Hooded Eyes: 5 Eyeshadow and Eyeliner Tips That Really Work

No visible mobile lid, no problem.

I feel like I must have written about my hooded eyes on here at some point—oh hey, here it is—but not very much. I think it's time we revisit this topic, don't you?

After all, so many of us struggle to figure out how to apply makeup to hooded eyes. In case you're not familiar with the term, hooded eyes basically just means you don't have a lot of visible mobile eyelid space when your eyes are open because you have a little extra skin at your brow bone that hangs down a bit.

This leads to the unfortunate side effect of your eye makeup—all that beautiful crease blending you did—becoming impossible to see once you open your eyes. That's supposing, of course, that your eyelids don't immediately transfer said makeup to your brow bone.

Like I said, it's a struggle.

I've played around with eye makeup a lot recently, however, and I think I've finally figured out what works for my hooded eyes.

Primer is a MUST

You need to use primer. That's nonnegotiable. Not only are my eyelids hooded, but they're also the only oily part of my face (go figure). I finally started using Urban Decay Original Eyeshadow Primer Potion and haven't looked back.

I put this on before using any kind of eyeshadow or liner, and it keeps everything from sliding around on my oily lids or getting transferred to my brow bone.

Use Eyeliner Instead of Eyeshadow

Sometimes I want a bold, colorful look on my eyes. Unfortunately, it never seems to work out very well with eyeshadow. My efforts feel like a waste of time when you can't see most of my lids anyway.

Instead, I use a thick swipe of liquid liner for a bright pop of color. Right now I'm really into Sigma Line Ace, which comes in a lot of fun colors like the purplish-blue Inscription shown below.

After applying primer, I make a thick line along my upper lash line (except at the inner corners, where I keep it thin). As you can see below, when my eyes are closed or half-closed, it's obvious that I didn't cover my entire lid with color.

However, when my eyes are fully open, no one's the wiser. The color appears to take over my entire lid, making for a bold look that's actually incredibly fast and easy to do—no blending required.

Cat-Eyes are for Everyone

If you have hooded eyelids, the best thing you can do is find a black liquid eyeliner that does not budge. My all-time favorite is Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, but I also really like this Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Precision Longwear Liquid Eyeliner.

Primer is required if I don't want this liner transferring to my brow bone, but that's a small step to take for something that I scored on sale for half-off.

My other tip for black eyeliner is to make sure to draw a very thin line that is nestled right up against your upper lash line. Otherwise (as demonstrated earlier) the eyeliner will appear to take over your entire eyelid. That's fine if you want a bold, colorful look, but I rarely want an entirely opaque black eyelid. It's a bit much.

Below is my typical cat-eye, which I achieve by drawing the thin line above my upper lash line first and then drawing a straight flick outwards while looking in a mirror at an extreme downwards angle.

Sometimes, however, I prefer my cat-eye to angle upwards so my eyes don't appear so downturned. (Unless, of course, I'm intentionally going for the puppy eye look.)

In this case, I keep the line going straight across the outer half of my eyelid instead of following the shape of my lid downwards. At the end of the line, I taper it and gently sweep it upwards towards the end of my eyebrow.

Sometimes I'll add a second flick underneath the first one for a double-winged cat-eye. It's an easy way to add a bit of drama to your look.

The $3 Lifesaver

I'd be remiss if I didn't pause to mention my secret weapon for cat-eyes and pretty much all eye makeup: my e.l.f. Makeup Remover Pen. I rely on it constantly to clean up any mistakes or smudges and to keep the finished result looking crisp and sharp. Just make sure to wipe it off constantly while you're using it so you don't create even more smudges.

As you can probably see in the picture above, I'm past due for a replacement. Luckily it's only $3!

Eyeshadow Placement

Finally, let's talk about eyeshadow: the bane of my existence. I've tried a few different ways to make eyeshadow work for my hooded eyes. Primer has helped to eradicate all the smudging and creasing that used to happen, but I'm still left with the conundrum of figuring out how to make my eyeshadow be seen.

In the past, I've tried to make my eyeshadow more noticeable by placing it not just on my lid but above the crease and all the way up onto my brow bone. Sadly, this almost never works. It's just way too much look for me.

I'll show you what I do instead, using butter London Wink Cream Eye Shadow in Randy for this example.

After using primer, I apply the shadow to my entire mobile lid. I might go slightly above the crease or not; it doesn't make a huge difference when my eyes are open.

Then—this is the key—I add more shadow to the outer corners of my eyes and below my lower lash line (usually fading it out when I get to the lower inner corner). I like to do the lower line in a smudgy, messy way because I think it looks softer and sexier.

This way, my eyeshadow is much more noticeable overall, even if the top part of it is mostly invisible when my eyes are open. Plus having the color almost entirely encircling my eyes make them stand out more.

I know not all of these tips will work for everyone, but hopefully you got one or two good ideas out of it.

  • How do you do your makeup if you have hooded eyes?
  • Can we at least agree that, despite the minor annoyances, hooded eyes are SEXY AF?