Eye Health

Updated 13 February 2015

Makeup tips for eyes

Makeup tips for women who wear glasses and contact lenses.


Many women who wear glasses and contact lenses are familiar with the problem - it can be quite difficult to create dramatic eye makeup when you wear eyeglasses.

Not only do the lenses and frames have to be taken into account; the type of vision problem you are correcting plays an important role as well. Your eyes may look smaller or larger than normal; eye makeup may look different behind your glasses. How can you address these issues?

A pair of glasses may be a beautiful fashion accessory. However, especially women who need strong lenses find it a challenge to pair their glasses with makeup. Below are some hints for women who have this problem.

The first thing you need to think about is the use of the proper foundation for your face. Make sure your makeup is wipe- and water-resistant, so that unattractive lines below the glasses and at the sides of the nose do not develop.

Given that the frames of glasses frequently cast a shadow across the face, it helps to use a foundation that is one shade lighter than your natural skin tone in these areas. Apply a thin layer to the lid and beneath the eyes.

If your skin has a tendency to be oily, the use of a light powder will help to reduce shiny areas in the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin).
Women who wear glasses should pay particular attention to their eye makeup. If your vision is very blurry without your glasses, ask your optometrist about “makeup glasses.” These glasses allow you to fold the lenses away individually.

As a result, one of your eyes can see very well while you are applying makeup to the other one. Of course you can also use a magnifying makeup mirror. It’s another way to simplify the application of eye makeup and one that is great for travel as well.

Makeup tips for farsighted women who wear glasses

In particular women who are extremely farsighted and who wear plus-power lenses are familiar with the problem of magnification of the eyes behind the lenses. To compensate for this effect, use a smart makeup technique.

Opt for dark, matte eyeshadow (brown, grey or green hues) to achieve a visual minimisation of their eyes. Eyeshadow that is liquid or creamy in consistency is a better product for you than powder-based alternatives, because the glasses amplify the small loose colour particles powder contains.

Refrain from using shiny or glittering eyeshadow, given that these effects are also emphasised by the lenses.
Apply eye shadow from the inner corner of the eye to the outside without extending beyond the crease of the eyelid.

Emphasize the fringes of the lid using dark eyeliner or a pencil. This will make your eyes look smaller. Apply everything with great care as the enlargement effect of your lenses will make makeup bloopers more evident. Do not apply too much mascara on the top and use no mascara or very little on the bottom.

Makeup tips for nearsighted women who wear Glasses

Nearsighted women who wear glasses face the exact opposite problem. Unfortunately, their glasses make their eyes look smaller. Consequently, nearsighted women should avoid dark eye shadow and thick eyeliners.

Choose bright and shimmering colours such as rose, lavender, beige, light grey or white.

To make your eyes look wide open, you can apply a lighter coloured eye shadow to the interior corner of the eye and choose a slightly darker hue as of the centre of the lid.

Extend it all the way out to the exterior corner and allow it to get progressively darker.

Choose white eyeliner for the inner lid of the eye. If you prefer to use a liner pencil, make sure you select a brighter hue such as grey or brown and apply liner only from the last third of the width of the eye to the outer corner. Apply lots of mascara to further increase the size of your eyes.

A Few General Hints

Polarised lenses and shaded lenses tend to tone down colours; so use your eye makeup more boldly.

Make sure you match your eyebrows to the frame of your glasses.

Pluck excessive hair growth periodically, but do not go too far – the current trend calls for a beautiful natural look.

You can also use liner to enhance your eyebrows. However, make sure that the colour you choose is not too dark.

Contact lens users should always insert their lenses before they apply makeup. This prevents makeup particles from getting under the lens, which can cause the eyes to tear up and may make your makeup runny.

Given that powder has a tendency to push itself between the eye and the lens, contact lens wearers should definitely choose liquid or cream-based eye shadow.

Use eye liner on the upper lid and not on the bottom one, because it may get beneath the lens as well. This approach will prevent itchy, teary eyes and irritations.

If you are wearing a distinct or colourful frame, make sure you use a more subtle lipstick colour or gloss. If your glasses have a more understated classic look, you should definitely choose a bolder lipstick colour.

Of course you can also do something to ensure your lenses are never too thick. Modern high refractive materials allow women who need strong prescription glasses to get thinner fashionable lenses (High-Index) and maintain a very natural look. 

Also, modern aspheric lenses greatly reduce the magnification or minimisation effects of higher lens powers.
(Carl Zeiss Vision/ September 2010)


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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