How to Contour Your Eyes for Your Eye Shape

We love hearing from our panel of beauty pros about the latest and greatest beauty tricks. Today, we're lucky enough to hear from makeup pro Rachel Halsey, who sounds off on how to contour your eyes for your eye shape.

One of the things we first notice about people is eyes. Eye colors and shapes come in so many variations, it’s no wonder we are so obsessed with enhancing our most captivating feature! It’s pretty easy to make dramatic enhancements to our peepers via custom contacts, mascara, brow shaping and lash extensions. But did you know that eye shadow provides the easiest way to accentuate and even alter the eye shape? Eye shadow is basically another tool for contouring. Whether you simply want to enhance your natural eye shape or if you want to transform it completely, contouring your eyes is the way to go. Basically, it is the same principle as contouring your face: Light comes forward and dark recedes, and highlighter accentuates the features you want to stand out. Want to learn how to contour like the pros? Read on!

How to Contour Your Eyes

Prepping Your Peepers

The most common eye shapes include almond, round, hooded, down-turned eyes, small, close-set, wide-set, deep-set, monolid eyes and protruding. Before you get started on contouring, figure out what shape category your eyes fall under by reading this.

Primer is the first step and key to holding your eye shadow in place, preventing creasing and enhancing pigment. In other words: Don’t skip this step! Try an anti-creasing formula like L’Oréal Paris De-Crease.

Contouring Magic

Contouring can be done using a range of color combination options from neutral tones, to neon and glitters! Just keep in mind the general rules of highlighting and shadowing, and your eyes will be mesmerizing!

Personally, I like to use palettes, because they are compact, and contain colors that are designed to work together. An ideal nude palette perfect for everyday contouring is Urban Decay Naked Basics. It contains every shade you need to create custom nude looks. Make sure you have some great eyeliners on hand as well, starting with a basic brown and black (try NYX Cosmetics Slide On Pencils).              

Before I get into the variations of contouring for your individual eye shape, let me preface by saying there are no set rules, simply guidance. Like any art form, there are no hard and fast rules with eye makeup -- that would take all of the fun out of it! I am simply offering suggestions to help you figure out what works best for you. You are then free to put your personal spin on it to make it your own. Alright, let’s get to contouring!

Monolid eyes: For the beauties with monolid eyes, create a gradient effect with your eye shadows to add dimension. Apply darker colors close to the lash line, a soft neutral in the center and a shinier or more shimmery tone near the brow.

Upturned eyes: Apply dark shadow or liner along the outer lower corner of the eye, thereby making the outer corner appear lower and balance out the eye shape. Continue on the lid with a medium-toned shadow, and then highlight your brow bone. You can also bring the shadow along the lower lash line to enlarge the shape. If you prefer to accentuate your upturned eye shape, add winged eyeliner.

Down-turned eyes: Apply a black or brown liner close to the upper lash line, and blend a neutral shadow across the lid, but only on the outer two-thirds of the eye. This creates a lifting effect.

Hooded eyes: To the girls with the hooded eyes, use medium to dark matte colors and dust them lightly (emphasis on lightly!) on the lid to avoid overwhelming the eye. Highlight the inner corner of your eyes and your brow bone. Make sure your brows are well-groomed to give you as much lid space as possible. With hooded eyes, you can also line the waterline to enhance your eye shape.

Round eyes: If you have round eyes, apply medium to dark shades over the center of the eyes and use light shades to highlight the corners. In doing so, you narrow the overall shape of the eye. Eyeliner in the waterline can also narrow the shape a bit.

Almond eyes: If you have almond eyes, you have what many consider to be the ideal shape. You can try just about any look with your eye makeup. Try a classic contouring technique that involves washing the lid with a medium, matte brown or gray shade (not too dark) and working a darker shade into the outer crease to accentuate your almond shape and make it stand out. Blend the look well so your color transition looks natural.

Small eyes: These eyes tend to be overwhelmed when you use dark colors, so stick with light to medium shades and avoid weighing down your lash line with too much liner or mascara. You can use a soft lighter shadow along the lower lash line to expand the eye area and give a smoky look depending on color choice. I recommend using softer versions of greys or bronzes. There are so many beautiful lighter versions of the smoky eye, and they can look just as sexy as the darker ones.

Large eyes: These pretty peepers provide more working space, so you can play around with a variety of looks. Medium to dark shades tend to look better, though, since light shades can make the eye look even larger than it already is. Again, you may want to line your waterline, because lucky for you, it will only enhance your eyes. For large eyes, after applying your base, you can go with a shimmery shadow across the entire lid. Follow by contouring with a darker shade in the crease. 

Desperate for more makeup advice? Check out these makeup tips and tricks!



    About the Author: Rachel is a Los Angeles-based makeup artist specializing in television, print and red carpet events.