For your eyes only
Cheryl Cole is a woman who knows a thing or two about dressing the windows to the soul: while filming The X Factor, Cole wore multiple pairs of false eyelashes layered one atop the other to make the most of her Bambi eyes.
Now, sticking on several layers of lashes of a morning isn't exactly a practical every day way to frame your eyes, but with just a little care and attention it's easy to keep those peepers looking their very best without the need for a dedicated false eyelash budget.
The first thing to remember about the eyes and eye area is that they are absolutely woeful at keeping secrets. They're more than happy to betray your age, or the fact that you only got two hours' kip last night, or that you had, well, a few vinos too many before actually making it to bed. That's because the skin around the eyes is far more delicate -- about three times thinner -- than anywhere else on the face, so it's the first place to show the effects of ageing or late nights. It requires some special attention to keep from giving the game away.
With few exceptions, facial moisturisers are far too heavy for use on the eye area so a dedicated eyecream is a must. There's great debate over when to start using an eyecream and, to be honest, it's really a personal call, but most women like to add one to their routine from about the age of 25. However, it's probably more important to make sure you're using the right kind of eyecream for your needs. For younger skins, that usually means a hydrating product which will keep skin plumped up and prevent dehydration which in turn will help prevent the appearance of lines. More mature skins will appreciate something with anti-wrinkle, anti-sagging properties.
Once you've got an appropriate eyecream sorted, you'll want to make sure you're putting it on properly. Apply too much and you could be encouraging puffiness and milia (little hard, white under-skin bumps), so stick with an amount just the size of a grain of rice for each eye. Use the pad of your ring finger to gently tap on the eyecream using a pressing, rolling motion which will avoid pulling the delicate skin of the eye area. You'll be able to feel the orbital bone that surrounds the eye with your fingertip -- use it as a guide and apply your eyecream along it, both under and above the eye.
The big cover up It's not just a dedicated moisturiser that the eye area needs to keep schtum about late nights. A creamy concealer will also help hide dark circles without slipping, caking, or settling into fine lines. Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer, €23, is a cult favourite, but check out the Barbara Daly for Tesco concealer, €5.07, for a purse-friendly alternative.
Just browsing To set off all that hard work, you'll need a good pair of eyebrows -- they frame the face and can open up the eyes when properly shaped. If nature or a tendency to get tweezer-happy have left yours looking less then perfect, book yourself in with a pro for an eyebrow overhaul. It can work wonders, making too-thin brows look fuller and imposing shape on unruly specimens. You can choose to have them tweezed or waxed, of course, but threading is the new black where eyebrow grooming is concerned. An ancient Indian technique, it uses a length of thread to very precisely remove hairs at the root without pulling or tugging delicate skin and gives an amazing sculpted shape with really clean lines. Head for Elysian Brows on Dawson Street if you're around the city centre, where a consultation and brow re-shape is €25.
Book your appointment in advance, though -- I've tried dropping in on spec three times to no avail. Elysian Brows, 21 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Call 01 678 8260, www.elysianbrows.ie
Once your pro has got your brows back on track, you can use tweezers at home to maintain their shape. To fill in any gaps, opt for a powder rather than a pencil for the most natural finish. Choose one that's a shade or two lighter than your brows -- a matte eyeshadow will do the job if you don't fancy shelling out on a specific brow powder -- and apply with a small, angled brush.
You can then use a brow gel (or a dab of Vaseline or a small amount of hairspray on a clean mascara wand) to hold any straggly hairs in place if necessary.
Giving it lashes Mascara is the one product that always crops up on those desert island lists, and with good reason, since it has the ability to make eyes look more awake and alert. For extra impact, use an eyelash curlers before applying mascara.
Get the curler right in at the base of the lashes, squeeze it closed gently -- too tight and you'll end up crimping rather than curling them -- and hold for a count of 10. Repeat halfway along the length for a more pronounced curl.
When it comes to actually putting on your mascara, wipe any excess from the tip of the brush before you start but don't just sweep it through your lashes willy nilly.
You'll get far better results using a deliberate zig-zag motion, working from root to tip underneath the lashes for a maximum flutter factor that Cheryl herself would envy.