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Apply Eye Makeup for Eye Type and Color

Updated on February 7, 2017
Jayne Lancer profile image

A beauty consultant by profession, Jayne has been advising on correct skin and hair care, makeup, and other cosmetics for almost 20 years.

No matter what your eye type and color, you can wear any eye makeup look you desire, whether smoky for the nighttime, or something more discreet for the daytime. Just follow these basic rules.

Kate Moss has wide spaced eyes.
Kate Moss has wide spaced eyes. | Source

Tutorials for smoky eyes will tell you which colors to use and exactly where to place dark and light. The problem is, it will only work if your eyes are perfect—not too small, not too large, nicely placed, lids visible from corner to corner ...

Unfortunately, not many of us have perfect eyes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t wear whichever look we choose. It’s a question of adapting the look to eye shape, size and spacing.

Balancing Eye Shape, Size and Spacing

If you can shade and highlight according to your eye type, you can balance shape, correct proportions and accentuate eye color, regardless of the look you want to create—perhaps smoky eyes for the nighttime, or something more discreet for work and business. Just follow these basic rules.

Eye Shape

Protruding Eyes

If you have protruding eyes, you need to recede convex areas by shading.

Shade your upper and lower lids with dark, matte eye shadow. Stay as close to your lash line as possible on your lower lid. You’ll get best results with a firm, flat tipped eye shadow brush.

Highlight your brow bone to emphasize the effect of the dark shading. If you’ve got a strong brow bone, set the highlight in the arch of your eyebrow.

Catherine Zeta-Jones: hooded eyes
Catherine Zeta-Jones: hooded eyes | Source

Hooded Eyes

‘Hooded eyes’ is when excess skin hangs over the upper lid. It gets worse with age unless you operate.

Use dark eye shadow on your upper lid, fanning it upwardly towards the outer eye corner. Place a highlight at your inner eye corner and another on your brow bone, or in the arch of your eyebrow if you’ve got heavy brow bones. Be careful not to accentuate the problem with this highlight—it must be placed very close to the brow.

Apply eyeliner from the center of your upper lid above the pupil to the outer eye corner, making the line thicker as you progress. Apply mascara more generously from the inner eye corner to the center of your upper lid.

Deep Set Eyes

Instead of using an eye makeup primer, apply concealer two nuances lighter than your natural skin tone. This will make your eyes seem more open and expressive.

Use a light or pastel eye shadow on your upper lid, and a dark color directly above the lid crease.

The longer your eyelashes the better—that means lots of mascara or false lashes.

Tip: For a soft transition between colors, apply dark, then light. In other words, shade before you highlight.

Eye Size

Small Eyes

As with deep set eyes, apply a light or pastel eye shadow to your upper lid, and a dark color above the crease.

If you use dark eyeliner, you can apply it to your top and bottom lids, but make sure it doesn’t join at the outer eye corner. Apply a light or pastel eyeliner to your lower waterline.

Large Eyes

If you feel that your eyes are too large and round, use dark eyeliner on your waterline to close them up a little. Apply dark eyeliner on your upper and lower lids, too, and join it at the outer eye corner.

A dark, matte powder eye shadow on your upper lid completes the effect.

Q: How can you tell if your eyes are widely or closely spaced?

A: If the width of one eye fits exactly between both eyes, your eyes are perfectly spaced.

Eye Distance

Close Set Eyes

Use light or pastel colors from the inner eye corner to the middle of your lid, and darker colors towards the outer eye corner. This will optically pull your eyes apart.

Wide Set Eyes

Kate Moss, photo top, has wide spaced eyes. It actually looks very attractive, but if you want to draw them together, apply darker colors from the inner eye corner to the middle of your lid, and lighter colors towards the outer eye corner.

Colors are fun, so experiment with them as much as you can.
Colors are fun, so experiment with them as much as you can. | Source

Choosing the Right Colors

Colors are fun, so experiment with them as much as you can. The idea is to choose shades that play up your eye color rather than suppressing it, which will make you look tired. If you haven’t got a clue where to begin, here are some color choices that always work.

If your eyes are brown …

... use brown, mahogany and anthracite.

If your eyes are blue …

... use blue. Try brown for a smoky effect—it will make your eyes seem even bluer.

If your eyes are green or hazel …

... use yellow based brown and khaki tones. Try purples or orange based tones to make your eyes look even greener, and if your eyes are dark, black eyeliner turns them to a true bottle green.

If your eyes are gray …

... use black and anthracite.

And no matter what your eye color, you'll never go wrong with nude and earth tones.

© 2010 Jayne Lancer

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