It’s a Crime Not to Prime

Too Faced Shadow Insurance, eye primer, eyeshadow primer
A kit essential.


It’s no secret that I love eye primer (specifically Too Faced Shadow Insurance). Eye primer gives you a good base, keeps your eyeshadow and eyeliner on longer and minimizes creasing. Unless I am going to change someone’s eye makeup soon after (like for a photo or sometimes film shoot), I put this ish on everyone.

Like with any product, how you do it is as important as the product itself. The eye priming routine will take you roughly 10 seconds, but let me break it down so you get the best results.

1) Dispense enough product for both eyes. An amount the size of about a grain of rice is plenty.

2) Use your ring finger to apply and blend it in. The ring finger is the weakest, and the skin around the eye is some of thinnest on the body. Using a gentle touch–pat it, so don’t go at it like you are trying to remove an ink stain–will prevent tugging. Repeated tugging on that gentle skin can cause premature wrinkles.

3) Concentrate the primer on your lids, but carry it into the crease and onto the browbone too. Even if you are not going to put shadow on those areas, it will even out your skintone (especially important if you are fair-skinned and can see veins or discoloration on your eyelids).

4) Let your primer dry completely before applying your eye makeup. This is a very important step. If you do not wait until the primer has dried (absorbed into your skin), you will be wiping it off as you apply your eye makeup, canceling out any effect. And if you apply eyeshadow before the primer has dried, the shadow will stick to the product and look patchy. That is why eye primer is always my first step in my makeup routine. I apply that, then face moisturizer and lip balm. The time it takes to apply the moisturizer and lip balm is the amount of time needed for the eye primer to absorb.


5) As a final step to make sure you primer has dried, run your finger, a makeup sponge or a fluffy eyeshadow brush lightly over it. This will smooth it down and wipe off any excess that may be hanging around, which could actually backfire and cause creasing.

That’s it! Easy, right? Using a primer and applying it correctly will make a big difference in your makeup routine.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Eye Makeup Smudges, Be Gone!

I like a bit of a messy eye makeup look, I really do. But it has to be done right, and it’s not for everyone, or for every situation. If you are working a professional job outside of the beauty industry or something creative/artistic, you might need more of a clean makeup look during work hours. And nothing kills an otherwise polished face like eye makeup that looks like it is slowly melting off.

So many of my clients tell me they are fighting a losing battle with chronic smudged eyeliner or migrating mascara. Many give up and abandon eye makeup altogether. But ladies, ladies, ladies–you need not despair! There are a few factors that could be causing the issue, and some things you can do to fix it. I would like to help you identify the root of the problem and win this battle.

Let’s start with eye primer. I think anyone who wears any type of eye makeup should use an eye primer. It is the first step in any makeup application I do (unless I know I will be changing the eye makeup soon after), and I wear eye primer every day. The natural oils on your eyelids can make eyeliners become slippery and smudge-bound, but having a primer there creates a barrier. I have tried a ton of them and my favorite is still Too Faced Shadow Insurance (at Sephora).

If you wear eyeliner and think it may be the source of smudging for you, let’s talk about that. Is it a liquid liner? Gel? Pencil? If it’s a good quality liquid or gel eyeliner (and I will address that in the Crappy Products section), it should not smudge once it has set. If it’s a good quality pencil liner, try tracing it with an eyeshadow in the same color. This will set the liner, keeping it in place.

For those of you who like the look of eyeliner and mascara only, this part is for you. Even with a good primer and eyeliner, you may still experience smudging if you don’t wear eyeshadow (usually just with pencil liners, especially when they have not been traced with an eyeshadow). This smudging is something us makeup pros call “transfer,” and the transfer I am referring to happens on your eyelid, not underneath the eye. Depending on your eye shape, the thickness of the liner drawn and the amount of oils on your eyelid, your eyeliner can transfer from your upper lashline to the crease of your eye. Super easy fix though, don’t you worry. After applying your eye primer but before applying your eyeliner, apply a matte eyeshadow that is the same color as your skin all over your lid and into the crease. Apply your pencil liner, then set it with an eyeshadow.  If you don’t do those two things, the oils from your eyelid may breakdown your eyeliner when you look up, which causes the transfer. Having a primer and eyeshadow there blocks those oils from wreaking havoc on your eyeliner. And choosing a matte eyeshadow in the same color as your skin will still give you that no-eyeshadow look.

