10 Tips & Tricks For Applying Makeup To Hooded Eyes

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If you're a makeup fan with hooded eyes, you may already know how difficult it can be to get your eye products to look their best. And you're not alone if you're struggling. According to the Advanced Institute for Plastic Surgery, around 11.5% of adults have hooded eyelids. But what exactly are hooded eyes? And what effect do they have on your makeup? Dr. Sindhu Siddiqi, founder of No Filter Clinic, explained the logistics to Who What Wear UK

"It refers to the drooping over the eyelid or brow bone, this can cause the eye to appear smaller and can create a tired appearance," he said. "You get heaviness of the upper eyelids and a very small lid space, which can make it harder to wear eye makeup." And, according to Lynne Sanders, cosmetic scientist and Cosmetics à la Carte founder, trying to apply makeup to hooded eyes can come with a multitude of difficulties. Namely, excess creasing and smudging. "Eyeshadow tends to crease, while eyeliner and mascara can be hard to apply, and smudge more easily," she said while speaking to Cosmetics à la Carte.

Some people may opt for plastic surgery to create a larger space on the eyelid where they can apply their makeup, but there's certainly no reason to head straight to the surgeon's office. There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to make your makeup easier to apply, and we're passing our favorites on to you.

Invest in a good eyeshadow primer

One of the best ways to apply eye makeup if you have hooded eyes is to make sure you first use a good eyeshadow primer. Eyeshadow primers are designed to prevent eyeshadow creasing, and, when it comes to hooded eyes, can really help prevent makeup from slipping and sliding all over the face. 

"Hooded eyes can easily cause transfer of eye makeup onto the lids, so I highly recommend starting out with an eyeshadow primer," makeup artist Melissa McGoff shared while speaking to Ipsy. Fellow professional makeup artist Amalie Russell agreed, sharing her own tip about primer with Who What Wear UK. "Always apply a long-wearing, water-resistant primer or eye shadow first," she said.

In addition to a primer, you'll also want to make sure you're doing your makeup with long-wearing products to avoid too much creasing and smudging around the hood of your eye. If you're wearing eyeliner, Russell recommended opting for a gel and liquid product that will stay put, while waterproof mascara and setting spray can also help your makeup remain in place.

Try creating a false crease using eyeshadow

One of the big ways hooded eyes can affect the appearance of your eyeshadow is by the lid dropping and covering the crease, making it pretty tough to add shadow to the crease for some definition. To combat that, Lynne Sanders recommended using eyeshadow to create a false crease instead. 

She suggested using a mid-toned, matte neutral eyeshadow (in something like mid-brown) just above your natural crease. "A rounded Socket Brush will be the right shape and size to apply the false crease. Then reach for a fluffier, domed Blending Brush to fade," she suggested to Cosmetics à la Carte. According to Sanders, this will help to make it more obvious that your eyes are fully open. 

Sanders then suggested using a lighter shimmery shadow on the main part of the lid to attract light and make it appear larger. You can also use the same shade in the corner of the eye to brighten and open the whole eye, as well as under the brow bone. "Apply a lighter shade over the lid and a slightly darker one just above the eye socket to create the illusion of a larger lid," makeup artist Mira Paramar recommended while speaking to Liz Earle Wellbeing.

Keep your eyes open when applying your makeup

While many of us have gotten used to doing our eye makeup with our eyes closed, so we can get the best view of the lid, if you have hooded eyes, it's not a bad idea to try applying your products with your eyes open. 

"When it comes to application, do so with your eyes open, not closed, so you can see the shape you're creating," Mira Paramar suggested to Liz Earle Wellbeing. Senior national makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics, Keri Blair, also recommended this technique to keep your makeup looking its best. "If you apply and blend when your eye is closed you may not see the crease color when you open your eye, resulting in a more closed shape," they shared.

There are also certain positions you can use in front of the mirror to really help you get the best angle for makeup application. As Allie Renee explained to Ipsy, "The goal is to lift and open up your eyes ... look straight forward in a mirror with your eyes open and relaxed while you do your makeup." Dominic Skinner, global senior makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics, had another technique for Who What Wear UK. "Look straight ahead in the mirror and imagine where that shadow should go. Then, tip your head back, and you'll see that actually where you want it to go is where your brow bone is. This lifts and opens the eye," he shared.

Contour to give the appearance of more lengthened eyes

You may be surprised to learn that contouring can affect the look of the eyes, but as hair and makeup stylist Zena Cummings explained to Dermstore, contouring your face can actually make your eyes look longer. And longer-looking eyes will help to balance out the appearance of any hooding of the lid. "Contouring with a darker color to balance the cheekbone is important to increase the look of the length of the eye," Cummings explained. "Using highlighter on the cheekbone that matches the inner corner of the eye will draw more attention to the eye," she added.

Just remember, though, that contouring, while flattering on a lot of people, isn't for everyone. If you already have a slim face with natural hollowing at the cheekbones, too much contouring may actually be aging. "We lose the plumpness in the skin as we get older, and the structure of the face changes. Contouring can hollow the face out even more," international makeup artist Liz Pugh told Good Housekeeping.

Bring attention to the lower lashline to make the eye look larger

Another way to improve the look of hooded eyes is to focus on the lower lash line. Or part of it, at least. According to Lynne Sanders, applying eyeliner only to the outer part of the lower lash line can help with the appearance of hooded eyes. "Partly accenting the lower lashline can make small eyes look bigger," she told Cosmetics à la Carte. 

