Beauty 101: Your Eyeliner Woes, Solved


You asked for eyeliner tips, and your fellow commenters answered:

We received hundreds of helpful tips, both via email and in the comments, and I’ve selected a few to share:

Take Your Time

From commenter Jackie-Parker:

1. Take your time!
2. Sharpen the pencil, and heat it up a little. If it’s liquid, make sure there are no clumps.
3. Rest the elbow of your chosen arm on a hard surface, and then rest your wrist on your face (while you are holding the pencil/brush). This will reduce the problem of applying too much on your eye.
4. Apply the eyeliner. You can tilt your head back slightly and bring your eyes to a semi-open state. It allows you to see what you’re doing. Also, let your body tell yo what’s more comfortable.
5. If you want thicker lashes, apply it on top lash line. Look at one spot in the mirror, while your doing this one. *If you are using liquid liner, let it to dry before opening your eyes all the way, or the eyeliner will transfer into the crease of your eye! Wave your hands on them if you want them to dry quicker.
6. If you want to soften the eyeliner, use a Q-tip. If you want to correct a mistake, use a Q-tip dipped in eye make up remover.
7. When it comes to the lower lid, trace the outside of your eye, and follow the shape of your eye. Go light, and repeat where you want it to be darker. The line should usually be slightly thicker at the outside, and thinner the closer you are to the nose.
Just work on it. Don’t be discouraged. When you fail completely, wash it off take 5, and go back to it.

Find The Right Brush

From commenter Wendy Diel:

The easiest method of applying eyeliner is with a flat liner brush. Dip the brush in some shadow (brown or black looks more natural, but feel free to be bold with teal as well), and tap off the excess. Apply LIGHT pressure to your eye, right above the eyelashes to lift them up, and then place the loaded brush directly on the lash line, and wiggle. Repeat for both eyes. This will get the shadow between the lashes, giving the illusion of fuller lashes – and without looking like you’ve got obvious eyeliner. If you want a fuller line, by all means use the same method to apply just above the lash line as well.
I’m a mess with liquid liner. I found the best type of liquid to use is a pen-type – You literally just “sharpie” your liner on – No messy brushes! I apply liner as above as a guide, and then trace it with the liquid liner. 🙂

Consider Eyeshadow As An Alternative:

From commenter Flames, on the side of my face:

I’ve got sensitive eyes that tend to react badly to eyeliners, but there are some eyeshadows that I can use so I go with the damp brush and eyeshadow method. I’ve realized that trying to “draw” a line is never going to work for me. So I’ve perfected the Damp and Stamp (Dip and Dot? Dab and Stab? I can’t decide what to call it). Dampen the brush, dip in eyeshadow, touch it to the eyelid and lift straight off, repeat by placing each “stamp” next to the last.

Liquid Liner Basics:

From commenter edith-irene

Liquid Eyeliner is not a big deal- you really just need a steady hand. I once managed to do it on a bus in NYC!
I work as a costume designer and I often have to give actresses tutorials on makeup application, so here’s my advice for the perfect liquid application. Oh, and gel liner is fine, but it just doesn’t have the lasting power and beautiful, retro, velvety look of a well done liquid!
1. The Brush- Don’t use what comes in the packaging! I use a sable watercolor brush, very thin, .001 or .01, and it should be longer, not stumpy. The length of the bristles is key- have you ever seen the brushes they use for car detailing? They are long long long and thin at the tip. If the bristles are long, they remain flexible, and the less you have to pick up the brush from your lid, the better., even try resting the brush against the lashes at first. The long flexible bristles will follow the curve of your lash line with little effort from you!
2. Steady elbow= Steady hand. Prop your painting arm’s elbow on a hard flat surface, it’ll act like a camera tripod and stop any excess shakiness.
3. The Line- Start at the inside and work outward, not the other way around. Lightly touch your brush as close to your lash line as possible but not so close to your tear ducts. DON’T PUSH THE BRUSH- PULL IT along your lash line. By applying a little more pressure, you will make the line thicker over the middle part of your eye. When you reach the outside corner, to get a nice winged look , just turn the brush slightly with a turn of your WRIST, not fingers, as you pull up a bit.
4. Finishing- You should get the line as close as possible to the lashes, and to make it absolutely perfect, I always go under the lash line with a pencil (the same color as your liquid line). Wait until the liquid is dry, and gently lift your eyelid, and simply run the pencil along the edge of your eyelid just below the lashes. This will fill in any little missed spots in and around your lashes, and make your lashes look thicker and denser and your line perfect! It’s best that the pencil is a little blunt, as you have to get close to your eyeball, and that skin is very sensitive to any splinters or sharpness in the pencil wood or filling.
5. Practice it! You’ll get better the more you do it, just like anything else.

From commenter Pianola:

I started using liquid eyeliner in January. The best tip I’ve gotten is to draw the line in stages, rather than in one stroke, which can easily go awry.
1. Start at the inside, and give one short stroke, then another across the middle, then the outside.
2. Next, connect the dashes and smooth out any ‘bumps’ in the line.
3. Finally, add a curl or wing at the end, if that’s the look you want.

