Work-Appropriate Eye Makeup That Doesn't Pretend It Isn't There

Instead of no-makeup makeup, I was inspired by a runway look wear eye makeup that gives my features subtle but noticeable depth.
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Olivia S.
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Instead of no-makeup makeup, I was inspired by a runway look wear eye makeup that gives my features subtle but noticeable depth.

In theory, there is usually nothing that I hate more than the idea of a beauty trend. Obviously the same thing is always going to be fashionable: looking like a babe.

However, I spend a decent amount of my life engaging with trend-based fashion (which I do like) and that means that, against my will, sometimes a new makeup concept sneaks its way into my life.

There is one part of this malarkey that I really enjoy: every season (and by season, I mean fashion season, so biannually in the actual world that makes sense) MAC has a trends showcase led by the amazingly hilarious Terry Barber, who talks through the shows that MAC did around the world.

The way MAC works is kind of amazing: they don’t pay for advertising in the same way that other brands do, but they do a huge amount of fashion sponsorship, and their artists work doing the makeup concepts and application backstage in fashion weeks. This means that they are, actually, the makeup of makeup artists a lot of the time. Kudos.

When I was a little girl, I used to get my mum to take me to the local department store MAC counter before the school disco or whatever and get them to give me a makeover. My ex-godmother was an agent for hair and makeup artists, so she’d get discount on their products, and that was all I ever got for birthdays and Christmases. Like I have said elsewhere, I was a precocious little nightmare with a love for red lipstick from an early age.

By the way, this is NOT a sponsored post; I really am this much of a crazed fan.

So, going to the MAC presentations feels more like a childhood dream than the most tedious afternoon ever, and I therefore embrace it.

One of the trends they talked about this time was “spiritual-eyes” which also happens to be a play on one of my favourite bands of all time (love you foreverrr, Jason Pierce). It was vaguely based around the concept of looking tired but sexy, in that desperately cool DGAF way that normally only 17-year-old Eastern European blondes can pull off on a Gareth Pugh catwalk.

HOWEVER, I am not going to let my hair colour, age, height or clumsiness keep me away from “angelic grunge” and, because I am no longer a party girl, I had to adapt this stuff to make it daytime wearable.

Basically, I wanted one step up from no-makeup-makeup that I was able to wear at work; a smoky daytime eye, if you will, that gave my features a little depth and emphasis whilst remaining languid and soft.

I used Benefit Stay Don’t Stray eyeshadow primer over my lids and under my eyes, and left it to dry for a few minutes. This means that if you are actually going to spend all day working, your subtle eye makeup won’t end up looking too subtle (read: invisible).

I applied a creamy highlighter right to the tops of my cheekbones, just underneath my eye sockets, and around to my temples. This means when my face catches the light, I should look like a hungry supermodel. Dreamy.

I then got my MAC Paint Pots out. These work as an amazing cream base; they wear more like a stain than an eyeshadow and allow for a more fluid look than I can usually manage with a powder. Using my fingertips, I worked the Painterly shade to just above the crease of my eyelid and then round beneath my lower lashes, blending it in to fade into my skin. I then went over the outermost two thirds of the lid itself with the Groundwork shade, again working it into a fade with my fingertips.

To open my eyes out a little, I applied MAC Eye Shadow in Espresso to the outer corners of my eyelids and along the outer third of my eye crease, blending it with a fluffy eyeshadow brush (one from an old Urban Decay palette has been my godsend, but generally I have found fluff brushes to be the easiest to blend with).

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The general key to opening up your eyes is to keep your shadow light in the inner corners and to move darker as you go outwards, it’s like a special optical illusion for your face.

I then worked MAC Eye Kohl in Prunella into my upper lash line, by sort of sticking it into my eye and rubbing it as close to my lashes as possible. It’s a dark, reddish purple shade, which avoids the harshness that you can often get with a black liner, keeping in the vein of effortless subtlety that I am going for, with copious amounts of effort.

Finally, I finished with Eyeko Skinny Brush Mascara.

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Overall, I end up looking done but undone, a bit like I how I wish I woke up in the morning but definitely do not. It opened up my eyes and made me look like I’d made enough effort to go to work (here, reading my magazine in my very British garden, which obviously requires a strong makeup look) without looking like I need to head back to the street corner.

Being British.

Being British.

Tres chic. Or something. I hope.

Do I look like a Gareth Pugh catwalk model? Do I??? What eye makeup works for you when you have to do work-related things in the daytime and looks presentable but not like a drag queen?