How to Wear Lower Eye Makeup

Amanda Seyfried
Anja Rubik
Aymeline Valade
Daria Werbowy
Georgia May Jagger
Ginta Lapina
Hailee Steinfeld
Heather Marks
Karlie Kloss
Kate Winslet
Kristen Stewart
Lara Stone
Lindsey Wixson
Lindsey Wixson
Malgosia Bela
Marion Cotillard
Marion Cotillard
Naomi Campbell
Natasha Poly
Rihanna & Kate Moss
Tati Cotliar
Tessa Vander Weyden
Toni Garrn
Tyra Banks
Victoria Beckham
Pixie Geldof

Most great, dramatic eyes have one thing in common: under-eye makeup, and I don’t mean concealer on your dark circles. I mean the shadow/liner/mascara along the lower lash line that rounds out all of the best smokyslept-in, and reverse cat eyes. But am I alone in thinking that, in real life, under-eye makeup is an almost guaranteed disaster? On me, lower-lash mascara or smudged black shadow tends to make me look sad, visually dragging down my eyes (and therefore my whole face). Or it seems to advertise that my makeup unintentionally fell, because maybe I just cried or sweated it off. Not a good look. For the latter concern, there’s party-proofing. As for the former—that sagging effect—as a mere mortal, I've historically just steered clear of anything on the bottom half of my eyes, out of fear of drawing comparisons to nocturnal mammals and Basset hounds.

Well, if you must know, it’s almost my birthday. And as I’m getting older, more sophisticated (ha!), wiser (bahahaha!), and better moisturized (this one is true), I’d like my makeup to reflect this new me: capable of doing anything, including tackling those under eyes. So I put my pupils' fate in the hands of lovely Welsh makeup master Wayne Goss (the man who told us we'd been using Touche Éclat all wrong), who gave me the following advice to live by:

Get the Ratio Right: “You should always have more makeup on your upper lid than on your lower lid. My golden ratio for upper to lower application is two to one.”

Waterline, Every Time:  “I don’t know about the States, but in the UK there’s this awful trend among teenage girls and women over 50 where they line just their bottom lash lines with black. It’s a very strange look—I’m not quite sure what they are trying to achieve—but it gives the appearance of someone pulling their eyelids down. Kohl is much more successful when applied to the waterline, almost inside the eye. That makes your eyes stand out, not fall.”

What to Use: “Go for products that are waterproof or really long-wearing. You don’t want a tear to mix in it and then find that your makeup is suddenly halfway down your face. I like Make Up For Ever Aqua Liners paired with Hourglass Mineral Veil, which is an amazing product for people with oily skin or people whose makeup tends to slide off their face very easily.”

Beware of Bottom-Lash Mascara: “If you’re not endowed with a lot of bottom lashes, I wouldn’t even touch bottom-lash mascara. You’re just drawing attention to a feature that isn’t great, saying ‘Look: I’ve got no lashes.’ Don’t do that. [Laughs] If you’re lucky enough to have the lashes to support the look, go for it—just make sure that the mascara is waterproof and that the wand is completely clean of excess makeup, so you don’t have clumps.”

Stand Still: “Don’t move your face when you’re putting on makeup. For example, when you are applying blush, don’t smile, because once you stop, the apples of your cheeks will lower, and suddenly your blush will be hovering right over your mouth, instead of on the tops of your cheeks. That’s actually a theater makeup trick for giving a sagging-face effect. [Laughs] The same rule applies to your eyes—try to keep them open while putting on shadow and liner. You’ll have more control over getting the results you’re looking for.”

And, for extra defense against droopy face, I will be brushing up my brows.

—Mackenzie Wagoner

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • sashi

    oh I've tried, I've tried all this. It does look great! .....for about an hour. Then, the concealer on my horrendously dark undereyes fades, and the whole look is not fresh, not sexy. It accentuates the darkest area of my face. I have come to accept that it just does not suit me. And so I love the French girls on ITG with minimal makeup. It's tough to do though, in the U.S., without being "that sad plain girl"
    In the summer, with a tan, for a few hours, I can do it. As for the UK, possibly Kate Middleton could offer advice on how to apply an absolutely non-moving lower liner, because that line DOES NOT smudge. ( I wish it did a bit )

    • Poulette

      I totally agree with you - I have green eyes & would kill to be able to rock the Mary Kate/ Ashley smudged coppery bronze eye - it's so sexy. But alas with my under eye circles, it's not meant to be.

