How To Wear Eyelighter, The Shadow Trend Taking Holiday Looks By Storm
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
Rituel de Fille Celestial Sphere Eye Soot
This glossy blue number is meant to evoke the sunlit surface of seawater: a glistening, iridescent aqua. The rich jelly texture makes it top-notch for a dewy lid look, and every shade reveals a complex kaleidoscope of color as it catches the light—like the shift of a butterfly wing, the brand notes.
Celestial Sphere Eye Soot, Rituel de Fille ($38)
Exa Light Show Color Melt Multi-Use Pigment
With a shade called "dream phone," how can you not fall in love with this playful, multiuse glitter gel? Plus, the formula is oh-so-hydrating, but it won't dare budge once it settles on the skin. Tap onto the eyes for all-over shimmer, let it dry, then add some extra pigment wherever you want the most impact.
Light Show Color Melt Multi-Use Pigment, Exa ($22)
Jones Road Sparkle Wash
A cool, pink liquid glitter for all the shimmer with none of the fallout. It's incredibly hydrating (thank you, glycerin), and stays put all day long without any creases or smudges. Simply swipe the doe-foot across your lids wherever you want the most concentration of color, then blend with your fingertips or a brush to diffuse the sparkle.
Sparkle Wash, Jones Road ($24)
Johnny Concert Amplified Eyeshadow
Johnny Concert does not shy away from bold color. Think hot pinks, royal purples, and this icy baby blue. Best of all, they have the creamiest, high-quality formulas; this shadow features organic coconut, jojoba, and rosehip oils to hydrate the eyelids, keeping them dewy and bright.
Amplified Eyeshadow, Johnny Concert ($18)
ILIA Liquid Powder Chromatic Eye Tint
Glides on as a cream, dries down to a beautiful powder finish. This liquid-powder hybrid is highly pigmented yet sheer, so you can continue to build the frosty lavender until you reach your ideal payoff. The doe-foot applicator also makes it easy to draw precise shapes, like a metallic graphic liner.
Liquid Powder Chromatic Eye Tint, ILIA ($28)
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.