My friend Lakshmi was in town this month and our conversation was peppered with swapping life experiences, jokes and a couple of old memories. Lakshmi has lived in Bhopal, Tamil Nadu (Chennai) and Mumbai for a few years each and for the past 8 years, in the U.S. Her style sense has changed ever so subtly.She uses more make-up that I remember. She introduced me to powder-based foundation by Bare Minerals a couple of years ago. And on this trip, she was on a mission to convert me to M.A.C. Or perhaps I should say, introduce me, since I’ve never used the brand before.
Americans use make-up differently from the way Indians do. For one, it feels like they use a whole lot more – foundation, mascara, highlighter, blusher etc. Most of us who do own cosmetics content ourselves with a bunch of lipsticks and an eyeliner or eyepencil thrown in for good measure. I think they’re also more adventurous with colours and combinations. Most Indians stick to black/brown in eye colour and red/brown on the lips.
Personally, I’m not at all a fan of mascara. It makes my lashes look and feel clumpy and heavy. Being Indian, my lashes are naturally black and thick (enough) so I don’t think I really need mascara. What’s more, Mumbai’s perennial hot weather makes heavy eye make-up a fashion taboo. My look on most days is eye-pencil (albeit in different colours this winter) with a touch of gloss on the lips. An occasional evening out may merit a smudged look on the outer corners of the upper lid or a darker lip hue, but that’s about it. Eye-shadow I have experimented with (here’s one case) but that’s for super-formal, extreme occasions like weddings etc.
Still, Lakshmi’s suggestions (in make-up and in life) have never gone amiss and we had the time to spare so I went along. The M.A.C. girl asked me what colour I wanted. Being absolutely clueless about what kind of colours are appropriate or cool or attractive on the eyelids, I just pointed to an eye-catching array of blues and said, “What about those?”.
She grabbed a handful and led me to the chair. Then she asked me what kind of look I wanted. When asked this, I usually go in for the safe answer (or what it feels like to me),
My premise is that I’m in the hands of an expert. Hair can grow out, make-up can be washed out. Why not try the most outrageous extreme that’s possible to see how it looks? Toning down, subtlety is a matter of individual taste, after that. She seemed happy (as does every hairstylist I’ve been to, when they hear this from me) and commented that most people wanted to play it safe.
It’s always good to watch someone at work, when they’re enjoying what they do so I was kicked that my brief made her so enthusiastic. She got to work on my right eye first. We started taking pictures only later and Lakshmi was sitting on my left so this eye’s images aren’t as detailed. The look finished with a wash of silvery blue across the eyelid, ending in a pop of electric blue at the outer corner of the lid. She finished with a dark blue eyepencil line right over the upper lid. Very dramatic and not conventional, I think. But I like the wildness of colour splashes, as opposed to over-defined lines.
The left eye was done in a different set of colours. She started with a pale aqua green, coating the lid from the inner corner to the middle. Then, the middle to outer corner was covered in a sooty black. I actually liked the look, even before it was blended in, since the colours came together in one neat, diagonal line, exactly along the line of light as it falls on that eyelid. You can see how the post-blending effect looked in the last two panels of the collage below. This eyelid did not use any eyeliner or eyepencil.
Apparently, the shape of my eyes provides a lot of room for colour since there’s a lot of space between the lashline and the eyebrow. On the other hand, I tend to move my eyes around a lot and also smile much, which crinkles my eyes. This means that the ensuing friction wears away eyelid colour much faster than it would on other eyes. Also, my eyelids end in a slight bulge just above the lash. This means, when eyeliner or eyepencil is applied, a thin line of skin colour can also be seen between the eyepencil line and the lashline. Eyeshadow manages to cover that up well though, as does a smudgebrush.
Here’s the finished product – two looks, both wild and dramatic. Blue burst on the right eyelid and green-black on the left eyelid. Which one do you think is better?
Photographs courtesy Lakshmi.
- How To Define Your Eyes Without Eye Shadow (bellasugar.com)