How To Wear Eyelighter, The Shadow Trend Taking Holiday Looks By Storm

mbg Associate EditorBy Jamie Schneider

Image by ohlamour studio / StocksyOur editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.December 22, 2021 — 11:06 AMShare on:

As far as holiday eye makeup goes, glitter gets all the love. Think metallic shadows, sparkly cut creases, even a rhinestone or two planted at the outer corners for some pizzazz. The glitzy display is well warranted: During a season defined by magic and joy, why not twinkle like a string of holiday lights? Glisten like a glass of Champagne on New Year’s Eve? Yet again, this year’s celebrations might look different from pre-pandemic jaunts, but your bedazzled visage can still make a festive statement. An ode to the glitter-dusted floor of an epic holiday party. 

So when we caught wind of a technique that takes your holiday shimmer to the next level, we were certainly all ears (eyes?). Better yet, it makes your orbs appear larger and brighter in a very strategic way. Friends, let’s give a warm holiday cheer for eyelighter. 

What is eyelighter? 

Think of how you use highlighter: By spotlighting areas of your face with a pearly hue, you’re carving your bone structure and helping those cheekbones stand out. That’s exactly what’s going on here with eyelighter—but instead of your cheekbones, you’re “carving” your eyelids with an icy shadow. This detail helps every eye shape catch the light in just the right places, thus making the orbs appear brighter and wide-awake

Take it from makeup artist Alexandra Compton, product development manager at Credo: “By adding a wash of shimmer to the lid, light is actually catching the particles of iridescent pigment and reflecting back, like thousands of tiny mirrors creating the illusion of brighter eyes,” she tells mbg. By allowing some of your natural lid skin to peek through—rather than coating the whole surface area in a frosty shade, a la Y2k shadow—you add dimension to the eye, making it appear more open and bright. cellular beauty+Beauty from the inside out*★ ★ ★ ★ ★★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (16)SHOP NOW

Highlighting certain regions also creates the illusion of a dewier lid, if that’s what you’re after: “You can get that glossy eye without having the tackiness of a gloss [actually] on the eye,” says celebrity makeup artist Dillon Peña. The light catches on different parts of the eyelid, just like a shiny gloss would.

Finally, eyelighter is just fun—why not switch up your go-to, glittery holiday looks? “From icy whites to shimmery baby blues, eyelighter is a nice change from the traditional smoky eye, and I love how much it can make the eyes pop,” says makeup artist Naseeha Khan, co-founder of CTZN Cosmetics. It’s like the metallic shadow of the early aughts has a Gen Z little sister: The shimmer may be subtler, but it’s just as iconic. ADVERTISEMENT

How to nail the look.

First and foremost, it’s important you choose an icy, iridescent shade. Pearly whites, frosty blues, shimmery pinks all fit the bill—just make sure the shadow has cool tones. “It reflects more light and adds dimension, making eyes appear more open,” says Khan. While you can opt for a warmer tone if you choose, a frosted, icy shade adds a cool, wintertime beat. Think more snow queen, less disco queen (although, we adore both). 

With your shadow of choice (catch our favorites, below), follow along: 

  1. Pack the most pigment near the inner corners, as it helps open up the eye and draws attention. “For the most impact, I recommend patting (as opposed to swiping) the eyeshadow onto your eyelid with a wet brush or your finger,” Khan explains. 
  2. Next, sweep the shadow through your crease and up to the brow bone, but keep most of the pigment concentrated at those inner corners. “If you have deep-set eyes, you can use the eyelighter through the crease in order to help highlight and bring forward the area a little,” says Peña. 
  3. Then tap some shadow onto the center of the lid: “If you center a cool shimmer on the lid right above the iris, this will help give the eye a bit more pop and appear more awake,” says Peña. From there, you can swipe some of the icy shadow along your lower lash line, if you choose. 

For those of you wondering: Yes, you can always just use a straight-up pearl highlighter on the lids. A highly pigmented eyeshadow might make it easier to deliver more impact, but if you prefer a subtler look, by all means, repurpose your go-to highlighter. The product itself isn’t necessarily what’s important here (aside from the cool-toned shade); it’s the strategic placement of the eyelighter that helps the eyes stand out. 

Whether you opt for just a hit of sparkle or what Compton calls “blinged-out maximalism,” your eyelighter look is sure to inspire some holiday cheer. After all, Compton adds, “It could not be a more exciting time to shine.” 

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