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13 Clever Makeup Tips for People Who Wear Glasses

Eyeglasses make a statement—your makeup should, too. With these expert tips, looking effortlessly gorgeous while wearing glasses is easier than you think.

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Look spectacular in your specs

No matter how cute your frames are, they can pose some serious makeup challenges. Too much makeup and you risk having weird shadows. Too little makeup and you might look faded or washed out. And let’s not forget the times the lighting in your home office or from your computer adds a weird greenish glare to your glasses. Not exactly the look you were hoping for on that Zoom call.

Here’s the bottom line: Knowing how to wear makeup with glasses is one of the style secrets of women who always look put together—and it’s not out of your reach. All you need is a little expert guidance. To that end, we asked top makeup artists (including Beyoncé’s go-to makeup artist, Sir John, because we’re fancy like that) for their top tips for looking great when wearing glasses. Need a new pair to spruce up your style? These are the best places to buy glasses online.

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Press your foundation for the best results

If the weight of your glasses creates foundation creases on your nose or cheeks, makeup artist Rose Siard has an easy fix. “Make certain that you are pressing your foundation and concealer into the skin around the bridge of the nose rather than pulling,” she says. This will not only make your makeup stay put, but it will also protect your skin; swiping on makeup can actually cause wrinkles. The Pinnacle Foundation Brush from Anisa Beauty has a domed, fluffy top that lets you apply foundation smoothly and effortlessly, especially around tight spots.

But you’re not done just yet. Next, Siard says to “use a setting spray before applying your powder, then take your powder puff—yes, the one your Grandma used—and press the powder into the bridge and sides of your nose. This will radically reduce how the glasses move your foundation.” If you take the time to set your foundation, it shouldn’t budge. Here are more makeup mistakes pros wish you’d stop making.

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Tighten your lash line

“I’ve been wearing glasses or contacts since I was a child, and makeup is a great way to enhance and define your eyes so they don’t fade behind your frames,” says U.K.-based makeup artist Kelly Dawn Mitchell. To make eyes pop, she likes to use a technique called tightening. “Use your favorite waterproof eyeliner in between your upper lashes,” Mitchell recommends, explaining that you’ll basically be dotting color between your lashes. “[Then] scribble back and forth right to the lash line, and this will make your lashes appear thicker and longer rather than creating a liner look. It’s also a great tip if you struggle to precisely line due to vision issues, as your lash line will guide you!” The end result is a beautiful and natural eye, rather than an aggressively made-up one.

Mitchell’s favorite eyeliner for this technique is Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ‘N’ Kohl Iconic Liquid Eye Pencil in Barbarella Brown. It has serious staying power, and better yet, it will blend well with your lash line and flatter nearly every eye color.

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Add a pop of color

“The best way to embrace eye makeup for people who wear glasses is a tinted liner and tinted mascara,” says Sir John, who’s worked with A-listers including Beyoncé and Chrissy Teigen, and recently launched a collaboration with everyone’s favorite fashionista, Barbie. “They serve up a beautiful look, add a sense of punctuation, and they don’t change the shape of your face while wearing glasses.” Pro tip: Make sure the liner is waterproof and a deep color like a plum, navy, or burgundy. Sir John says these shades really make eye color pop but don’t overwhelm your look. Smashbox Always Sharp Longwear Waterproof Kohl Eyeliner Pencil offers deeply pigmented shades, including French Navy and Violetta, that allow you to play up eye color without being distracting. Check out another 18 makeup rules you should know by the time you’re 40.

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Go nude to be noticed

Most of the makeup artists we spoke with say that glasses can actually give you something of a beauty edge, since dark circles aren’t as noticeable when disguised by your glasses. Of course, sometimes we need a little extra help. To make eyes look even bigger and brighter, opt for a nude eye shadow base, suggests Mitchell. “A wash across the lid makes the eyes look brighter and conceals any tiredness and or redness,” she explains, adding that you can use it on its own or as a base to your eye shadow. The key is to match the color as closely as possible to your skin tone. BareMinerals Gen Nude Eye Shadow + Primer comes in eight different shades, so you’re sure to find the right one to either camouflage or enhance, depending on the look you’re going for. To stop another common issue in its tracks, try these surefire tricks to reduce puffy eyes.

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Mind your brows

Beauty guru Ramy Gafni, who’s groomed famous brows including those belonging to Taylor Swift, tells us that when it comes to wearing makeup with glasses, you should never neglect your brows. “You should groom the brows to look as perfect as possible for your face and your bone structure, not your glasses,” he explains. “If your brows don’t look good with your frames, you need new frames. If your brows flatter your face, your frames should flatter your brows.”

One important thing to keep in mind: When wearing glasses, your brows can disappear, so give them a little extra oomph. This waterproof Ramy Cosmetics brow wand is easy to use and stays put, so your perfect look will last all day.

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Avoid hydrating foundations

Winter weather and indoor heat might be drying out your skin, but don’t reach for that extra moisturizing product—hydrating foundations can turn your makeup into a soggy mess under your eyeglasses. Pro tip: Look for words like “water based” when buying a foundation, since this allows for the lightest application possible, as opposed to terms like “extra moisture.” And make sure to set foundation and concealer under your eyes to avoid problems.

