I Tried All the Backwards Makeup Trends

So wrong they're right.

Makeup Trends Backwards
(Image credit: Kathryn Wirsing)

Anti-Contouring

(Image credit: Kathryn Wirsing)

I don't know what house of mirrors the beauty industry has been working in lately, but I'm liking the results—from the runway to the red carpet, three beloved classics (the cat eye, the smoky eye (opens in new tab), and contouring) are being turned on their heads with decidedly cool results.

What is this trend, and what does it mean, you're wondering? Simple: It's literally just the opposite of what the original look was. Contouring is all about adding depth and shadow—strobing is all about adding light. The smoky eye is all about a heavy lid—the reverse smoky jumps from the top lid to the bottom one. You see where I'm going with this.

So, as resident Beauty Guinea Pig (opens in new tab), I had to know for myself: Are these backwards techniques as wearable as their original counterparts? Makeup artist Joseph Carrillo helped me find out—and broke down each look so you can try at home.

1. Anti-Contouring, AKA Strobing

Contouring carves out our features like magic—and we love it for that. But strobing, a newish technique (opens in new tab) that essentially does just the opposite using light to define our features, is a more natural alternative.

Step 1: After moisturizing the skin, apply a luminous foundation (try Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (opens in new tab), $62) with a makeup brush for a smooth, even base.

Step 2: With your ring finger, glide it over top of a highlighter stick (we love Nars The Multiple Luxor in Copacabana (opens in new tab), $39)and pat in the areas of your face that naturally catch light: the outer corners of your eyes, the tops of your eyes, the bridge of your nose, and the little of your chin.

2. The Reverse Smoky Eye

A smoky eye is inherently rock 'n' roll, but there's something even *more* rock 'n' roll about going rogue and dusting pigment on to the lower lash line as opposed to the upper. But bear in mind, if not blended properly, you could tread into under-eye circle territory—so pay close attention and don't go overboard.

Reverse Smokey Eye

(Image credit: Kathryn Wirsing)

Step 1: Heavily line the waterline of your eye using a kohl pencil (try Sephora's Long Lasting Kohl Pencil (opens in new tab), $10). Squint your eye to make sure it's smudgy, then reapply.

Step 2: With a flat liner brush, get a medium dark brown eyeshadow and smudge it under the eye. With the same brush, smudge black eyeshadow close to the water line.

Step 3: To finish the look, use a burnt golden brown shadow (try MAC's Patina Shadow (opens in new tab), $16) to put a light wash on on the upper eye.

3. The Upside-Down Cat Eye

The Upside-Down Cat Eye

(Image credit: Kathryn Wirsing)

As a cat eye enthusiast (opens in new tab), I'm both nervous and intrigued by the idea of taking my signature inky slant below the water line. But considering cool-girl stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone have both given the upside down look their blessing, there has to be something to it. Plus, you can make as edgy or subtle as you like.

Step 1: Heavily line the waterline of your eye using a kohl pencil (try Sephora's Long Lasting Kohl Pencil (opens in new tab), $10).

Step 2: Apply pigment from the eyeliner pencil onto a small, slanted makeup brush. Then, brush from the inner corners of your eye out to the other end, extending it slightly past the outer corner of your eye. Use the brush to blend for a smooth, slightly smoky line.

Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.