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Makeup & the Glasses-Wearing Gal

By Amalah

Photo by Mike Licht,
Hi there Amy!
I’ve scoured the archives for the answer, but I’m stumped! Wondering if you’ve got the magic solution. My question is about eye make-up for those of us who wear glasses. I recently had to switch to glasses temporarily until I’m able to fund my $$$ contacts (astigmatism, ugh). The frames are cute enough and fit my face well but I’m not sure if I should wear more makeup to bring out my eyes behind the frames? Or does that just make my eyes look smaller? Basically, should I alter my make-up routine because of the ol’ four-eyes?
For what it’s worth, I have very fair peachy colored skin and my usual story for my eyes is mascara, brown eyeliner up top, and a little peach/pink shadow to blend it in. I’m so used to contacts, but now I want to feel like people see my face still, not just my glasses. And also so that I know I look great either way, you know?
Thanks a million lady! I’m a huge fan! And yes, I’m a philosophy convert as well.

Okay, so I know this one! Though I’m a tad rusty — I haven’t worn glasses since I quit my office job, where I wore reading glasses to offset the eye strain of up-close, detailed-oriented editing work. Technically. Mostly I wore them to offset any office prejudice against being the young-looking 20-something blond girl. Big meeting with a big-wig author? Glasses. Directing a team of more-senior employees for a big project? Glasses. In my office with the door closed, goofing around on the Internet? No glasses.
(Wait. What was the question?)
The first thing to do is observe your eyes behind your glasses. Do they appear smaller, bigger, about the same? You definitely do NOT want to wear more makeup with glasses as any sort of general rule, though from the sound of your minimalist routine you could probably add in at least one more shade of shadow for more definition, but I’m getting ahead of myself, a little bit.
A couple tips for selecting eye makeup to pair with glasses: CREAM eye shadows instead of powders (which can make your lenses dusty), and WATERPROOF mascara (less likely to smudge/flake on the glass). If your lids are prone to creases and shine, a shadow primer (like F.Y.Eye by Benefit, or Urban Decay Primer Potion) will help — no sense in trying to draw all this attention to your eyes if you’re going to be awash in makeup mistakes and weirdness by lunchtime. If you’ve got very long lashes, you’ll want an eyelash curler. (My lashes are long but stick-straight, and would brush up against my glasses sometimes and leave mascara streaks if I didn’t curl them.)
Oh, and nice, skintone-friendly neutrals. That should go without saying. Please don’t buy eyeshadow that matches your frames, or decide that neon green is the only way to get people to see past the tortoiseshell.
I like using two shades of the same color for shadow — I use a light matte shade from lash line to my brow, then sweep a darker/sparkled version across my lid. It’s a subtle look that really does make a big difference in accenting your eye — easy as anything, too — so find a complementing shade for your existing peachy/pink shadow and work that in. If your glasses make your eyes look smaller, stick with just the two shades, and make sure the darker version isn’t really all that dark. If your eyes are actually magnified or about the same, you can use a third, darker shade across your crease and blended into the outer corner of your eye. (You can totally use three shades for smaller eyes too, by the way, just less of that third shade. But since you’re currently used to and happy with just one shadow, I say let’s not ramp up the maintenance too high.)
I remember reading…somewhere, at some point….that eyeliner shouldn’t be worn under glasses because it can look starker, more severe. I would agree with this if we’re talking about liquid liner, big thick kohl smudge pencils, or anything that is too dark or isn’t blended properly. I LOVE eyeliner — some people can get away without it but I personally just don’t feel “done” without a little. I only line the outer half of my eye (for the top lid I start right in the middle and go to the outer corner, and I line only about the outer 1/4 of my bottom lashes), I never use black or anything darker than a soft brown (just doesn’t suit my skintone and eyes), and I BLEND, DAMMIT, BLEND. I always thought this worked with my glasses. Personal decision that every woman has got to make, and all that. As long as you aren’t drawing an obvious black liner line across your lid and calling it a day without softening it up with a brush, you have my blessing to continue with your eyeliner routine.
After that, mascara. (I always curled first thing, before shadow.) Comb out any clumps or loose bits. If your eyes still aren’t standing out as much as you’d like, a little dab/touch of white/pink eyeliner (or some special eye illuminating blah dee doo thing, like Benefit’s Mr. Frosty or Eye Bright) in the inner corners of your eyes can help. I personally have SERIOUS issues with this trick, with the stuff looking really white and obvious no matter how much I blend it (though to be fair, I’ve never purchased such a product because the testers at Sephora have always looked so terrible on me), so if anybody actually does the white-eyeliner thing and has some good pointers for Margot and me, it’d be much appreciated.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Oooh! I have some info on the eye illuminating inner corners trick. Last year I went to Benefit in search of Eye Bright for my I-have-an-unsleeping-baby undereye circles. The plan was to try the Eye Bright at the inner corners in order to look more awake / less like a zombie. The nice salesgirl pointed me away from the Eye Bright, noting that it was too pink for my olive-undertoned skin, and directed me towards Benefit’s High Brow as a better match. It’s a highlighting pencil that’s meant to be used right under the eyebrow. She put some on my… Read more »


This may just be me, but when I wear my glasses, my eyelids are get oily. And my eyeshadow just slips off. So, I use the Urban Decay eyeshadow primer almost daily now, but especially when I wear my glasses. My powdered shadow sticks like glue to it, and even at the end of the day, I still have eyeshadow on!


Oh, word Amy! Thanks for the tips. Totally different way of applying the shadow which I never even thought of. Also I already use Urban Decay’s primer, but not everyday, so hopefully that will help keep the glasses cleaner. It’s so annoying how smudgy they can get!

Sarah C.
Sarah C.

I had to switch from contacts to glasses a couple of years ago, and ran into the same issues. I found I just have to intensify things a little- if I was using a light gold, for example, I went a shade up to a slightly deeper gold. The same has applied for eyeliner (except I don’t ever use black on the bottom. Charcoal works beautifully). And a little bit of appropriately-colored pearly shadow at the inner corner has worked well. The trick is in small steps. The MAC counter’s a good place to find a bajillion shades of the… Read more »


This does not technically answer the question you asked, but I’ve heard that it’s best to wear a brighter lipstick when wearing glasses, so that the bottom half of your face doesn’t disappear. And I always find that wearing lipstick somehow makes my eyes “pop,” so…maybe it does answer the question, in a way.


Yeah…I’ve worn glasses since 4th grade and I’ve always looked at them as an opportunity not to wear eye makeup. No one really notices when I do, so I don’t (Unless it’s a super special occasion, like my wedding, I allowed my make up artist to put eye make up on me for that). 😎

The Maiden Metallurgist

When I wear my glasses I keep it super simple, bone colored shadow, liquid liner. Keeps eyes sharp behind glasses.


Kailee, you are not alone, my eyelids get very oily when I wear my glasses too. I think it’s because the pads are always sliding down my nose and after a while the oil just spreads. This always makes my eyes feel “sicker” too, or maybe that’s because I associate wearing glasses with sick days. Hmm.
Anyway, I’m glad to hear the Urban Decay primer is such a hit with people, as I use their “Sin” eyeshadow for day-to-day and the primer now comes in that shade.