You know that saying "Let your eyes do the talking"? Well, just what is it that Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian West are trying to tell us right now? Of late, both have been seen sporting mushroom-brown eye shadow that circles under their eyes and up to their brow bone. A quick Byrdie poll revealed we think it makes them look like they're surviving on very little sleep, but we kinda like it. And to be fair to the red carpet cruisers, the sunken-socket trend has been spotted on the catwalk for the past two seasons now, which means it will probably be around for a while.
The Perfect Blend
A step up from natural but one behind smoky, the sunken-eye look is surprisingly easy to pull off thanks to the use of earthy tones that suit most complexions. One thing you will need, though, is a decent blender brush. We like Smashbox's Crease Brush #10 ($24) that can get right into sockets to buff out those brown shadows.
Plus, if it doesn't suit you, who cares? This is eye shadow for fashion's sake, not anyone else's. Although, Neil Young, guest makeup ambassador for Givenchy Le Make-Up, says it's actually pretty wearable, whatever your eye shape: "It's about creating a shape that has no boundaries, which is why it doesn't matter how big or small your eyes are. Beauty has become so over-manicured that it's much cooler now to celebrate the undone, which is what Kim and Victoria are doing. They've also applied the same softness to their other features for a well-balanced finish."
Style It Out
Of course you can adapt it to an altogether more flattering look just by limiting the under-eye shading to a swipe of brown eyeliner. Keep the color close to the lids and away from the outer edges, and it'll stop you from elongating your eyes and creating that shadowiness that makes you look exhausted. Adding more mascara will also help open your eyes up and give them more of a frame so onlookers are drawn directly to your pupils rather than what lies beneath.
Makeup artist Lan Nguyen-Grealis also suggests using the warmest tones possible. "Taupe and warm color tones actually neutralize the eye area so minimize tired-looking eyes," she explains. "Products with a slight peachy undertone will also keep it natural and fresh and create a more professional finish."
Still not convinced? Don't worry: Whether you're a liner kind of lady or a smoky-eye evangelist, read on to discover the eye makeup looks we think every woman should have in her repertoire.
The Color-Wash Wonder
Like the smudgy look we just mentioned, except this time we're taking it out of sepia tones and adding some color. Again, because it's deconstructed and just in one tone, it makes it A) flattering and B) wearable. "The lack of edges and hard stops makes your eyes look bigger," explains Rebecca Butterworth, senior makeup artist for MAC. "Add super-curled lashes and voluminous mascara for an enhanced Bambi effect, and keep the textures creamy, as they're easier to work across the eye. MAC Paint Pots are perfect." Color-wise, Smarties have the answer. Blues, pinks, oranges, and greens are our general go-tos.
The Not-Going-Anywhere '90s Grunge
Call it the Kate Moss effect: Her mussed-up hair and sexy slept-in eye makeup have been regurgitated on and off the catwalks ever since she first popped up in our eye line. Which is why if you haven't given it a whirl yet, you really should. It's different from the smoky eye in that has a more precise finish.
Danielle Roberts, national makeup artist for Urban Decay, says it's all about lining the inner rim and piling up product around the lower lashes. Go for wet-look textures that give the impression you've rubbed your eyes a bit, and keep the rest of your look natural. Neat brows and a nude lip will do it.
Oh, and Neil Young, guest makeup artist for Givenchy, also flags up that heavily kohled peepers are a great go-to if you have large eyes, as the liner flattens and elongates the inside of the eye. Genius. Try the brand's Kohl Couture ($27): It's also waterproof, which means it will stay put even when you rub your eyes for real.
The Babydoll Lashes
"The most girly way of creating big eyes," says Nguyen-Grealis. Yep, Bambi lashes are back every season, regardless of whether or not there's a swinging '60s vibe in tow. And it's a good go-to if you can't be bothered to wear a lot of other makeup: If you focus on the lashes, you can skip the liner and color.
Just load up the mascara (always use a lash curler first), leaving enough time for the coats to become tacky but not dry between each application. This will mean the wand can still comb through right to the tips and avoid clumpiness. Unless, of course, that's the look you're opting for, in which case use your tweezers to stick some together.
Lacking in the lash department? Beef them up with a few individual falsies like Ardell Individual Medium Black Lashes ($5), and for a 2017 twist, use colored mascara, says Lan. The lack of background distraction will really enhance the color of your lashes and eyes. It's pricey, but Christian Louboutin's Lash Amplifying Les Yeux Noirs mascara in Sevilana ($70) is brilliant for lift, separation and a wink of color.
The Glitter-Encrusted Gaze
What do you mean you thought glitter was just for festivals? Eye adornment is now A-okay for every occasion. Weddings, nights out—if you do it right, you might even be able to work it on dress-down Fridays (although some might see it as dressing up). The golden rule is to keep the glitz and glamour to one area, according to Nguyen-Grealls, so no lips or OTT bronzer here.
"Beautiful contouring and natural cheeks using soft pinks will make them look pretty and wearable. But for something extra, mix it up with mini crystals at the outer corners of the eye for extra sparkle," she advises.
If you're only just dipping your toe into the sequined-eye section, Butterworth recommends trying a subtle sparkle wash over a neutral shadow. Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow in Ballet Baby ($24) is just the ticket. Try it—you might like it. Scrap that: You're going to love it.
The Pop-Art Peepers
Can we really say every woman should try this? We just did. Think about it: Every era has played with color (think '60s, '70s, and '80s), so why should now be any different? "Right now, I feel like makeup has the Instagram effect," continues Butterworth. "It's been instrumental in bringing color back into makeup—especially red, pinks, peaches, and oranges."
Sleek Makeup Ultra Mattes Palette Brights ($16) contains a rainbow of shades so you can see which hues work best for you without panicking that you've just spent a fortune. How you apply your color is up for grabs as well. It's about personalizing it to you and getting creative. Maybe start off with a simple liner then think about making it float so the color isn't just kept to your lids, because not everyone has a lot of lid to play with.
The Mesmerizing Metallics
It's important to remember that metallics are very different from glitter. This is about a sheen on the eye that catches the light, opens up your eyes and looks almost molten. Cream shadows like Urban Decay Liquid Moondust Cream Eye Shadow ($11) are best for this effect, while Danielle Roberts, the brand's national makeup artist, also likes to use foils. Check out your local art shop, then use lash glue to press it on. For amateurs, she says that applying your favorite shimmer powder with a damp brush will enhance the metallic properties in the pigment. As for the rest of your face, forgo the contouring or risk looking a bit robotic. After all, this is all about the eyes.
The Classic Smoky Eye
Young refers to this as the grande dame of the beauty looks. "From winged shapes to round edges, it's been around for decades, but new technology and textures continue to give it a new lease of life." Which is good because no one wants their makeup to look dated.
Your smoke doesn't have to be just black either: Grey, brown or navy all will work, and Rebecca Butterworth at MAC is currently obsessing over adding a warmer shade at the edges. Palettes are ideal to work from for this look and Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette in The Rock Chick ($53) contains all the necessaries needed.
Just make sure you keep it soft. Remember you can't have a smoky eye without the "smoke," or you'll just be back to '90s grunge. It's this diffusing that will make your eyes appear bigger too.