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Five Makeup Tricks to Make Eyes Look Smaller

With proper application of liner, dark shadow, and mascara, you can make your overly large eyes look smaller.

With proper application of liner, dark shadow, and mascara, you can make your overly large eyes look smaller.

Make Large Eyes Look Smaller With Makeup

If you have big eyelids or oversized, bulbous eyes, you can use eyeshadow techniques to visually reduce the size of your eyes.

A visitor to one of my eye makeup blogs asked for advice. She felt that her eyes were too big and round for the rest of her face, and she wanted ways to minimize her eyelids. So, here we go: an article about making oversized eyes look gorgeous!

Your Main Goal: Visually Minimize

The main thing you want to remember when trying to make large eyes look smaller is to visually cut down the surface area of the eyeball and lid. In the five steps below, you’ll see the word “visually” mentioned several times. We will learn shading techniques that trick the onlooker into seeing your eyes as smaller than they really are.

Think of this visual minimization as the equivalent of wearing a tailored black and white dress versus a pleated white peasant dress. Black reflects no light and will visually diminish your body size, which is why so many people love to wear black! The color of a white dress makes your body appear wider and heavier. Following similar rules when applying eyeshadow will subtract from the surface area of large eyes, giving them a smaller appearance.

Apply eyeshadow primer powder to your eyelid first.

Apply eyeshadow primer powder to your eyelid first.

Step 1: Apply Eyeshadow Primer

If you have dry skin, choose a cream primer. Women with oily skin will have better results using a powder primer. Apply this base shadow with your fingertips or a small powder brush immediately before using tinted eyeshadow and liner.

Why Is Primer Important?

This step will prevent liner from smudging and eyeshadow from creasing, giving you long-lasting and oil-free wear. It absorbs skin oils to prevent eye makeup meltdown.

Line your inner eyelid rims with a waterproof eyeliner pencil or a gel eyeliner and brush.

Line your inner eyelid rims with a waterproof eyeliner pencil or a gel eyeliner and brush.

Step 2: Tightline Your Eyes

Use a waterproof eyeliner pencil or gel eyeliner and brush to the upper and lower inner rims of your eyelids. The best colors for this are black, dark brown, and navy blue. When looking to make eyes look smaller, always avoid lighter colors like white, ivory, and pastels.

How Does Tightlining Work?

Tightlining eyes brings out depth, minimizing a bulbous eye's shape and making them appear deeper-set. This will also help lashes look fuller and lusher, which will fill in extra space that makes eyelids appear larger.

Dark shadow will help make large eyes look smaller, as it does for Adele.

Dark shadow will help make large eyes look smaller, as it does for Adele.

Step 3: Apply Dark Eyeshadow to Outer Lids

Choose a deep shade of eyeshadow and use a brush to sweep onto the outer corners of lids, blending in toward the center. Use any shade, as long as it is in the dark/deep color range. Earth tones work best for some skin tones, while jewel tones complement others. For a daytime look, try using shimmery brown or plum color. For nighttime, navy blue, gunmetal grey, or smoky black will create a sultry look.

How Does Dark Eyeshadow Make Large Eyelids Look Smaller?

The darker the color, the less light will reflect off the surface of the eyelid, making them appear smaller. Think of it as the equivalent of wearing a fitted black T-shirt versus a ruffled white peasant shirt. The black shirt will visually diminish your body size. The white shirt will accentuate it and make you appear heavier.

Using dark eyeshadow is an important step if you are trying to minimize large eyelids. Dark colors will shade the area, visually diminishing the width and height of the eyelid. To achieve a bright-eyed look, use soft, shimmery contrast colors on the lid's mid-center and extend to inner corners.

Step 4: Apply Winged Eyeliner (Optional)

This step is optional, but you will find it exceptionally helpful if you have down-turned or almond-shaped “sleepy” eyes. Nothing makes you look tired or uninterested more than eyes that end in a downward slope.

Take a liquid eyeliner pen (or liner brush and gel or cream liner) and apply to the upper lash line, extending the color out 1/4 inch from where your eyelid ends. Since it’s very difficult to explain the proper application technique for winged liner in words, check out the above video for a simple tutorial. Makeup artist Emily Susanah shows her "winged eyeliner" evolution and highlights techniques to create the perfect wing.

Notice how the upturned extended line makes eyes appear longer and thinner, rather than round and bulbous?

Step 5: Curl Lashes and Apply Mascara

Hold your lashes in an eyelash curler for 10-15 seconds, then sweep on your favorite waterproof mascara. Pay special attention to the center and outer lashes.

How Does Curling Lashes and Applying Mascara Help Minimize Large Eyes?

Curling lashes will uplift the eye area, decreasing lid height and allowing the outer corners of the eyes to look upturned. Mascara holds the curl in place and adds thickness, which helps visually shrink the surface of lids.

If you are heading out to a special event (especially one where pictures will be taken) consider applying fake lashes or a few individual lashes. Depending on the look you want to achieve, false lashes can hide large lids and visually reshape the entire eye. For example, if you attach a few individual lashes to the center of your lids, your eyes will appear less almond shaped and more round. If you apply some lashes to the outer corners of the lash line, your eyes will look longer, skinnier, and less round.

Large eyes are beautiful!

Large eyes are beautiful!

Enjoy Your Gorgeous Eyes!

If you follow these tips, you should be able to visibly reduce the surface area of your eyes and eyelids. You’ll achieve a deeper-set eye that appears to lay flatter against your face and blends well with your other features. You’ll also notice that you look more awake and vibrant after minimizing down-turned lids. Now go out and flaunt those peepers!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


samara on December 31, 2017:


Annie Stephens on March 21, 2017:

Thank you . very much. !

akunna on July 23, 2016:

Thank u, can dark colors be worn by a bride?

Jasmeet Kaur from India on May 02, 2016:

I always wanted to make my eyes look smaller. Thanks for the guide!!