Emphas-eyes: Styling your most expressive feature

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like a mole emerging from underground, blinking into the sunlight as we start to slowly tiptoe out into the world again?

This strange new world we are living in, brings with it all manner of anxieties and new realities that we have to find a way to navigate through. Not least to mention the fact that we have been existing in a more pared back, simplified day to day look and suddenly, we are seeing people not just on a screen (and from the waist up!) but in person…two metres is not that far when you’re trying to look your best! OK, so maybe not the biggest world problems…but it’s about your reality, your context and making it as comforting, safe and reassuring as possible.

Remember, all the things that may be considered frivolous and non-essential, may actually be crucial self-care and sources of joy in a troubling world to you. So don’t think your desire for your beauty rituals is something to be dismissed.

Of course many frontline workers have bravely continued to keep our world turning with extraordinary humility in the eye of the storm - we salute you. But the rest of us, in our little corner of the world, are seeing the beginning of restrictions easing we trying to fathom how to find our way through new regulations and changes on an almost daily basis.

Face Covering Guidelines

As of the 15th June the rules changed in England to state that face coverings (not specifically medical masks) must be worn on public transport.


No longer an unusual sight, face coverings have overnight become a 'new norm' and indeed, been elevated to one of the newest high fashion and home craft accessories.

Our focus has shifted to exercising our creativity with eyes, so here are some suggestions, recommendations and ideas for styling out your facial coverings!

Preparation is everything

Face coverings are not a reason to neglect skincare, in fact it may require adjustments to accommodate the potential impact on skin’s natural microbiome that wearing a mask can cause. Frontline workers will undoubtedly agree that masks can create friction which can lead to irritation - the more humid environment on the nose and chin, can cause breakouts. 

Our eyes are our most expressive feature. The skin around the eyes is prone to damage and loss of hydration, causing fine lines, puffiness and loss of tone.

A go-to for eye care would be Clarins. The brand has created a focus on their eye treatment lines from cooling, soothing gels to refresh the eyes and help disperse puffiness with rich, radiance boosting, toning creams that help fortify this fragile area. Visit our experts on counter in-store for a diagnostic on your specific needs.

 Clarins Extra Eye Firming Cream 

Ace of Base - Correct and Perfect

The essence of helping your skin survive the containment of a face covering, is keep it light on concealer / foundation or indeed go without for this area of the face.

With a correctly fitting face covering there will inevitably be transfer to the fabric, so keeping your base light will help avoid this and help skin minimise pore congestion. I’ve recommended it before – but Origins Ginzing™ SPF 40 Energy Boosting Tinted Moisturizer really is the perfect product for this situation. The lightest hint of colour, evens out skin tone, boosts luminosity and provides solid SPF and smells divine!

There are a myriad of good concealers out there and it can feel a minefield to choose, but there are some stand outs:

 Nars Creamy Concealer

Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Concealer

Hourglass Vanish Airbrush Concealer

 A little goes a long way with each, they are all elastic, blendable and offer a reasonable shade range from fair to deep tones.

Concentrate application to the inner corner, near the bridge of the nose and blend out. Use as little as possible to the outer corner of the eye as this is more mobile skin so will move the product to any fine lines.

 Primed and ready?

For day to day simple looks, the technology is excellent in pressed and cream colour, so a specific primer shouldn’t be required. However, when you are getting creative with colour, dynamic placement and feel that the humidity caused by wearing a mask is affecting the durability of your look – a primer is a great way to set things in place.

MAC Prep + Prime 24-Hour Extend Eye Base is specifically formulated to grab hold of your eye colour and help it last all day.

 M∙A∙C Prep + Prime 24-Hour Extend Eye Base

Choose your weapons

There seems no end to the innovation and library of eye colours! The technology in milling powders has helped deliver creamy, soft, durable and highly pigmented powders that deliver extraordinary colour.

Cream shadow is comfortable and often infused with skin nourishing ingredients within the base and works well applied with a brush or fingertips. There is no drop of powder onto the face and they vary little in consistency from matte to high shimmer. They work beautifully on all generations and are particularly good to avoid settling in the lines as they move with the mobile lid. 

One colour can be built and layered in intensity and blended out to create a soft subtle halo effect.

Bobbi Brown Longwear Cream Eyeshadow (available in-store) is a perfect on-the-go, commuter’s eyeshadow. Beautiful tones that can be sheered out to a veil of colour or kept intense as a molten effect to the lid. You literally cannot go wrong.


Appealing to the magpie in all of us, glitter has often been a rather unwieldy addition to makeup, prone to drop and wear off. There are now liquids and intriguing powders that simply glide over the lid and stay put. Simple one step WOW, minimal effort maximum impact.

M∙A∙C Dazzleshadow Liquid

Hourglass Scattered Light

As for pressed powders, the lists and choices are endless.

Laura Mercier Parisian Nudes Palette

 Precision and definition

Pencils, kohls and liquid liners offer more than just a finishing touch. They can form the basis of a whole look, they can be blended for an instant smoke to the lash line, they can be tight lined to boost the appearance of lash volume, define shape and make the eyes appear whiter. Pencils offer an inexpensive way to experiment with an instant, simple pop of colour to the eyes.

