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The Makeup Maniac

The Makeup Maniac: Makeup for Glasses Wearers

July 14th 2016 / Anna Hunter


Getty Images / Instagram @emrata

Life through a lens needn’t be blinkered; here’s how to make eyes smoulder behind your specs…

For the record, frames are the height of chic these days. ‘Too cool for school’ rather than ‘teacher’s pet’, hipsters are adopting all manner of eyewear, often for sartorial rather than actual ‘seeing’ purposes. Those of us who actually require a pair of glasses on a daily basis have clearly been living this ‘trend’ for a good while now, so riding the style wave where lenses are concerned comes naturally. What doesn’t always follow, however, is what to do with your eyes behind your glasses, as whether you’re shortsighted or longsighted, your lenses will typically distort the size of your eye, either magnifying them in the case of long sighted prescriptions or making them look smaller as often happens if you wear glasses because you’re shortsighted. Then there’s the possibility that you’re shortsighted in one eye and longsighted in the other. Oh joys. Whether you want to nail a bit of daily definition, cultivate a bold look that doesn’t compete for attention with your frames or establish once and for all how to offset the effect of your lenses, I’ve done some digging.

Makeup artist Justine Jenkins is well placed to act as guru to girls in glasses; she wears them when getting to work on the faces of women such as Fearne Cotton, Amy Poehler and Charlotte Rampling, occasionally bringing in a headtorch for flawless vision even in the most dodgy light, resulting in correspondingly flawless makeup looks of course. She’s dedicated to great makeup, no matter the conditions, and she has a six point plan for spectacle wearers wanting to suss out everything from awkward liner to what to do if today, it just isn’t happening:

1. Be ready for your close up. “It’s fair to say that it’s difficult to apply your makeup while wearing your glasses. Remedy this by using a magnifying mirror so that you can see what you’re doing (*obviously take off your glasses beforehand..otherwise...trippy).”

When working at close quarters, long handled brushes can be hard to manoeuvre, so experiment with non-flimsy travel sized, short handled or retractable brushes. Sigma Travel Brush Kit, £69, is the stuff of dreams, but if it’s surplus to your requirements/budget, Eco Tools Mini Brushes, £4.99, are versatile, as well as, you know, cheap.

2. Draw the line. “If you want to showcase your eyes rather than your glasses, a bit of definition is important. A slick of cream eyeshadow, with an eyeliner crayon applied closer to the lashline, is such a wearable look, and it’s easy and quick to blend too. Try applying RMS Beauty Eye Polish, £19, or Becca Eye Tint, £20, with a finger, or if you’re feeling arty, EcoTools Full Eyeshadow Brush, £5.85. Then trace Wild About Beauty Eyeshadow Pencil, £14.50, or a NARS Soft Touch Shadow Pencil, £18.50, along the upper and lower lash line. Dab over with your ring finger to diffuse the colour if you prefer a subtle look (lenses can sometimes make graphic or harder lines look harsh).”


Where liner is concerned, the thicker your frames, the thicker you can go on the lid. As for shadow colour, light, pearly shades will make eyes look brighter and bigger, which is ideal if your glasses make your eyes appear smaller, while smokier mattes will have the opposite effect if you fear appearing googly eyed. Flicks and cat’s eyes can also help to balance out the lens and frames, opening and elongating the eye. For additional eye popping points, choose your liner and/or shadow in a shade that picks up any colour in your frames. If your frames are black, or you’ve got no frame at all, go wild.

3. Lash out. Lashes whacking your lenses may indicate that you’re blessed, Bambi style, but it soon gets old after about a minute. Ditto bushy false lashes. Justine has a handy contingency plan:

“Use eyelash curlers and choose a volumising, rather than lengthening, mascara.”

Build intensity at the roots of the lashes, and if you find that mascara clumps and falls into your eyes, or simply looks messy thanks to zoomed in lenses, opt for a mascara with a comb-like wand for separation. Too Cool for School Dinoplatz Escalator Mascara, £19, is not only aptly named for glasses wearers (see above), but it whips through lashes with clean, glossy aplomb and has the kind of packaging that puts a smile on your face first thing, even if you’re bleary eyed and facing a day of spreadsheets. If behind-the-lens condensation is more of a bother, Lancôme Hypnôse Volume Waterproof, £23.50, is undoubtedly expensive, but the curl, definition and lasting power that it affords is pretty much second to none in my opinion, and I’ve tried many, many a mascara.


4. Don’t slip up. Speaking of condensation, it can get sweaty behind those frames, as Justine well knows:

“If you find that you get a little hot behind your lenses and makeup slips, try sealing makeup with a fixing spray such as Urban Decay All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray, £22.”


For additional insurance, prepping skin pre-makeup can anchor base, shadow and liner in place. If you’re prone to oiliness, a mattifying primer will help to prevent skin becoming slick, and has the added benefit of encouraging glasses to stay in place on the bridge of your nose. Bobbi Brown Instant Confidence Stick, £26, is a doddle to spot apply to the nose area, not to mention top up if things start going south. Obviously if your glasses are sliding around all over the shop, it may be that you’re wearing the wrong size of frame for your face. Ingeniously Bobbi Brown has something up her sleeve for that particular problem too, by way of her flattering eyewear range. Peruse it here before watching her ‘makeup for glasses’ masterclass.

5. Brush up on brows. It may be that your glasses cover your eyebrows, so you can go low maintenance in the eyebrow grooming department, but if yours are hovering above the line of your frames, a bit of neat brow architecture will make you look instantly polished, as Justine emphasises:

“Groomed brows provide a great counterpoint to glasses frames. Anastasia Beverly Hills is a favourite brand of mine; it will cover literally every brow requirement you may have. The key is not to over pluck if you tweeze them yourself. If you're not sure which hairs to remove, draw over them first with a nude kohl pencil, to see if the shape works. After they've been groomed, fill in any gaps with either a fine brow pencil or a brow shadow and an angled brush.”

If you prefer to call in the professionals, blink brow bar excels in threading, tinting, thickening and general day to day brow care. While you’re there the new Ultimate Lash Curl treatment, £65, will deliver Disney-worthy doe eyed lashes, and prevent lens/lash bash for an extended amount of time.

6. Change the focus. Glasses can be the ideal accessory to impactful makeup elsewhere on your face. Justine has just the thing:

“Whether for daytime or evening, there’s something about a bright lip that looks especially fabulous when teamed with glasses. Add mascara for a lick more definition if you like. Urban Decay does bright well, and the array of shades is impressive.”

The recently launched Urban Decay Vice lipstick collection features 100 shades, with a choice of six different finishes, so at least one should hit the spot.


A final word…

There are times when the shadow cast by glasses can make dark circles look like deep, black caverns of despair. For those times, there is Becca Under Eye Brightener, £22, teamed with Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, £38 (Lisa Eldridge’s preferred budge proof under eye booster). Starting with a light layer of the appropriately named Liz Earle EyeBright Soothing Eye Lotion, £13.25, will hydrate and enliven the eye area all the more. In short I’ve found the holy trinity of eye alertness, no coffee needed. A dab of highlighter at the tear duct and along cheekbones and your eyes and face shape will come to the fore, allowing you to wear your glasses with serious class, rather than them wearing you, which is never the idea.


Follow Justine on Instagram @JustineJenkins and Anna @AnnyHunter

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