Eye makeup is among the most finicky products nestled in your cosmetic bag. Not only does it take shear precision (liquid eyeliner: Say no more), but it also requires targeted technique—depending on your lid and bone structure, you may have to wield your mascara wand at a slightly different angle or streamline your shadow. In other words, getting to know your eye shape can be key.
Ask any makeup artist: In addition to knowing your undertones, understanding your own eye shape can really help you achieve your end goal, whatever it is. Of course, makeup won’t transform the outline of your eyes (nor should it!), but you can use shadows, liners, and the like to accentuate the eye shape you have. Not to mention, different eye shapes require different moves to achieve various looks.
Here, we tapped two pro makeup artists for their best tips, so you can successfully tailor your eye makeup products. These tips, of course, aren’t set rules—think of them more as touchstones to flatter your specific eye structure and make those orbs pop.
How to determine your eye shape.
Before diving into makeup tips, it helps to know which shape you’re dealing with. It’s not a hard set of categories by any means, but there are some guidelines to walk you through which eye shape you have. Grab your mirror, and peek at the below:
- Round eyes: “They typically have a lot of space,” notes celebrity makeup artist AJ Crimson. A helpful test is if you can see any white surrounding the top or bottom of the iris while looking straight into a mirror.
- Monolid eyes: With monolid eyes, there’s typically no visible crease below your brow bone. That’s why it’s called “monolid”: It looks as if there’s one eyelid that extends all the way up toward the brow.
- Downturned eyes: As the name suggests, downturned eyes tend to point downward at the outer corners. It’s not always so obvious, though, so here’s a helpful tip: Draw a straight, horizontal line across your eyes (either on a mirror or on a close-up photo). If your outer corners tilt below the line, you likely have downturned eyes.
- Upturned eyes: Alternatively, if your outer corners point upward, you likely have upturned eyes. Use the same trick above to determine yours.
- Hooded eyes: If your skin seems to fold down from your brow bone on top of your lash line, you likely have hooded eyes. It can also be a bit difficult to find your natural crease (especially with your eyes closed). Some have more of a hood than others, either due to genetics or as the skin naturally folds from aging.
- Almond eyes: Typically, with almond eyes, the iris touches both the top and bottom waterlines (meaning, you can’t see any white). The corners can be slightly lifted, just like that of an almond.
With that, let’s get into the makeup tips. Again, these are by no means hard-and-fast guidelines (makeup has no rules, so don’t be afraid to turn some heads), but the experts do have their fair share of tricks to enhance the eyes. But again, let us be clear: Any eye “type” can try any makeup look and have fun with it. These suggestions (which should be taken as just that) are here to help you enhance your natural beauty.
To elongate round eyes, Crimson recommends winging your shadow from the outer corners only. “That gives it a little bit more dimension, more depth,” he explains. Alexandra Compton, makeup artist and product development manager at clean beauty retailer Credo, agrees: If you choose to use eyeliner, she recommends lining the upper lash line in the outer corners as well.
Crimson says you can create a sultry smoky eye: “Go above the crease and just create your own backdrop with that.” In other words, when you tap on shadow, create your own crease by sweeping on a darker, matte pigment. Or, you can always extend your shadow all the way up to the brow (makeup has no rules, remember?). “You can do anything you want, and it’ll always look great,” Crimson adds.
“The perfect eye shape for a fierce cat eye,” Compton notes, as it will allow for some lift. Softly draw along the upper lash line until you reach the outer corner, then line up and out to create a cat-eye shape. If liner’s not your jam, though, you can create the same, subtler effect with shadow: Crimson suggests taking your eyeshadow, expanding it past the outer corner, and sharpening the angle with a cotton swab or beauty sponge. “That will bring more of that lift and shape into the eye,” he says.
This eye shape has a natural “winged” look at the corners, so following the natural lash line can help enhance it. Compton also loves a soft, smoky eye on upturned eyes: “Apply a light matte shade from the inner corner and stop above the pupil of your eye,” she says. “Use a medium-matte shade on the remaining half of the eyelid and blend for a soft, smoky effect.”
If you constantly find your liner and mascara transferred onto your brow bone toward the end of the day, smudge-proof makeup is your best friend, here. Crimson also suggests embracing the natural smokiness: “Line inside the rim, and let it smudge and make its way out,” he says.
Compton also suggests carving your own crease: After applying a light matte or shimmer shade across the entire lid, “contour with a medium-matte shade in the crease, and blend up toward the brow bone.”
To make them pop, Compton suggests tightlining the upper lash line with shadow or liner. “This will open up your eyes and make them appear larger and brighter,” she says. “[Then] add a pop of shimmer to the center of the lid.”
Universal tips for every eye shape.
No matter your eye shape, there are quite a few makeup tips to flatter any lid outline. The dogmas of eye makeup, if you will. Here’s what Compton suggests:
- “Remember that light eyeshadow shades will brighten and bring forth an area, while dark shades will define and recede an area,” she notes. Important to keep in mind if you’re trying to create definition (like round eyes), versus expanding the space (like hooded eyes).
- To open up the eyes, tightline your waterline with a nude eyeliner. According to Compton, it’ll make any eye shape appear larger and brighter.
- “Curl your lashes before applying mascara for mega doe eyes,” she notes. Especially for downturned eyes, as those lashes tend to droop without a proper curl.
Let’s be clear: You can play around with eye makeup as you please (and create a stunning beat, no matter your eye shape). However, makeup artists have amassed some tricks over the years to make anyone look their best and brightest. There isn’t one eye shape that’s better than the others, either—it’s just about understanding yours and mastering the techniques for a dreamy blend.
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