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12 Pro Hacks to (Instantly) Up Your Eye Makeup Game

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Main Image – Nik_Merkulov/Adobe

Do you often think about upping your eye makeup game but get easily bogged down by all the different technique advice thrown at you from every angle?

Whether it’s TikTok tutorials, TV adverts or a know-it-all acquaintance (there’s always one), sometimes it’s just easier to keep the eye makeup can closed.  Especially for those who aren’t experienced in applying it and are overwhelmed enough as it is.

But rest assured, eye makeup doesn’t have to be difficult. Because a simple, polished look can actually be achieved with some surprisingly effortless and time-saving techniques. And they *might* just switch up your makeup routine for the better.

Keep scrolling for 12 awesome eye makeup hacks, with ideas from expert Laura Kay, renowned makeup artist Azesha Ramcharan, and fashion and beauty influencer Tracy Faith.

Once you’ve learnt them, the idea of creating a gorgeous new look might not be so daunting. And maybe – just maybe – they’ll inspire you to be a bit more adventurous. Keep us posted?


1. Prep and be mindful of the skin around your eyes

“Make sure the eye area is hydrated,” says Azesha. This will ensure your makeup goes on more efficiently. She adds, “Use products that apply smoothly and don’t pull or drag on the delicate skin around the eyes.”

A good eye cream for daily use is La Roche Posay Dermallergo Soothing Eye Cream (£19.00/$23.04 on the La Roche website) as it’s suitable for even the most sensitive skin types.


Prepping for eye makeup with undereye cream

Image – Jacoblund/Adobe


2. Make sure your lashes are a clean canvas

Before you apply your mascara, “make sure you have removed all of the previous day’s makeup so you’re starting on a clean lash to have the best effect,” recommends Laura.


Eye makeup remover

Image – Adobe


3. Get longer-looking lashes, faster

Lean your head back slightly and pull up your outer eyebrow. This opens up your eye and enables your mascara to get right to the root of your lashes. You might look a bit silly but it does a really good job of pulling your lashes up as you go, for added lift.

My favourite mascara is Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara (£30.00/$36.38 on the Estee Lauder website) for its sheer commitment to producing higher, thicker lashes.


Holding skin up to apply mascara

Image – Kendra/Adobe


4. Think long-term with your mascara

“Never pump it – this will get air into it and might dry it out, making it all flaky,” Laura advises. It will make for an easier mascara application in the long run, your mascara will last longer too and you’ll also help stop your mascara from smudging.


Woman applying mascara

Image – Sanneberg/Adobe


5. Ditch wiggly eyeliner

A dark eyeshadow powder creates soft, subtle definition along the top lash instead of a harsh liquid one. Especially when applied with a slanted, chiselled eye brush.

Gather eyeshadow powder with the brush then gently blow off the excess. Starting at the inner eye, align the chiselled end horizontally with your top lash line then slowly press along it, all the way to the end. This makes for a wiggle-free and speedy application.

I use Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend Brush Set (£8.99 on Look Fantastic/$10.90 on Amazon) which includes a chiselled brush and two eyeshadow brushes.


Eyeliner in a pot with eye makeup brushes

Image – Lightfieldstudios/Adobe


6. Keep your focus

“I recommend always starting with your more challenging eye,” says Tracy. We all have one that’s harder to do than the other because there’s usually one hand more dominant than the other.

If you start on the tricker side, the other one will feel like a breeze, and you’ll do it with speed and confidence.


makeup hacks eyeshadow foundation

Image – Real Techniques


7. Invest in an eyeshadow primer

Not only does a specific makeup primer enhance the pigment of your eyeshadow, but it also helps it to stay on for longer without a smudge or smear in sight. I use Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (£21.00/$25.47 on the Urban Decay website) which doesn’t feel dry and makes my eye makeup last and last.

