Fashion, Hairstyles & Beauty
Make-Up Techniques for the Eyes
The eyes are perhaps the single most-impressive feature of the human face. It is the feature
that most people claim as the feature they notice most when meeting someone for the first time. It is a small wonder then that women
throughout history have been using cosmetics to enhance the appearance of their eyes. So let’s take a look at the classic cosmetic
techniques of making the eyes more visible, as well as modern looks.
Believe it or not, the use of eye shadow has a biological origin. Part of the body’s natural
response to arousal is a darkening of the soft tissues surrounding the eyes. This means that we have evolved to respond to coloration
around the eyes as a sign of attraction and appeal. This, of course, is appealing to us as well. It’s this naturally-occurring
coloration that is mimicked in the use of eye shadow.
But the “use of eye shadow” has evolved through the ages. In ancient civilizations in Greece,
Rome and Egypt vegetable dyes and kohl were used to color the lids and line the eyes for emphasis, and my own grandmother used to talk
about using fireplace soot and stove ash to shade her eyes when she was a young woman. Even the techniques of eye shadow application
have evolved, with different methods of applying the eye color taking prominence with fashionable trends.
The application methods can generally break down into a few simple categories: single color,
multi-tonal shading, and contouring. Regardless of the era being discussed, these categories cover the variety of looks to be found.
Single color application is self explanatory. In this method, one color is used to provide
color around the eyes. Generally the color is meant to compliment the overall look of a given moment or simply to enhance the color
of the eyes themselves. And the application can vary from classic methods of solid color over the upper lid to gradient shading on the upper and lower lids.
The technique of multi-tonal shading uses two (or more) colors to create a fashionable,
complimentary effect in the eyes. The effects can range from bold fashion statement, to the dramatic, to simple enhancement of the
eye’s natural color and basic shape manipulation. This method often encompasses what is thought of as “special effects” make-up and
can be very edgy in its more extreme incarnations.
When the goal is smoky glamour, and smoldering beauty, the use of contouring comes into play.
Contouring is a version of multi-tonal shading, with the specific delineator that it is used for a specific effect – to reshape or
enhance the shape of the eye area. Contouring can be used to widen the look of close-set eyes, bring wide-set eyes closer together,
and to mask or camouflage many other eye-related concerns. It can also be used simply to emphasize natural contours of the eye area.
The shades used in contouring are typically more neutral in tone, as opposed to bold or vibrant colors, though often a “color” is used
as a part of a contouring color palette.
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