Having worked for one of the most influential makeup brands in the world as a Trainer, really taught me a lot. I have come across thousands of different eye shapes, challenges, and client expectations. I've learned everything from trial and error, which to me is the best way to learn. The downside to that is that is takes a long time to do it.
When you understand how to wear eyeliner, it can do the most amazing things to your eyes.
It can change the shape, enhance the shape, provide balance and symmetry. In fact, there are very few people in this world that have perfectly symmetrical face shapes. Just check out this little article from Buzzfeed, it is so interesting and interactive! It shows you what celebrities would look like if each side of their face was mirrored. They look completely different. Hopefully that will provide some comfort as pretty much most of us don't have a perfectly balanced face.
So how do you do your eyeliner if your eyes are not balanced?
There are a couple of factors you should take into consideration first.
1. Your current eye shape
2. Your desired eye shape
If you're happy with your current eye shape and don't want/need to balance or emphasise anything, then I would just line the lashes. This will make your lashes look fuller and darker.
Determining your eye shape can be a little tricky...
Most people don't have one type of shape. A lot of people have a combination of eye shapes. Once you know what eye shape you have and what you'd either like to balance, emphasise, or correct it will be a lot easier.
There are several different eye shape styles. Here are a few:
Almond Eye Shape
So the almond eye shape is technically 'the most desired' shape. This eye shape can handle just about any type of makeup and it will look good. This eye shape has everything balanced, which means the eye lid and crease are perfectly symmetrical according to the golden ratio (check this out if you'd like to know more about it). I don't have an Almond eye shape, but I remember when I first started to wear makeup I would apply my eye shadow a certain way because it looked good. Little did I know then, but I was trying to make my eyes look longer. I have a small eye shape with a hooded lid (yay me). Almond eye shapes have a very slight up turned outer corner. They sometimes have a crease, but it can be subtle.
Deep Set Crease
This eye shape is more about the skin around the actual eye. Technically you could have an actual 'Almond' shape to your eye, but your eye lid and crease might not be proportionate. With a deep set crease, there is usually a lot of eye lid space and the crease of the eye can appear hollow. If you wanted to make your eyes appear more Almond, then I wouldn't put anything too dark in the crease as that will just make them look more hollow. It's very easy to make this eye shape look 'over-done'.
Deep Set Eye
A Deep Set Eye shape usually doesn't have a lot of space between the eyebrow and the actual eye. A lot of men have this sort of shape. The eye can appear to recede back, especially if the eye shadow is applied too dark. To bring the eye forward, I would apply light eye shadow to the lid area and under the eyebrow. This is another eye that is easy to 'over-do'. Less is more with this eye shape. The fact that this model has bleached eyebrows, actually makes her eyes appear less deep set because the focus isn't on her brow and the fact that it hangs over her eyes. If her eyebrows were a darker colour, her deep set eyes would be more noticeable.
Some people call this 'Sad Eyes' or 'Downturned Eyes'. In my point of view, I think this is the 'Sultry', 'Sexy' eye. I just love this eye shape. Eyeliner is perfect for this eye, but there is a specific way to do it if you don't want your eyes to look descending. The trick is to line your eyes, but don't take the liner all the way to the end. You want to flick it up before it gets to the end of your eye.
Hooded Eye Shape
I find that people with this eye shape struggle the most with how to apply their makeup. A hooded eye has a fold of skin that comes over their lashes. You're either born with this eye shape, or it comes with age. The best makeup to apply to this eye shape is a smokey eye. A smokey eye is NOT about the colours you choose but rather the technique. It is darker at the lash line and blends out to more of a skin colour shade. You can use any colours for this sort of look (even if you want something more natural).
Monolid Eye Shape
A Monolid Eye Shape is an eye that doesn't have a crease. The Hooded Eye does have a crease, but it's just not as visible as other eye shapes. The Monolid Eye shape does not have any crease. Not all Monolid eye shapes are the same. There are descending Monolid eye shapes, prominent Monolid eye shapes etc. The trick is knowing what needs to be adjusted/changed and apply makeup theory. When I was training makeup, this was the eye the makeup artists struggled most with. The Smokey Eye looks lovely on this eye shape as well as Lash Lining. The trick is not to take the eye shadow too high up as it starts to look 'Drag'. My tip is to only take the darkest eye shadow as high as the lashes go.