Alternatively, Laura recommends using a concealer as a base “to make sure it has the biggest colour payoff and creates the most impact,” she says. I like Maybelline Eraser Eye Concealer (£9.99 on Look Fantastic/$10.90 on the Maybelline website) which has great staying power.


Eye makeup primer

Image – Olgaarkhipenko/Adobe


8. Act fast when applying under-eye concealer

“I apply it into dots under my eye and blend it in quickly otherwise it dries in a patch,” says Laura. Laura loves NYC Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Contour Concealer (£8.99 on the Boots UK website/$9.50 on the NYX website).

“It literally does not budge or crease and has amazing coverage,” she says.


Woman applying under eye concealer

Image – Monkeybusiness/Adobe


9. Try some makeup trickery with your under-eye concealer

“Instead of sweeping your concealer directly on top of under-eye bags, draw your concealer in an upside-down triangle shape,” says Tracy.

Start at each corner of the eye area and work diagonally down into a point. This creates the illusion of a brighter under-eye area, giving you less need for any other brightening products.


Makeup sponges

Image – Yrabota/Adobe


10. Make your under-eye concealer last longer

Setting concealer to prevent creasing is one of my favourite hacks when applying it under my eyes,” says Tracy. Use a makeup setting powder like Morphe Bake and Set Powder (£14.00/$14.00 on the Morphe website) which leaves a matte finish without caking.


Woman with eye makeup on

Image – Golubovy/Adobe


11. Learn how to use an eye palette

Confused over what to do with yours? Here is my rule of thumb.

Apply the most neutral colour in the eyeshadow palette all over your eyelid. These are usually beige or creamy colours.

Then choose a darker shade to apply into the crease of your eyelid like windscreen wipers with a brush, as well as winging it out slightly from the outer corners of your top lash line. Blend the edges with your finger if it’s looking too harsh.

Finally, choose a vibrant colour like pink, gold, blue or green from the eyeshadow palette and dab it in the middle of your eyelid using your finger. This should leave you with an easy (and speedy) 3-dimensional finish.

One of my favourite palettes is Clinique All About Shadows Quad in Pink Chocolate (£39.00/$47.29 on the Clinique website) because of its flattering pinks and browns.


Eye shadow collection macro shot texture background

Image – Nik_Merkulov/Adobe


12. Double up your eyeshadow stick as an eyeliner

Beauty Pie Wondercolour Longwear Cream Shadow Stick in Copperini (£9.50/$11.52 for members on the Beauty Pie website) is a beautiful bronze when worn on the lids and leaves shimmery flecks on your lashes when applied like a liner along the bottom lash line. Quick, simple and fun!


Beauty Pie eyeshadow stick

Image – Beauty Pie


The takeaway

It’s easy to be intimidated by eye makeup when there are hundreds of looks and how-to videos out there to confuse you. But once you know a few sneaky eye makeup hacks to make life a little bit easier, it doesn’t seem so daunting, does it?

Your best starting point is a hydrated eye area so that makeup goes on easily. And remember if something looks too harsh or not quite right, blend blend blend with a brush or your finger.

Think outside of the box with things like how you can double up on certain products (eyeshadow sticks) or create a variation of another (powder liner). And if you have a palette you’ve no idea what to do with, the above rule of thumb should give guaranteed success!

The most important part though is to enjoy it. Makeup is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Practice makes perfect so put some time aside at the weekend and experiment with your products to see what suits you. If you don’t like something, you can just wipe it away (and no one need ever know!)


Meet the experts

Laura Kay is a leading permanent makeup expert and the founder of Laura Kay London. With over 20 years of experience in the cosmetic industry, Laura opened her academy training programme in 2015, teaching her world-class skills to the next generation of permanent makeup artists.


Azesha Ramcharan is a makeup artist based in NY’s Hudson Valley region. Clients have included NBC, The Juilliard School, Hessel Museum of Art, Craftsy, and VOZ.


Tracy Faith is a beauty and fashion influencer who showcases her expertise to her more than 20,000 followers on Instagram, @itstracyfaith.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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