Eye Contouring

Who said contouring was just for your face? This trend has taken the beauty world by storm, and rightly so! What is contouring, exactly? Contouring is the technique of using makeup to create light and shadow in strategic places to enhance the natural features. Remember, the goal is to enhance what you already have, not to fake something you don’t have.

Why contour the eyes? More often than not, the eyes are the first thing you notice about someone; they hold the key to so much unspoken communication. Guess what? It’s also a lot of fun (at least I think so).

Image source: pixabay.com

Light colours bring the eye forward, and dark colours make it recede (creating shadow). This is pretty much the main thing you need to know about any kind of contouring, whether it’s your face, eyes, cleavage, etc. Whether you’re someone who’s looking to try contouring for the first time, or a seasoned pro exploring a new eye makeup look, eye contouring flatters everyone.

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Image source: charlottetilbury.com


I will be working with four basic colours today – a light highlighting colour ①, a medium all-over shade ②, a tan shade ③ and a dark defining shade ④. For practical purposes, I have based these looks on Charlotte Tilbury’s Luxury Palette – The Sophisticate. You can use any eyeshadow quad or palette that has four shades along this basic colour gradient. Choose your colours based on your skin tone and undertone, and pick colours you love! Personally, I would go for matte shades for contouring purposes – they look much more natural.

When it comes to eyes, your eye shape is your best guide as to how and where you apply each colour.

  • Monolid

Hyoni Kang Model
Hyoni Kang. Image source: elle.com

Most commonly seen on Eastern Asian ladies. Having a monolid basically means not having a crease between the brow and the lash line. It’s often seen as a “challenging” eye shape, but I think it’s a blessing. It gives you this smooth, blank canvas that really shows off any makeup you put on it.

The most common mistake with monolids is faking a crease by applying a darker shadow where a crease would be. Well, I say celebrate your crease-less eyes! Apply a medium base colour ② all over the mobile lid. Next, apply a dark colour ④ along your top lash line, extending outwards and upwards into a cat-like flick. The flick doesn’t have to be perfect – a slightly smoky upper lash line makes the upper lid recede – this just opens the eye up to give you that wide-awake look. Wet the brush before applying ④for more definition and colour payoff. Blend the two colours well for a seamless finish.

  • Deep-set eyes

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Cameron Diaz. Image source: instyle.com

This is where your eyes sit further back into your head, and your brow bone protrudes in comparison. Sometimes, this can make us look more tired than we are – under-eye concealer and a lengthening mascara are your best friends.

Start by applying a medium base colour ②all over the mobile lid. Then, apply a highlighting colour ① on the centre and inner corners of the lid. This brings the eyes forward, giving you that youthful sparkle. Use a white or nude eyeliner on your waterline for an extra brightening effect. Finish with a darker brown ③along your lower lash line and you’re good to go.

  • Wide-set eyes

brandy norwood
Brandy Norwood. Image source: glamour.com

The name says it all. If you have wide-set eyes, you’re one of the lucky ones who can rock the “cat eye extended to the inner corners” look. Try it – I’d love to hear how you get on.

Start by applying a medium base colour ② all over your mobile lid. Dip your brush in a slightly darker colour ③ and apply it to the crease in a windshield wiper motion, extending all the way to the inner corner of the eye. Wet an angled eyeliner brush and use it to apply the darkest shade ④ along your top lash line, keeping very close to your natural lashes. Extend this all the way to your inner corner, keeping it only on the top lid. Feel free to do a wing on the outer corner. Add some darker brown ③ to your lower lash line for dimension. Top tip: contour your nose to make your features pop.

  • Close-set eyes

Sarah Jessica Parker Picture
Sarah Jessica Parker. Image source: imdb.com

The opposite of wide-set eyes. After you’ve applied ② to your mobile lid, apply a darker brown ③to the outer crease, stopping in the middle of the eye. Do the same to your bottom lash line. Next, apply ④ to the outer half of your top lash line, again stopping when you hit the middle of the eye. Here comes the key part – using a fluffy blending brush, apply a highlight colour ① liberally to the inner half of the upper and lower lids, and all over the inner corner of the eye. This elongates the eye area in proportion to the lower half of your face.


  • Hooded eyes

Blake Lively Gucci ads
Blake Lively. Image source: people.com

When the fat deposit on the top lid folds over the lash line and obscures the crease. Commonly known as the eye shape that makes the cat eye even more difficult than it already is. It’s also an eye shape that lots of us have (raises hand), so let’s show those hooded peepers off.

After applying ② to your mobile lid, apply a darker brown ③to your crease, extending inwards and a little further upwards towards your brow bone than you normally would. Make sure this colour shows on your lid when you look straight ahead in the mirror. Blend well. Then, apply ④ liberally along your upper lash line, right into the inner corner of the top lid, and wing it outwards too. Add some of this to the lower lash line for additional dimension. Add the highlight colour ① to the inner corner of the eye, focusing it on the corner of the lower lid. This pulls the entirety of the top lid upwards and opens the eye vertically, making it appear rounder and larger.

  • Droopy eyes

camilla belle eye brows
Camilla Belle. Image source: glamour.com

When the outer corners of your eyes droop downwards. The puppy eyes, aka Hugh Grant. Probably the most adorable eye shape there is but unfortunately, it can make you look extra tired when you’re… well, tired.

After you’ve applied ② all over your mobile lid, define your crease with ③, going all the way into your inner corner. Using an angled eyeliner brush, apply ④along your upper lash line. Here’s the trick – start winging it outwards and upwards from the middle of the eye, rather than leaving it until the outer third. This lifts the eye, and works best when cleaned up with some concealer or a dab of the highlighting shade ① just underneath the wing. Add some darker brown ③ to your lower lash line for dimension.

Apologies if I have left out your eye shape, please let me know in the comments if you have any tips and tricks for contouring any of the eye shapes mentioned here. We all have slightly different eyes as it is, and the best thing about contouring is tailoring it to you, and only you. You go girl.

– J

P.S: This post was also featured on ithestylist.co.uk, a fashion and beauty website that I currently write for.

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