Beauty Chemistry: Glossy Lids

Topshop Magic Liner in Engraved
Topshop Kohl Pencil in Sable
MAC Mixing Medium Shine
Stila’s Magnificent Metal Liner in Metallic Gunmetal
Stila's Magnificent Metal Double-Ended Eye Liner Applicator #36
MAC Gloss Coat in Clear
Daria Werbowy by Steven Klein for Balenciaga S/S '14
Marion Cotillard by Craig McDean for AnOther Magazine S/S '10
Liu Wen backstage at Bottega Veneta S/S 2011
Jacqueline Roque backstage at Oscar de la Renta Resort 2012
Valerija Kelava by Philip Gay For Vogue Russia February 2014
Kristen Stewart by Inez & Vinoodh for V Magazine Spring 2013

The glossy eye is the Justin Bobby of beauty. Sexy, dangerous, fleeting; it's everything fathers hope their daughters avoid in life. And after Alexander Wang crowned an Advanced Style Daria with the look [10], you had to have it. Deep down, though, you know that seconds after being photographed with an actress in a magazine or executing an end-of-the-runway pivot with a model, it'll just shamelessly slide right off. But doesn't that make you want it all the more? You convince yourself that it can change—you can make it stick! And so you pine for him, and keep trying to make things work...

You could tap into the effect with as little as one product—just any shiny lip humectant on the eye, be it Aquaphor, Eight Hour Cream, Vaseline, or the lip gloss that launched Mandy Moore’s career, MAC Lip Glass. Or you could make it more serious by starting with black kohl along the top lashes, smudging the line up with your lipgloss. But neither will last for long. To get that warm, sexy, glossy eye with depth, you'll need five products and one tool:

1. Start with a thin, lash-defining swipe of black liquid liner, extending the line out and up as much as you’d like. Topshop Magic Liner in Engraved has the ideal fine-line applicator: an ultra thin, long, and firm felt tip.

2. Next up, imprecisely dab a brown kohl pencil, like Topshop Kohl Pencil in Sable, along the black line, and on the bottom lashes. Think of yourself as an impressionist artist painting on eyelashes.

3. Now add shine. MAC Mixing Medium Shine is a clear, wax-based mixer that will stay in place better than a true gloss (which you can add later as a top coat). Press it into the eyelid with your fingers, smudging the brown liner up into the lid and away from the bottom lashes. Add more brown liner as desired.

4. Get that layered dimension by going over the brown liner along the top and bottom lashes with a gunmetal liner or shadow. Stila’s Magnificent Metal Liner in Metallic Gunmetal already looks wet, so there's no need to cover it with gloss that would cause it to slide around. Using the thin rubber end of Stila's Magnificent Metal Double-Ended Eye Liner Applicator #36, concentrate more color on the outer corners of the eyes (both top and bottom), and, for more impact, draw the metallic grey in your waterline.

5. You can stop there if you want. But to go full throttle, top it off with MAC Gloss Coat in Clear. It's just like MAC Lip Glass but with an eye-friendly brush applicator. Dab it in the center of your lids with the brush, then blending it out with your fingers, stopping short of the gunmetal liner.

6. Wear it. You should know that no matter how you do it, this puppy is still going to slide around like jelly on peanut butter. But trust us, it's a good thing. The bleeding makes the look feel less calculated, and these products actually wear really well in comparison to just a lip balm and a liner. If you're the cautious type, check yourself in the mirror every so often, and rub any migrating shadow and liner out of eye creases. And you can always layer on more gloss.

[1-9] Photos by Mathea Millman. 

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  • Clever Girl Reviews

    I love that look, I think my eyes might be too deep set to pull it off!

  • Ana Leote

    Great tips!
    Thanks for sharing these


  • s

    totes gorgeous. i wonder if just slathering a bit of petroleum jelly or elizabeth arden 8-hour cream on the lid would work? i might have to try that.

    • ITGMackenzie

      Yes, both products will definitely give you a glossy lid. Like I told @kvte:disqus, those products will be a little more likely to slide around (eight hour cream probably less so than petroleum jelly, because it's thicker), but there's no harm in trying. Even makeup artists have told me there's no way to make a greasy eye stick and stay all night. Opt for waterproof mascara and bonne chance!



    • malteseproverb

      I have this little sample of Egyptian Magic I use that doesn't seem to move or get less glossy all day, and it doesn't ruin my mascara either.

  • Amanda Raponi

    Always try doing this with 8-hour cream, and then at some point during the day, my mascara is in my undereye area

  • ITGMackenzie


    Yes. Consider yourself genetically blessed!


  • ITGMackenzie

    Hi @kvte:disqus,

    I definitely think you should give it a try. Vaseline is more likely to slide than MAC Mixing Medium or the tackier Gloss Coat, but you should go for it! Worst case scenario, you can use your finger to clean up any rogue makeup. Let us know how it goes.


  • S

    What´s in the eyebrows in pic 1 and 2? They look amazing. Plus, am loving the Justin Bobby reference, he certainly is something extra

    • ITGMackenzie

      Thank you so much. That's just flash on my au naturel brows! I combed them with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Spooley brush. It's possible that some of the Mac Gloss made it's way up there as well, but all hail the glossy brow, right?:


  • icecream hangover

    Paw paw cream on the lids has always done it for me.

    • sarahsk

      I agree! I use Lucas Paw Paw and it gives a great sheen to the eyes

  • Maurissa Mattson

    This is such a beautiful look that I keep seeing in magazines. Thank you for the tutorial!

  • julia

    A little carmex does the trick for me and I just put the leftover on my eyebrows and comb them. I prefer this look to using eyeshadow.

  • Nomadic D.

    I am a huge fan of the glossy lid. I can never get it to last but at least now you've set my mind at ease that no one can! I always just try aquaphor, but I'm intrigued now, and might just give that mixing medium a shot. I assume in the photo you've got the gloss coat in top of it, but do you find that mixing medium to be glossy enough on its own?


Topshop Magic Liner Engraved
Topshop Kohl Pencil Sable
Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish eyeshadow
Stila’s Magnificent Metal Double-Ended Eye Liner Applicator #36
MAC Mixing Medium Shine
MAC Gloss Coat Clear