Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.
As anyone who watches my Instagram stories will tell you, the photos that accompany this column are lies. I’m sorry. I promised to be honest, and I let you down. I let you down, because the truth is, I wear glasses. Big, red ones. Almost all the time. What’s that?
There’s a photo of me wearing glasses at the very top of the page? Well, in that case, I take back the stuff about lies, but it is still important to acknowledge that I am a glasses wearer eighty percent of the time. I wear them because I love them, but also because they’re more comfortable and less faff than contact lenses. They do, however, influence my makeup decisions when I’m wearing them.
Recently I’ve had some enquiries as to what factors a bespectacled person should consider when it comes to creating a look, so today I thought I’d share some tips with you.
The first thing to consider is the glasses themselves. I can not recommend enough that you get yourself a pair you really love. It doesn’t really matter where they’re from, or how much they cost, but you’ve got to love them.
For years I simply picked the pair I hated least from whatever chain opticians was doing a deal, and it meant that I resented them whenever I had to wear them. I felt frumpy and uncool and would never in my wildest dreams have considered wearing them anywhere that wasn’t home or work.
Then, it all changed for me, when I was introduced to the red glasses of my dreams. Deirdre, the magician/owner/glasses stylist at Optica where I got them, was very blunt, ‘I think you’re great but your glasses are letting you down, Louise.’ She wasn’t wrong. Since being paired off with my current frames, I wear them all the time, even occasionally on nights out. If I forget my contacts for a weekend away, I don’t stress.
On several occasions, my profile pictures on various social media platforms have included my glasses, which would have been unheard of before. I don’t want to be too dramatic, but my life is changed. So check yourself. Do you love your glasses? Don’t you deserve to love something which is so essential?
Once you’ve found your spectacle loves, then consider your makeup. In my opinion, bold is best when it comes to cosmetics and glasses. Detailed and nuanced beauty looks will be lost, whereas a bold eyeliner flick or strong lip colour will make a statement. Time spent on heavy eyeshadow or immaculate blending is wasted (unless of course you’re doing it for the love of the process, in which case, carry on) because it won’t be seen behind your frames.
What will be seen is your skin, so spend time saved on elaborate eyeshadow on making it look great. Prep it by cleansing, serum-ing and moisturising, making sure that whatever moisturiser you use works well under you chosen foundation. Many’s the time I’ve been ready to write off a particular foundation only to discover that it’s actually my skin prep which is the problem. Some basic rules to follow are to use product sparingly when you’re going to be applying makeup straight away. No foundation will sit properly on an overly creamed face. If possible, give it time to soak into your skin. Be sure you’re using the right colour.
We’ve come a long way from the days when everyone wanted to ‘warm up their complexion’ by wearing foundation five times darker than their actual colour, but this is still a common mistake. The danger with this, aside from tide marks around the edge of your face, is that as some of your makeup gradually wears off over the course of the day, your face will become visibly patchy. If you use the right colour foundation it will be a lot less noticeable.
When applying your foundation, consider how much you actually need. Lots of us automatically lash it all over our face, but if you probably don’t need to, and when using the correct colour, it won’t be noticeable if you don’t apply a full mask. Try applying a small amount of product to patches which require it and then blending those patches out. If you need more, add more.
However you apply your foundation, be it fingers or brushes, a quick pat over the face with a Beauty Blender or Beauty Blender alike (the best I’ve found is the Real Techniques dupe) will ensure that there are no line marks or rough edges. Spray the sponge with a setting spray to dampen it so that it is at its bounciest, adds staying power to your makeup, and doesn’t soak up the product. This step can also help in ridding your face of any excess product around the bridge of your nose so that it won’t smudge off on your glasses, or leave dodgy patches should you remove your specs at some stage.
Highlight, contour and blush as normal, your glasses aren’t going to cause any problems there, and while your specs will somewhat disguise your brows, I still think it’s worth doing whatever you normally do. Mine certainly peek up above my frames when I’m shocked or surprised!
As I said above, I’m a big fan of keeping eye makeup simple when I’m wearing my glasses. I think heavy eyeshadow looks, well, heavy behind glasses, where a clean and simple approach looks more stylish and makes your actual eyes the star of the show. I often use a neutral colour across my eyelid (usually a cream eyeshadow like Mac Paint Pot in Groundwork or Maybelline EyeStudio Colour Tattoo 24hr Cream Gel Eyeshadow in one of the nude shades), buff out the edges and then carefully apply loads of mascara, being careful to avoid clumps. Occasionally, I’ll add a liquid eyeliner flick, but again, nothing too heavy. I personally feel that simplicity is best when wearing eye makeup with glasses.
Finally, lips, and this is where you can really party.
Bold lips look great with strong frames, and have the ability to make a person look really confident and stylish in a way no other makeup can as far as I’m concerned. My favourites are reds and raspberry shades, because I like the way bright colours look with my bright frames.
I also think matte lipstick looks better with my shiny frames, so that they’re not competing with each other (in the photo above I’m wearing Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Bachelorette). I apply the lipstick first, then if I’m looking for a perfect edge, I apply a lip liner. I find applying the liner second works better for me becuase I can see which edges need to be smoothed out.
I’m not a huge fan of overlining, but if you’re into that, applying the liner afterwards means you get a better idea of what things are actually going to look like. Sometimes, however, perfect is not what I’m looking for, in which case I may blot off most of the lipstick leaving a coloured stain rather than a fully made up lip look. I’m also a fan of tinted balms in winter because they offer comfort when the weather is wreaking havoc on your lips but still give you a little colour (these from Clarins are my current favourite).
The main ingredient, of course, for successfully wearing makeup with glasses is confidence. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s true. Know you look great in those specs and know that guys/girls do make passes as guys/girls who wear glasses. If you feel good you look good, so if you want to throw all the above advice out the window and do your own thing, absolutely do. Do your thang!
This week’s item seems simultaneously innovative and like something straight out of the past, which makes it very appealing to me. I’m talking about Chanel’s new Lip Balm and Powder Duo. This little compact includes, well, lip balm and powder, which essentially allows you to create your own lip colour. Lash on the balm, and then decide how much pigment you want to add. It’s €36 and available in the above shade now.
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