I first discovered the liquid goodness that is glossy eyes a year ago on the Instagram account @V93oo. The account, run by curator Mushtaq, who was recently dubbed the “anti-beauty blogger” by Dazed, is dedicated to creative makeup rather than perfection. Amidst faces half-painted in blue-man-group blue, bright orange eyelashes and forehead swipes of fluorescent green, wet-looking eyelids abound for their tendency to be perfectly imperfect.
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Impossibly hydrated and wet-looking skin, popularized by makeup artists like Nam Vo and skin-first brands like Glossier, was no doubt the entry-point for glossy eyes. And while it may sound gooey and unappealing, gloss amplifies any pigment it comes in contact with and, in my view, is the superior alternative to grainy, glitter highlighters and other glitzy products that seem to stay permanently stuck to my skin. While glitter is more stubborn than a red wine stain, gloss never resists a makeup wipe.
“I love a glossy eye,” my friend and makeup artist Andrew Colvin tells me. “It can be a statement or a small accent. Either way, I think it always looks fresh and chic.” I’d asked him give me the low-down on the best ways to achieve a glaze while avoiding the illusion of being a woman who sweats from her eyes. Below, his three go-to methods and my attempts to recreate them.
For the Beginner
Difficulty level: 3/10
If you’re not big on makeup but captivated by the gloss, I see you, and offer up the dewy shimmer look — which is less about creating a glossy eye and more about creating the illusion of one, with shimmer. It’s approachable yet effective, and you can probably create this with what you already have at home.
Step 1: Start by framing your eye with a neutral color. (Disclaimer: When I first tried this look, I made the mistake of covering my entire lid in my shade of choice. If you don’t want to look like you’ve scraped wet clay onto your eyelids, avoid doing this.) Work the shade into your crease and lower lash line. I used the shade “Grounded” from the Smashbox Photo Matte Eyes palette.
Step 2: Deepen the color with a darker shade to create definition. I mixed “Desert” and “Earthy” from the same palette and applied it to my crease. When you’re done, you’ll be left with a natural outline that makes your eyes pop.
Step 3: Use your finger to press on a shimmery cream eyeshadow working from the middle of the lid outward. I used RMS Beauty Champagne Rosé Luminizer for added shimmer!
This leaves a beautiful, natural sheen that I consider to be the most wearable. Opting for neutral colors makes this look perfect for low-key events and on days when you want to shake up your outfit of the day but don’t feel like absorbing the oohs and ahhs from everyone around you.
Tip: Unfortunately, this did crease pretty quickly. In my next iteration, I’d dial down the amount of luminizer applied and keep it subtle.
For the Intermediate
Difficulty level: 6/10
This look ratchets up the difficulty scale for requiring the smoke effect. Smokey eyes are possibly the most intensely practiced makeup look next to the cut crease. I say this from personal experience and the sheer amount of beauty tutorials dedicated to these methods. Luckily, Andrew steadied my quivering hand with concise instructions via email, which I’ve translated below:
Step 1: “Start as if you’re creating your classic Smokey Eye,” Andrew instructs. “I do this with a black or brown kohl liner richly applied and buffed over the eyelid.” In layman’s terms: Go to town with an eye pencil (I used Tom Ford Dual Eyeliner in Solaris) on your top lash line and blend it out and upward with your brush of choice. Repeat these steps until your lid is soot-dark. This gives the gloss a perfect base to work its boosting magic.
Step 2: Now, apply actual lip gloss to your eyes. Dole out a dime sized amount of clear gloss on the back of your hand. Use one finger to apply to your lid, beginning in the middle of your eye, and use your dry fingers to spread and pat as necessary.
I used Nicka K New York Lip Gel (a beauty supply find, my friends) which was thick, tacky and glued my eyelids to themselves anytime I made too-animated of an expression. However, its finish was exactly what I was hoping for — it made me look like the German Chocolate cake of my dreams.
For the Advanced
Difficulty level: 8/10
The high-shine editorial is for the bold and brave among us. It makes for a head-swiveling look.
Step 2: Using a flat angled brush, apply the mixture across your lid with the brush’s wide side. Keep the color just below the crease.
Step 3: Blink! The color will transfer to the topmost part of your lid, creating a handy guideline to draw the overall shape with the brush’s precision side. I opted for a winged flick, but feel free to go crazy here.
Step 4: For the final touch, use your finger to apply a clear balm on top. I used Farmacy Honey Savior for its gloss-like finish but spreadable texture that doesn’t disturb the product underneath.
Unexpectedly, this look wore the best of them all. I went to my astrologer sporting it and then to the pet store to pet puppies, after which creasing was so minimal I was inspired to record a horrendously dark Instagram Stories video to flex on my followers. While neither my astrologer nor the puppies commented, I’m confident they took notice. As did the number of train inhabitants who did double-takes as I rode the L Train back to Bushwick. Ten out of 10 would recommend and do this again.
What are you thoughts on the glossy eye? Chic or sweaty?
Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.