How to Level Up Your Eye Makeup While Wearing a Mask

Lipstick? I don't know her

I love a lip, I really do. A matte rouge bouche will forever make my spine tingle. (Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty Lip Souffle in her signature shade Inspire is…possibly the best matte red lipstick I’ve ever tried? And Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb lives rent free in my heart.) But you know what I love even more? Contributing to thwarting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable by wearing a non-medical face mask when I’m out in public! That’s chic as hell. So, I’m wearing my new must-have accessory daily while perfecting my smize which means it’s time to trade my love of bold lips for a focus on the eyes.

Legendary makeup artist Laura Mercier is doing the same. “What we’re noticing is that if you don’t have eye makeup, you disappear,” says Mercier, over Zoom, of our current masked-up reality. She says now’s the time for people who don’t normally wear eye makeup to start playing with colour, if they’re so inclined. “I’m going to paint my eyelid with Caviar [Stick Eyeshadows], way more than I used to do, and do lots of mascara to have my eyes be very present because I can’t show lips which, everyone knows, is my favourite thing to do!” Same, LM, same.

She says that experimenting with eye makeup is great practice even for her, a makeup expert with decades of experience. “It’s a great exercise for me because I now have to really make an effort to make up my eyes more,” Mercier says. “It’s all about eyebrows and eyes. Let’s face it.”

Laura Mercier global beauty director Jason Hoffman suggests a bit of tight eyeliner and mascara on curled lashes for those who aren’t super adept at eye makeup. But for folks with more motivation (or time) to play with their peepers, he recommends smudging some creamy eye pencil over a base coat of shadow before applying your go-to smokey eye, or whatever your usual shadow look is. “You do a little bit of eyeshadow or base first and then you sketch out to the inner corners of the eye, smudge it, and then go about your normal shadow routine. This creates a little bit of depth and intensity underneath the powders that you put on top of it. It makes your eye makeup pop without having to change your routine.”

Here are the products you need for more fun face mask eye makeup ideas, because why not just go buck wild?

Sapphire lids

I can’t lie, I’m a kajillion percent more likely to try an eye makeup product if it a) comes in a stick and b) just requires my fingers to apply and blend it. I’m partial to a regal colour like this shimmering sapphire for fall—just swipe on your entire lid with your fingertips, smudge a little and pat yourself on the back!

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Shadow Stick in Indigo, $38,

Extendo cat-eye liner

My friend Anna is an eyeliner aficionado (she could draw—and maybe has drawn?—a perfect cat eye in her sleep) says this liner is *literally* the best she’s ever tried. I drew an impeccable fake moustache on my hand when it arrived on my desk and the pen’s flexible brush tip made it a breeze to use.

Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner, $25,

Metallic merlot

Yes, reddish eye makeup can veer a bit towards pink-eye territory so use a light touch when playing with that corner of the colour wheel. I’ll opt for a metallic finish, like the crimson colours in this Chanel palette, plus a sharp swipe of espresso eyeliner, for a look that says “elegant” not “infected.”

Chanel Les 4 Ombres in Candeure et Provocation, $70,

Day-Glo eyeliner

Why yes, I *did* watch Euphoria, how did you know? The colour payoff of these bright NYX liners is insane and will have you feeling like Barbie Ferreira in no time.

NYX Vivid Brights Liner in Vivid Halo, $12,

Green mascara

Shine bright like an emerald with this one-two punch from Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty that looks especially fetching on brown-eyed beauties.

Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Mascara in Ivy League, $18,, and Snap Shadow Mix and Match Eyeshadow Palette in Money, $33,

Copper tops

It had been so long since I’d faked cheekbones with it that I looked at my big, beautiful, expensive bronzer palette the other day and had to reintroduce myself. Give your eyelids the sun-kissed treatment instead with one of these (how did you guess?) impossibly easy-to-master shadow pens.

Maybelline Color Strike Cream to Powder Eye Shadow Pen in Flash, $6.99,

Dramatic brows

Has the time ever felt more right for seriously fat, fluffy brows? Brush yours up with a spoolie then fill them in with pencil or powder for shadow brows that’ll make your face forget you ever even had lips.

Gucci Beauty Crayon Définition Sourcils, $42,

Plum smokey eye

You can never go wrong with a classic smokey eye. Give the traditional look a fall refresh by blending dark purple shades like this look on Sophia Bush instead of brown or grey. So riche!

Catrice Self-Made Bae Eyeshadow Palette, $17,

Exaggerated eyelashes

I am always a fan of applying approximately six to nine coats of mascara but it feels like a particularly essential beauty item right now. This new offering from the queen of glamour gives lashes volume, length *and* lift via a very cool brush—it has a flat side for loading and coating the lashes and a bristly side for combing the mascara through and lifting the lashes from root to tip.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara, $34,