Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Smokey Eye or the Bold Pout?

Perfect eyes

I'm not saying you have to choose between having smokey, smoldering eyes or a brightly painted lip, you can have both. Granted if your goal is to look like a Joan Collins reject or a low-class call girl, then yes, by all means cake it all on. 
Now, there are always legitimate exceptions to every rule. Drag queens on stage, those attending red carpet events or a runway model can get away with bold eyes and lips. I'll even say you, on occasion, can get away with both, but darling, if you don't know how to do it properly and are not familiar with the phrase "less is more" or how to tone both down a bit, then you can't wear the look so don't even try as you will fail. 


I can't tell you how many times I'm at a store or restaurant and see such horrid make-up offenses. My maternal arms want to give the misguided offender a hug. I then of course want to wipe their make-up off and drag them caveman-style to my headquarters and show them the error of their ways. Oh dear readers, it's all about color selection and application. 

Just last summer I admired the lipstick that a friend of mine was wearing. She's a little tanner than I but we both have the same color hair and eyes. I didn't even test the lipstick before I bought it. Shame on me! When I stood in front of my mirror and applied the nude lipstick, I gasped. Yuck! I looked like a washed-out corpse. 
I suppose I thought nude lipsticks are created equally, though I should know better. There are pink, peach, brown, mauve, and many other shades of nude. You must know which ones are best for you. 

Until you find your perfect nude, this works: if you look at the color of the inside of your bottom lip, that is your color. You want that color enhanced. Don't match it completely. Use it as a springboard, if you will. Take that color and take it up only slightly. Day or night, that color lipstick will work despite what you choose for your eyeshadow, without fail. Personally, I prefer a sheer lipstick. My go to is Chantecaille's Tea Rose. On me, it is a cross between a sheer natural light red/pink. While not usually a fan of gloss, and I don't consider this collection a true gloss, I'm quite fond of Laura Mercier's Mini Lip Collection in Soft Nudes. The collection is great for all skin types. There is a pink, peach, brown, and mauve color in the collection and all match my skin type. Try it. Might be a great collection for you as well. Just dab a little on the center of your bottom lip and pat all the way around, smack your lips, and there you go. 

Nudes and sheer colored lips are perfect for the smokey eye look. If you cover your entire lid with any color without defining and blending, you have failed. 

I highly recommend asking a friend who knows how to apply make-up to teach you the correct techniques or ask them who they know who applies make-up well. Most people will know someone. If you were to ask me, I'd show you. After I lose my patience with you and I inevitably would, I'd send you to one of two people. The first woman is who I buy my make-up from here in Dallas. She works at a certain counter and will get whatever I need from four or five different counters. She can also tell me who knows how to apply make-up and who just sells lipstick, if you know what I mean. The other woman is a make-up artist in Dallas. I'm lucky, I have a trusted make-up saleswoman and access to a make-up artist who taught me a few application tricks and how to correctly buy make-up.

Department store saleswomen or men are sometimes helpful with the application. One made me look like a hooker and one did a fantastic job (making me not look like a hooker). Both tried selling me an assortment of products with each stroke of their make-up brush. Stay quiet and let them finish. If they don't do what you asked, simply cross them off your list, wash your face and maybe try again with someone else. A little advice if I may, you don't have to layer on the mascara for the smokey eye look. One "artist" thought creating tarantula eyelashes were key to the look. It's not. 

Like I said, I've had bad experiences and good. I hesitate to say to go straight to a make-up counter and ask them to do your make-up. I don't care what you say, their job is to sell you the products they sell. It is important to note that just because they sell make-up doesn't mean for a second that they know how to apply make-up. I assure you of that. Ask them. That's key. Tell the person behind the glass counter what look you are trying to achieve and who their best artist is and make an appointment to see them. Rule of thumb: a good make-up artist uses more than one brand. 

I must digress even further from the original point of the post for a moment. If you are at the Chanel counter at your department store to buy a must eyeliner (Precision Eye Definer), your sales associate can go to other brand counters to get anything you request. They work on commission and want your business and for you to be a return client. Don't be afraid to say to the Chanel associate that you'd like to try say the Trish McEvoy Barely There Essential Lip Pencil, which is a must anyway. It's a chubby lip pencil/lipstick and it belongs in your make-up bag. My point is, don't feel pressured to buy all your make-up from one counter. 

While I encourage certain drugstore brands, it is rather difficult to test lipsticks when there are no testers and no one there to tell you that you're blind. Same goes with eyeliners. You want an eyeliner that is easy to apply and blend. It should go on smoothly without force. Blending your eyeliner is key to creating the perfect smokey look. And you really need to play with different colors under the right light and mirror. You won't know if the color is right if you're judging the color based on how it looks in plastic wrapping at your local drugstore. Regarding eyeliner, if you have to pull your eyelid to apply the liner, then it's not right. It's not the best pencil for blending. Though I will say that Revlon has a great budget friendly eyeliner. It goes on smoothly and is true to color. 

