For many beauty addicts, eye makeup is one of the easiest things to get stressed about. Why? Colour and texture trends can change on the fly, which can cause confusion about which eye makeup look we should wear (not to mention the fact that eye makeup application can be tough to master if you’re not a pro). For the most part, however, many of us just want the same thing: wider, softer eyes that appear both more striking and not-too-striking at the same time, so that you can amp up your allure without fully transitioning into runway-level sultriness. If you’ve been looking for ways to make your eyes look bigger, look no more and step away from the colour contact lenses — for the most part, it only takes one or two standard makeup tools to open up any eye, and, thankfully, it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to master the essentials. Read on for our top makeup tricks.
The first thing you need to do to draw out your eyes is to better define them and its immediate neighbours; anything that accentuates your eyes is going to make them look bigger, so start with defining your brows to create the most flattering frame for your eye shape. Tweeze out outlying eyebrow hairs as you see fit — remember, start from the centre body of the brow first to prevent over-tweezing — and then fill in the rest of your brows with light, quick strokes using a quality brow product. Any matte eyeshadow can work well as a brow powder, but us makeup enthusiasts tend to be partial to Benefit’s Precisely My Brow Pencil ($32). Create an arch in your brow that starts just past the outer edge of your iris to make your eyes seem bigger; anyone who wants to reverse this effect can get straight brows with soft edges for a much more demure eye look as well.
Once you’ve got defined brows, make sure you hit the other key spots that immediately frame your eyes. Different makeup artists tend to have differing opinions on this front, but two areas you can’t afford to miss are the crease and inner contour of your eye. A dark matte shadow swept in from the outer corners to the centers of the eyes with a fluffy brush creates depth and allows your eye itself to stand out. A light dusting of any ashy brown colour applied with a thin blender brush from the very top of your nose — you know, the spot just under the start of your eyebrows — to the start of your brow bone also emphasizes the architecture of your eye contour, allowing your eyes to look wider apart by defining your brow bone better. For this job, don’t worry too much about finding the right size or fluffiness in makeup brushes: a simple Contour Brush ($3) from E.L.F. Cosmetics will easily do the trick.
Once the basic shape of your eyes is enhanced, the next tool to start playing with is liner, and the key to any illusion of bigger eyes is simple: lighten the waterline. Lots of professionals use liner to open up eyes by layering on black kohl from the centre to the outer corner of the eyes, and making the line thicker towards the outer edges to present sultry, almond-shaped eyes. This second trick also works, technically, but it only on certain eye shapes, which is why a much smarter trick is to just go light on the bottom lash line. If you’re a true ’90s girl, you can fill in your waterline with a white eyeliner pencil to instantly open up that area and get that doe-eye with just one swipe. But if you’re looking for something softer, skip the pure white and use a concealer pencil in your shade instead, like Make Up For Ever’s Concealer Pencil ($23), for an eye look that is more natural and versatile all-around.
One trick that many folks know but tend to execute poorly is applying a lighter colour to the inner corners of your eye. This usually opens up your eyes by making them look more lifted and alert, but lighter matte eyeshadows and shimmer need to be applied well for this effect to be achieved. And, if you remember nothing else, remember this: never apply light or shimmery shadows over discoloured or visibly tired skin. If the inner corners of your eyes tend to sag or reveal blue undertones, the first thing to do is either plump up the area with some eye cream, or even it out with some primer or concealer to give yourself a clean (and even) base to apply your inner highlight colour. When picking your inner corner colour, by the way, don’t forget the basics: those with pink undertones should look for warm, rosy and cream shades, while yellow and olive undertones are best served by coppery and golden shades. Don’t be afraid to use a highlighter as an inner-eye highlight either; Maybelline’s Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter in Molten Gold ($13) is the one I’m excited about right now, and the one most likely to take your look to royal heights no matter your unique skin tone.
Finally, the hardest tip to give (but the most rewarding one to master) is to play with colour and figure out your own colour story. What looks best on you depends on your personality and approach to makeup, yes, but overall, the question of which colours work best at opening your eyes is underpinned by colour theory that must be experimented with to be understood. Dark brown mattes with overlaid copper tones can give fair-skinned girls panda eyes, but they give deeper-skinned girls the perfect eye-opening nude; light and bright pastels like pinks and lavenders look striking on both deep and fair skin alike, but they’re easier to blend out on fair skin and tend to make eyes look smaller on deep skin unless they’re balanced out by a vibrant crease shade. It’s up to you to find the colours that make you feel powerful, attractive and comfortable all at the same time, and to break the rules as you see fit: start with a solid eyeshadow palette with a lot of classic options, like Too Faced’s Just Peachy Velvet Matte Eye Shadow Palette from the Peaches and Cream Collection ($55), and work your way up from there.