A Cocktail Party Makeup Look

Published in: Makeup Tips/How To

cocktail party makeup tutorial 1

pink-cocktailI can tell you the last time I had a cocktail, because it was last June at a jazzy lounge on Frenchman St. in New Orleans, and when in NOLA, you must drink fruity, froo-froo drinks with silly names like Champagne Supernova, but I can’t tell you the last time I went to an actual cocktail party.


Because I can’t remember.

It may have been 2005. Or 2006? Possibly in Toronto? I’m not sure. My memory gets progressively fuzzier in my advanced age. If I could only take the places in there that store the lyrics to Chris Brown songs and reallocate them to more important things, like dates involving cocktail parties…

Anyway, I’d very much like to go to more cocktail parties, but not for the cocktails or the convo (although they’re usually pretty great too). More for the fun of just getting dressed up and putting on fancy makeup (two of my favorite things to do!).

Dear El Hub,

If you’re reading this, let’s go to more cocktail parties.


Your darling wife.

P.S. Please make tacos for dinner tonight. 🙂

cocktail party makeup tutorial 2

cocktail party makeup tutorial 3

cocktail party makeup tutorial 4

So, this look here. We’re coming up on holiday party season (it’s really not that far away), so I thought it would be good practice to turn it into a tutorial.

I wanted to do something a little different than standard-issue black winged liner and a bright red lip (although that’s a good look, too, and it never goes outta style), because parties are the perfect excuse to try something new, am I right?

I went for a slightly smoky taupe and navy eye with a hint of light blue iridescent sparkle, but I think the special sauce is the bright white on the lower water line and the shimmery white highlight on the lower tear duct. They give the look a bit of a subtle edge and elongate the eye. A warm nude lip and peachy cheeks complete the ensemble.

There’s a little color in the look, which might be intimidating if you’re unaccustomed to wearing anything other than browns and beiges, but I think it’s very wearable.

You could couple something like this with a little black dress, of course, or maybe a gray or white dress (a body con one would be cute if you’ve got the figure to pull it off). Basically, anything neutral would allow the color on your eyes to really pop.

Now, take a dainty chug from that cocktail glass, and let’s get started!

1. Apply primer and powder

cocktail party makeup tutorial 5

Let’s fast-forward, virtually, through our face primer, foundation, concealer and brows — BZZZ! (I went with a fuller coverage base here because I thought it balanced well with the color on the eyes and the full brows.) After all of that, apply an eye primer to your lids, and let it set for a few minutes to give it time to completely dry. Then lightly dust a translucent powder all over your lids from lash line to brow bone.

I always like to dust a powder on top of my primer, especially if there will be a lot of blending up in the mix, like we’ll be doing here. The powder sort of cushions things and gives the lids some slip, so whatever we layer on top will be easier to blend.

(Keep this trick in your back pocket for whenever you do smoky eyes! It’ll make your life so much easier.)

2. Apply a matte taupe into the crease and along the lower lash line

cocktail party makeup tutorial 6

In this look we’ll be doing what I like to call “mirroring,” where we do something on our lids, and then do it again on our lower lash line, and it starts here with a matte taupe.

Sweep it into the crease, and blend out the edges. Then run the same shadow along your lower lash line.

What I like to do here is actually start with the shadow on the bottom, so I’ll take a flat brush, and run it at an angle the follows the lower lash line. This helps to set the angle at the outer corner and serves as a guide for how far I need to go out with the shadow.

3. Clean up the edges with concealer

cocktail party makeup tutorial 7

If you struggle (like I do) getting your angles to match, please know you’re not alone! That’s been one of the banes of my existence for most of my makeup life. Because my eyes aren’t perfectly symmetrical, I almost always have to do some correcting. It’s soooo easy, though, so don’t trip if your angles are less than perfect at this step. If they aren’t, just run a brush with leftover concealer on it along the edges on either or both eyes to clean them up and adjust the angles.

cocktail party makeup tutorial 8

Next, take a smidgen of face powder and, with that same brush, run it, ever so gently, across the line you made to mellow it out.

You don’t want it to look too obvious, ya know?

I like to do this near the start of certain eye looks so I can get the general shape, but I’ll also do it again at the end to clean up the edges.

4. Apply a matte cool brown into the crease and along the lower lash line

cocktail party makeup tutorial 9

Now, sweep a matte cool brown in the crease just below the taupe we applied in step two. Then blend that same color along the lower lash line.

If it looks janky, don’t worry. At this step it totally should, but it’ll start coming together in a moment.

Also, don’t worry if your blending isn’t perfect here either. Take it easy on yourself, ya overachiever! 🙂 You are 100% allowed to correct things along the way.

5. Apply a satiny navy onto the mobile lid and lower lash line

cocktail party makeup tutorial 10

Pat and blend a satiny navy onto your mobile lid, which is the part your lid that moves when you blink, concentrating most of the color in the outer corner (you want to keep that outer corner nice and dark for depth). Now, run that same shadow along your lower lash lines.

6. Apply a shimmery light blue in the center and inner part of your lid, as well as your lower lash line

cocktail party makeup tutorial 11

Next, apply a shimmery light blue in the center and the inner part of the lid, and yup — you guessed it — take it along the lower lash line, too. Blend that sh*t like the rockstar you are!