Round Prominent Eyes
I've noticed a few celebrities that have this eye shape (from one degree or another) such as Octavia Spencer, Lady Gaga, and Cher. You can usually see some part of the eye that is more prominent than the skin around it such as the eye lid or underneath. Using darker matte colours on the areas that you'd like to recede will usually help them to appear less prominent if that's your goal. Eyeliner on the top and bottom looks amazing if applied the right way.
Close Set Eyes
In order for your eyes to appear more balanced, the distance between them should be the length of one of your eyes. If this distance is smaller, then your eyes will appear close set. To make them appear more balanced, apply a lighter eye shadow in the inner corners and a darker colour towards the outer corners so they appear wider. If you have more textured skin in the inner corners, just use a matte colour.
Wide Set Eyes
With Wide Set Eyes, the distance between is less then the width of one eye. To make them appear more balanced, apply a darker shadow to the inner corners.
It's important to know that many people can have a combination of different eye shapes. What I would do is determine what it is about my eyes that I want to change and apply makeup theory to make adjustments. Below is an example of a combination eye:
Deep Set, Hooded, Prominent Eye
This is a combination of a deep set, hooded, prominent eye. When an eye has a lot of noticeable features, it might be better to focus on other things because the more you add, the more noticeable they will get. Focusing on the brows and lashes will add some balance, brighten the eye area, and give lift to the hooded area.
Ok, so now we've determined your eye shape and hopefully you've decided what you'd like to change or keep as is. How do you determine what eyeliner will suit you?
The way you apply your eyeliner will have different effects on how it shapes your eye.
A basic eyeliner is applied just above the lash line so when you close your eyes, you can see a line. It follows the lash line and does not go beyond. This technique is great for most eye shapes. The Hooded and Monolid eye will need more strategic placing. The reason why is because these 2 shapes tend to have very little or no eyelid space whatsoever so if it's not placed strategically, could potentially make the eyes look smaller. These particular eye shapes will most likely need the addition of eye shadow to balance everything out and add dimension whereas the other eye shapes won't necessarily need the addition of eye shadow because the liner won't make the eyes look smaller (just more balanced). Here is an example of what I mean
There's nothing wrong with the above eyeliner, but it does make her eyes look more 'hooded'. If there was some eye shadow applied just to the outer corner, it would recede the skin that is hooding the eye and make the eyes look more open. Below is an example of what I mean on a Monolid eye.
With the image on the left, the eye doesn't appear smaller because there is still a little eyelid showing, but as you can see with the addition of eye shadow with the image on the right, it makes them look longer and lifted.
Lash Enhancement Liner
This liner is great for any and all eye shapes. It does not take up any precious eyelid space therefore does not make the eyes look bigger or smaller. This technique makes your lashes look fuller, thicker, and darker. It's great for anyone that might not want to commit to the full or flick liner look and will only enhance your natural beauty. You really can't go wrong with this look. Imagine how this would look with the addition of a lash lift or lash extensions! Even if you don't want either of those, it will only enhance what you have beautifully. You can see below a little video on how the liner looks with the eyes closed.
There are a lot of different types of flick liner. There are thin, thick, and basic versions. In order for a flick liner to make the eyes appear balanced, there are certain 'rules' to follow for the different types.
Flick liner can give a more lifted and longer eye look.
A thin flick eyeliner sits just above the lashes and extends to the length of the last eyelash. It will preserve eyelid space. It will not necessarily make the eye appear longer, but it will give the appearance that the outer lashes are lifted.
A thick flick liner will cover eyelid space, make the eye look longer, and lift the outer corners. This type of style is great for Prominent, Close Set, Descending, some Deep Set Crease, and of course an Almond eye shape. Basically it's great for those that have a lot of eyelid space.
A basic flick liner is not as thick and not as long. The flick only goes just slightly beyond the last lash and is great for anyone that has eyelid space.