How to define your eyes with makeup

Nikki ParkinsonBeauty 24 Comments

Day to day, I don’t wear much eye makeup.

A base eyeshadow and a little mascara maybe but generally that’s about it.

What I’ve discovered over the years, though, is that this is far from enough eye makeup for me when it comes to photoshoots or events – particularly night time events where you might end up being photographed.

For the big events and photoshoots, I don’t hesitate to call in the pros:

An afternoon in Paris with Carla Coulson

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how to define an eye with makeup - products

Makeup artists (the above eye makeup is by Meghan at The Blowdry Room) know all the tricks. They know that if they get the eyes right then the rest of the face will come together.

A well-applied eye makeup will enhance the eyes and make them stand out. In my case, when I smile my eyes all but sink and disappear behind my golf-ball-shaped cheeks so I need to counteract that for photography.

I’ve learned more than a few tricks over the years on how to define your eyes with makeup, so I thought I’d share them here as well some of the key products – or types of products that you need in your kit to create and master the defined eye.

It will feel very strange at first if you’re not used to applying SO MUCH eye makeup.

That’s ok.

Playing – and seeing how a defined eye looks when photographed – will give you confidence to keep experimenting.

What looks too much in the mirror is actually subdued in a photograph.

The below steps – and makeup used – falls way out of my regular one or two-minute, fuss-free, everyday makeup zone.

Allow about 10-20 minutes to comfortably and methodically work through the steps. The more you do it, the more you’ll bring that time down.

how to define an eye with makeup - products

Step 1

I like to use an eye makeup primer to help keep everything in place for the duration of the event. Smashbox Photo Finish 24hr Eye Shadow Primer (not pictured) is a great one.

Step 2

Create a canvas with a light vanilla or taupe shade across the whole eyelid area and up to the brow (use a palette like this Urban Decay Naked2 eyeshadow palette – pictured #1 – there will be a light neutral that suits you).

Step 3

Take a medium neutral eye colour shade and apply across whole eyelid. I like a mix of taupes, coppers and browns. You might prefer greys.

Step 4

Take a dark eye colour shade in the colour range you’ve chosen and apply in a side-ways “V” shape with the point of the V at the outer corner of your eye and the upper side of the V in the eyelid socket.

Step 4

Apply a thick eyeliner like the L’Oreal Paris SuperLiner Smokissime (pictured #2) or the Maybelline Master Smoky Shadow-Pencil (not pictured) at the lash line and blend upwards into eye colour with the applicator. This colour should blend into the eye colour but add definition.

Step 5

Use a gel eyeliner with small angled brush or liquid eyeliner with pen applicator (pictured #3 is the MUD eyeliner at Woolworths that I reviewed on A Current Affair last week – click here if you missed it) and define the eye at the lash line. At top, hold your brush or pen downwards towards the lash line and make small, feather strokes, working from the outside in, connecting the feather strokes as you go. This is far easier than trying to draw or paint a straight line.

Optional: repeat on the lower lid as well.

Step 6

Curl the lashes with a curling wand (pictured #4 is the Ere Perez Spectacular Eyelash Curler). Once you get the hang of this and lose the fear that you’re going to clamp your eyelids, this works a treat as lifted lashes really do open up the eyes.

Step 7

Apply mascara. Use a downwards and flicking out motion on top of lashes to cover any eye colour product fall-out from eye colour.  Then work the mascara upwards under the lashes to open. (Pictured #5 Maybelline Volum’ Express Pumped Up! Colossal Mascara in Glam Black)

Optional: apply mascara to your lower lash line

Step 8

Apply false eyelashes. Again this is a tricky step but, with practice, you’ll never leave home for an event without them (pictured #6 ModelRock Lashes). Just a few individual lashes on the outer lids can make all the difference to opening and defining the eyes. Apply more mascara if the glue from lashes is showing. To remove is as easy as using micellar water or an eye makeup remover on a cotton pad, swiping in a downwards motion. The lashes will just detach and fall away.

Step 9

Use a eye brightening pencil in a pink colour (pictured #7 Benefit Eye Bright Pencil) on the lower waterline of your eye. This camouflages any redness and makes the whites of your eyes pop.