M.A.C Chromagraphic Pencil 

M.A.C Chromagraphic Pencil

Remember, there’s no need to limit yourself - create a look-book of ways to dress your eyes. Be creative, throw away the rulebook…you can wear orange…you can wear blue…it’s about finding your tonal palette and having the confidence to try. 

 So, let’s explore some of the tantal-eyes-ing (sorry!) choices of looks to try.

Look Book

Classic Neutrals

Timeless taupes, earthy browns and nude pink tones…the go-to here is Bobbi Brown who epitomises this stylish, sophisticated effortless look.

Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow closeup 

 Golden Girl

This can be achieved in subtle tones of gold through to intense golden pigments that adorn the lid like molten metallic. This looks high maintenance but in reality can be very simple to achieve with a single sweep of a brush or finger with some of the products referenced here.

 Image courtesy of M.A.C MUA Caitlyn Day

Makeup by M.A.C MUA Caitlyn Day

Hot Metallics

Simplicity is key here – let one product do the work and create that high impact foiled effect to the lid.

 Hourglass Cosmetics Scattered Light Eyeshadow

Hourglass Cosmetics Scattered Light 

Graphic Liner

Works best with a singular colour look – either on a neutral base as shown by M∙A∙C. makeup artist Caitlyn Day (@BeautyByCaitlinDay) here or with a hot colour to define and exaggerate the area of creativity and play on the lid.

Graphic liner eye look by M.A.C MUA Caitlyn Day

Colour Pop

Consider complimenting your face covering colours or graphics, or swing to the opposite side of the colour wheel for a modern clash situation! The season is awash with brights. Dip in and have fun!

For deeper skin tones, brights are a wonderful compliment to gorgeous rich brown and black skin, but finding the intensity of pay-off is the challenge. MAC Pigments (available in Elys Urban Beauty) are an incredible source of intense colour if you’re looking for a kaleidoscope of festive tones and as they are pure powders, there is no chalkiness to the base meaning the colour pops on application.

Smoke Signals

Smokey eyes don’t have to be labour intensive and complicated, or have to be graphite greys to smoulder.

It is more about depth and placement and can be created with one product and blended for that diffused shadow effect.

I woke up like this

There is something effortlessly stylish in an eye that appears to have nothing but perfected skin. Finding your skin tone of matte shadow or cream is the perfect way to create a canvas of fresh faced, “I woke up like this” gorgeousness. Lashings of mascara…groomed to perfection without looking like you’ve done a thing!

For deeper skin tones, finding a good, non-chalky eye colour can be frustrating to achieve that no-makeup-makeup look. Bobbi Brown Toast eye shadow is recommended as a good neutral that melts into the skin and delivers that nude effect.

Brows and Lashes

These are the finishing touches you cannot forget when the focus is on eyes. Shape and define brows with the masters of choice Benefit. From powder to pencil to wax.

Finish with high impact mascara. I have picked a few enduring favourites that pack a serious punch on definition, volume and length.

Hourglass Caution Mascara

Hourglass Cosmetics Caution Mascara

Lancôme Hypnôse

Buy now

Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara

DiorShow Mascara

DiorShow Mascara

 Try a setting spray to keep your skin looking dewy and fresh all day, helps beat the heat. Try the new Fix It Magic Radiance from M∙A∙C.

MAC. Fix It Magic Radiance

M∙A∙C. Fix It Magic Radiance 

This doesn’t mean the end of lippy….save that for video calls at home…but for out and about, keep skin simple and eyes fabulous!

We would love to see your creativity – tag us and share your looks on instagram!

The Insiders Tip

A word on hooded eyes. It’s one of the most asked questions, the 'rules' about hooded eyes. I’m not a fan of rules per se, I think it is much more about working what you want with what you have.

Here are some tips that help with the main challenges that affect this eye shape: 

  • Go waterproof / smudgeproof. One of the main frustrations with a hooded eye is transfer. Find a good transfer resistant pencil or liner and half your worries will fade away! 
  • Up and out. Place darker colours to the outer corner and angle your blending and contouring up and outwards. Bring shading and blending up and over the hooded area so that it is not lost when your eye is relaxed. Apply intensity of colour to the upper lid with eye slightly lowered so you have full access, then look straight on and see where that colour appears, then blend so that you use the hooded area below the brow.

The MASTER of working a hooded eye on Instagram is @katiejanehughes

She has a whole section on hooded eyes on her story highlights - check her out.

  • Apply a halo of colour under the lower lash too to help balance shape.
  • Brows are key to define shape and help lift the eye shape up and out.
  • Be bold! A hooded eye means you can apply cool, bold brights and it will have a flash of wow rather than overtaking everything else. Embrace colour and be inspired to try!

Shop must-have Beauty online now.

Find all the products mentioned in the Beauty Hall and Urban Beauty where our experts are on hand to help find the right shades and textures to suit you.