Big Up to the Deep Set Crew

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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 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Big Up to the Deep Set Crew

  1. […] Deep Set Eyes: Instead of applying a darker shadow in the crease of the eye like many eye contouring tutorials will tell you, apply it slightly above the crease. This one can be tricky because you don’t want to go too high and hit the browbone–unless it’s 1989 and you’re going to do some Glamour Shots–so read this blog post for further tips. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/big-up-to-the-deep-set-crew/ […]

  2. I realize this is an older post, but I’m just now coming across it. What to do about blush on high cheekbones (since you mentioned cheekbones) with deep set eyes?? I have both and fine my eyes always look too dark in photos.

    • I apply blush to the apples of the cheeks, not the cheekbones. That’s a much more modern way to wear blush and that won’t affect how deep set your eyes appear since the apples of the cheeks do not border the eye sockets.

      I hope that helps!

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