While many beautiful things have been written about eyes—not to mention countless songs—I’m going to throw out another eye truism about which absolutely no one waxes poetic: Eyes are the first place that really show your age. You’ve heard of people with gray hair who still look youthful (mostly men, but that’s a topic for another day), but crinkly eyes? Have I made my point? No one says you look young despite the crepey lids, crow’s feet, under-eye circles and bags. No one.
Being a 43-year-old woman with a job and kids, the demise of my eyes has been in, well, sharp focus lately. Although it takes time for eyes to get old looking (collagen needs to degrade, blood vessels need to give out, sun damage needs to leave its mark), the cumulative effect seems to have hit me overnight.
Until very recently, okay, until an hour ago, when I met with one of my favorite makeup artists, Sarah Lucero—Global Director of Education for Stila Cosmetics and an old (though you wouldn’t know it in her case) friend—my strategy for dealing with my aging eyes has been real simple, indeed: Cover Everything. With concealer, with eyeliner, with mascara, with eye drops, with sunglasses, with a pillow case—no ammunition too strong, no regimen too time-consuming.
I was telling Sarah all about my blitzkrieg approach to aging eyes, when she casually noted that there is actually a point of diminishing returns with this method, namely when you’ve spackled yourself so thoroughly that you just look artificial. Oh it’s a look. Just not necessarily a younger one.
She gave me a smarter solution. First, cover less. Sarah said something that is still reverberating in my mind: “I like a little under-eye circle peeking through.” Huh? Yes, even babies have some blue tones under their eyes; covering blueness completely is just weird. Back to that artificial thing. The point is to blend your concealer just in the innermost corners of your eyes, where those natural blue tones that everyone has appear more like a bruise (no one wants to look punched in the face, after all).
Number two: Step away from black. If your eyes are old and tired to begin with, why rim them in heavy black liner and charcoal shadow? You know what happens when you do? The makeup inevitably melts a bit with your body heat and turns grayish. In effect, using all this dark makeup is like guaranteeing you’ll have dark circles later in the day. Instead, shake things up with brown (or burgundy) pencil and lighter shadow shades (think: beiges, pinks, and even sheer silver or gold). They define without overly darkening your eyes.
Last, curl your lashes and sweep on a coat of black (yes, black) mascara. The black mascara contrasts nicely with the lighter makeup elsewhere on the lid creating a “pop,” as makeup artists call it. Translation: It makes you look more wide-eyed and awake. For its part, a lash curler is less invasive and every bit as effective, in my experience, as an eye job (which I’m not ruling out, full disclosure). It also separates your lashes so you don’t need to brush on 25 coats of black mascara a la Kardashian (incidentally, you want to see what heavy eye makeup looks like on a 50-something versus a 30-something? Look at side-by-side photos of Kris and Kim. I rest my case: After a certain age, too much eye makeup just makes you look older).
So there you have it, how to look younger, in the blink of a minimally-made-up eye.
Necessary eye products: Cover Girl & Olay Simply Ageless Eye Corrector, Elizabeth Arden Smoky Eyes Pencil in Mulberry, Stila Eye Shadow Pan in Compact in Kitten, and BeneFit Cosmetics They’re Real mascara in black.