Types of eye makeup and popular eye makeup trends in 2021
The makeup industry has no shortage of products to help you create the most popular eye makeup looks — from chic and subtle to outrageous and eye-catching. For someone who’s just learning about the artistry of eye makeup, the products and techniques can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, most eye makeup looks can be achieved easily with a little practice and some practice.
What are the different types of eye makeup?
Part of the joy of eye makeup is that the color and style combinations are truly endless. While you can use whatever color pallet and type you prefer, the methods for applying your chosen products can help you achieve any one of these eye makeup looks:
Natural. Great for work or an everyday look, natural eye makeup should enhance your eye features without looking like you’re wearing any makeup. Using soft, neutral tones that compliment and highlight your natural skin tone are best for achieving this look.
Cat-eye makeup. A classic, timeless technique that involves sweeping the outer corners of the eyes upward. You can achieve this using liquid eyeliner, eyeshadow, an eyeliner pencil or gel eyeliner. The “perfect cat eye” looks different on everyone — some prefer a subtle curve while others like a sharper, more dramatic angle. Either way, the technique can be tricky and takes some practice to perfect.
Smoky eye makeup. A smoky eye gives the eyes a sultry, mysterious appearance. To achieve a smoky eye, blend darker colored eyeliner and eyeshadow into lighter colors to create a smoky effect. If you want to go a step further, dust the lower lash line with the same or similar colors as the ones used on the upper eyelid. You can create a smoky eye using natural colors, dark colors or bold, vibrant colors such as pinks or greens.
Shimmery. A shimmery eye makeup look uses an eyeshadow containing finely milled sparkles. The result is a metallic or shimmery effect that adds some pizzazz to the eyelid. You can add shimmery eyeshadow to any makeup look and elevate the overall appearance.
Cut crease. This makeup look uses a technique that defines the crease of the eyelid. Use a contrasting eyeshadow color to trace or “cut” across the crease of the eyelid. You can slightly blend the crease with the rest of your eyeshadow or not, depending on how dramatic you want the crease to be. This technique is great for people with a monolid eye shape, as monolid eyes have little to no natural crease in the eyelid.
Halo. To achieve a halo effect in your eye makeup, apply a darker shade of eye shadow at the inner and outer edges of the eyelid, then dust the middle of the eyelid with a lighter color. This technique gives the eyes a larger, rounder appearance.
Gradient. While you can rock a gradient eye with any set of complementary colors, the technique is usually done with bold eyeshadows. Working from the inner corner to the outer corner of the eyelid, apply small sections of each color, blending slightly from one color to the next.
Eye makeup trends for 2021
The focus for eye makeup looks in 2021 is bright colors — and lots of them! Plus, a new technique that gives you the appearance of having had a facelift. Here are some of the eye makeup looks taking the beauty community by storm:
Time to dust off your mom’s eyeliner from the 80s (actually, 80s makeup products are very expired by now. Please don’t put makeup that is actually from the 80s near your eyes.) Bold blue eyeliner is the pop of color many makeup artists have been using recently.
Whether a shimmery sky blue or a matte cobalt, blue eyeliner is a modern, funky spin on the classic black cat-eye look. Highlight your already-bold eyeshadow or spice up your natural eyeshadow with a little something blue.
Fox eye makeup
This trend uses black liquid eyeliner to create a sharp little triangle at the inner and outer corners of the eyes. Rather than filling the triangles in with black liner, they’re filled with a white eyeliner, which is also used along the lower waterline to brighten the eyes and give them an upward slanted appearance.
Important note: While this trend has become popular among makeup artists and beauty enthusiasts, the act of using makeup to have your eyes appear slanted can have negative cultural connotations. People in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have been vocal about their dislike of the makeup trend, saying the technique promotes cultural appropriation.
Makeup provides an opportunity to express your creativity and highlight your beauty using different techniques. However, it’s important to understand the impact certain makeup choices (as with fashion, hair, etc.) can have on other people and cultures.
Colorful smoky eye
Putting a fun twist on a popular style, colorful smoky eyes take the sultry look of smoky eyes, but use vibrant pastels to create a whimsical effect. You use the same technique (as outlined above) as you would to achieve a regular smoky eye, but rather than using browns, grays or blacks, use shades of lilac, pink or whatever color you prefer.
For glitter queens, starry-eyed dreamers and festival goers alike, this trend is for you. While simple, the confetti eye makeup look will elicit many a head-turn and emphatic compliment!
Use a lip or eye gloss over the entire eyelid to create a sticky, glossy base. Then, using tweezers, strategically or randomly place pieces of confetti (stars are the trending popular choice) all over the eyelid. For extra hold, dab some eyelash glue on the back of the confetti before placing it on the eyelid.
SEE RELATED: What happens if you get glitter makeup in your eye?
Wearing and removing eye makeup safely
If you’re new to the world of eye makeup, I imagine you’re eager to try different products and techniques to achieve the look you want. Before you go hog wild on those baby blues (or greens, grays or browns) of yours, it’s important to understand how sensitive the eyes are and how to wear and remove eye makeup safely.
Only use eye-related products around the eyes. Though most modern makeup products are safe to use anywhere on the face, you should not use any non-makeup products around the eyes. Doing so can irritate your eyes or even lead to infection.
Never share eye makeup with others. The face and its features are, frankly, pretty gross (bacteria-wise, not aesthetically – you’re lovely!). The bacteria that live in your eyelashes and on your skin are a normal part of your microbiome. Sharing that bacteria with someone else, however, or having them share theirs with you is just asking for an eye infection – for instance, highly contagious pink eye.
Toss out expired makeup. Cosmetics manufacturers are required to print a symbol on each product to suggest an expiration date. The symbol will list a number followed by the letter M, which shows how many months the product will last after you’ve opened it. Keeping a product longer than suggested (specifically mascara) can cause the product to not work as well and/or cause eye irritation.
Don’t wear makeup with an eye infection. If your eyes show signs of irritation or infection, stop wearing any form of eye makeup until the symptoms are no longer present. The infection can spread to the cosmetics brushes and applicators, not to mention further irritate your eyes and prolong the length of your symptoms.
Remove makeup before bed. Even if you only use a makeup remover wipe, taking your eye makeup off every day is critical for maintaining healthy eyes and eyelashes, as well as healthy skin. Be sure when removing eye makeup to rub the eyelids and lashes gently. Avoid using too much pressure against the eye, as it can raise the pressure within the eyeball.
READ MORE: What can you use to clean your eyelids?
Page published in July 2021
Page updated in January 2022