7. Tightline your upper water line

cocktail party makeup tutorial 12

TIGHTLINING! It’s what’s for dinner. So grab your blackest black liner, and tightline your upper water line.

8. Apply a navy liner along your upper and lower lash lines

cocktail party makeup tutorial 13

Why stop lining there? C’mon, let’s push it a little further. 🙂 Apply and blend a navy liner along your upper and lower lash lines for greater depth.

9. Apply false lashes and/or mascara

cocktail party makeup tutorial 14

Since this is a good makeup look for going out, false lashes fit well, but they aren’t mandatory. You could also just apply mascara to your upper and lower lashes.

I went with the falsies, and because symmetry plays a big part in this eye look, I picked a pair that are pretty much identical in length from the inner to the outer corner, except for a little extra length in the middle.

9. Apply white liner on the lower water line and a shimmery white shadow along the inner part of the lower tear duct

cocktail party makeup tutorial 15

Ooh! Now this is my favorite part because, after this, everything falls into place.

OK, first, you gotta run a Q-tip along your lower water line to remove any black eyeliner or mascara.

After you’ve done that, try not to blink, because you don’t want that lower water line to have any moisture on it. If it’s dry, whatever you layer on top of it will stick.

Good. Now, apply a white eyeliner along that lower water line.

Give it about a minute to set, and repeat with another layer for more intensity.

Now take an angled brush, and apply a shimmery white shadow to the innermost part of your lower lash line, just along the tear duct…

Both of these things will instantly open up your eyes and makes ’em look BIGGER, brighter and slightly elongated.

10. Apply bronzer, blush, highlighter, lip pencil and gloss

cocktail party makeup tutorial 16

To balance with the cooler navy and blue tones on the eyes, finish up with a warm nude lip, bronzer (under my cheekbones, around the perimeter of the face, across the bridge of my nose), a warm peach blush (apples of my cheeks) and highlighter (down the bridge of my nose, on my upper cheekbones, on my Cupid’s bow).


And there you go! You’re all done, babe, and ready for cocktails!

cocktail party makeup tutorial 17

If you try this look, please, PLEASE send me a pic or tag me on Instagram (I’m @karenmbb) so I can see it on you. 🙂

yummy-cocktailMakeup worn in this look

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 26 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Agata says:

    Wow, Karen, this look is fantastic. I have to recreate it! I really like wearing blue on my eyelids and the way you combined it with the taupe shade is gorgeous. Any recs for something similar to that Guerlain matte taupe?

    I wish I could get dressed, do fancy makeup and go get cocktails with you!
    Agata recently posted … Beauty Influencer’s Sunday Column Vol. 14: What’s the inspiration behind your blog name? How did you come up with it?

  2. Holly says:

    Amazing look! I’m pretty introverted plus all my friends are married with young kids so cocktail parties are few & far between. I did look fantastic at my reunion earlier this summer and I have a wedding to attend in a few weeks. My friend is marrying a man from India & I get to go to the henna party a couple days before the ceremony. All this to say, I’m planning on a gorgeous look inspired by your tutorial!

  3. Chelsea says:

    So pretty! I just picked up a few pairs of falsies to play around with – going to a burlesque show next week, so I want to get dolled up. Plus, it’ll be good practice for my trapeze performance next month!

  4. hanna says:

    Very pretty look. I especially love the blue on you.
    hanna recently posted … Floral Print for Fall/Winter Outfit Guide

  5. Angie says:

    You look so stunning! I love this look! I’m going to try it this weekend!

  6. Eesha says:

    Hi Karen.. totally loved the look. Been loving the tutorials you are posting lately. <3 <3

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eesha,

      Thanks Eesha! If there’s ever a look you want me to do, send it to me, and if I can do it I’ll try!

      Oh, and if you take this one for a spin please send me a pic. 🙂

  7. Damn girl! You look hotter than fried eggplants! This is GORGEOUS look I will definitely be pinning and trying! You are cocktail party ready!

  8. Joyce says:

    LOVE this look Karen! Such a pretty combo of colors ❤️

  9. Aenea says:

    This is amazing! It looks so pretty and of course, you look pretty too.

  10. Jessica says:

    Very, very pretty!!!
    Jessica recently posted … Logic-Defying

  11. I love it! And the last time I actually had a cocktail was the end of 2012, in Australia, on the beach. Not a cocktail party either, but memorable nonetheless.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … What is the color of Meh? – Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask

  12. You look gorgeous. This look is so fun and I love the blue that’s added to it! I’ll have to try this look one day!

  13. Trude says:

    Looking hot! 🙂 Love this, the touch of white really makes your eyes pop!
    Trude recently posted … 5 Things

  14. Kwmechelle says:

    Haute couture, chick. Haute couture! Love!!!!

  15. Rosemary says:

    Very glam, indeed! Love your pictorial tutorials, girl. Next up–how to apply false eyelashes with butterfingers? 🙂

  16. Phyrra says:

    Beautiful look! I love it!
    Phyrra recently posted … Urban Decay Spectrum Palette

  17. Nora E. says:

    Absolutely love! Somehow the pairing of the navy with the taupe (which reads as distinctly pink to me in the pics) turns this into a sultry purply look. LOVE

  18. Dory says:

    Hi, I really love this look. Thank you.
    What I shade of Urban Decay Naked Flushed did you use?

    Thanks dory

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge