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8 Pro Makeup Tips to Help You Show Off Your Gorgeous Monolids

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Trying new makeup trends—from sharp winged eyeliner to cut creases and soft washes of color—is one of the most fun things about beauty. But learning how to create new looks can be frustrating when tips and techniques don’t cater to your beautiful monolids. If you have monolids (aka your lids don’t have a visible hood or eye crease), learning a new eye makeup look can go a lot like this: You fall through a few (or 50) YouTube beauty tutorial spirals, see (a lot) of one-size-fits-all makeup tips along the way, and give up on that bold smoky eye you’ve been dying to try.

But that doesn’t mean you should toss out your eyeshadow palettes along with your monolid eye makeup dreams. We’ve got some easy tips from makeup artists Ruby Vo and Maria Ortega that will show off your gorgeous monolids, make you stand out in the crowd, and embrace all the eyeliners and bold eyeshadows that come your way. Continue reading for eight monolid makeup tips you’re going to love.

About the Experts:

Maria Ortega is a professional makeup artist based in New York City. Check out her work at mariaortegamakeup.com.
Ruby Vo is a Los Angeles–based professional makeup artist.

1. Always opt for waterproof eyeliner.

Whether you’re creating cat eyes (more on that below) or tightlining for some definition, you’ll want to choose a formula that won’t smudge or fade fast. Liquids, gels, pencils—feel free to use what you love—just make sure it’s a waterproof eyeliner (check out our list of best waterproof eyeliners). Ortega says, “I believe that for monolid eyes, you should always use a waterproof eyeliner so it does not transfer or smudge. For extra staying power, Ortega adds, “I always apply shadow over any pencil liner to make sure it sets.”

Try this: FENTY BEAUTY Flyliner Longwear Liquid Eyeliner has a fine felt tip for precise application. It dries quickly and it’s waterproof, smudge-proof, and transfer-proof.

FENTY BEAUTY Flyliner Longwear Liquid Eyeliner
Courtesy of FENTY BEAUTY

2. Go subtly smoky for every day.

Some days we love to go glam, and others, we want something more simple. For an easy but eye-catching look, Ortega suggests using pencil eyeliner for a soft, smoky effect: “Add pencil eyeliner to your lash line and blend and smudge the liner. You can open your eyes to see the shape you want to create on the outer corners of your eyes. Then, apply another color slightly lighter than the pencil onto your lid and blend it upwards. Open your eyes to make sure that it's blended up enough that you can see some of the shadow when you open your eyes.”

Makeup artist tip: For more definition, Ortega says, “You can go over your lash line with a black liquid eyeliner. Also, use a matte, taupe eyeshadow color to define your lower lash line.”

3. Curl your lashes, then layer on mascara.

“Curling eyelashes is definitely a must,” Ortega says. “My favorite is the SHISEIDO Eyelash Curler. When applying mascara, it’s important to work in layers instead of applying a heavy amount on the initial application. Additionally, wiggling the mascara wand from side to side at the base of lashes and extending out is a good way to apply it evenly.”

Makeup artist tip: For lashes that stay gorgeous all day, Ortega says a waterproof formula is key. “I also recommend waterproof [mascaras] to help avoid smudging and also to help keep the lashes lifted.”

SHISEIDO Eyelash Curler
Courtesy of SHISEIDO

4. Avoid super thick falsies.

Love falsies? Wear them! Just avoid lashes that are all one length. Instead, mix in varying lengths for texture and dimension. Ortega adds, “I think the most important tip for false lashes with monolid eyes is to avoid extremely thick lash bands and super long lashes that will weigh everything down. I usually opt for lashes that have a natural, fluttery effect and also an extended end.”

Makeup artist tip: “I also recommend curling your natural lashes first and then applying a light coat of mascara prior to applying the false ones,” says Ortega.

5. Focus on your lash line.

The goal: Make your eyes pop and lift up your lashes in one step. When you’re short on time (aka liquid eyeliner is out of the question), applying mascara super close to your lash line not only helps to define your eye shape, but it also helps lashes stay lifted longer and enhances depth and dimension. Vo says, “Focus on coating your lash line with mascara by moving the wand from right to left, through one small section at a time. Finally, coat them all as usual and let them dry.”

Makeup artist tip: Vo says a little powder will save you from smudging, “After mascara, apply a light layer of translucent powder under your lower lash line to help with smudging throughout the day.”

Try this: BENEFIT COSMETICS Roller Lash Mascara in Black—it has a “Hook N’ Roll” brush that lifts, separates, curls, and holds for up to 12 hours.

BENEFIT COSMETICS Roller Lash Mascara in Black

6. Swap heavy wings for cool cat eyes.

If you’ve been struggling to nail super bold wings—take a pause, step back, and try this: an elongated, feline flick. Monolid eyes look stunning with this thin, but equally dramatic cat eye. To create it: Start about one-third of the way from the inner corner of your eye, then flick outward near the end of your brow. “It’s a lot easier to do if you keep your eyes open and relaxed. I like having the mirror right in front of me, so my eyes are looking straight on,” says Vo. Ortega adds, “I always apply shadow over any pencil liner to make sure it sets.”

Makeup artist tip: Don’t be afraid to mix mediums! “Sometimes I layer different liners for longevity,” says Vo. “For example, I’ll use a liquid liner then top it off with a gel liner, or I’ll use a powder shadow and top that off with a pencil liner.”

Try this: CIATÉ LONDON Fierce Flicks Eyeliner in Black—the precision tip is super fine, and gives you great control when creating cat eyes and kitten flicks.

CIATÉ LONDON Fierce Flicks Eyeliner in Black

7. Layer colors vertically (not horizontally).

The smoky eye is probably makeup’s most popular eye look—and if you’ve got monolids, blending three to four colors to achieve it may sound like a no-go. But you don’t have to miss out thanks to one simple switch: Apply your colors vertically, instead of horizontally. According to Vo, “This works great for monolids and heavy-hooded eyes because it helps to shape and open them up.“ (And trust us, it’s genius.)

Makeup artist tip: To create a quick smoky eye look, use three colors. “Apply the lightest shade in the palette all over your eye,” says Vo. “Then, add the middle shade to the center of your lid, and finish with the darkest shade closest to your lash line. Don’t forget to blend the edges, or they’ll look like blocks of color on your lid.” Wanna keep it simple? Ortega says a creamy pencil is your go-to. “I really enjoy using a creamy waterproof pencil to blend and smudge for a smoky eye. This allows for a smoky, easy-to-apply look that’s waterproof and transfer-proof.”

Try this: SMASHBOX COSMETICS Cover Shot Eye Palette in Ablaze—it’s got gold shimmer, burnt oranges, warm reds, and more for a beautiful day or night smoky eye.

SMASHBOX COSMETICS Cover Shot Eye Palette in Ablaze

8. Use dense brushes for better blending.

When applying eyeshadow, fluffy brushes are a go-to because they blend out colors swiftly, but they can also give you less control over precise color application. Try a denser, flatter eyeshadow brush that fits your eye shape and size. “I have a smaller eye shape, so I use smaller blending brushes to make sure I have control over the product I am using,” says Vo. This will help you apply, blend, and build up color without it spreading all over your lid.

Makeup artist tip: Find a brush set with options. “I like a brush set that comes with a variety of shapes,” says Vo. “I like a larger shading brush to blend my eyeshadow out, and a tapered blending brush for my transition shade.”

Try this: F.A.R.A.H BRUSHES 5-Piece Eye Perfection Set—it’s the perfect mix of brushes—large, small, fluffy, dense—for all your eye makeup looks.

F.A.R.A.H BRUSHES 5-Piece Eye Perfection Set

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About the author
Pia Bhattacharya
Pia is a New York-based beauty editor at IPSY with over 10 years experience including editorial, public relations, and copywriting. Her work has appeared in SELF magazine, in beauty and branding for Bloomingdale’s, and others.
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Article Last Updated March 17, 2022 12:00 AM