Many people think that their regular mascara is what causes the smudging, so they switch to waterproof. Waterproof may solve the problem, but it’s likely to cause another one–eyelash breakage. Waterproof mascaras tend to be harsh and in my opinion, are not made for everyday use. If you find that your mascara migrates, whether from watery eyes or unknown causes, try using a beauty tubes mascara (like Blinc Mascara or Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara–the latter is obviously just for the bottom lashes). Beauty tubes mascara is applied exactly like a regular mascara–it’s just the formulation that is different. Instead of coating your lashes, beauty tubes encapsulate them. It’s the difference between a cardigan and a wetsuit, you feel me? The point is, beauty tubes mascara stays on until you physically remove it with water and a gentle pressing motion.

If you switch to a beauty tubes mascara and that still doesn’t work (I have never seen or heard of that happening), I give you permission to wear waterproof mascara on your bottom lashes only. Unless you are full on crying (like when watching Long Island Medium or thinking about the current state of hip hop), any tearing will most likely only effect your bottom lashes. So using waterproof mascara on the top lashes on a daily basis is probably not necessary.

There is another big culprit for smudging, which could be root of the problem if you wear undereye concealer. Undereye concealer–unless it has been set with powder–eats at away at mascara, causing the mascara to smudge when the lower lashes touch the concealer. Applying a thin layer of powder over the undereye concealer before applying lower lash mascara could be the fix you need. The powder becomes a barrier between the concealer and mascara, so no damage can be done.

Do you regularly line your waterline with a dark eyeliner? If so, this could be causing the smudging. Our eyes naturally water during the day, so even the best waterline liner will eventually wear away. But where does it go, you ask? Check your tearducts and if they’re clear, look under your eyes. Find it? You can stop this runaway liner from journeying to under your eyes by applying a very thin line of eyeshadow in the same color family at the lower lashline, as close to the lash roots as you can get. This shadow will “catch” the waterline liner, absorbing it before it gets any further.

If you have tried some or all of these tips and your eye makeup is still smudging, you may have a case of Crappy Products. Crappy Products can be found in all makeup lines, both low and high end, but not surprisingly, the cheapest of the cheap are often Grade A Crap. (However, I have found that drugstore waterproof mascaras–Maybelline Falsies Volum Express is my fave–outperform the higher end waterproof mascaras.) Crappy eyeliner pencils seem to be the worst offenders, but there are some gel and liquid liners that flake off then melt into little smudges. If you suspect you might be using a Crappy eyeliner pencil, I recommend switching to Top Shop Kohl liners; a Crappy liquid liner could be replaced by MAC LiquidLast eyeliner; and a Crappy gel liner could be replaced by MAC Fluidline or Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Liner.

You do not have to resign yourself to living with smudged eye makeup, nor do you have to give it up completely. It may take some time to pinpoint the cause, but once you have done that, you can turn things around. Don’t know where to start? I would first try the eye primer (use it even if it doesn’t solve the smudging problem–more about that in a future post). If you wear dark liner on the waterline, try the eyeshadow-at-the-lower-lashline trick next. Still smudging? It’s time to start powdering your undereye area after concealing. Issue not resolved? Go ahead and get yourself a beauty tubes mascara. If all of these methods fail, it’s time to look inward and ask yourself, Do I buy Crappy Products? If so, get yourself some quality products. They might be more expensive than what you normally use, but if you want or need to have a professional image, I think it’s worth it.

I do want to add that even if you are using the best products in combination with the right techniques, you might see a tiny bit of smudging after 10-12+ hours. That’s why God gave us pinky fingers–to wipe away any trace of rogue eye makeup. No one looks perfect all day, folks. Touchups are necessary. Your 6:00am makeup will need to be refreshed at 6:00pm, and you may have some small smudges that only you can notice. That’s normal. What I want to do is get you away from those super obvious smudges that distract people when you are talking to them. And hopefully this post can help with that. Because, dear Lord, people are going to have a hard time listening to your flawless presentation/perfect sales pitch/inspired lesson plan if you look like Ke$ha.

Questions? Get at me.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Big Up to the Deep Set Crew


There are a lot of great things that come with my Italian heritage. A huge, loving family; chicken parm so good it will make you cry; Italian swears that are fun to say; the good hair gene–I could go on and on. But being Italian also means I have The Curse of the Deep Set Eyes (quick! cornicelli up!) Like so many people of Mediterranean descent, my eyes are set pretty far back. My brother says this is a good thing, because it protects the eyeballs if you fall on your face (always the optimist, that Mikey B!). In terms of photography though, it’s a definite disadvantage.

