Your Comprehensive Guide to Applying Holiday-Inspired Eye Makeup

Start by preparing your lids for color—and erasing under-eye circles.

woman putting on mascara
Photo: Plume Creative / Getty Images

You don't need a rainbow of makeup colors and a bag of brushes to play up your eyes. Try our master technique to prime your lids for a lasting effect, brighten the skin below, and add a dash of drama with liner. You'll be a sight to behold this yuletide season.

Prep Your Lids

"To create a smooth base for makeup, prime your lids and undereye areas with a hydrating, non-oily cream," says New York City makeup artist Gita Bass. Try Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Eye Base ($54, Next, brush a skin-tone-matching powder shadow, like Mineral Fusion Eye Shadow ($24.99,, over lids to reduce any discoloration. If your skin is oily, Sheika Daley, a makeup artist based in Los Angeles, suggests using a lid primer instead. Bass and Jenny Patinkin, based in Chicago, both like Nars Smudge-Proof Eye-Shadow Base ($26,; it absorbs excess oil and keeps makeup intact.

Delete Dark Circles

Anything from a restless night to the common cold to weight loss can cue them, says dermatologist Kenneth Howe. But the quickest fix is no mystery: a few dots of concealer, tapped into place with your ring finger. "Use peachy formulas to counteract brown or purple tones under your eyes, or yellow-tinted ones to offset redness," says Patinkin. Becca Cosmetics Ultimate Coverage Long Wear Concealer's ($29, moisture-rich colors soften into a satiny finish, and Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Camouflage Concealer ($31, contains densely packed pigments in an oil-free liquid, for coverage you won't even feel.

Brighten with Shadow

Patinkin has a no-brainer approach to choosing a color: "Look at your irises in a magnifying mirror, and you'll see light or dark flecks," she says. If you spot specks of gold, gray, or muted green, go for a sheer shade in that family. Press the cushion-tip applicator of a Maybelline Color Strike Cream-to-Powder Stick ($6.98, directly over your lid, or pat on one of Ilia Liquide Powder Chromatic Eye Tint's ($28, earthy neutrals for a subtle wash of color. Both stay crease-free.

Define and Detail

"A universally flattering way to apply eyeliner is to wiggle it between the lashes on your upper lash line from above," says Bass. She likes Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon ($26,, which she smudges with a brush for a soft effect. As for picking a color, "black liner is beautiful on brown eyes, but can look harsh on lighter eye colors," says Patinkin. Try gray, brown, or bronze for refined impact. And navy will make the whites of any eyes look brighter. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22, lives up to its name and comes in all the shades mentioned.

Finish with Flair

To go out (or stay in!) with a bang, try this: For instant illumination, use your pinkie finger to apply a dot of sheer gold, ivory, or pink shadow (like L'Oréal Paris Infallible 24HR Eye Shadow ($6.46, onto the inner corners, near your tear ducts. For bolder lashes, gently press them twice with a curler. (Bass uses the pinch-free Surratt Relevee Lash Curler ($34, Then add two coats of mascara. A densely bristled brush, like the one in Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara ($29,, delivers fullness, while the comb-like wand of Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara ($29, coaxes out long, clump-free fringes.

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