The Subtle Appeal of Glossy, Nearly Naked Eyelids


Instead of layers of shadow and liner, what about applying … almost nothing?

Photo

A model at Derek Lam with a subtle sheen of gloss on her lids. Products, from left: for a spectrum from subtle shimmer to full-on gloss, the double-sided Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish 003 Nude Shiny Stick Highlighter + Balm Duo, $72, sephora.com; for a translucent, pearly glow, the coconut oil-based RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, $38, rmsbeauty.com; for an almost lacquered finish, MAC Cosmetics Studio Eye Gloss, $22, maccosmetics.com.

Credit
From top: Schohaja; Marko Metzinger (3)

There are few regions on the terrain of my body that haven’t given me, over the course of my life, occasion to complain. I’ve regretted my sun-spurning pallor, I’ve felt bad about my neck (for reasons other than Nora Ephron’s — mine is just really short), I’ve registered dismay at my stomach’s persistent convexity. One part I’ve never been mad at, however, is my eyelids. Until recently, I hadn’t even experienced something as substantial as a thought about those dainty sheathes.

Address yourself to the fall runways and you’ll be forced, like me, to consider the eyelid. You may even grow convinced that these centimeters represent an area of missed opportunity. Models at Peter Pilotto and Iris van Herpen wore a youthful slick of what looked like Vaseline on their lids; at Alexander Wang and Lanvin the area was similarly emphasized but with an added hint of rose gold or taupe. A few common factors connected the looks. One, the glossy lids were often paired with a full brow — and by “full” I mean the kind of bushy unplucked arc that looks glorious on teenage models and might be described as brave on anyone else. Two, the lids appeared on faces that were otherwise free of perceptible decoration. And three, the lids were either colorless or nearly so.

This final element becomes critical when you try the look on your own. A sheen on eyelids reflects light; keeping that sheen neutral makes them appear otherworldly rather than tacky. It says “look into my eyes,” not “look into my unexpectedly iridescent eyelids.” I recently experimented with the effect when meeting a close friend for breakfast. “You look different today,” she said, her gaze appraising. Different how? I goaded. “More innocent,” she said. “And, um, your eyes are a different shape.”

In fact, my eyes were the same shape they have always been — a roundish almond, maybe more of a pistachio. But I’d been auto-applying eye shadow and eyeliner and mascara for so long that I couldn’t blame her for diagnosing a discrepancy. Not wearing eye makeup, it turns out, is the easiest way to change the emotional architecture of your face. An unpainted eye looks guileless, almost babylike. A layer of shine elevates it from I-literally-woke-up-like-this to an actual Look. Better yet, it’s a look that can be replicated with a single product and is basically impossible to mess up.

A little gloss on the lid is the makeup equivalent of parting your hair one inch to the left: Nobody will be able to pinpoint the difference in your appearance, but it will register on some mild subtextual level. Your eyes, after all, are the windows to your soul. Why not give their frames a quick polish?

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