To save money at the make-up counter, I like to buy eye shadow palettes with the shades I wear most. Neutrals for day and anywhere from grays to plum shades for evening. 

When I choose a bold red lip for a night out, I like to use creamy light eyeshadows with a dark liner. Laura Mercier cream shadows have a classic look. They pair well with not only the right shade of red but will also work with most any lip color. Please know, that not all reds are the same. My best red is one with blue undertones, yours may not. 
Two of the above Laura Mercier brand eye shadows that blend well together and look great on most skin types are: Platinum and Gold. With that said, I encourage you to test for yourself. 

Pale skin tones cannot always wear the same colors that someone with olive skin can wear. Everyone can wear nude lips, though. I promise! There is a nude color made for every skin tone. I can't stress that enough. 
Everyone and I mean everyone, even red heads, can wear red lipstick (if it's the correct red), and everyone can have the smokey eyes. If you don't know how to do it, then wait until you learn. You may have to try several different make-up artists or read a few how-to's but you'll get it. 

Jennifer Lopez can sometimes get things right

Hilary Duff 

The infamous home-wrecker  (Angelina Jolie) does know her make-up
or her make-up artist does. 

I dislike Kim Kardashian's make-up
more times than not (see below) but this time she got it right. 

WRONG!! This doesn't work. Best example of tarantula eyes. 

For tips about eyeshadow techniques I recommend these two sites: http://covetedcanvas.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/how-to-sexy-smouldering-eye/

Chanel Precision Eye Definer

Some of my chosen products: 
Laura Mercier Eye Basics
Trish McEvoy Beauty Emergency Card For Eyes
Laura Mercier Metallic Cream Eye Color

Chanel Professional Eyeliner Duo

Trish McEvoy The Essential Pencil
Cover Girl LashBlast Volume Mascara

Laura Mercier Portable Palette (Warm Neutrals)
Chanel Luminous Intense Lip Color
Laura Mercier Soft Nudes
Chantecaille "Lip Chic" Lip Color


  1. I promise to never ever do smoky eyes and red lips again! I'm not a horrible offender- maybe once in the last 10 years. I love Benefit's Lemon-Aid for those sultry eyes. Thank you, always, for the tips! Keep me in line!

    1. Thanks Molly. I will have to try Benefit's Lemon-Aid.

  2. omg... thanks for these tips... apparently i dont know what i am doing when it comes to make up... i love the smokey eye look... will have to get the precision eye definer. need that one... lol... and i have the most difficult time with the red lipsticks.. i love the color.. but cant seem to get the right red for my skin.. dont want people think i work nights...lol.. i like the chubby lip lipstick... use to have a nice light pink almost nude one.. and used it up almost... will need to replace that soon.
    thank you so much for all the wonderful tips here...

    1. Red lipsticks can be a tiresome challenge. Once you find the right one, it's worth it! While i endorse both splurging and beauty budget buys, I do recommend splurging on a red lipstick if you can't find one that works. Otherwise, you'll end up with a drawer full of unused drugstore make-up that didn't work for you. It all adds up in the end. You may actually be saving money if you splurge on a lipstick from a department store. You'll have access to sample it and see for yourself before purchasing it. Using a $20 lipstick makes more sense to me than not using a drawer full of $5 lipsticks.

  3. I definitely need help with a smokey eye. It looks easy but each time I try, I look like a hungover raccoon. Come over to help me experiment. And maybe we'll go find some products that I need.

  4. Smokey eyes are an art and take practice. I would love to assist. I'll bring over all the supplies. Message me when and I'll help you look less like a hungover raccoon.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Of Course! I was playing with different eyeshadows today. I'll work on a new post this weekend about my discoveries and add to the make-up I recommend. In short, I'm impressed with Revlon's eyeshadow and staying effect. A good primer is key. I tested a few this morning and have not found one at the drugstore that I'm in love with. Almay has an okay one and the color you see in the packaging is fairly spot on. My problem with it is it created a crease within an hour. I'll test a few more in the coming days to create different price points. With a great primer or base coat, your eye make-up should stay in place. For the smokey eye to work, you want that.

  5. I don't wear makeup, my Mom never wore makeup, and most of my friends don't wear makeup. So I don’t have a lot of people to turn to. I don’t shop in the mall, I do purchase beauty products at Whole Foods but they don’t have a make up counter. I however do occasionally want to wear make up, usually on my birthday or a holiday and "look pretty". My go to is usually just mascara, which I don’t do the tarantula makeup, it is usually so light that you don’t even know I have it on. If I am a no experience with makeup and I only wear it once maybe up to three times a year, what do you recommend?

    1. Alison, I responded to this but it doesn't appear to be displayed. Did you ever read reply? If not, I'm so sorry. I think the problem was on my end. I will rewrite my response. I hope you didn't think I was ignoring your question.
      Give me a little time and I'll have answer for you.