Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?

Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen - WWD Anniversary Gala 2010

Say what you will about the Olsen twins—they may have a penchant for ridiculous shoes and jewellery, wear clothes that are easily five sizes too big and sometimes look a tad creepy when they pose together on the red carpet—but you have to admit they kind of nail it in the beauty department.

How old are they, 25? (Actually yes—and do you know what’s crazy? I randomly decided to do this post and it’s actually their birthday today. Happy birthday, Olsens!) Anyway, 25 is quite a young age to have already nailed your signature beauty look, which for them has long been wavy, textured hair, glowy but non-tanned skin, peachy blush and smoky, smoky eyes.

And that brings me to today’s reader question, which is all about how to steal said look. Haley writes: I’m a huge Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fan and would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on their hair and makeup. Maybe you could tell me how they pull off that great smoky eye and get their hair to look so effortlessly perfect all the time. Love reading your blog! Thank you!

Let’s check out some pics and break this down, shall we? Because while I can’t endorse spending thousands of dollars on “homeless chic” fashions, I CAN support Olsen-style hair and makeup.


Mary Kate Olsen 2008 book signing Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?

I don’t know which twin this is (I think Mary-Kate? CORRECTION: Ashley), but whoever it is, she is demonstrating absolutely perfect beach hair. Or bedhead hair. Either way, despite the effortless appearance, it does take some effort to achieve this, depending on your natural hair texture. Here are four ways:

1. EASIEST: Apply a salt spray (any beach hair texturizing spray should do the trick) to damp hair and scrunch.

Marc Anthony (the hairdresser, not Mr. J. Lo) just came out with this, which is lovely and smells like coconut:

Marc Anthony Beach Spray Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?This works best if you have any sort of natural wave in your hair—it should encourage the curl. Otherwise…

2. SLIGHTLY MORE INVOLVED: Apply a texturizing product to damp hair and then wear it in braids overnight.

This technique works well for those of us with straight hair. The more braids you do, the tighter the waves will be, so don’t be afraid to go to bed looking like Medusa.

3. EASY, BUT REQUIRES INVESTMENT IN A TOOL: What you need is a ceramic hair waver.

I believe I have one of these multi-barrelled irons kicking around my beauty “archives,” but shamefully, I haven’t tried it out yet. This one is from Chi (makers of my favourite flat iron), and I hear they are awesome—just like a crimper, except you get insta-Olsen waves.

Chi Ceramic Waver Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?


4. MOST DIFFICULT: Dewit with a small-barreled flat iron.

I’ve had hairdressers do this on me, so I know it’s certainly POSSIBLE… I’m just not so proficient at it myself, because you need to do it in small sections all over you head and who has the time? Or patience? If you do, keep in mind that the smaller the barrel, the tighter the wave, and you should also leave the ends out for the most modern look.

And no matter which method you use, don’t forget that you can never use enough texturizing prodz! In addition to the beach sprays, check out this post on Good Frizz for more texture-lending product suggestions.


Let’s take a closer look at Miss Mary-Kate again (I think? I just can’t find any good close-ups of Ashley!):

Mary Kate Olsen Holly Roller premiere 2010 Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?

There are a few key things to note about this look:

1. IT’S VERY MUCH ABOUT THE BROWS. I’m a longtime encourager of thicker, fuller, eyebrows, so if you haven’t hopped on board that train yet, Greg Wencel is happy to help you in this post. Across the board, a full, natural-but-ever-so-slightly-groomed brow is going to make you look younger. And cooler. Très important when you’re channeling an Olsen.

2. AN OLSEN ALWAYS EMPHASIZES HER EYES. Usually with a warm, taupey, brownish, bronzey, non-shimmery shadow that’s swept all the way around the eye—both on the upper eyelid, up to the crease, and underneath the lower lashes. Smudge, smudge, smudge so that there are no harsh lines. And then, equally important, is loads of black mascara along the upper and lower lashes.