      The only luck I've had is by using a lighter colour, like Pale Barley (Burberry, a beautiful beautiful shade) very lightly applied top & bottom. For eyeliner, I've used also a pale shimmery one, I have an LE by Chanel which looks lovely. Maybe that's something you can try? And no black mascara, only brown.. Otherwise I feel overly made up.

      I hope he does a video on this, using a model with heavy discoloration under her eyes - women of the world would rejoice!

      • sashi

        Brilliant idea, I will certainly try a lighter shade. Merci!

      • Adrienne Angelos

        Ugh, the Mary-Kate and Ashley smudgy eye is just the hottest thing ever to me, especially when it's a glossy shadow. And maybe it's something about their faces/face shapes/eyebrows that makes it magic, but I would wear it probably every day if I could figure out how to make it flattering on me. I have blue eyes and dream of something along the lines of MAC Reflects Antique Gold - probably layered over something darker and greasy to make THE perfect oil slick alllllll over my lids. I am actually sighing right now.

  • Leslie

    I've always had an issue applying my lower eye makeup..



    Will try these tips.

  • ThoughtsofGlam

    I just posted about how I got this killer liner from Rimmel on clearance at CVS for $2. It glides on and lasts me all day. I'm in L.O.V.E.
    Dark liner tends to make your eyes smaller, so I've learned to go for dark brown shadows that I use to line the lower part of my eye with.

  • Bolly

    Weird, I've never been afraid of lower lash mascara. : | How many lashes are 'too few'?! HOW MUCH IS THE THRESHOLD?!

    • Carina

      I had the same thoughts! TELL US HOW MUCH.

  • Roni Faida

    I do find when I line the inside of the bottom of my eyes it makes them look much better. I don't have a problem standing still but sometimes the top line ends up being uneven. Oh well, I guess this is why I don't wear tons of makeup!

  • kamo12

    I'm a fan of almost contouring your bottom eyelid, only on the outer 2/3. I always put a haze of Bobbi Brown's Cement (super light taupe) under my eyes because they look sort of flat without it. I think it works best if you naturally have that Olsen twin-esque pronounced lower eyelid, or a large expanse between your eyelid and brow to balance everything out.

  • Ana

    I never had the knack for lower eyeliner, but perhaps it's time try once again. Occasionally (cough, cough), I don't manage to wash all my mascara off during the PM face time; however, the error lends itself to my AM makeup routine as I apply a dab of lotion under my eyes & clean it up with a q-tip. Violá! Underlined eyes.

    Lovely article! Thanks.

  • Julia

    I have been blessed with some teeny tiny eyelids and because of this I rely on lower eye makeup anytime I want to use colour. When lining my eyes I'll do some invisible liner on the top (not too much, can't take up that precious lid space) and do a very smudged line on the lower. Without it, my smokey eye is only visible if I'm caught taking a mid-party nap. Never anything in my waterline, thank you Wayne. It balances out the eye very nicely and even opens it up a bit. Jennifer Lawrence's makeup artists know what I'm talking about. I'll even use a soft smokey pink colour like MAC's Kid when I want all the shape and none of the drama. From my experience as a makeup artist this look is a lot more flattering than some may think but it's all about blending and proportion. xJ

  • Stacey Freeman

    The thick liners in the photographs really only work for editorial, or maybe for a night out if you really want to smoke out your eyes. I personally wear lower-lid mascara daily, as I do have long lower lashes. I think black eyeliner on the bottom, especially the entire way, really makes the eyes look smaller, and is just too harsh for a daytime look. My friends who wear a lot of lower lid eye-makeup, I want to strap them down and wipe it off! I do think it can work for a night out, but during the day, I think you should stick to just upper eye liner (unless your eyelashes are invisible, then go for a lighter brown liner).

  • Jangsty

    wow, this is a great post! and many thanks for sharing the trick with not moving your face while applying blush
    now i know why it doesn't work for me despite the tutorials i've seen on youtube
    Wayne, you are gorgeous and the only makeup artist whose videos I am looking forward to on Youtube! You are always straight to the point, professional and your recommendations work!


Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in Light Brown 19L
Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
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