How to Properly Apply Eyeliner

Applying eyeliner is an art form. Ask anyone who doesn’t know how to apply eyeliner properly. I was one of those people. I struggled for a very long time, always winding up looking like I wasn’t wearing any eyeliner at all or looking like a raccoon. The trick is recognizing that not everything works for everyone. Eyes are different shapes, sizes and colors and in order to properly apply your eyeliner you need to understand how to apply eyeliner that is best for your eyes. Hopefully this quick guide to applying eyeliner will help.

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Different Types of Eyeliner

When I first started using eyeliner, I had no idea there were different kinds of eyeliner. I went to the drug store and bought the cheapest black eyeliner I could find. Over the years I’ve learned that different types of eyeliner work for different looks and each one of them has its own place. Sometimes they can even be combined to create a spectacular look. Let’s talk about the most common types of eyeliner and what they can do for you. We’ll talk a bit more about properly applying different types of liner in a moment.

Gel Eyeliner (or Cream Eyeliner)
Use it for: Base for eye shadow, looks that call for smudged eyeliner, smoky eyes
Advantages: Easy to smudge, fairly easy to apply
Disadvantages: Not as portable as typical eyeliner pencils or wants
I prefer gel eyeliner over any other type of liner for day to day wear and most special events. It offers a nice clean look, is versatile and is fairly easy to apply. This kind of liner most often comes in a small pot with an eyeliner brush or pencil that can be dipped into the pot to apply the liner. You will need a steady hand but not much more than you would for any other type of liner.
Liquid Eyeliner
Use it for: Arabic inspired looks, cat eyes, dramatic eyes
Advantages: Clean, crisp, bold and dramatic (when applied properly)
Disadvantages: Hard to apply properly
Nothing creates a bold, dramatic look quite like liquid eyeliner but it’s extremely difficult to apply properly. We’re going to talk through that in a few moments but for now, let’s just say I refused to touch this stuff for many years. It wasn’t until I got some great advice from a stylist friend of mine a short time ago that I started using it.
Pencil Eyeliner
Use it for: Most every day makeup looks, quick and easy touch of liner for going out, nude look eyes
Advantages: Easy to use, plenty of colors, generally less expensive than other types of liner, convenient to carry
Disadvantages: Needs to be sharpened and needs to be sharpened well is a crisp line is desired.
I have never been a big fan of pencil liners that have to be sharpened because they don’t offer the kind of look I personally like. They are great for a nude eye but it’s just not a look I often go for. With that said, it may be just what you’re looking for.

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How to Apply Eyeliner

How to Properly Apply Gel/Cream Eyeliner

This one is pretty easy. You’re just going to take your brush, dip it into the cream or gel pot and drag the brush across your upper or lower lash line. One word of warning, you need to have a steady hand for this stuff or you’ll make a mess. Make sure you take your time. Once it’s on, you can choose to smudge it if you like. A smudged line makes your eyes look a little less “made up”. Because this type of liner takes a little while to dry, you have a little time to smudge it. You need to be careful when applying shadow over it for the same reason though.

How to Properly Apply Liquid Eyeliner

Liquid eyeliner is fantastic for a dramatic look but it’s also fantastic for making a giant mess. You need to really know what you’re doing to apply this stuff right. Here are some quick tips to help you apply liquid eyeliner.

  • Apply your eyeliner in short, careful strokes.
  • Apply your eyeliner as close to the lash line as you can get it.
  • Start by applying your eyeliner to the middle of your lid. Move over to the corner of your eye (whichever one you feel comfortable working on in fine) and slowly paint your way back toward the center of the eye again where you started. Once the line from the corner meets the line in the center, repeat the process starting at the other corner. Again, short careful strokes are needed here.
  • Concentrate on making sure you apply an even amount to both eyes. It’s tempting to rush on the second eye. Don’t. You may wind up using too much or too little product.
  • Take. Your. Time. I’m so serious here. Until you’re really sure you know what you’re doing, it’s best to allow yourself a little extra time to get ready if you’ll be using this stuff. This not only ensures you’re able to take your time but it also allows you time to fix any mistakes you might make.
  • Practice. Again, very serious here. Don’t decide to wear liquid liner for the first time moments before you’re getting ready to leave. You might do just fine but you might not and then you’ll have a mess to fix.

If you’re new to the art of eyeliner, I would definitely, definitely recommend starting out with another type of eyeliner first. Liquid eyeliner is tough to get the hang of. It’s not impossible though so don’t get discouraged.

How to Properly Use Eyeliner Pencils

Despite my earlier objections, eyeliner pencils definitely have their place in the makeup kit. They can be used in combination with other little tips and tricks to achieve certain looks or they can be used on their own for a more muted look. To use eyeliner pencils, you just need to sharpen your pencil and draw a line along your last line. If you have trouble getting your pencil sharp enough for a crisp line, pop it in the fridge for a short time before sharpening.

How to Use Eye Shadow as Eyeliner

There are a lot of advantages to using shadow as liner. You really open up your color choices for starters and it’s also a quick and easy fix if you run out of eyeliner unexpectedly. All you need to do is take an eyeliner brush or even a clean eyes shadow wand, dip it in the color you want to use and apply it to your lash line. I would recommend adding a touch of water to the wand or brush before you apply your shadow though. This keeps the shadow in place and makes it last longer. It also helps it go on a bit more smoothly. It’s important to remember that you cannot apply eye shadow to your waterline. Not only will it just not work but you’ll end up irritating your eye. This one is for lash lines only.

I hope this has helped you better understand what different eyeliners offer and how you can use them to compliment your eyes. In an upcoming article, I’ll be offering a few step by step guides for applying eye makeup that I hope will help even more. They’re some of my favorite looks for a number of different occasions including smoky eyes, cat eyes and basic “going out” eyes. For those, you’ll need to know the basics of applying mascara as well so make sure you check out our article on that subject. Looking for basic tips to make your eyes look bigger? We’ve got you covered here. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to bookmark us so you don’t miss any of our hair beauty tips.

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