Hair, makeup, and SFX artist Bobbie Riley is a fan of the Internet beauty hack that calls for dabbing Milk of Magnesia below tear ducts and on each side of the bridge of your nose. It controls shine and excess oil, as well as balances the look of your foundation. Just make sure to allow it to dry fully before applying your makeup. On the other hand, these Internet hacks don’t work, so don’t waste your time.

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Less is more

You’ve heard it before, and you’re about to hear it again: Less is more, and that’s doubly true when you’re wearing makeup with glasses. “Piling on the foundation and/or concealer will just cause creases or indent lines on your face that are entirely unnecessary and unwanted,” says makeup artist Hayley Kassel, who wears glasses herself. And those indent lines, magnified under your glasses, could look like fine lines or even deep wrinkles. “Be light-handed!” Kassel implores. “Glasses already help to cover dark circles!” Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Eraser provides top-notch coverage without caking and buildup, according to more than 43,000 very happy Amazon customers. Plus, it’s only $8!

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But sometimes more is also more

In terms of your everyday daytime look, it’s generally not a great idea to pile on tons of makeup with glasses since lenses can magnify every single imperfection. But that doesn’t mean your makeup has to be boring, especially for nights out. Makeup artist Brandy Allen encourages you to look at glasses as “an accessory to your face” that can work well with bright colors or even a smoky eye.

You’ll need to give things a test run ahead of time, though, to see which products make your eyes pop and which look weird. The first question to ask: Does the color flatter your eyes or does it clash with your frames? The second: Did you put on too little or too much? Start on the lighter side in terms of application, and then try on your glasses to see how it looks. Then add color if needed. Of course, you need more than makeup to elevate your look. These smart tips from personal stylists will do the trick!

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Add a little sparkle

Remember that “less is more” mantra? It should be in full effect when you want to wear shimmery eye shadow. Start out with the slightest bit of shimmer and blend well. Love the way it looks? Great! No need to add more, since your lenses can magnify the look of shimmer. Think subtle, not disco. For a little more oomph, add a tiny bit of shimmer to the inner corners of your eyes. But if you want to go all out for an ethereal and showstopping nighttime look, try this Coalitione Liquid Eye Shadow, which comes in 12 shades. Just keep in mind that you need only the tiniest drop—this one really adds a lot of sparkle. By the way, here’s what your glasses secretly reveal about your personality.

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Wear a bright lip

Your eyes might be the focal point when you wear glasses, but don’t fall into the trap of forgetting about your other assets. “A bright lip complements glasses by adding extra pizzazz,” Allen says. “When choosing a lip color, try to complement the frame color of your glasses.” For a flattering look, try playing within the same color family. So, if you’re wearing lavender frames, go with a lip in the purple family. Or try pink frames with fuchsia lips. Just make sure that they’re different enough from each other so they don’t look too matchy-matchy. That draws attention to the color, as opposed to simply letting it look effortlessly gorgeous.

You’re sure to find the right shade with this affordable Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick, which comes in a whopping 45 colors. When buying, says Allen, just keep in mind that some stains are a lot darker or more intense than they appear in the tube.

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Use the best brushes possible

If you’re still using those mini sponge brushes that came with your eye shadow, it’s time to stop. Eyeglasses magnify everything, so even if you think you’ve blended your makeup, it might look splotchy or blocky under glasses. Professional makeup brushes once cost a small fortune, but you can now treat yourself to quality brushes for under $20 that let you to apply and blend makeup flawlessly. Plus, if you treat them well and wash them regularly, they’ll last for years, says Mitchell. This Real Techniques Professional Eyeshadow Blending Makeup Brush Set comes with five brushes that allow you to seamlessly blend your liner or shadow. With these brushes, even if you goof, you can still create a perfectly blended look.

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Add more blush or bronzer

For some reason, people often say that you shouldn’t wear blush or bronzer when wearing glasses, but nothing could be further from the truth, says Allen. In fact, she adds, “you can add a little more, since your glasses might cover a portion of your face.” For the best result, use two shades that are designed to work together, like this Jouer bronzer duo. If you work with two coordinating shades, you’ll create a look that won’t clash and will blend together naturally. Use the deeper shade to contour your cheekbones and the lighter shade to brighten your face.

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Lash but not least, don’t go crazy with mascara

Ultra long lashes are amazing…but they might not be practical if you have glasses. It all boils down to the fit of your glasses and the type of mascara you choose. “Be sure that your lashes aren’t too long and touching your glasses frames,” Riley cautions. “This tends to be highly irritating and uncomfortable, in general, but also to your eye bed if your lashes bend backward.” Eek. This probably isn’t the time to break out the heavy-duty lengthening mascaras or lash-building products, which can leave lashes looking heavy and even streak your lenses. Clinique’s Naturally Glossy Mascara defines lashes in a subtle, natural way. Plus, it doesn’t weigh them down or clump as the day goes on.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Rachel Weingarten
Rachel Weingarten is an award-winning freelance writer specializing in beauty, fashion, business and tech. She’s also the author of three award-winning books and the co-founder of a national nonprofit organization.