SLEEP + HYDRATE
If your lids are swollen and you have puffy under-eye bags, then your eyes will inevitably look smaller. If you regularly notice that your lids seem distended, then there are a few natural remedies that can help. Firstly, keep well hydrated and avoid too much salt in your diet, to help prevent excess water retention that leads to swelling. My eyes always look swollen after a boozy night out, because I'm dehydrated, so I always top up on lots of water before hitting the hay. Skipping your forty winks leaves eyes looking worse for wear, so ensure you're getting at least seven hours of solid sleep a night. If you struggle to nod off, then try to avoid staring at your TV, phone or laptop too close to bedtime; avoid eating after 8pm (digesting food can disrupt sleep); try using a pillow spritz such as the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray; have a bath filled with relaxing bath salts/oils or drink herbal tea before bed.
Waking up with puffy eyes can be a sign that you're using a cream that is too rich, or you're applying it wrong. A hydrating gel will offer plenty of moisture when you're younger and don't have any fine lines to worry about. Stick to intense, anti-aging products from your mid-thirties onwards, when wrinkles are more of a concern. I'm currently using the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Awakening Eye Balm, as it's really hydrating and cooling, yet has a lightweight texture. Watch how you apply your eye cream, too. Gently pat it around the orbital bone only and avoid taking it too close under the eye, otherwise it will just absorb and result in puffiness. Use your ring finger to apply, as it has the lightest touch and won't drag the skin. One extra tip is to keep your eye cream in the fridge so it's even more refreshing.
Dark under-eye shadows can make the eyes look sunken, so it's important to camouflage them. For anyone with particularly stubborn dark circles, you may want to correct discoloration before concealing. To neutralise any purple/blue tones, you need to find a product with a peach/salmon tint. The only one I ever reach for is Bobbi Brown's Corrector, which is highly pigmented and has a creamy consistency that melts on to the skin.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll be familiar with Kim Kardashian's trick of highlighting the triangle under the eyes with concealer. Whether you love or loathe her, you can't argue that it works amazingly to brighten and lift. To really illuminate, pick a colour that's one or two shades lighter than your natural skin-tone. My current favourite for concealing under the eyes, is the Nudestix Skin Concealer Pencil in Light 2. As it's a crayon, the concealer is so quick to use, as you can precisely draw it on where you want it. The formula is quite thick and firm, making it long-lasting and crease-free. To brighten even further, I'll blend some of the Clarins Instant Concealer over the top, which is full of reflective particles that really help to give the skin a natural glow.
Highlighting the eyes in strategic places will help to draw light to them and drastically alter their apparent size. Using a creamy pencil, like the Benefit High Brow Glow works well, as it's easy to use and the cream texture looks more flattering on the skin. If your eyes sit close together, then highlighting the inner corners near the tear duct will make them appear further apart. If your eyes are hooded and there's not much visible space between your lash line and brow when your eyes are open, then highlighting the brow bone can help. If you have rounded eyes and want to create more of an almond shape, then you can wing your eyeshadow and liner out and then use your highlight to sharpen the wing, for a crisper finish.
The one technique that can make the biggest difference to how large the eyes look, is lining. Some clever liner application can really work wonders, but applying too much can have the opposite effect. Try lining the eyes with a matte, powder eyeshadow on an angled brush, rather than with a traditional kohl pencil or liquid liner, for a subtly defined look. Instead of choosing a harsh black shade, reach for a softer brown, bronze or even navy colour which will emphasize the whites of the eyes.
Never line the entire way around the eyes, as it closes them in. Instead, only line the outer third of both the upper and lower lash-lines and buff the colour out slightly to prevent harsh lines. To make your lashes look thicker, take a dark liner along the tight line (upper waterline). Always apply nude eyeliner along the lower waterline to correct any redness, as this will make a huge difference. For a subtle effect, avoid using a white shade like they did in the 60s, as it tends to look too stark for everyday wear. The best affordable flesh-coloured liner on the market, is the Rimmel Scandaleyes Kohl Kajal in 005 Nude. It's super soft and strongly pigmented, so it gives opaque coverage in one swipe, without scratching.
If your eyes are narrow and round, then liquid or gel liner can be used to cheat more of an almond shape. Tracing a thin line across the top lash-line and extending the flick at the outer corner, winging it up and out, will create that flattering feline shape. For me, nothing beats the L'Oreal Super Liner for a liquid option, as the sponge applicator with the tiny, tapered tip is so easy to use and the formula is so long-wearing. If you prefer a gel liner, then my favourite is the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, as the formula is creamy, smooth and inky black, and the pot lasts forever without drying up.
Never forget to curl your eyelashes before applying mascara, as it instantly opens the eyes up. There's a reason why everyone bangs on about how amazing the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler is. It may cost a pretty penny, but it delivers the most incredible curl that puts any other tools to shame and, if it becomes an everyday essential for you like it is for me, then you soon rack up a respectable cost-per-use. If you have elephant-like lashes that really struggle to hold a curl, consider an LVL treatment and make sure to use a waterproof formula mascara that lasts all day, even if it is more difficult to remove.
Be generous with mascara, but keep your lashes well separated. For sumptuous volume and length, without clumps, my holy-grail is the Chanel Inimitable Mascara. The elastomer wand grips every lash, coating them all evenly to leave lashes looking insane. Avoid putting too much mascara on the bottom lashes, to keep the under eyes as bright as possible. I like to use the tiny wand of the Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara to pick up all the fine hairs and lengthen them, without smudging underneath my eyes. Add falsies if you want a really bold look, but opt for fluttery pairs rather than the dense, spiky cuts which can cast a shadow under the eyes. If you're a lash pro, then individual lashes are even better than strip lashes, as they really create that doe-eyed effect.
Start by evening out the skin on your lids with concealer or a nude eyeshadow base, to get rid of any darkness or veins. Something like MAC's Soft Ochre Pro Longwear Paint Pot makes a great option, or the Maybelline Creme De Nude Color Tattoo which is a very close dupe. You can leave it there if you want something natural and fuss-free, or you can go on to using eyeshadows. Try not to get carried away and go too smokey with your shadows and avoid anything too dark or the eyes will be lost. Stick to using milky, pearlescent or champagne shadows with a sheen, to bring light to the eyes. If you're bored of standard beiges and browns, then mix things up with a soft lilac tone which is universally flattering. Whatever colours you choose, finish off by pressing a small amount of a light glittery shadow in the center of the eyelid. Gently defining the crease of the eye contour with a matte taupe or brown shadow, like MAC Omega or Charcoal Brown, can add some extra depth to the eyes. Make sure to keep most of the colour towards the outer corner, though, as taking it too far towards the nose will only close the eyes up again. Remember that blending is key and you really can't buff things out too much.
Well groomed brows really help to frame the eyes and anything that draws attention towards them will help them to appear larger. Find the ideal shape for your face, or better yet, get a professional to do the job. Pluck any strays, trim long, unruly wisps and get them tinted so they're naturally defined. Gently fill in any sparse patches with a finely-pointed brow pencil, such as the Anastasia Bevely Hills Brow Wiz, or a matte powder and wax, like the L'Oreal Brow Artist Genius Kit. Always finish off with a slick of brow gel, dragging the wand up as you apply so that the eyes are given more of a lift. I love setting mine with the L'Oreal Brow Artist Plumper which has a tinted formula and contains little fibres which help to give the hair more texture.
What tricks do you use to make your eyes look bigger?