Before you get into this, let’s see if you are part of the Deep Set Crew (not to be confused with the Dipset crew). See the celebrity pictures included in this post? (Please excuse the formatting, not my strength.) Do their eyes look similar to your’s? If so, read on, my friend.

Let’s start this by saying a little prayer of thanks for those of us that have two eyes that can see. I think it’s important to give thanks for those things we might take for granted (even when it’s not November, folks!). Let me also point out that there is no “bad” eye shape. But there are ways to work with what you’ve got to make things look best in photos, if you are concerned with that.

If you’re rollin’ with the Deep Set Crew, you have probably seen a million photos of you that look nothing like you. That’s because cameras pick up on light and shadows, and if your eyes are deep set, the light and shadows are going to make your eyes look like they are pushed back even further in your face. Typically not a flattering look, and probably not at all what you look like in person. But these deep set eye makeup tips for photography can help you out, or at least they have for my clients and I.

First thing you want to do is avoid applying dark eyeshadow colors on your eyelids. This is a big, indisputable rule in makeup–dark colors make things recede, or look smaller. Putting a dark color on your lids is going to make your eyes look even further set back. Go with a lighter color for photography–even some shimmer is fine–and this will help bring the bottom part of your eye forward. Try a shade that is a couple of shades lighter than your skin (matte is preferable if you have very large eyes that you want to minimize, otherwise shimmer is fine). MAC Brulee eyeshadow works well on light skin, MAC Wedge is good on medium skin and MAC Era is pretty on dark skin. But use whatever works for you!

Don’t put a dark eyeshadow in the crease (or socket, if you prefer) of your eye. I would go as far as to say don’t put ANY color there. This has the same effect as putting a dark color on the lid–it is just going to make your eyes look more sunken in in photos. If you want to put some color there, what you can do–and this takes some practice–is apply a light-medium color (I usually use a light brown) slightly above the crease. It should hit the very bottom of your browbone, but not in an 80s way. Blend it well. If you don’t have much space between your crease and brows, or this sounds too advanced to you, skip it.

Avoid highlighting the browbone. I know many magazine articles and YouTube tutorials tell you to highlight the browbone, but this is really not for everyone. Highlighting the browbone is just going to make the bottom part of your eye look even further back in comparison.

If you have a lot of eyelid space (and many people with deep set eyes do–look at the Cher picture as an example), you can draw a medium or thick line of eyeliner at the top lashline. This is really more about how much lid space you have, but since I have found that so many Deep Set crew members have large eyes, I had to include that. I do recommend softening the liner by either using a shadow, smudging a pencil liner or tracing a gel liner with shadow, as it gives that soft focus effect that is generally more modern and flattering in photos. Topshop Kohl liners are awesome and easy to smudge.

I wouldn’t suggest going too dark or heavy with any liner or shadow at the lower lashline, as this can highlight the deep set factor too. A soft, thin line is flattering, but anything too dark or too heavy won’t do you any favors on camera.

People with deep set eyes are often also blessed with dark circles, which make the whole eye area look even more recessed. So it’s really important to correct and cover these circles. If they are very dark, you will need to color correct with a peach (light and medium skins) or an orange (dark skin) corrector. Follow with a concealer one shade lighter than the rest of your face (MAC Select Coverups are great), and if necessary, a small amount of brightening concealer (like Clinique Airbrush Concealer). Set with powder.

Mascara on top lashes is a must for deep set eyes (fine to do bottom too, just don’t channel Tammy Faye Bakker). Lengthening mascara is a Do, as it gives the illusion of pulling the eyes forward. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. Mascara on one eye, no mascara on the other. Which one wins this round? Dior Diorshow, the original, is still my fave for thickening and lengthening.

The next two tips could be controversial, as they are purely from my experience. I have never heard of another makeup artist/watched a YouTube tutorial suggesting these things for deep set eyes.

I love black liner on the waterline, I really do, but in photos, I swear it makes the eyes look more deep set. I recommend an off-white liner if you want to line the waterline.

This last one isn’t even eye makeup–cheekbone highlight. Don’t do it. Think about how close the cheekbones are to the eye sockets. Highlighting the cheekbones, in my opinion, automatically sets the eyes back more.

So, those are my tips. If you are a fan of the infamous selfie, try doing your makeup this way, and then the opposite. Then see which picture makes your eyes look more deep set. I think you will find these tips will generally make for a prettier you in pictures.

Have a beautiful day 🙂