That, and some lip gloss and peach blush, are pretty much all you need to do to go Olsen for daytime… but if you want to dial it up for evening, let’s talk about dialling it up:


Mary Kate Olsen makeup Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?

I just love this look—the eyes are heavy and sooty and not-too-perfect, which means they’re totally achievable by mere non-makeup artist mortals like us!

What you want to do after you apply your shadow is line all the way around the eyes with a black waterproof pencil (I’m loving the new ones from YSL). Make sure to do it both along the lash lines as well as in the inner lids (waterlines), which is the secret to making this REALLY pop. Don’t be afraid to be heavy-handed—we’re going to smudge it all out in a second. For extra drama, you can go over the line (not the waterlines mind you) with a black liquid liner…. although note that the Olsens nevah do the ’60s outer-eye flicky thing.

If you can make one investment to get this look, I’d suggest this smudger brush from Urban Decay, which is going to help blend it all out and give it that cool, not-trying-too-hard look.

Urban Decay Smudger Brush Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?

And of course, you’ll need a super-black, super-volumizing mascara, such as Maybelline New York The Falsies. Remember, the slightly “chunky” lash look is very IN right now.

Note also how just changing up the eyeshadow colour creates a different twist on the basic look. This purple-ish, wine-coloured shadow is reminiscent of the Valentino show back in January, except with a ton more black liner.

Ashley Olsen and Mary Kate Olsen Metropolitan Opera 2011 Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?

And here, the girls are looking a little more polished—it’s the same colours in the shadow and the liner, just with a finer application and no smudging:

Mary Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen JC Penny 2010 Reader question: I wanna look like an Olsen twin. No really—how do I copy their tousled hair and signature smoky eyes?

For the lips, the sisters don’t seem to ever do fuchsias or oranges… it’s more about soft pink glosses or (in lipsticks) browny-pinks and rarely, reds.

Tell me:

Are you an Olsen twin fan?
How do you feel about their hair and makeup?
How badly do you want to get your hands on that ceramic waver tool!?! If you’ve tried it, we want to hear the deets in the comments.


Monday, June 13/2011 at 6:43 pm

Honestly some of those pictures they look very sickly/pale/greasy? And WTF are they pursing their lips that way? Not really a look I aspire to especially with hair and makeup mavens such as mila kunis and minka Kelly to guide us!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, June 15/2011 at 11:23 pm

I can’t fault them for the paleness/greasiness (as a fellow pale person, I know that the first condition tends to cause the second in photos… even if you look fine in real life). But yeah… I hate that pursed lips thing too!


Monday, June 13/2011 at 7:03 pm

Great post, the Olsens are fab albeit a little kooky! The first pic is def Ashley, not Mary-Kate!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, June 15/2011 at 11:24 pm

Thanks! Obviously I can’t tell them apart!


Monday, June 13/2011 at 8:10 pm

@Alyssa, I totally agree about the pouting. WTF? Not hot.

I used to think the twins were super cute in Full House, then I thought they were annoying, and now I still kinda find them annoying but I’m loving M-K’s style. Love the boho look, though I sometimes find her choices a bit questionable (she sometimes comes off a bit bag-lady-esque). Unfortunately, I cut my long wavy hair last year (what was I thinking?!) and have been trimming it ever since (so afraid of the icky grow-in) so this look is way unachievable for me right now. Booooo…


Monday, June 13/2011 at 8:14 pm

Maybe it’s just me who doesn’t know how to use the damn thing, but I used to have one of those multi-barreled irons, and I could never achieve the wavy look correctly.. mostly because every time I’d try matching the end of one set of waves with another on the length of my hair, the line between them was too obvious. With a crimper, you can barely notice if two waves overlap a little, but it looks freakin’ retarded with big beachy waves.. anyone else feeling me on this? Or do I just plain suck? (which is a very real possibility. lol)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, June 15/2011 at 11:33 pm

Oh really? Darn—I had high hopes for the waver being as easy as the crimper. :-( Which brand are you using? The only thing I can think of is that the smaller-barreled ones would be easiest because then any overlap would not as noticeable as with bigger waves…

I’m going to look for mine this weekend and will report back!


