How to apply makeup on small or close-set eyes

Each eye shape needs specially adapted makeup to flatter the eye and correct imperfections. In another article, I spoke of hooded or droopy eyes. Today it’s the turn of the small eye. This technique could be good for close-set eyes also. So if you have small, close-set eyes, it’ll be even more useful!

Here’s a photo of a small eye without makeup. This will be my base for each step.

1) Shaping the eyebrows

The thicker and lower the eyebrow, the smaller the eyelid will appear and consequently the eye also. So it’s essential to have a well-groomed brow that will harmonize with the shape of the face but also with the shape of the eyes. If you wish to have thick brows, you must have large eyelids and eyes. So unless that’s your case, you’ll have to suffer a little and pluck your brows. If you wish to do it yourself, click the link to see an article that could help you. If not, a beautician or a brow stylist (yes, they exist!) could advise you about your best eyebrow shape.

See on the photo how the eye is opened up and looks brighter.

2) Applying concealer

Eyes with dark circles underneath or dark lids create a shadowy area which inevitably makes the eye look smaller. So for small eyes, it’s even more important to camouflage these areas with a concealer. To see this technique, consult my article on the subject. Apply concealer under the eyes and on the lid to create a uniform surface and brighten the eyes.

3) Applying a light-coloured eye shadow

For small eyes, a light-reflecting eye shadow (white, ivory, peach, beige, yellowish beige or very pale pink) should be applied all over the lid, especially in the inner corner, to create a luminous halo, and also on the brow bone. Ideally, use a pearly shadow, but if you have a lot of wrinkles, go for a satiny finish.

4) Applying medium to dark coloured shadow

For this stage, use a powder shadow in any colour of your choice as long as it’s medium to dark and creates a shadowy area.

Contrary to other styles of eye makeup where we begin on the mobile lid and extend upwards to the eyelid crease, the small-eye-technique begins beyond the outer corner of the eye (without touching the crease. Then an arc is drawn with a large soft-bristled brush, extending upwards above the crease but not past the centre of the eye. Blend the colour outwards then continue the application under the eye, stooping opposite the pupil (never go past the centre of the eyes with the dark shadow). The same goes for eye shadow applied on the upper lid (stop opposite the pupil).

The aim is to « stretch » the shadow outwards, towards the temples, much more than with other styles of eye makeup. This makes the eyes look bigger and creates the illusion of wide-set eyes.

When I looked at the photo, I realized that there wasn’t quite enough shadow under the eye, because you really should create that lying-down V shape, “<”, so don’t neglect the under-eye area.

5) Applying eyeliner or eye contour pencil

For this step, you can use a pencil, eyeliner or a powder shadow that you apply with an eyeliner brush at the base of the lashes: this gives a softer, more delicate look than a pencil.

A pencil liner, if applied properly, can make the eyes look bigger. If you don’t want to create the opposite effect, start at the outer corner of the eye and stop in the middle, opposite the iris, exactly like the dark shadow. If you apply the pencil right to the inner corner, you eyes will look smaller. So that the line doesn’t suddenly stop in the middle, it’s essential to blur the end of the line with a cotton swab, your finger, an eyeliner brush or a sponge-tip applicator. The line should appear to fade away and get gradually thinner and thinner until you can no longer see it.

The line should be as close as possible to the lashes, Draw a line close to the upper lashes and then the lower lashes so that you create a horizontal V shape like this: “<”.

Avoid kohl applied on the lower inner lid: this will make your eyes look smaller.

6) Applying mascara

It’s a fact that mascara makes your eyes look bigger so that’s a big plus for small eyes! To get the best results, curl your lashes with an eyelash curler before applying mascara to open up the eye. Downward-pointing lashes create shadows and you don’t want that.

Volumizing mascaras can weigh down your lashes and create shadow. That’s why I prefer to recommend curling or lengthening mascara (or a combination of both) for small eyes.

You should also apply mascara to your lower lashes if you have small eyes: it’ll make them look even bigger.

7) Brow makeup

To give structure and character to your face, making up your brows is a must. Some people are born with thick, dark brows, so it’s possible to skip this step but for all the others, it’s essential because it frames and defines the eye. You can use an eyebrow pencil or eyebrow powder shadow for a more natural look and ease of application.

This look gives a more structured look and the eye appears wider.

Don’t forget that this is in fact an optical illusion, a little bit like a horizontally-striped sweater makes you body look wider. It isn’t really wider, it just looks that way. On the before and after photos, the result is not really striking because it’s a computer graphic (virtual eye makeup, virtual lashes, virtual eyebrow-plucking…) but in real life, with a real person and real makeup, I guarantee you that this technique will give you bigger eyes.

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