Simple Makeup Tips Every Glasses Wearer Needs To Know

From eye-popping frames to eye-catching makeup, we ask the experts how to look your best behind your specs

Marilyn Monroe wears the glasses from How to Marry a Millionaire. Photo / Getty Images

With age comes visits to the optometrist. Given wearing glasses is so common for those in life’s second semester, best do it well. Viva asked Stig Engelbreth Hansen, global head of product design at Specsavers, and Blair Gamblin, national artist for Bobbi Brown, how to do this.

Makeup for the wearers of glasses needs to be applied in sympathy with the chosen frame and prescription. Coloured frames can be used to brighten the face of an older wearer — giving a similar effect to a scarf in bringing flattering life to skin and hair that may have dulled and faded over time.

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“Thick-frame glasses can support bright blushes and bold lipsticks,” says makeup artist Blair Gamblin. As a glasses wearer she has a trick for dealing with how makeup can become greasy over time, leading to glasses sliding down the nose. “I like to use Bobbi Brown Mattifying primer down the bridge of the nose to prevent oil formation.” Otherwise, remove your glasses during the day and blend the foundation back in around the slip zone.

“You might be tempted to think that because you wear glasses, you won’t need to fill in your brows,” she says. This isn’t so because brows act as a frame too, adding shape to your face, so best ensure they are groomed and brushed upwards. Just don’t go too dark or too structured otherwise your brows may compete with your glasses. (Try using Bobbi Brown’s Perfectly Defined Long Wear Brow Pencil for a natural look).

• If your glasses make your eyes appear smaller use eyeshadows with a sheen to help draw attention to the eyes. Cream shadows are ideal as they are easy to blend onto the eyelid with finger, so no need for precision vision. (Try Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Truffle.)

• If your prescription maximises the look of your eyes, take extra care to check after applying makeup that it’s all in place. Watch out for visible mascara clumps. Use two thinner coats of a defining mascara rather than one layer of a thickening formula.

• Wearing glasses can change how others perceive the depth and dimension of your eyes. A subtle eye contour through the eye crease area goes a long way. (Try Bobbi Brown Taupe Eyeshadow.)

(From left) Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Truffle; Bobbi Brown’s Perfectly Defined Long Wear Brow Pencil. Photo / Supplied

• If you’re really challenged by your eyesight in applying and checking makeup, a magnifying mirror can help. Or let frames be your eye enhancer and focus your makeup efforts more on your lips, for which you can keep glasses on during application, making seeing clearly easy.

• Exaggerated shadow or liner which extends beyond the line of your glasses can look out of place.

• Glasses can sometimes create dark shadows under the eye. Concealer is your friend here.

• Waterproof formulas for mascara help avoid smears on your lenses.

Specsavers Kenzo glasses. Photo / Supplied

Bold colourful frames are very much in vogue, says Specsavers' global head of product design Stig, inspired by the throwback to 1990s inspired fashion and accessories. “Another reason for the influx of colour, is that people are increasingly wanting to express their individuality.” This is seen in multi-coloured frames and larger logos, he says, pointing to the new Kenzo range which features a lot of blues, greens and pinks.

His advice for all ages is to find what makes you feel great, rather than sticking to rules. “Try as many pairs on as possible. Most people go back to the first pair, the one that initially caught their eye.” Experiment also with shape, size and materials to find what suits you best. Older people can be more open to doing this than younger ones, says Stig.

“Many people gain confidence as they age and often their personal style evolves as they learn more about what fits in with their personality and what suits them best. Coloured accessories are a great way to communicate attitude and the great thing about wearing glasses is the variation and options available.”

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Stig works with Specsavers’ design partners on collections, including singer Kylie Minogue, aged 51; and designers Carla Zampatti, 77; Collette Dinnigan, 53; and Kym Ellery, 34. All of them wear glasses and bring this insight as well as their own creative vision and fashion insights to their collaboration.

Compared with the more reserved European market, Stig says he has noticed that Kiwis are “bolder in their spec style.” We’re up for updated retro styles — such as Tommy Hilfiger’s red-framed take on a 1950s panto shape — and larger frames, including in the ever popular aviator shape.

If you’re nervous about going all out, he recommends easing into the brighter trend by choosing something more neutral, but with a pop of colour. Interchangeable arms on frames allow experimentation, he says, with this being a feature of the Red or Dead range. Prescription sunglasses are a good option for colour play, especially if colour outdoors seems more appropriate than in the office. 

Stig Engelbreth Hansen, global head of product design at Specsavers. Photo / Supplied

• If you have a strong prescription, choose a frame that allows for your lens type. Acetate can hide the thickness of your lenses, although for an extra charge lens can be made thinner and lighter to suit say wire frames.

• A smaller shaped frame is also good for higher prescriptions, to help minimise the thickness and weight of your lenses.

• A deeper lens tends to be better suited for multi-focals. If your prescription requires a certain type of frame, your optometrist should make this clear to guide frame choice.

• Fit is vital to finding the right frames, but sometimes overlooked. The top of the frame shouldn’t be any higher than the line of your eyebrows. Ideally, the frame shape should follow the curve of your brow. Frames should sit on the bridge or your nose but not on cheeks to give optimal vision and comfort.



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