28 January 2007

Come hither eyes

Perfectly applied eye makeup does not alone a sultry sex kitten make.

Behind the kohl and liquid eyeliner has to be an even-if-you-weren't-here-I'd-still-be-getting-this-lapdance attitude. Not sure how to inculcate losing your inhibitions and believing in your inner fierceness, but at the very least I can offer some tips on how to achieve the look of a temptress.

First, as always, make sure you have moisturized upper and lower eye-areas. If you feel the least bit dry or you had a bad break-up lunch and cried off that morning's first coat, apply a second before heading out. The overall look for a smoky eye should be dewy, not flaky.

The second step is to apply a small amount of what I often refer to as the most ridiculous but necessary product in a girl's makeup routine -- Laura Mercier's "Eye Basics" ($22 at saks.com). Essentially foundation for your eyelids, Eye Basics will camouflage discoloration, smooth out fine lines, and most important, cling to your liner and shadow all day long. The difference between using and not using this product is about four to five touch-ups. It's that effective.

Next in the routine is my makes-the-biggest-difference-on-Friday-mornings product -- the godsend otherwise known as under-eye concealer. Make sure to spread the concealer not just directly beneath your eye but into the lower half of the dark-circle as well.

Following this, you're ready for your base shadow, the exact shade of which depends on how classy or edgy you want to look. Either way, your base is always going to be a neutral like ivory, iridescent gold, or taupe. Using either your finger or a brush, spread the base shadow generously over the entire upper lid, even up into the bone just below the brows. I usually like to wait a few minutes before building my second layer, but that's primarily because I like to use cream shadows (try Bourjois Intensely Luminous Waterproof Cream Eyeshadow, $13.50 at sephora.com), and they, unlike their powder counterparts, tend to muck up the tips of liner pencils if not given enough time to dry.

Once the base shadow is set and uniformly distributed across the lids, choose your contrast shadow. In the picture above, Scarlett - or Scarlett's makeup artist - went for a very traditional matte pewter color like MAC's "Smut" ($14 at maccosmetics.com). Using a relatively stiff small-to-medium sized eyeshadow brush (I like Stila's #20 Eye Enhancer brush, $32 at sephora.com) apply the contrast shadow from the edge of the eyelid up to the crease in a half-moon-like fashion. Be careful and be symmetrical when doing this; if you go a bit too high on one side, dip a Q-tip in eye makeup remover and correct the error before continuing.
If you're after an edgier look like Scarlett's, try a shimmery bronze or gold trim atop the contrast shadow, and blend as naturally as possible. You don't want the layers to look like parfait but you also don't want them blended to the point where you can't see any transitioning. It takes practice, but you'll know when you've achieved just the right look. If you want a more traditional smoky eye, skip the trim and go straight for the black eyeliner.

With eyeliner, I tend to favor a pencil over a liquid pen, simply because I like the more deconstructed, just did-it-in-the-men's-room look. The precision of a liquid pen is more appropriate for company holiday parties and events where most of the women attending are married and wearing Chico's dress separates. My current pencil of choice is Maybelline's Unstoppable Liner in "Onyx" ($5.69 at drugstores everywhere).

I like to start in the outer corners and move inward, but I've seen professionals do it both ways. It's a personal choice for how thick a liner swipe you want, but there should always be a diminuendo trend - thicker to thinner - from the outer to inner eye. After drawing a satisfactory line, use a small makeup sponge to lightly smudge the thicker part of the line. Make sure the line is still a visibly separate entity, however. If you've over-smudged (it happens), tissue a bit of the excess liner away and start again.

Applying liner to the lower half is where most mistakes are made and the point at which most women get discouraged with the sultry eye and give up. Not getting close enough to the edge is the most common misstep, and that is why I advocate switching to a liquid pencil (MAC's Liquid Eyeliner in "Boot Black," $15 at maccosmetics.com) on bottom to minimize the likelihood of this happening. If you want to smudge, however, you'll have to suck it up with a mechanical pencil and do the best you can. Regardless of the line you drew on your upper lid, go fairly thin on bottom, or you risk creating a Courtney Love/raccoon look.

The last step before mascara is to dab a bit of shimmery shadow (I like Cover Girl's "Meringue Blush," $2.79 at drugstores everywhere) along the inner caverns of your eyes. Do this with your finger, not a brush, so that the oil from your skin will help glide the sparkles more evenly and more naturally.

And finally, mascara. I'm assuming if you're reading this blog, you don't need any tips on mascara application, so all I'm going to say is curl your lashes as high as they'll go and paint them with a clean, clump-free double-coat.

Happy smoldering!

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