Monday, June 13/2011 at 11:35 pm

The Olsen twins are fashion and beauty icons. I personally love their bag-lady chic vibe. And their line The Row is product of astute design and a lot of hard work. They have really made a name for themselves. They are really committed to keeping their image consistent, despite being different from many other mainstream icons. Now that’s something I can respect!

My hair is absolutely crazy and wiry and does not respond well to almost every heat-styling tool in the book! But this may be one I’ll have to try! Thanks!


Nomadic D
Tuesday, June 14/2011 at 2:14 am

I admit it, I’m a huge olsen twins fan. I used to think they were just another pair of ridiculous too-young rich celebs, but they really do have amazing style and guts and their clothing lines are gorgeous. So now I’ll even say it out loud, I think the Olsens are really cool. In fact, I follow a website that posts daily posts of their style. Yeah, I know. Slightly embarrassing but true.

Question: what kind of a texturizing product would you apply to thick straight hair to do the overnight braids thing? I’m a makeup addict but when it comes to my hair I’m pretty inept, so I’m guessing this is obvious to everyone else, but I had to ask. I’d love to get some beachy waves on my head without actually have to curl my hair.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, June 16/2011 at 12:00 am

Bumble + Bumble Surf Spray would work well – do they have that in Spain? I hear they’ve just come out with a cream version as well… that might work even better:
Probably any texturizing cream would do – just to give it a bit of bulk and hold.


Nomadic D
Monday, June 20/2011 at 7:03 am

nope, no bumble and bumble here, but I’m headed stateside in a month and I’ve been wanting to try that stuff for so long, maybe this is the perfect excuse to pick up a bottle when I’m there. Thanks for the recommendation!


Tuesday, June 14/2011 at 5:22 am

Yikes. I just don’t get the Olsen’s, they scare me. While I like the hair, I prefer a more platinum highlighted colour with this style, for example Ivy of 90210. I just think the more high-glam colour looks strange with the beachy, casual style. But yeah, their eye makeup scares me, it just looks to me like they fell out of bed and dragged themselves through a bush before getting to the red carpet. Not liking. PLUS like Alyssa and Vero, I TOTALLY agree with the pouty, sickly thing. They just look constantly ill and malnourished, it’s sad because just a few years ago they were so fresh faced and pretty, and now they just remind me of Courtney Love rather than Dakota Fanning.

Huge fan, fellow blonderexic Thomas xx


Tuesday, June 14/2011 at 12:39 pm

… I am kind of shocked that my eye makeup is basically a less-heavy handed version of theirs! I would not exactly call them my style icons. They were such a “product” for so long, I’m afraid I can’t take them very seriously, although they show every sign of having become independent now.

I have to admit, I would kill for their hair without the frizz. I can only acheive wave or curl with my fine, straightish hair with tonnes of mousse & spray on rainy days with high humidity when Mars is in Leo & I have made the appropriate ritual sacrifices to the Hair Gods. I will be scouring the comments for tips!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, June 25/2011 at 6:14 pm

Haha – I have exactly the same curl-resistant hair! I get better hold with a flat iron but I don’t have the patience. If you use hot rollers, have you tried spraying with hairspray (try Elnett) before and after curling? And then letting the rollers completely cool while still in your hair? The Sally Hershberger boys taught me that one and it’s helped me a lot… I also tease before and after curling. You can see the results here:


Monday, June 27/2011 at 9:19 am

I’ll check out Elnett. I do have to spray like crazy to hold any curl, but hot rollers always seem to give me anchorwoman helmet head; large & round & oddly smooth. It’s ha-ha funny, but that’s not always what I’m going for! Oh well, try, try again!


