When asked what characteristic they notice first about someone new, people often respond "the eyes." Because the eyes are such a prominent feature, it's no surprise that there are so many methods and tools available to make them look great.
The many things you can do with your eyelashes, eyelids and eyebrows can seem daunting at first, but styling your eyes to match your personality and natural physical characteristics will be a breeze with few basic techniques under your belt.
Keep in mind that makeup trends change with the times, just as fashion does. Similarly, knowledge about how to apply makeup and use makeup tools well, just like an understanding of how clothing accentuates your positive features, is timeless.
Before embarking on your eye beauty routine, prep your eyes to keep them looking healthy and lively. If your eyes are puffy, cover them with a cool cloth to reduce swelling. For extra oomph, use cold tea bags. The cold will tighten up blood vessels, and the caffeine can firm up the skin, all to reduce puffiness [source: Almasi].
The area around the eyes is a naturally dry area for many people, so apply an eye moisturizer. Be sure to use a moisturizer designed specifically for the eyes, because other products can contain eye irritants [source: Otis].
If you decide to go all-out with your eye makeup, then use a light touch when applying blush and lipstick. Select a natural lipstick shade so that your eyes remain the focus. Likewise, don't pile on dark eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara if you want to wear a bright lipstick. Makeup requires balance to keep it from going askew. If your eyes are your favorite feature, then use minimal makeup on other areas of the face to complement them, not compete with them.
The first step to eye-popping style begins with curling your lashes. Read on to learn makeup artists' trick for making this curl last from dawn till dusk.
Using an Eyelash Curler
The sight of an eyelash curler might be intimidating if you've never used one before, but when done properly, curling your eyelashes can be easy and safe, and it could add a little extra pizzazz to your finished look. If you plan to wear eyeliner or eye shadow, you should apply these products before curling your lashes so as not to smear them. Don't put on any mascara beforehand, though. Lashes that are coated in mascara can break easily in a curler, so wait to apply mascara until you're done curling [source: Cover Girl].
Start by placing the open curler around your upper eyelashes. Get as close to the eyelid as possible, but be cautious not to accidentally pinch yourself. Then, close the curler and softly squeeze your lashes for about five seconds. Release the curler. After the first squeeze, you might want to open the curler, move it slightly farther up your lashes (away from the eyelid) and squeeze again. Do the same on your other eye, and that's it -- you're done!
Eyelash curlers are meant to be used on only the upper lashes, so you'll need to do the process just once per eye.
It might surprise you to learn that many different kinds of eyelash curlers are available, and they can range in price. Curlers can be made from either plastic or metal, although many beauty experts prefer those made from metal. Keep your curler in tip-top shape by replacing the pads every few months.
If you like the look of curled lashes, you might want to up the ante with false eyelashes. Read on to learn easy ways to apply them.
Using Fake Eyelashes
Whether you're going for a realistic look or one that's over-the-top, you can find fake eyelashes to tickle your fancy. Use a few to fill out gaps in your own lashes, or use a lot with glitter or bright colors to really stand out in a crowd.
You'll need a few tools to apply fake eyelashes properly. Although not necessary, a mirror with magnification will make the process a bit less tedious. Also, you should invest in a good pair of tweezers. Before you begin, make sure the room is well lit. If this is your first time using fake lashes, practice first, as application is a skill that takes time.
Use the tweezers to pick up your fake lashes. Only remove fake lashes from their packaging or storage container with tweezers, because they are so small they may fall through or stick to your fingers. When you have your lashes in the tweezers grasp, carefully dip them in your eyelash glue. Use only specified cosmetic glue for this procedure -- don't attempt to use any substitutes. Then, still with the tweezers, place the lashes where you want them on your eyelid, as close as possible to the line of your natural lashes. The glue will take about five seconds to dry, so press the eyelashes in place for at least that long [source: Acciardo].
You might want to apply eye makeup to blend fake eyelashes with your real ones. Eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara will do the trick.
After you've applied lashes, eyeliner is the next step to amazing eyes. Read on to discover how to choose the liner shade that best complements your eye color.
Choosing the right eyeliner depends on your natural characteristics. Eye color and eye shape both play a part in what kind of liner you should use and in how you should apply it. A dark brown eyeliner is usually the most flattering for brown eyes, and a light brown eyeliner is the best for green eyes. Many colors work well with blue eyes, including browns, grays and even dark blues. Apply eyeliner to the entire length of your upper eyelid, unless your eyes are especially round or close together. In this case, you might want to line only the outside corners [source: Cover Girl].
Apply eyeliner as close as you can to where your eyelashes and your eyelids meet. Using one hand to pull your skin tight, start near the inner corner of your eye and work your way to the outer corner. Go slowly. You are better off using many small strokes than trying to draw one continuous line across your eyelid.
Eyeliner comes as either a solid pencil or as a liquid in a small bottle. Pencils are best for a subtle look, whereas liquid liner usually appears darker on your eyes and will really make your peepers pop.
Once your lashes, liner and shadow are in place, put the finishing touches on your handiwork with a coat or two of mascara. But be careful when handling mascara -- read on to discover some common habits that can decrease the shelf life of your favorite tube.
