Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like I’ve been up all night?

smeared eyeliner

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You’re getting ready for a night out, maybe playing a few tunes, doin’ your eye makeup all smoky and stuff. (And really—isn’t this, more often than not, the BEST part of the night?) Anyway, you’re zipping about with your eyeshadow and eyeliner like some kind of makeup maestro. You look great (if you don’t say so yourself). But THEN… a few hours later… you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and it’s all gone south.

Literally.

I’m talking about the Case of the Migrating Eyeshadow. And Eyeliner too. It’s a problem. Reader Ashley writes: “It looks so great on the models, but whenever i do shadow or liner under the eye people ask me if I had a rough night! … not exactly the right reaction. how do you do it without looking super tired?”

I hear you Ashley. It DOES look great on the models. I’ve been talking up looks like this (from Roberto Cavalli’s S/S ’11 show):

Roberto Cavalli SS 2011 2 Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like Ive been up all night?

and this (from Oscar de la Renta’s S/S ’11 show):

Oscar de la Renta SS 2011 1 Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like Ive been up all night?

and even this (Miss Hilary Duff at her book signing earlier this week):

Hilary Duff book tour Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like Ive been up all night?

So what’s an under-eye makeup enthusiast to do?

First of all, preparation is half the battle. If you’re putting any significant amount of eye makeup on you really should be using a primer. Look for one made specifically for the eye area and apply it not just on the top lid but underneath the lower lashes. It will help the colours adhere and prevent them from smearing.

I’ve mentioned before (as recently as yesterday, I think) that I like this one, which you can buy at Murale—it doubles as a concealer, too!

pandoras makeup box eyelid primer Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like Ive been up all night?

Urban Decay also just sent me some of their wonderful Eyeshadow Primer Potion, which comes in both invisible and several other nude/shimmery finishes (the shades below are launching for Christmas!). So you could use it the same way:

Urban Decay Little Sins Eyeshadow Primer Potion Set Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like Ive been up all night?

As for your colour products, although the primer will help, for extra insurance you want them to be waterproof, smudge-proof, budge-proof… SOME kind of -proof. (Another synonym is “long-lasting.”)

Two eyeshadow brands to try: YSL Ombre Solo Lasting Radiance Smoothing Eye Shadows and Revlon Colorstay Eyeshadows

Lighter colours are obviously less risky than deep, smoky shades, and remember to concentrate the colour in the middle part, right underneath the iris. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about—this was what makeup artist David Goveia did on me at the Clairol event we hosted in August. (Not sure why my skin looks so weird and mottled here… I will blame the lighting.)

David Goveia eye makeup Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like Ive been up all night?

For eyeliner, even though I talked about Hilary Duff applying it the regular way—instead of tightlining—for one of her book launch appearances, I think that if migrating liner is a problem for you, you really MUST get acquainted with lining the waterlines.

Yes, it will still smear a bit after a few hours, and this cannot be helped because our eyes just naturally produce tears that will wash the colour away. BUT it is still sitting closer to your eyes than eyeliner applied the regular way… so it’s therefore it’s not going to drag your face down quite as much when it smudges.

There is an entire post I wrote dedicated to the best long-lasting liners for achieving the tightlining effect. The brands that came out on top include Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes, Bobbi Brown’s gel liner and various offerings from M.A.C.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like Ive been up all night?

When you do this kind of eye makeup, it’s probably a good idea to carry a little mirror with you and maybe some Kleenex or makeup wipes so you can check yourself out every hour on the hour (!) and make sure nothing is astray. Sorry—this look is not a low-maintenance one.

Final tip: Make sure you’ve applied concealer at the inner and outer corners of your eyes, as usually there are dark areas there and bringing light to them is even MORE important when you’ve shaded underneath the eye area. You could also use a bit of white highlighter at the inner “V” for some extra sparkle. My fave product for this is Cargo’s EyeLighter:

cargoeyelighter Reader question: How do I apply eyeshadow and eyeliner under my eyes without looking like Ive been up all night?

So now tell me…

Do you ever apply eyeshadow or eyeliner under your eyes?
Or are you strictly an upper eyelid kind of girl?
Got any other tips on this topic? Because I am convinced that the lower lid is where all the action is now. Really.

8 Comments

Ashley
Thursday, October 14/2010 at 9:00 pm

Wow a whole post worth of help! Thanks! this seems like it will help.
I have been trying it since your reply back. Bright colors underneath seem to work better so far; the best was actually doing a bright, makeup forever aqua eyes green like in the oscar de la renta picture or just like a streak underneath. very cool. I’ll try the dark liners again with the extra tips. I’m starting to think dark liners underneath the eye just may not work for my eye shape. Is that possible?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, October 15/2010 at 5:04 pm

Hi Ashley! Are you talking about liner underneath the eye applied the regular way, or when it is on the waterline (tightlining)?

I look weird with regular eyeliner under the eyes too… it’s sort of 80s looking and not in a good way. Tightlining, however, I think works on everyone, although if you have small eyes, it can make them look smaller. Maybe that’s what is bothering you?

Another option if you want to try darker colours: Do the tightlining, and then kind of hold the pencil on an angle so you get some smudginess underneath too. You can go over it with a dark shadow and really blend it well with a brush to diffuse the colour. The problem might just be that the dark eyeliner line is too obvious… maybe a smokier look would work better for you. Just a thought!

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Gimped
Friday, October 15/2010 at 3:39 pm

Primer is DEF your friend. And the Primer Potion from Urban Decay is pretty awesome. I use it all the time, but only on my upper lid — it totally prevents that annoying crease mark and makes my shadow stay put all day. I only JUST started putting it on my lower lid … like earlier this week. I’m hoping to give the primer-and-lower-lid-sexiness a spin this weekend. Will report later!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, October 15/2010 at 5:07 pm

Yes, let us know how it works! Love Urban Decay…

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Gimped
Monday, October 25/2010 at 10:11 am

So I gave this a whirl and the results were …. okay. It actually made my MAC Fluidline liner run a bit, which was very strange. However, it’s very easy to go overboard with the primer so maybe I put too much on and didn’t let it set long enough. Hmm …

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, October 26/2010 at 6:17 pm

Strange! Yeah, the only thing I can think of is that it might not have been completely dry. Although perhaps it’s because they’re designed for shadows not liners…

Maybe you could try priming with a concealer and then powder, and then your eye products (shadow or liner or both) on top. I use Nvey Eco concealer a lot and it doubles as an eye primer:

http://www.sephora.com/browse/product.jhtml?id=P203300&shouldPaginate=true&categoryId=5890

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Cassandra Rae Ferguson
Sunday, October 17/2010 at 8:05 am

Great tips – if you have this problem, I recommend using a powder eyeshadow as eyeliner, rather than a creme formulation such as pencil. Anything creme contains more oil and so has more chance of moving! Powder is more likely to stay put for longer. You can apply with a wet brush for more pigment power!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, October 19/2010 at 4:19 pm

Thanks Cassandra – you’re right, great tip! Powder has much more staying powder than eyeliner. Would you ever apply it with a wet brush along the waterlines? Or is that just asking for an eye infection? (I’ve always just assumed you need to tightline with actual eyeliner… and then I use powder underneath if I want some “colour”)

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