The Eyes Have it This Holiday Season
By Melissa Gulden
By Melissa Gulden
We blinked and the holidays are once again upon us. It’s time for that annual panic, “How should I do my makeup for the company party?!” Raise your hand if you’ve been here before: You stand in front of the mirror, liner in hand, ready to make your eyes look as dazzling as possible. You use a light touch and a steady hand; however, when you stand back to survey the effect, it’s not at all what you envisioned. Your eyes actually look smaller—not at all dazzling. Good news. If you shift those very same lines a few millimeters, you’ll create the illusion of big, open eyes without a trace of any obvious makeup. It’s just a matter of nestling the eyeliner pencil between the roots of your lashes as well as carefully tracing it along your upper waterline (the rim where your eyelid meets your eye). Makeup artists call this tightliner, or invisible eyeliner. With a bit of practice and the right pencil (mechanical, not wood), it’s almost impossible to screw up.
1. Prep your liner and lids. To minimize germs, quickly dip the tip of your blackest waterproof liner in rubbing alcohol. Dust the base of your lashes with translucent powder.
2. Line your top waterline. Raise your chin and place your nondominant index finger above the corner of your eye, lifting upward. Then, holding the pencil vertically in your other hand, trace back and forth under your lashes. Go over it a few times, but stop before you reach the inner corners to prevent eyes from looking beady.
3. Now darken the roots of your top lashes. Gently pull your top lid taut by pressing one finger on the outer corner. Bury the tip of the pencil deep into your lashes at the outer corner of your eye, wiggling it back and forth as you move inward. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to really mash the tip into your lashes.
4. Accentuate your bottom lashes. Holding the pencil just below your inner rim—but not at the waterline—lightly dash the pencil right at the base of your lashes.
5. Clean it up. Run a cotton swab dipped in makeup remover along your top and bottom lids to erase any mess.
6. Curl your lashes. It will solidify the wide-eyed effect you’re going for. Then swipe on some black volumizing mascara, top and bottom.
Tricks of the Trade
• Lining your waterline might not bother you at all, or it might tickle a bit. But it should never hurt or burn. If it does, try a hypoallergenic formula. If all the fussing with your eyes leaves them a little pink, try anti-redness eye drops 15 minutes before applying.
• Black is classic, but consider other shades. A slate gray creates a softer effect and draws attention to green or blue eyes, while navy makes brown eyes stand out.
• Always apply shadow after you’ve finished lining. Otherwise, when you clean up your work, you’ll end up taking off some of the shadow with it.
• If you opt for a traditional wood pencil, warm it up with your fingers so it glides on more smoothly.
The Tool Kit
A waterproof formula is mandatory. Once you’ve checked that box, choosing the right version depends on your priority. For the easiest application, choose a soft-tipped, self-sharpening pencil. For pencil-shy beginners, chubby crayon liners are perfect training wheels if sticking a pointy object in your eye seems daunting. The fat tip makes it easier to cover your waterline and get into your lashes. For intense color at the roots, go for a creamy gel liner in a pot. This creates the richest, inkiest color—the best option if you want dense-looking lashes. Apply with a small, angled or squared-off brush, but stick to a pencil for the waterline—cream liner adheres best to dry skin. And for the longest-lasting results, go with a wet-to-dry powder in a cake formula, which produce strong color that won’t budge once it dries. Be prepared to use a tiny pointy brush and a lot of patience: Color needs to be painted carefully along the base of your lashes, not just smooshed there.
Other behind-the-scenes helps include: Pointy cotton swabs, a flat, natural bristle brush, eyelash curler, oil-free makeup remover and plenty of mascara. You can layer on sooty shadow if you want a smoky eye, but that will just undermine the subtle precision of all your hard work. Instead, try a silky shadow in a fleshy, neutral tone to even out the color of your eyelid and give your liner more staying power.
Time to face that holiday party with panache and aplomb. So get that no-fail LBD out of the closet, put on your go-to heels, a pair of sparkly earrings and a swipe of bright red lipstick, and off you go! One more party checked off the list until next year…•