The part you want to focus on is the final third. Line that part, but keep the other two-thirds light to bring attention to the outer corner. And when it comes to creating that eyeliner line, try going a little thinner and keep your liner as close to your eyes as you can. "A thicker line will result in the eyes looking very small," Melissa McGoff told Ipsy.

But it's not just eyeliner you can use to accentuate the lower lash line — eyeshadow can also be used there. "Under the eye, it is best to apply a thin mark of the dark shadow one-third of the way in, and then line the rest with the bright luminous color," Zena Cummings recommended to Dermstore.

Or smudge your eyeliner (on purpose!)

Not confident in your ability to create a flattering line using eyeliner? Then draw the product on and give it a smudge instead. "Use a pencil brush to smudge and diffuse the liner slightly, so it's a cohesive soft line across the lid," makeup artist Allie Renee explained to Ipsy, noting that an intentional smudged effect can really compliment hooded eyes. "This technique will not only make the eyes look bigger and more lifted, but it will also make your lashes look fuller," she noted. 

Celebrity makeup artist AJ Crimson also approved of this technique for hooded eyes. "Line inside the rim, and let it smudge and make its way out," they suggested to MBG Lifestyle.

But there are ways to get that smudged effect without looking like you've been out all night and slept in your makeup. Create a thinner pencil line first so that the liner doesn't stretch too far over the eye (because panda eyes only really look chic on a panda). You could also try using a Q-tip to do the smudging to get a more precise diffused line, as your finger can not only smudge the product too much, but it can also contain bacteria you don't want near your eyes.

Tightlining may be the (occasional) way to go for hooded peepers

If you've not heard of tightlining, the eyeliner technique involves applying a pencil eyeliner to the waterline of the eyes. That can be either on the top lash line, the bottom, or both. This technique can really help hooded eyes to look more open. For some looks, your first instinct may be to tightline as well as use eyeliner on the outer part of the eye — but Mira Paramar suggested to Liz Earle Wellbeing that you should just tightline instead. "This creates a wide-eyed look without closing the eyes or making them look smaller than they are," she explained.

Still, tightlining is best done only occasionally, as there can be some dangers associated with putting eyeliner so close to the eye. Optometrist Dr. Alexa Hecht weighed in on the downsides while speaking to Coveteur. "When you're putting products on your waterline, you're basically blocking those glands. The glands are directly on the waterline and the waterline contains our meibomian glands — they secrete oil into our tears," she explained. So you may only want to give this method a go on special occasions.

If you're a winged eyeliner fan, adapt it to your hooded eyes

Winged eyeliner may not seem like the easiest look to achieve when you have hooded eyes because of the way the eyelid skin can sometimes sit over the line. But you certainly can get winged eyeliner even if your eyes are super hooded. It's just going to take a little work.

Professional makeup artist and beauty educator Jaleesa Jaikaran shared her best tips and tricks with Byrdie, saying that those with hooded eyes can absolutely get the winged liner effect, but may just want to keep the wing a little smaller. "The thing is with hooded eyes and winged liner, is sometimes you might need to create an extra dip in order to see it," Jaikaran explained. "So what you can do is create a really small line and connect the tip of that line to the top of your lashes." 

Amalie Russell also shared a winged eyeliner pro tip with Who What Wear UK. She explained the process for those who have hooded eyes, "[Create] a line going straight across over the fold or hooded eyelid so that when eyes are closed or looking down, the eyeliner looks like a hockey stick or check mark."

Curling your eyelashes can make hooded eyes appear bigger

When it comes to balancing out hooded eyes, one of the best things to do is try to make the eye appear larger. And one of the best ways to do that is by giving your lashes a squeeze from an eyelash curler. Alexandra Compton, product development manager at Credo, explained to MBG Lifestyle that those who have hooded downturned eyes often find their lashes don't hold curl well, which can actually end up making the eye look even smaller. But a good eyelash curler can change that. 

"Using an eyelash curler helps elongate the lashes and points them up rather than straight out, making them appear much longer, giving you a more open eye look and long full lashes," Dema Jaber, a makeup artist and the founder of Lash Star Beauty, told Real Simple.

While many people curl their lashes before applying mascara (which you can do to get the best results from your lash products), Compton shared that curling your lashes even on days you're not planning on putting any mascara on can help open them up and appear wider. That will help counteract any hooding around the lid that makes the eye appear smaller.

Don't forget to define the eyebrows

So many people skip makeup on the eyebrows when they're in a rush, or simply want a more natural look. But if you have hooded eyes, it's a good idea to make sure you're still filling in your brows. "When using techniques for a hooded eye shape, don't neglect your eyebrows as they play a crucial role in balancing your face," senior national makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics, Keri Blair, revealed to InStyle.

But defining your brows doesn't mean you have to go super heavy or dark with product. In fact, Dior pro international makeup artist Jamie Coombes explained to Who What Wear UK that those with hooded eyes should try to use a lighter hand when it comes to filling in your brows. "Try not to overdraw brows, as this gives a heavier look and closes the eye. Instead, lightly define brows with two shades lighter than your usual colour, and brush the brow hair upward to open and lift the eye shape," Coombes recommended.