with a final sweep of lighter color- this both takes away any mess the mascara left, and brightens my eye area. I have found that using any kind of line on my upper lid makes my eyes look too narrow.
posted by haplesschild at 2:00 PM on July 20, 2007

As for eyeliner, opinions vary on the "best" way to apply it. I personally think less is more- I use a pencil, and I just dot a little bit on my upper lash line, mostly near the outside corner, and sometimes a teeny tiny bit on the bottom, again concentrated near the outside corner. I then smudge with my finger to get a natural look. I think thick liquid liner is too much for daytime, and liner should NEVER be thicker on the bottom then on the top.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:03 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As a former, failed theater major, one of the most useful things I have done ever in my life was taking a stage makeup class.

Eyeliner, baby, that's the trick. I don't like the way light eyeliner looks - to me, it doesn't make eyes look bigger, it just looks like you're wearing light eyeliner. But I do apply black or dark brown eyeliner (I've got darker coloring than you, so brown is probably your best bet), but don't apply it all the way around the eye. Start on the inner edge of your iris (inner, meaning closest to your tear duct) looking straight forward, and start with a thin line, and make it get a little thicker and smudgier as you go out to the outer corner of the eye (also, I am referring here to kohl-type smudgy eyeliner, not crazy Amy Winehouse liquid eyeliner that you have to be of sniper-like deftness to apply, and always looks fakey to me, but then I dig the smoky look).

Smudge outwards, just a tiny bit, blending it in so when you close your eye, you don't see so much a "line" but a soft, smoky hue. This gives you that fabulous, doe-eyed look that is totally embodied by Rachel Leigh Cook.

Do the bottom lids also, if you're going for the smoky sultry look, but just put a teeny bit on the bottom outside of your lid and smudge lightly, so it's a little smoky but not crazy heroin-junkie-circa-'93. I like to line the actual bottom edge of my eyelid lightly (again to only the middle of my eye, that inside edge of my iris looking forward), but I know people are of mixed opinion on this, and experimentation is best.

Curl your eyelashes (tip: aim a blow dryer at your curler for a couple of seconds to heat it up, which makes the curl stay), and use that Maybelline pink and green Great Lash and make sure you comb the fuck out of your lashes after you're done so you're not clumpy and gross. Don't forget to get the tips of the lashes, especially if you're lightly complected, because that's what makes them look long, and not just fat.
posted by mckenney at 2:11 PM on July 20, 2007 [9 favorites]

Not that it's what you have in mind, but I can't resist mentioning it: manga-style blank contacts. Make your eyes look scary-big.
posted by adamrice at 2:38 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Should the liner be thicker on bottom than on top?

Nooo! The best way to do eyeliner on the bottom is to draw a subtle line right on the lash line - not below - and it usually looks best if you blend it a bit or smudge a little bit of shadow over it with an angle brush so you don't have a sharp line. Eyeliner is great when it's understated, but too much eyeliner will make your eyes look smaller. You could even get away with omitting the eyeliner altogether and applying some darker eyeshadow along your lash line with an angle brush on your upper (or upper and lower) lashes the way you would apply eyeliner (so you get a similar effect but with a softer, more natural look). Take a look at some magazine photos - you very rarely see thick eyeliner; it's all blending and shading.

Eyeshadow: The shape of your eyes and bone structure will also affect how best to emphasise your eyes, but generally if you put a slightly darker shadow in the crease and blend it well (so you create subtle shading in the crease) it will make your eyes look bigger. This is a good example: see the shading in the crease? You don't notice it unless you're looking for it, but it really emphasises her eyes.

Despite what the Almay ads say, I tend to find that same-coloured eyeshadows overpower rather than play up eyecolour. (This is not to say that you can't wear blue eyeshadow though - just go for the more toned-down shades.) Also, believe it or not, reddish shadows can make blue eyes pop. Taupes and browns are good on everyone, just make sure you're getting less of a yellow-y brown and more of a rosy brown so that it compliments your skin tone.