Tuesday, June 14/2011 at 3:41 pm

The twins act like they have no self confidence and that they don’t want anyone looking at them. I don’t know if being on the TV show damaged them or what but people adore them. They act like they want to hide all the time.
I’m not a fan of their hair and make up. I think its their lack of self confidence that makes me not really care for them.
I hope one day they realize that they are beautiful and really need to quit hiding. People love them and are pretty much past the whole full house thing.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, June 25/2011 at 6:16 pm

Good psychoanalysis! You’re probably on to something there. Being famous at such a young age IS really damaging.


Kris Coghlan
Tuesday, June 14/2011 at 4:01 pm

I don’t get the Olsen’s either. They never look put together. Almost ghoul-like.


Tuesday, June 14/2011 at 6:15 pm

I think at least one of them achieves that smoky eye look by smoking, seriously, I can almost always tell a girl in her twenties who smokes, because her eyes have that saggy under eye look all the time…not attractive.

I think they are cute, but their skin should look better for their young age.

Their hair is nice, but don’t even get me started on their clothes.


Tuesday, June 14/2011 at 7:23 pm

Their clothes and style is entirely their own. I love their kind of ghostly/edgy look, it’s really cool. I don’t like perfect makeup and they never have “perfect” makeup. I think they both look very beautiful although sometimes I find their makeup to be a bit messy. However, generally, I love it and think they pull it off wonderfully. It’s all a matter of opinion though.


Wednesday, June 15/2011 at 12:07 pm

The Olsen twins are 25 and dress like old women. Yet as many people here have have already noted, they look like sickly, malnourished children.

How on earth is that admirable?


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, June 25/2011 at 6:17 pm

Reading these comments I think it’s clear that people either love them or hate them!


Wednesday, June 15/2011 at 1:53 pm

I like their hair, but most of the time, they just look kind of greasy. And sick. And are making that weird duckface. They mostly look kind of terrified, in terms of clothing and posture, they kind of make me think “…And here’s the first shots of the twins after being liberated from the serial killer’s basement…”

Just not a good look overall.


Haley Gillis
Thursday, June 16/2011 at 1:15 pm

Thank you SO much for the post..very helpful! You’re the best


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, June 25/2011 at 6:17 pm

My pleasure!


Thursday, June 16/2011 at 4:57 pm

The last two pics are perfection! Especially the last one. Love the black liner on the waterline with the smudgey taupe/burgundy shadow. Makes their green eyes pop! Neutral lip is very pretty too, as I can’t pull off bold eye + bold lip. Love it!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, June 25/2011 at 6:18 pm

I like the last one too! Really pretty and way more polished than we’re used to seeing them.


Saturday, June 18/2011 at 9:17 am

Great article. Followed your tips and it looked great! Would we really believe 10 years ago that we would be aspiring to mirror the Olsens look!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, June 25/2011 at 6:18 pm



Thursday, September 1/2011 at 9:55 am

I have a question, what if you’re brown haired and you wanna look like one of the twins and you wanna have blond hair. But on the other hand, you don’t wanna dye your hair. What would you do then???


Friday, June 24/2011 at 3:08 pm

I actually heard one way to acheive beach waves is to take a curling iron, about 1 inch thick, and WRAP random strands around the barrel. So you’d keep the clip closed. I take a strand and grab it by the bottom, wrap around the barrel, hold for about 5-7 seconds and let go. It works great! A little texturizing spray and you’re good to go.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, June 25/2011 at 6:19 pm

Yes thanks for bringing that up, that technique works well too!


Thursday, August 18/2011 at 11:47 pm

Thanks for this post. I for one love the Olsens and think they never make a fashion or beauty misstep. They definitely are aging though – the result of all that smoking, no doubt.


Thursday, September 1/2011 at 10:01 am

What if you’re brown haired, but you wanna be a blonde like them and you don’t wanna dye your hair. What do you do???????????????


Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 9:29 pm

I think some of their pictures are great! And sometimes I think the pouting does make them look nicer, I like the photos of them with less eye makeup and more skin makeup, I think that’s what their style should be and I like their hair wavy or straight and sometimes curly. Their fashion and clothing like is amazing. As a kid, I always wanted to wear that style. Some people actually call me their triplet because we look so alike lol..


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