My deep-set eyes are a gift from my grandmother, passed down to me through my mother. And as much as I love seeing the two of them reflected in me, I don’t love the way my undereye makeup creases or disappears into the hollow shadows framing my eyes. Turns out I’m not imagining it.
Deep-set eyes are “less projected, meaning that they sit further back in your orbital cavity, the boney socket that houses your eyes,” says Melissa Doft, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York. Visually this can result in a crease underneath the eye area, plus a sunken and darkened look.
Because of this, I have been searching for the best way to brighten my eyes without permanently changing my face. Sure, fillers or an eye lift could instantly (albeit temporarily) smooth the appearance of the under-eye area, but, with results that last up to two years, this requires a different level of commitment. And, of course, makeup is a great way to minimize the look of undereyes shadows, but with deep-set eyes, it’s not as easy as just swiping on concealer and walking out the door.
Here, experts share the ultimate makeup tips for brightening the shadows and softening the hollows of deep-set eyes, along with the best products to use along the way.
Meet the experts:
How to prep and prime your undereye area
Before rushing to apply copious amounts of concealer… pause for a moment. Deep-set eyes or not, the skin under your eyes is thin, so it needs proper moisture before any makeup is applied otherwise the product will settle into crevices. The pros recommend using a hydrating product with a light texture — so it sinks into the skin quickly — to prime the skin under your eyes. While there are a few products called “undereye primer,” your favorite moisturizer or eye cream under your eyes also works well. (Always tap in product versus rubbing since this skin is delicate in this area.) I love applying Allure 2022 Best of Beauty winner Osea Ocean Eyes Age-Defying Serum before my makeup because it’s lightweight but keeps my undereyes well hydrated.
Once skin is plump and moisturized, then you can begin brightening any shadows. (Keep your concealer on standby!) “Someone with deep-set eyes may see a little darkness under their eyes, but the darkness could be just coming from the shadow that the natural curves of their face create,” says makeup artist Danessa Myricks. Whether that’s the case or you’re dealing with actual dark circles, Myricks and Andrea DiSabatino, a New York-based makeup artist, stress color-correcting as a key step in doing makeup for deep-set eyes. “Color correction can feel scary because it seems so complex,” says Myricks, but it’s as simple as basic color theory. (Remember the color wheel?) Since dark circles tend to be blue or purple, you’ll want to cancel this out with “orange pigment, ranging from light peach to a deeper red-orange to address that,” says Myricks. The darker your skin tone, the darker the shade of your color corrector should be.
For my deep brown skin tone, one of my favorite color-correcting products is Make Up For Ever Color Correcting Step 1 Grayness Reducer Primer. The lightweight, cream formula has a bright terracotta orange tint that balances out my skin tone while adding even more moisture in the process. “I find that using my finger to apply the product helps to seamlessly blend it into the skin,” says DiSabatino, who reaches for Bobbi Brown Undereye Corrector when working with clients who have dark undereyes.
The best way to apply concealer
Now that your skin is properly prepped, it’s time to apply concealer. But you need one with a texture that’s just right: Myricks says to avoid using a concealer that’s too thin because it won’t provide enough coverage, and is prone to sliding around; concealer that’s too thick can be hard to blend and will sit on top of the skin making it look too heavy. A medium coverage, creamy consistency is just right.