Liquid liner: if you use it, only do so on the upper lids - again, you want to avoid a pronounced line along your lower lash line. Kind of like this: the line on top is actually kind of thick (though she's wearing false eyelashes, so you'd want to go for a slightly thinner line that doesn't obscure your eyelashes), but it doesn't look weird because the lining under her eyes is well-blended. Nonetheless, it's a more dramatic look that is better suited to evenings or special occasions. (Also, liquid liner is a pain in the butt to put on properly, so practice with it a few times before you plan on wearing it somewhere.)

One final thing you might not have thought of: your eyebrows really do more for your face than most people realize. If you haven't already, get them waxed/shaped by a good salon. Then, define them with brow powder/pencil and wax/gel (this is something worth going to Sephora or a makeup counter for - you want an exact match to your eyebrow colour). Nicely shaped and defined eyebrows might not make your eyes look bigger per se, but they will make you look more "polished" and draw focus to your eyes.
posted by AV at 2:47 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

mr frosty by Benefit is awesome for making eyes look big n' bright. Also, almay has a line of eye make-up to play up your eyes, based on specific eye colors.
posted by logic vs love at 3:01 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Defnitely pay attention to your eyebrows, as AV said. I also like to use a soft pink pencil as an inner liner, somewhat akin to mr frosty that logic vs. love pointed out. You also might want to look for an auburn or wine colored mascara, and then use black on the outer third of top lashes. There are also many shades of blue eyeshadow; you can experiment with using a touch of blue on the center of your eyelid over the taupe shadow, or using a smoky blue liner. There's a number of galleries on the Aromaleigh site above, and some good info in the makeover section in their forum. ( I don't work there, but it's the only place I buy makeup these days, especially since you can purchase samples of nearly everything. It's great to not have to buy full sizes for color experimentation.)
posted by oneirodynia at 3:32 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

the trick is to use both light and dark liner. Use the light on your inner lids and use the dark to frame outside your eyes. Keep close to the lash line with the dark but go outside the lash not inside. The extra milimeters will make a big difference.
posted by missmagenta at 3:34 PM on July 20, 2007

adamrice: I have a friend who has these, and it always freaks people the fuck out until they realize what's going on.
It's unnatural looking, but not so much so that you can immediately pick out what's going on, and that combination is fuh-reaky.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 3:40 PM on July 20, 2007

Buy a Kevyn Aucoin book. Just do it. You will be glad you did. He has a whole bunch of effects and step by step instructions. He was the best.

As for liner...forget liner. Use powder. Buy an angled eye brush and use a brown eyeshadow dedicated to this purpose. Sometimes mixing a little powder with a little water works well. The secret to natural eye emphasis is to remember that eyeliner's purpose (when not theatrical like Amy Winehouse) is to make the lashes look fuller, not to "outline" the eye area. So, ala Laura Mercier, get the angled brush and powder, and at a 45 degree angle, press the powder into the lashline as close to the roots as possible. Do 3/4 of the upper lid (with emphasis on the outer corner) and 1/4 of the lower (on the outer corner.) Do this after shadow application for a more dramatic look.

Also, there is not much said here about highlighters, but I love them. Brow bone (right under the arch) and upper cheek bone (right below the outer corners of the eye). Use a white or bone colored highlighter or shadow with a slight shimmer. Sparingly. Bare Minerals Nude Beach is good for this, if a little over glimmery.

Mascara is a must. Get the pink and green Maybelline), or Dior if you are indulgent. Also get a comb with metal teeth (be careful!), as the plastic ones are wimpy. And the curler-- yes the Shu Uemera is the nicest one I have found.
posted by oflinkey at 3:47 PM on July 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

I always think eyes look biggest when you only line the top lid and only use mascara on the top lashes (which MUST be curled). I am also a big fan of very pale, slightly shimmery shadows. Brushed on the inner corner, they give an illusion of wider-set eyes. What other people would use as highlighter, that's what I've got from lashline to brows.

