Fashion & Beauty

Eye Makeup Made Easy

August 6, 2023



By Valerie Monroe

For nearly 16 years Valerie Monroe was the beauty director at O, The Oprah Magazine, where she wrote the popular “Ask Val” column. She now splits her time between Manhattan and Tokyo.

If you’re interested in feeling happier about your appearance—especially as you age—you might like reading what she has to say about it. For more of her philosophical and practical advice, subscribe for free to How Not to F*ck Up Your Face at

The meaning of life is that it ends. –Franz Kafka

Can’t get enough Valerie Monroe? There’s more at

HEY, YOU THERE, looking for a good lip-plumper! Where’re you going? Sit down! We’ll get to that—and to crepey skin, uneven skin tone, and, today, wearing eye makeup. But we’re on a trip here at HNTFUYF, chronicling our metamorphoses in the beauty world and beyond from the sublime to the ridiculous.

For more of the sublime: From a story in The New York Times, “China’s Grandparents Are Done Babysitting and Ready to Go Viral.” It’s about a popular online cabal of older women called Glamma Beijing:

. . . Many of Glamma Beijing’s more than two million followers are in their 50s and 60s. But there are younger ones, too, who ask the women about school and dating. Some say the tutorials helped them get over their fear of aging . . .

Older women being valued for their wisdom? It’s not exactly revolutionary, but perhaps a baby step toward less ageism.

Because a scent can be so sublime you want to live in it, consider treating your rooms to the exquisite Baccarat Rouge 540 scented candle, with notes of jasmine, saffron, cedarwood, and ambergris. It’s one of my favorite fragrances of all time, created by the master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian.

And now for a taste of the ridiculous, an anti-wrinkle straw. You can buy a similar one here, if you’re into sucking things through a tube.

Also, from a recent WWD, this quote from the old soul Hailey Bieber: “Every year that I’ve gotten older, I’ve loved it more.” She said this when she turned 26.

Finally, before this week’s “Ask Val” question, a short anecdote both ridiculous and sublime.

As usual, I’ve been spending time with my 4-year-old granddaughter, M, on FaceTime (she lives in Tokyo with my son and daughter-in-law and I live in New York). When we spoke the other night, she was industriously cutting out something from a large piece of paper towel. I asked her what she was making. “A beautiful dress,” she said without looking up. “Lovely!” I said, marveling at her sweet innocence and creativity. “A beautiful white dress,” she said, working the scissors, “for Mama to wear in case Daddy dies and she wants to get married again.” She raised her eyes and fixed me with a determined look. “Okaaaay,” I said, “that’s morbid.” She smiled at me as if she knew what it meant, and then went back to work. 😲


“Ask Val” answers your urgent questions, Vol. 40.

Yes, you, in the front wearing those cool Warby Parkers.

Q: How do people who wear glasses apply eye makeup? I mean, how do we go for a natural or vibrant look under our specs—or should we just play up other features instead? I’m in my mid-40s and have lots of fine lines around my eyes.

A: At first I thought you were asking how does one apply makeup while wearing glasses. Serendipitously, an ad for these glasses appeared in my Instagram feed; I haven’t tried them, but if any of you have, please let us know if they work.

But now I see you’re actually asking about wearing eye makeup under your glasses, so I emailed the loquacious and very knowledgeable makeup artist Maria Verel for some answers. Her suggestions work just as well for the unspectacled.

Here’s a lightly edited version of Maria’s thorough response:

Glasses and makeup play so well together! Follow these steps . . .

1. Curl your eyelashes before you do anything else—and make sure your curler has a new, soft rubber curling pad, so you don’t damage your lashes. Do this on dry lashes before applying any other eye makeup. On lazy days, you may decide you’re done after this step!

2. Add a thin swipe of dark brown or black pencil eyeliner on top lids only, directly on top of the lashes, sort of smudging it into the lash bed. [Val here: My eyes are deep set, so I apply a translucent powder all over my lids before liner to keep it from smudging.]

