How to Get Standout Eyes

Want to make your eyes really stand out? Need some tips on which eyeliner or mascara is best for your baby blues? In part two of “Makeup 101,” a three-part makeup series on “Today,” beauty editor and makeup guru Bobbi Brown shares some advice on how to look your best. Here are her tips:

When I make a woman’s eyes up, I take into consideration her natural coloring and her personal style. For some women, a neutral eye shadow and a coat of mascara is more than enough. And then there are other women who feel their best with full eye makeup on: base color, lid color, contour, highlighter, liner and mascara. You have a few choices when it comes to eye shadow:

Eye shadow
I love powder shadow because it is versatile and easy to work with. Choose from soft matte (an all-around flattering option) or shimmery (find a formula that’s more sheer than frosted). Leave the glittery shadows to the teens. Many powder shadows are formulated to be used dry or damp, which allows you to adjust the intensity of the color.

If you have especially dry eyelids, cream shadow is a good choice. Plus, it’s incredibly portable and you don’t need a separate brush to apply it. The downside is that this formula tends to crease, so pass on it if you have less-than-smooth eyelids.

The longest-lasting shadow formula is cream-to-powder shadow. It’s ideal if you have a lot of naturally occurring oil in your eyelids and looks best on smooth skin. To avoid a crepey effect, smooth cream-to-powder shadow on bare lids and don’t layer it with other shadow formulas.

To make eyes really stand out, try lining them. Here are your options for lining eyes:

Eye liner
Powder shadow is my go-to for lining eyes because it’s easy to work with and very versatile (depending on how you apply it, you can create a clean, sharp line or a soft, diffused line). Use an eye liner brush that’s thin and flat with straight or slightly angled bristles. To prevent dark specks of shadow from falling under the eyes when you line, lightly blow or tap on the brush to get rid of excess shadow. My other trick is to dampen the brush before I dip it into the shadow — in addition to ensuring that the shadow stays on the brush, this also makes the shadow last longer.

Eye pencils are a popular option because they’re relatively mistake-proof. They’re a good choice if you don’t want to fuss around with a separate makeup brush. The downside is that their wax-based formula makes them prone to smearing. If you can’t part with your pencil, consider layering powder shadow over it to make it longer-lasting.

For the most dramatic effect, go for liquid or gel liner. The waterproof, long-lasting formula makes this a good choice if you’re prone to tearing or want your liner to last from day to night.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach for applying eye makeup. However, here is my basic step-by-step for creating a classic eye. You can use it as a starting point and adjust it depending on the occasion or how much time you have. Choose a light, medium, and dark eye shadow shade. Sweep the light shade all over the lid with a wide eye shader brush. Dust the medium shade on the lower lid using an eye shadow brush. Apply the dark shade along the lashline with an eye liner brush. After lining the upper lashline, look straight ahead to see if there are any gaps that need to be filled in. If you also line the lower lashline, make sure top and bottom liner meet at the outer corner of the eye.

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Many women I know would never dream of leaving the house without mascara on. And with due reason — it’s an easy way to dress up your eyes. Mascara comes in a range of formulas that offer different looks and benefits. Here’s a look at the most popular formulas available today:

Thickening. Pigments, waxes and film formers in the formula build up individual lashes to create a denser look — making it ideal if you have a sparse lashline. Thickening formulas usually come with brush wands that have tightly-packed bristles to allow for thicker application. This formula can go on clumpy; you can avoid this by wiggling the wand as you comb it through lashes. If needed, separate lashes afterwards with a clean mascara wand or lash brush.

Lengthening. Lengthening mascaras add length to short lashes with special filament-type fillers — lashes are enhanced, but still natural-looking. The formula is thinner in consistency than the thickening variety so it goes on in sheer coats. The thin, widely spaced bristles on the brush wand of lengthening mascaras define lashes without adding bulk.

Waterproof. This long-lasting formula contains special pigments that resist moisture. It’s a good choice if you want mascara that will stay on through a workout or if you’re prone to tearing. Strong polymers in the formula can dry out lashes, so you might not want to wear it seven days a week. To get waterproof mascara off, you’ll need an oil-based makeup remover.

I think that true black mascara looks great on everyone. Choose brown mascara if you want a more natural look or if you are a light blonde or redhead. Pass on trendy colors like blue, plum and hunter. Before applying mascara, blot the end of the brush on tissue to get rid of excess mascara. Don’t pump the wand in the tube because this will push air into the mascara and cause it to dry out. Holding the mascara wand parallel to the floor, work from the base to the tip of the lashes. Roll the wand as you go to separate lashes and avoid clumps.

Always apply mascara to upper lashes from underneath; brushing mascara over the top will weigh the lashes down. If you choose to apply mascara on lower lashes, use a lighter hand than you did on upper lashes. Skip mascara on lower lashes if you rub your eyes a lot (it will smudge) or if you have very dark circles (this will only make them look darker). Apply one to two coats if you want a subtle look and two to three coats if you want a more dramatic effect.

Curling your lashes isn’t necessary, but I recommend it if you have lashes that stick straight out or point downwards. Make sure you use a lash curler that’s wide enough to cover the entire lashline and that the rubber pads are in place properly (otherwise the metal edge of the curler will break your lashes). Always curl mascara-free lashes; curling lashes after applying mascara makes them more prone to breakage. For a natural looking curl, start crimping at the base of the lashes and “walk” along the length of the lashes to the tips