“Eyes are the windows to the soul,” is a Biblically old phase, but it’s also never been more true than in 2020. Since we rarely leave the house anymore, and a mask covers half our face even when we do, our once-anticipated morning cosmetic routines can feel a bit dissonant, an old habit from a world that no longer exists. Many former makeup lovers told Allure that the pandemic has caused them to ditch their 30-minute makeup routine for something more relaxed. But the eye makeup stays in the picture.
Take Reina, a 25-year-old writer in Brooklyn. She says that even though she’s been wearing less makeup overall since the pandemic started, she’s still doing her eye makeup every single day. “And taking selfies,” she said. “It sounds so vain, but it makes me feel better. And it reminds me that no matter how bad things get, I can still do a killer wing.”
It makes perfect sense. Since we aren’t performing for others anymore — coworkers at the office, strangers on the subway — many of us no longer feel obligated to show off bold lips or a perfect highlight. But we can still add color to the one part of our face that remains visible to the outside world. For Reina, makeup has stopped being a form of public expression, but one only for herself: Her eye-makeup ritual serves as a distraction from our grim political climate, a spot of color in a dark world.
Even before catastrophe, eye makeup was poised to conquer our faces in 2020: Maximal eyes and minimal lips ruled the (eerily prescient) February runway shows, which managed to showcase eyelid pigment in new and exciting shapes and applications. For our November issue, makeup artist Bea Sweet took note, painting five models of the moment — Jess Maybury, Ariish Wol, Akon Changkou, Lily Vogt, and cover star Kesewa Aboah — in the decadent colors and textures of products from some of our favorite Black-owned brands.
Her only rule: No rules. Textures were layered and blended. Color stretched from the eyelids up to the brows and over to the cheekbones. The resulting looks — the ones you see throughout this piece — reflected an optimism that, in the beauty industry at this moment, is becoming harder and harder to find.