3. Apply one or two coats of black mascara. I prefer a “tubing formula,” which is smudge-proof but washes off with warm water. It also doesn’t smudge if your glasses steam up when wearing a mask! Liner and mascara on top and bottom lashes can be too much, but might be worth a try down the road.

4. Slip on your glasses to make sure your lashes aren’t touching the lenses after you applied mascara. If they are, try curling them again very gently. If that doesn’t work, apply another coat of mascara and then use the metal top of the curler (not the rubber pad) to push up the lashes till they’re dry.

5. If you have undereye shadows or darkness at the inner corners next to your nose, apply a tiny dot of foundation or a lightweight concealer with your pinky finger and blend it well. This will open up and brighten your eyes.

6. Do you have fine lines around your eyes? Be grateful! You’ve probably smiled a lot! This is important: Don’t attempt to cover any lines, but instead find a moisturizing serum and/or serum foundation to pat on gently, blending well. There are excellent blurring serums, balms, and highlighting creams that can soften and diffuse the appearance of fine lines. Use sparingly!

7. Brows. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your brows groomed— either carefully tweezed or waxed—and you can use a brow setting gel to keep brows fluffy. Brush them upward for a bright-looking eye. If your brows have some fading or silver hairs, a professional brow artist can match your color. [Val here: I dye my brows at home. It’s not rocket science . . . but watch the clock!]

I rely on a fine-tipped brow pencil to maintain a happy arch. Then I brush with a spooly and blend.

8. At this point eyeshadow isn’t necessary for a polished look. But if you love wearing it, go for a neutral, earthy tone (overusing shadow can defeat a fresh and vibrant look). [Val here: If I wore eyeshadow, I’d wear these from Jones Road.]

Confession ☠️ ☠️ ☠️

I was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis, which is unsurprising considering I’m in a high-risk group: female, more than 1,000 years old, Ashkenazi, slender, fair, and have light-colored eyes. But I also walk almost 50 miles a week, take calcium and vitamin D supplements, eat lots of leaves, dairy, and sardines, and don’t drink (much) or smoke. In other words: WTF. I haven’t had a bone scan in around 30 years, because I knew I wouldn’t want to take any of the medications typically prescribed for osteoporosis. But then I heard about a couple of newish treatments (Evista and Evenity), so I went for a scan. Now I’m reading two books: Your Bones by Lara Pizzorno and Dr. Lani’s No-Nonsense Bone Health Guide by Lani Simpson. They’re scaring me with an abundance of information—still, I recommend them for learning about options.

Those of you who’ve had this diagnosis, what can you share with our community? The comments section awaits . . .  🙏

2 thoughts on “Eye Makeup Made Easy

  1. Nancy G says:

    My gynecologist calls this “little white woman’s disease.” I was diagnosed years ago. After taking Fosomax, the gateway approved drug, for a week, and feeling nauseous the entire time, I stopped and demanded something else. That something else was yearly Reclast infusions, for five years, interrupted by a missed year for COVID. BUT, my last dexascan showed that my condition has improved to osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis. Since retiring 2+ years ago, I am walking several times a week, and am more consistent with weights and a kettlebell. I think all that has helped. Plus the extra vitamin D and calcium every day. There are many alternatives out there. You just have to find the one that works best for you and your tolerance level.

  2. cynthia tilson says:

    Great column Val-

    How to prevent or reverse loss of bone density when nothing else works? Estrogen. Estrogen with progesterone if you still have a uterus, and testosterone for strength. I just had a pellet of this bio identical combo implanted in my hip, to hopefully reverse my menopause-induced, recently diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis.

    My doctor is a gerontologist who specializes in women’s rejuvenation medicine. She showed me some very compelling studies that demonstrate how HRT can reverse many aspects of aging that occur after menopause, including osteopenia and osteoporosis. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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