Close-Set Eyes: The Makeup Tricks To Master If You Have Them

Everything you need to know about eyeshadow, liner and fake lashes for those of us with eyes nearer to each other than most.
Publish date:
March 10, 2014
eyeliners, eyeshadows, How-To, lorac, false eyelashes, false lashes, close-set eyes

If I had to pick a favourite facial feature, it would be my eyes.

I know, CHEEKBONES. And they are really great! But my eyes are, if not the windows to my soul, the windows to Sailor Jupiter’s soul.

I like their odd colour and the fact that they almost--but don’t quite--match. I like that they’re wide. I even like my almost totally colourless eyelashes; I’d have been SO HOT in 1665.

The one issue I have, though, is that they’re close together. Sing, O muse, of the girl who had problems using microscopes! Of the woman who orders glasses and has to reconfirm her pupillary distance several times, because “Really?” Of the fancy lady who can never use opera glasses without turning them into an opera monocle!

Truly. My cross to bear.

But I am not alone! Many of you have a similar facial design, and like me, you also love your near-set eyes. I am totally your huckleberry for this, so let’s dive in!


When your eyes are quite close together, you have to be careful with balance. It’s easy to make them look even closer together, which kind of tumbles them in towards your nose, and then there’s suddenly a lot happening in the middle of your face. It’s unbalanced. The goal here isn’t to use makeup to drastically change how you look, but rather to get things balanced properly for maximum fabulousness.

The easiest way to do this is to concentrate light colours on the inside part of the eyelid and darker (or brighter) colours on the outside. I always think of my eyes as a scale--the side nearest my nose is a little heavier (because it has some nose on it), so in order to balance it, I have to put a little extra something on the outside. And when it comes to eyeshadow, that’s usually a darker shade.

You can see how the black is “heavier” than the gold, counterbalancing it a little, and balancing my face.

I also almost always extend my eyeshadow out a little in a triangular cat-eye shape at the corner, because it’s what I like the best. You can keep it closer to your corner and round it off, or even pull it down for a puppy eye effect. As long as you have the balance right, the entire world of shapes is your oyster.

So, how do you know how much darker “weight” to add? Well, this mostly depends on the size and shape of your eyes. Let’s revist the Rule Of Thirds!

I have “Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”-size eyeballs, with big, deeply creased eyelids, so I can carry A LOT of weight on my outer corner. If you have smaller eyes or a shallower crease (or no crease at all), you may require less. A good place to start is to divide your eyelid into thirds--the inside third is for your light colour, the very outside is for your dark colour, and the middle is for blending them together.

Thirds are not a hard and fast rule. You may find that you prefer less dark (divided into quarters!) or more dark (halves!), and that is fine! Do what works best for you; thirds is just a really good place to begin your experiments.

Likewise, when I say “dark” and “light,” I do mean relatively. You aren’t limited to black, white and grey; just consider the relative weights of the colours you’re using. Like right here I have a light bright green and a dark bright blue. I would put the green on the inside and the blue on the outside, because the blue is heavier.

And of course, once you have this down, you can start getting creative. Superbright colours on the inner corners? Why not!

Finally, I always highlight the inner corner of my eye (and nose) with a light, shimmery shadow.

My reasons for this are twofold: First, because I am subject to Victorian Maiden Aunt-style purple circles under my eyes, and dark circles also show up in this little spot by my nose. A lot of people miss that with concealer, or don’t cover it completely, and I find that a little bit of shimmer overtop does wonders in hiding it. Don’t neglect this space!

Second, because it provides a little more of the balance we were talking about. No matter what other colours I’m wearing, I find that a shimmery highlight here creates a little more visual distance between my nose and the inner corner of my eye. In short, it makes my eyes look a little further apart.

I think there’s a BIG difference between highlighting and not, especially in terms of which side looks the most balanced. I’m obsessed with balance, guys. It’s a problem.


I really only have two guidelines here. For me, these are a bit firmer than my rules governing eyeshadow, but feel free to take to them to heart as seriously as you like.

First: Don’t take under-eye liner all the way to your inner corner. Let’s bring back the scale metaphor: If you do this, you’re adding extra weight to both sides of your scale when the inside corner is already heavier. You end up unbalanced! Please don’t end up unbalanced. Take it three-quarters of the way, or until your eyelashes stop, and then put the eyeliner down.

See the difference?

Second: When lining your upper lid, think thin and then thicker. No matter how you wear your eyeliner, make sure that it’s very thin on the inside corner. Again, this has to do with balance--if it’s super-chunky on the inner corner, you’re adding too much weight to that side of the scale, and suddenly there’s too much happening in the middle of your face. Spread out the action!

This means you need to get especially good with your liner. I talk about it all the time, but this is why LORAC Front of the Line PRO is my favourite liquid eyeliner in the world. The tip is long and thin, but firm, so that you have lots of control to create really delicate lines.

If you’re wearing a cat eye--like me, 90% of the time--keep it thin on the inside and then make the line thicker as you get closer to the outer corner and the inevitable wing. I think this is a particularly flattering look on we ladies with near-set eyes, as the flick gives us a little extra weight at the outside, thus balancing our faces really neatly.

Plus it looks awesome no matter the occasion, which is definitely a plus.


I’ve heard that people with near-set eyes shouldn’t wear fake eyelashes. Baloney, I say! OF COURSE you can wear fake eyelashes--the trick is that you have to do it carefully.

Again, as with everything else, the key is balance. You want to pick a style of eyelash that concentrates its awesomeness on the outer corner. Nothing too long as thick on the inside. A gradient of thickness and length is ideal.

If you don’t like full-band eyelashes--and I find myself liking them less and less as I get older--grab a set of the individual clusters and apply a few on the outside corners of your upper lashline. Again, this provides extra weight to the outside of your eyes for balance, plus it looks far more natural than a strip does because you don’t see a band.

Also, always remember to custom-trim your lashes for length. Bands are one size fits all, and there’s SO MUCH variation in eye shape and size, so obvs you’re going to need to get nuts with scissors. I always trim from the outside, because the inner lash-length gradient is more important to maintain for a natural, well-applied look.

And that’s it! Now I want to hear from you: What are your favourite close-set-eyes makeup secrets?