From Emily, via email:

-Do everything else around your eye (except mascara) first. It would be a
shame to cover up the perfect line you are about to make 🙂
-Bend your arm and keep your elbow close to your body.
-Use your opposite hand to pull the edge of your eyelid out toward the
temple. (If you’re right handed and lining your right eye, use your left
index finger to pull the outer edge of the right eyelid)
-Position the liner wand close-to-parallel to the line you want to make,
take a deep breath and sweep outward using your wrist, while keeping
everything else very still.
-Be confident! Eyeliner is not as scary as it’s made out to be!
If you keep the “canvas” flat, and you mimic the line you want to make with
the angle of your brush or felt-tip, you should come out with a reasonably
straight line. This particular liner that I use is nice because you can put
more pressure or use a different angle of the wand for different thicknesses
of line.

From Lana, via email:

first- stay AWAY from anything with a felt tip. a brush is going to give a much finer line and a felt tip can soak up too much liquid and for me at least, i can never even it out. i like l’oreal’s liquid intense liner, it’s a nice long brush that lets you get a good angle for your eye line.
second – keep a good eye makeup remover handy, preferably liquid but not oily or something that is going to mess with the rest of your makeup that much.
third – q-tips. i cannot stress this one enough.. they are essential for me!

Following The Lines:

From Lauren, via email:

I always start at the middle-bottom of my lid to make sure I get the thickness exactly as I like it. Draw out to the corner of your lid and then simply fill in the inner corner by applying the tip a little lighter to produce a thinner line and drawing to meet up with the line already created. Then you just add a little flick (basically a small triangle) to the end of the line at the outer corner, making sure you shape it to match up with the line already drawn.

From commenter CollegeCamel:

What I’ve found works for eyeliner is to 1) pull the outer edge of your lid out so that your lash line is a straight, horizontal line, and then 2) put your pinky on your nose for balance, draw a line across your (now straight) lash line, and bam! Perfect eyeliner!

Don’t Be Afraid To Screw Up:

From Nicole, via email:

The best, quickest trick I’ve learned: If I mess up and ruin the line I just glob on tons more eyeliner. I put way too much on- then I use ‘Eye- Q’s’ makeup remover pads to take most of it off. One can’t get it all off without using multiple pads so you can judge how much you want to take off. It looks subtle and normal. I found this out when a lady in Saks did my eyes at the makeup counter. She used so much and I couldn’t get it all off. I gave up after a while and went out anyway, and got compliments all night about my eye makeup.

From our beloved MorningGloria:

Use black liquid eyeliner with a long, slim brush. Lancome is great, but Revlon also has a decent lower cost substitute for those of us who feel weird about spending $40 on a small tube of black liquid.
Look in a mirror. Start about 1/3 of the way across your eyelid, gently and smoothly making a stroke along the lashline that increases in intensity as you extend toward the outer edge of the lashes. The appearance of an increasing intensity line can be achieved by using a tiny big firmer touch as you proceed across the lashline. When you get to the outer corner of your lash line, end the liner with a tiny upward extension of liner beyond the outer edge of the lashes.
Repeat with other eye.
The shape you’re drawing is sort of like the beginning of a cursive N with a gentle slope up and a gentle slope down with a little upward turn at the end. You can practice making that shape on paper with a pencil.
If you mess up, wipe it off right away and try again.

From Danielle, via email:

Make-up beginners and the eyelinerly challenged save your self the frustration and pain and get a smooth, soft, highly pigmented eyeliner. Shop around and play with different brands. If an overbearing sales person harangues you, hold your ground.
Once you have a good eyeliner it’s all about the technique. Always sharpen your eyeliner before every use. You want it nice and pointy. Then run the eyeliner over your hand one or two times to soften the tip.
Now you are ready to apply. RELAX. You have to take a deep breath and relax. Mistakes happen and that’s why we have eye make-up remover and cotton balls.
Find yourself a good sized magnified cosmetic mirror and close one eye, but keep the other eye open. With your dominant hand hold the eyeliner and with the other hand gently pull to the side the outer corner of your closed eye. This action will help create a nice smooth surface for the eyeliner to go on. The next step is to gently slide the eyeliner across the base of your lashes from the inner corner of your eyelid to the outer corner of your eyelid (on top of where your eyelashes meet your eyelid). You can do this in short abbreviated strokes, and as you build confidence in your abilities can move on to longer more fluid strokes.
Yay! Top eyelid done. Now on to the lower lash line. Keep the eye that you are going to line wide open (no Ramona eyes, but wide eyes). Hold your eyeliner in your dominant hand and with your other hand gently pull to the side the outer corner of the eye you’re going to line (just like when you lined the top eyelid). Now look yourself square in the eye with the eye that you’re going to line. I know this sounds strange, but by focusing your eye like this it keeps your eye from wandering and helps to minimize blinking. Now just as with the top eyelid you want to gently slide the eyeliner across the base of your lashes from the inner corner of your eyelid to the outer corner of your eyelid (below, but on top of where the eyelashes meet the eyelid).
Woohoo! You did it! Yay!

There was such an overwhelming response, both via email and in the comments, that it was impossible for me to list all of the tips and tricks, so if you didn’t get the answer you were looking for, be sure to read through the original eyeliner thread, which is filled with excellent advice from your fellow commenters.

Have an idea for next weekend’s topic? Feel free to leave your suggestions, and ask your questions, in the comments.

Earlier: Beauty 101: I Suck At Putting On Eyeliner
Beauty 101: Which Basic Beauty Skills Did You Never Quite Get The Hang Of?

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