Step 10

Do not forget the brows! Ideally, as a starting point, you have them shaped and tinted on a regular basis. Use a pencil or gel (pictured #8 Napoleon Perdis Browtox) to draw or paint in colour to improve thickness of the brow. Then use a mascara-like brush to brush brows up and out. Add a highlighter (pictured #9 Benefit High Brow Pencil) underneath the brow at high point to pop the eyes even further.

That’s it folks … the eyes really do have it.

Are you ready to play? Got any eye-defining tricks to share? Products you can’t live without?

Comments 24

  1. It’s up to you. I put these thick smudgy liners across whole lash line as like a defined extra bit to my eye colour then the liquid is a thin line on top at the very lash line. It may not be your thing but it helps to define my eyes.

  2. I recently got a lash lift done after having a break from eyelash extensions and had been really missing them. the lash lift extends and curls your lashes – for those with shorter lashes itsa god send. Tint them and I can easily not wear mascara during the week and then I only add masara if going out for dinner

  3. hi nikki! … not on post! as i’m like that! … this is first time i’ve opened my emails on holidays in your lovely state! …

    biggest congratulations to a worthy woman! … leading the way as only you know how! … with integrity and great aplomb! … good on you nikki! you deserve this accolade! … much love m:)X

  4. I can’t leave out applying concealer on the inner corners of my eyes to cover up dark patches caused by thinner skin as I’m gotten older. My fave brand is benefit boing! industrial strength concealer. I don’t use it under my eyes as it looks too obvious and gets into tiny creases.

  5. I can’t leave out applying concealer on the inner corners of my eyes to cover up dark patches caused by thinner skin as I’m gotten older. My fave brand is benefit boing! industrial strength concealer. I don’t use it under my eyes as it looks too obvious and gets into tiny creases.

  6. I love all of these ideas and those in the comments, but really wanted to add how much I LOVE your hair with this curl and volume!! X

  7. I define my brows and line my upper eyelid every workday, so I get plenty of practice and it really is a case of practice makes perfect as I find it very easy and quick.
    I would say my biggest tip is to make sure you use an iluminator under your eyes (a little upside down triangle), after you finish doing your eyes to make sure the eye makeup is not highlighting dark circles.

  8. Nikki I am like you on a daily basis I don’t wear much eye makeup but for night time I do!I have small eyes and they need all the help they can get I never go without mascara or brow powder,my favourites are Smashbox Brow Tech in taupe and Gimme brows by Benefit.
    That’s a beautiful photo of you Nikki and thank you for the tips especially the pink eyeliner Xx
    PS I saw you on ACA and you were fab,I can’t get the Cc cream at my Woolies as yet but I’ll keep looking!

  9. Love doing eye makeup, although I rarely have time or reason. It really does make a difference if it is well applied!

  10. I don’t really wear eye make up as I have a problem with dry eyes and struggle to get make up off without aggravating them. Can you suggest a good non allergenic eye make up remover? I don’t have the money to try lots of different brands and it’s hard to get unbiased advice. I miss not wearing a little mascara anymore! Great tips in your article Nikki.

    1. Shelly try a tubular mascara that comes off with warm water – I love Clinique high impact curling mascara. No smudges during the day either!

    2. Shelley I also agree with Carolyn’s suggestion – tubular mascara has been a huge game changer for me. No more red eyes and it is so easy to remove. I use Kevyn Aucoin “The Voiume Mascara”. It has also meant my eyelashes are so much thicker and longer as I don’t lose eyelashes trying to remove my mascara.

    3. Thanks all for your suggestions. Very helpful ideas and I feel inspired to give some eye make up a go again. how nice is it to have a community to help you!!

  11. A makeup lady once told me she always blends a tiny dab of highlighter at the outer and inner corners of the eye right at the end of makeup application. I find this really brightens up my eyes – especially as the inner corner can get quite dark. Also for great definition and thicker looking lashes I put soft pencil eyeliner on the top waterline. You’ve got to practise a bit to avoid poking yourself in the eye, but looks great for special occasion. I also really like Silk Oil of Morocco mascara – it’s like false eyelashes in a mascara tube! Xx

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