Just as the kind of eyeliner you choose depends on your natural characteristics and the style you want to achieve, the kind of mascara you choose also depends on these factors. If your hair is fair, use a brown mascara. If you have dark hair, you can use a brown-black or a black mascara. Different products have different functions, too, such as lengthening or thickening, but keep in mind that these extra functions might mean there are more ingredients in the mascara that can stick to your eyelashes.
To create pleasantly plump lashes, hold the mascara wand parallel to your eyelid at the base of your eyelashes. Slowly wiggle it over your lashes from root to tip. You might want to use several coats of mascara for an intensified effect. Just make sure to let each coat dry for about 10 seconds between applications [source: Cover Girl]. One trick is to apply the first coat to your upper lashes from above, then apply the second coat from underneath. Use an eyelash comb after applying mascara to remove any clumps.
You can also apply mascara to your lower lashes, depending on the look you want. Mascara on the lower lashes will usually appear much more dramatic than mascara on the upper lashes alone.
Now that you've spent countless minutes painting your eyes, don't forget to frame them with perfectly groomed brows. Read on to learn how to tame these sometimes wild beasts.
Because your eyebrows frame your face, it's important to put thought into their shape and style. To test-drive the look you want, draw over hairs you plan to remove with a light eye pencil. The pencil will essentially mask these areas, and you'll get a sneak preview of how different eyebrow shapes fit your face [source: Grayson].
To find where your eyebrows should begin, place a long and thin object, such as a pencil or cotton swab, vertically along the edge of your nostril. Your eyebrow should begin where the object hits the brow bone.
When you are ready to begin plucking, start on the bottom of your eyebrow and work your way up -- you'll want to keep the top of the brow line natural. To minimize discomfort, pluck brows after washing your face with warm water. The heat will open your pores, making hairs easier to pull out. Plucking hairs in the direction they grow is also less painful than the alternative [source: Cover Girl]. If you accidentally pluck too much, you can use a brow pencil to fill in the gaps. Just remember that you don't want to look like you've removed your whole brow and then drawn a new one on in its place.
After your eyebrows are the shape you desire, you can brush them into place with an eyebrow brush or even a spare toothbrush. You also can use products containing beeswax -- even moustache wax will do -- to hold any wily brow hairs in place.
Playing up your eyes can be easy. Perk up puny lashes by curling or applying a few falsies to make them really pop. Add just few coats of mascara, a perfectly groomed brow and presto -- all eyes will be on you. To learn more tips and tricks for enhancing your eyes, check out the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- ABC News. "Eyelash Extensions: The Next Big Thing in Beauty." Jan 21, 2006. (Accessed 8/12/09) http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/BeautySecrets/story?id=1529151
- Acciardo, Kelli. "Learn How to Apply Fake Eyelashes." June 18, 2009. (Accessed 8/18/09). http://www.seventeen.com/fashion/special/style-blog/applying-fake-eyelashes-video?click=main_sr
- Almasi, Mary Rose. "The No-Knife Eye Lift." WebMD Feature from Good Housekeeping. Oct. 8, 2008. (Accessed 9/3/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/the-no-knife-eye-lift
- Cover Girl. "5 Things to Know About Mascara." (Accessed 8/13/09)http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/know-about-mascara/
- Cover Girl. "Applying Eyeliner 101." (Accessed 8/12/09)http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/applying-eyeliner/
- Cover Girl. "Eyebrow Shaping 101." (Accessed 8/13/09)http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/eyebrow-shaping/
- Cover Girl. "Eye Color and Eyeliner." (Accessed 8/12/09)http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/eye-color-and-eyeliner/
- Cover Girl. "Eyelash Curler Cues." (Accessed 8/12/09) http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/eyelash-curler-cues/
- Cover Girl. "Mascara 101: How to Apply Mascara." (Accessed 8/13/09)http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/applying-mascara/
- Cover Girl. "Pencil and Pen Points." (Accessed 8/12/09)http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/eyeliner-pencils-and-pens/
- Cover Girl. "Shadow-As-Liner Trick." (Accessed 8/13/09)http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/shadow-as-liner-trick/
- Cover Girl. "Special Eyeliner Effects." (Accessed 8/13/09)http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/eyeliner-effects/
- Cover Girl. "The Ouch Factor." (Accessed 8/13/09) http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/eye-makeup-tips/plucking-eyebrows/
- Grayson, Deborah. "Dilemma of the Week: How Do I Shape My Eyebrows?" iVillage. (Accessed 8/13/09) http://beauty.ivillage.com/makeup/makeupartist/0,,n4bt-p,00.html
- Grayson, Deborah. "Dilemma of the Week: My Eyebrows Are Out of Control. Help!" iVillage. (Accessed 8/13/09)http://beauty.ivillage.com/makeup/makeupartist/0,,7vvcsvf4,00.html
- Hebert, Emily. "Makeup Trends: Black Eye Shadow." Aug. 6, 2009. (Accessed 8/13/09) http://www.elle.com/Beauty/Makeup-Skin-Care/Makeup-Trends-Black-Eye-Shadow
- Missimer, Rick. "How to Use an Eyelash Curler." (Accessed 8/18/09).http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/11076/1/How-to-Use-an-Eyelash-Curler.html
- Otis, Ginger. "Flawless Eye Makeup 101." iVillage. (Accessed 8/12/09)http://beauty.ivillage.com/makeup/0,,8p84skf1-p,00.html