A taupe liner is great, with black mascara. Why do they even make brown mascara, I wonder?

Make sure your brows are well-groomed, always.
posted by padraigin at 3:59 PM on July 20, 2007

I nth the eyebrow thing. It makes a big difference.

Clinique makes this awesome cake eyeliner that you apply with a tiny wet brush. It comes in brownish and grayish colors. It's great because it isn't as harsh looking as liquid eyeliner, and you have more control about how much pigment goes on. I put it on my upper lids only.

I sometimes mix up a little bit of dark blue eyeshadow with this eyeliner. A small amount of blue seems to make the whites of my eyes look brighter. I also use a little white cream eyeshadow and sometimes a little blush on my brow bones, curl my eyelashes and wear several coats of black mascara.

Speaking from experience, lining your inside eyelids is a really good way to get an eye infection!
posted by pluckysparrow at 4:02 PM on July 20, 2007

AV's right about the reddish color—you want a contrast, not a match. F'rinstance, my eyes are pale green and purplish eyeshadow makes them glow. Try russety, bricky shades, even ones you don't particularly like; colors always change on your skin.

Agreed with the liner consensus—outer edges only, definitely lighter/thinner on the bottom.

Mascara and eyelash curler are essential! Once the first coat of mascara is dry, try brushing another coat just on the tips. This keeps you from getting those spikey, glued-together clumps. I also use a soft toothbrush (unused! purchased for this purpose!) to fully separate the lashes.

I know the pink-and-green mascara has its fans but it never worked for me—too clumpy and cakey. I really like Stila's mascara, which seems to resist the clump phenom. You'll probably like their color palette—vibrant but not overwhelming.
posted by vetiver at 5:12 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

false eyelashes are the nuclear option
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:35 PM on July 20, 2007

pluckysparrow writes "Clinique makes this awesome cake eyeliner that you apply with a tiny wet brush."

I have this and LOVE it. It's the only thing that doesn't melt off withing two seconds of application. I have greasy eyelids or something. Plus, you can twist the brush so that it's incredibly pointed and apply the thinnest possible line directly to your lash, and it just makes your lashline look thicker instead of looking like you're wearing eyeliner.
posted by peep at 7:09 PM on July 20, 2007

Side note: Warm your eyelash curler with your hair dryer prior to use. It *really* does a nice job curling the lashes!!! I wait a few minutes after doing this prior to applying mascara. I learned about this trick on the back of my Tweezerman eyelash curler box.
posted by 6:1 at 10:43 AM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Why do they even make brown mascara, I wonder?

It's for me and for the pale skinned, blue eyed, blonde haired girls who look share my coloring.

Black mascara it too much for me unless it an evening look with a smokier eye. For day, it's 1 coat of dark brown mascara.

There are tons of great tips here and I'll add two more:

If you can resist the temptation to overspend, a good cosmetic artist at a department store can teach you a lot. If you ask, they'll do one eye and then you can practice the technique on the other. Don't be afraid to wipe clean and restart. Go during a slow time in the store.

Practice. With your friends or sisters or whatever. Practice is the key.
posted by 26.2 at 4:15 PM on July 21, 2007

Wow - That was some convoluted grammar.

Remove the work look from my first sentence. And it should be "Black mascara IS too much for me unless IT'S an evening look with a smokier eye...."

Proofread, then submit.
posted by 26.2 at 8:29 PM on July 21, 2007

I love using cake eyeliner on my top lid - under the lashes, not above. This makes my eyelashes look WAY longer, and opens my eyes. I also think it looks more natural than on top of the lashes - I have SUPER pale skin, but can wear black eyeliner this way - but no other way!

Brown mascara is a good option for me when I don't wear eyeliner - as it is a far more natural look for me with my colouring - my hair is a dark red - but weirdly, my eyes are the same dark reddy brown colour.

I also find wearing gold or metallic eyeliner on the inside of my eyes (above the lashes) makes my eyes look bigger also.
posted by jonathanstrange at 3:28 PM on July 22, 2007

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