The Eyes Have It: Make-up Tips

August 24, 2010

Face your mirror and envision a doe-eyed beauty like Audrey Hepburn in “Funny Face” or “Sabrina.” The doe- eye is extended and strengthened at the outer edge as well as pulled up slightly. Hold your hand on the temple and pull up and out.

The top eye line is the most important of the three accents. Starting with cream or pencil liner in black or navy, it should be very thin at the inner edge and build in thickness towards the outer edge past the natural eye and eyelash. It is then set and embellished with powder shadow of blues, violets, or black.

The second accent is on the eye socket or brow bone, defining the eyelid. Taupe, grey, or plum shadows are best. The lid and brow bone can be washed with a shimmery lavender afterwards.

The third accent is the lower lid line, which can be a diffused line or simply mascara on the lashes and a diffused shadow of lilac or soft blue under the lashes and extended out to above the cheekbone. After applying your mascara and false lashes a violet or blue mascara on lashes closest to eyes adds a softness. Narrow faces need to lighten inner eye accents. Eyebrows should arch up and out and usually need reshaping at a salon or partial concealing with wax and makeup. They should not compete with the major eye line, lashes, and shadow.

Keep checking your eye in your front mirror and turn three-quarters and profile to make sure you’ve achieved the doe-eye. A hand held mirror works best for working on lid lines as Ashley Bouder is doing above.

Also, lighting can vary greatly from ballet to ballet and from theater to theater. Try to modify your extreme doe-eye accordingly. For instance, the London Coliseum lacked the usual footlights downstage, lessening the suspension of disbelief and bringing audiences very close—like a television studio. Blush and eye shadows needed to be more monochromatic (brown, grey) and lashes made more natural. Some modern ballets have very severe top lighting and again need less contouring, blush, and eyelashes.


Michael Avedon was New York City Ballet’s fomer Visual Consultant/Head of Makeup and Hair.

Photo by Kyle Froman, Courtesy NYCB