There are more jam-packed eyeshadow palettes on the market than ever before, yet a certain subset of beauty consumers find themselves buying palette after palette, toying with different shades and textures, only to feel unsatisfied. Often, when this happens, it is not the shadow that is to blame. It is more likely that these consumers are finding that the shape of their eyes — and more specifically, how it works with the eyelid — isn’t compatible with their palettes.
As a professional makeup artist, I have to be the one to break the seemingly obvious news to these clients: they have what is known as “hooded eyelids.” Some are simply born with this particular eye shape and, for others, it develops with age. If you’re unsure if you have this characteristic, look at yourself straight on in the mirror. Those with hooded eyelids will notice that the flesh on the upper lid or brow bone hangs down enough that eyelid and/or the crease is hidden. This means you can practically put fireworks on your eyelid and no one will ever see it.
That’s not to say that you should feel defeated if you have hooded lids, though. You just have to learn to apply your makeup with your lids in mind. Focus more on what you can see — the upper lashline — and worry less about the lid. Keep reading to discover my product application tips and recommendations, all easily laid out step by step.
Step 1: Prime
Because upper lids on hooded eyes tend to touch the lid and crease, there’s a higher probability that any shadow applied could smudge. To ensure that the products will stay put, always use an eye base under all eye makeup. It’ll function like a primer to hold everything in place.
I like to use a very matte eyelid base like MAC® Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pot® ($22), which is non-transferable and dry. This formula in particular is one of my favorites because it can also be worn alone for those that enjoy a natural look. The two best shades that double as nude primers are Soft Ochre (ideal for lighter or medium complexions with a yellow undertone) and PainterlyTM, which is best for those that have pinker undertones. On deeper skin tones, the shade GroundworkTM, a darker neutral taupe, will look stunning.
Step 2: Shadow
When I am applying makeup to a woman with a hooded eyelid, I tend to use just one or two colors. The first — whether it’s something with a bit of color or a soft neutral — I sweep across the lid, and the second I add to the crease to create a little bit of definition. However, a common complaint for those with hooded eyelids is that their crease color tends to disappear. To solve this problem, I suggest you apply your crease color slightly above the literal crease, sweeping the brush just above where the skin actually folds. (This way, the shadow will be visible, not hidden.) The brow bone, or skin on the brow bone, is what creates the actual “hooding,” and this area is best left alone. If you feel naked without shadow on this part of your lid, use a hue that’s slightly lighter than your skin tone to brighten and add a bit of a lift.
For extra insurance against creasing and smudging, I like to use a waterproof cream shadow. My new favorite is the Tom Ford® EmotionproofTM Eye Color ($46). These gorgeous, heavily pigmented creams are just enough color for the makeup lover that wants to just use one shade — and they will stay put for up to 24 hours. My favorite shade for a fair to medium skin tones is the gorgeous Brut Rose, a shimmery light mauve, and for deeper skin tones, BengalTM is a perfect deeper taupe.
You can also sweep a waterproof powder on top of this creamy product for more dimension, especially in the crease. My favorite longwear, crease-resistant powder formula is NARS® Cosmetics HardwiredTM Eyeshadow ($22). They’re spectacular for clients that want a more dramatic look for evening or an event as every single hue is lustrous and richly pigmented. For a softer, more muted look, the tarte® TarteletteTM Amazonian ClayTM Matte Palette ($39) is a safe bet — it delivers easy, neutral browns without shimmer.
Step 3: Eyeliner
Besides the fact that eyeshadow typically cannot be seen unless you are looking down at your phone or at a menu in a restaurant, you’ll observe other concerns with hooded lids. Namely, you’ll find that liner applied to the upper lashline tends to travel or imprint itself onto the top of your eyelid. How you apply your eyeliner — and the product you use — will make a huge difference.
When applying eyeliner, it is imperative that the product is placed as close as possible to the actual lash line, if not directly in it. I always use the technique of “tightlining” on my clients that have no eyelid space. This makes the lashline pop, drawing the focus away from the lid and towards the eye as a whole.
While you could use a pencil liner, tightlining is best achieved with a very thin brush to place waterproof gel eyeliner directly inside the waterline (also known as the inner rim). My favorite formula is Bobbi Brown® Longwear Gel Eyeliner ($27). It comes in six beautiful shades, but I rely on Black Ink the most. I pair my gel eyeliner with the Laura Mercier® Flat Eyeliner Brush ($28), with which I can create the thinnest of lines that won’t move. Its firm bristles are very narrow, making it extremely precise.
You could opt to add liner to the bottom lashline, but I prefer to keep anything that I apply there fairly light. By tightlining, I’ve created a thin, bold line on top, which opened up the eye. Adding any heavy makeup on the lower lashline will close the eye back up.
Step 4: Mascara
Though this last step is typically the easiest, those with hooded lids have a little bit of extra work to do. Applying mascara to this eye shape can be tricky, as the lashes can touch and smudge the upper lid, creating a mess. A simple solution to this is to apply your mascara by looking down into a mirror, versus looking straight ahead. Letting your lashes dry a bit before each coat will also help avoid a mess. Finally, whichever mascara you use should be waterproof, or at the very least water-resistant, to help allay the risk of smudging and smearing.
My new obsession in this category is — to my delight — a drugstore formula. After spending over $30 on longwearing mascaras that create little “tubes” around your lashes, but come off easily at night with warm water, I was cautiously optimistic when I decided to try the similar Maybelline® Snapscara® ($6). Dare I say, it's better than some of the fancy expensive versions I have loved for years. This formula does not move (I even wore it successfully to a sweaty visit to the gym) until you remove it with warm water, and it doesn’t leave any black residue behind. It’s practically magic, and a wonderful option for my clients with hooded lids.
Though working with a hooded eyelid may require a little TLC, consider yourself lucky: you can save hundreds of dollars by avoiding hefty palette purchases that do nothing for you. Instead, you get to hone in on your lashline to define your beautiful eyes, which is why eye makeup was invented in the first place.
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