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Fabulous Eyeliner Has Never Been This Easy

Makeup trends come and go, but one product is irreplaceable: eyeliner. This unassuming product is a staple for every makeup look, whether you’re going full glam or running errands. Luckily, creating flawless eyeliner doesn't require a team of professionals. After reading our guide on how to do eyeliner, you’ll be making show-stopping looks at home.

September 15, 2022
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Table of Contents

When do you apply eyeliner?

While surprising to some, the order in which you apply your makeup matters. You’d lose eyeliner definition if you put it on before foundation and risk clumping your mascara if you put it on after. When approaching eye makeup, we recommend applying eyeliner as the last step of your makeup routine. So, apply eyeliner after your eyeshadow but before your mascara — this will make the application process easier. 

Choosing your eyeliner

Now comes the fun part: finding the perfect eyeliner for you. Eyeliners come in many different styles, and the type of makeup look you want to create will determine what the best eyeliner is for you

Eyeliner pencil

An eye pencil is great for beginners. Pencil eyeliners create subtle makeup looks with just a few strokes on your upper lid. 

Liquid eyeliner

Liquid eyeliner requires a bit more skill than pencil liner, but it offers a bolder, more glam look. It usually comes in the form of a brush or an eyeliner pen. Generally, it’s simple to learn how to use an eye pen, while a brush with a tube may be more difficult. 

Gel liner

Think of gel liner as a compromise between pencil and liquid liner. Gel eyeliner is soft and blendable while still delivering saturated pigment. Gel eyeliners are perfect for smudging and creating effortlessly messy-chic makeup looks.

How to apply eyeliner

Applying your eyeliner will change depending on the look you want to create, but here are some versatile tips.

1. Prepare your eyes

Before applying your liner, wash your face with a gentle cleanser and remove any excess makeup. Then, apply your eyeshadow primer. If you plan on applying foundation first, we recommend starting with a face primer.

2. Top lid first

Once you’re ready for eyeliner, start toward the inner corner of your eye and use thin strokes to draw a line as close to your lash line as possible. Continue the line to the far edge of your eye. Repeat drawing the line until you’ve got your desired amount of pigment and thickness. If you want eyeliner on the top lid only, you’re all done unless you’ll be completing the look with a winged tip. 

3. Start eyeliner under your eye

First, slightly pull your lower lid down ≤so the skin’s taught, making it easy to apply the liner smoothly. Then, start near the middle of your lower lid and draw the eyeliner toward either end of your eye in small strokes. Place the eyeliner close to your lash line. Where you stop the eyeliner is up to you. 

4. Apply your wings

For a super easy eyeliner look, maybe save the wings for another time. But if you’re ready to fly, start by extending either the top or bottom line out and slightly up, pointing toward the bottom of your eyebrow. The angle of your wing should follow the natural shape of your eye. Depending on your eye shape, feel free to start the wing from either the lower or upper lash line. After drying a line from the corner of your eye to the desired length, connect the point back to your lash line with a small triangle. Thicken as needed.

5. Time for touch-ups

Fill in any gaps to create an even line. If your liner is uneven or has mistakes, dip a cotton swab in makeup remover and remove any excess. 

Tips and tricks

Try these great hacks to guarantee you know how to do good eyeliner:

  • Use dots to make a straight line: If you have trouble drawing a straight and even line, use small dots as an outline, and then connect them in small strokes. 
  • Check your products: To create beautiful eye makeup, make sure your products are properly prepped. It’s hard to create a precise line if your eyeliner is dried out or a pencil liner isn’t sharpened.
  • Use makeup remover for touch-ups: Makeup remover and a Q-tip are a winning pair for touching up any mistakes you’ve made. 
  • Use eyeshadow or setting spray to keep it in place: Eyeshadow can help your eyeliner look more pigmented and stop it from transferring. To ensure your look will last, take a setting spray and use it to keep all your makeup in place.
  • Use eyeshadow for a smokey eye look: To create a smokey eye, add wings with a liner that smudges, like a gel or pencil liner, and use eyeshadow to create a dramatic smokey accent.
  • Try waterproof eyeliner: We’ve all suffered from too much liner running down our face at an awkward time. If your liner frequently smudges or flakes off, waterproof eyeliner is more resilient and retains its fullness. Even if you sweat or get caught in the rain, your eyeliner won’t smudge.
  • Eye shape is everything: Eyeliner is meant to enhance your natural features, and the right eyeliner should complement your eye shape. You may find that a subtle wing helps elongate your eye, or some liner around the bottom lash line makes your eyes pop. Hooded eyes benefit from a longer and angular wing to complement their shape. Avoid dark eyeliner on your waterline if you have smaller eyes as this can make them look even smaller. Instead, try a subtle wing from your top lid.
  • Practice makes perfect: Perfecting your eyeliner skills takes plenty of practice. We recommend trying eyeliner looks before you wash your face for the night. That way, you don’t have to worry about messing up because you’re about to take off your makeup.

Rules are meant to be broken

Your makeup is a creative form of self-expression, meaning you get to decide what you think looks best. While we love helping you through the process and sharing our favorite tips and tricks, you’re in charge. Have fun with your makeup and you’ll love what you create. 

People also ask

How do you apply eyeliner step-by-step?

Looking for an eyeliner crash course? Here’s a quick step-by-step eyeliner tutorial:

  1. Prep your skin by removing any makeup and using an eye makeup primer.
  2. If using it, now’s the time to apply eyeshadow.
  3. Take your eyeliner and start toward the inside of your eye. The exact spot you start is up to you.
  4. Draw a thin line as close to the upper lash line as possible.
  5. Bring the eyeliner to the outer corner of your eye.
  6. Add a wing if you want a more elongated and dramatic look.
  7. If adding liner to your lower lash line, start in the middle. 
  8. Slowly draw your line to either side. Where you stop depends on your intended look.
  9. While closing your eyes, dust your look with setting spray to keep everything in place and long-lasting. 

Do you put eyeliner on first or last?

We recommend putting your eyeliner on as one of the last steps in your routine. Foundation and other face makeup products can mute the effectiveness of your look, and it’s typically easier to apply eyeliner before mascara. 

How do you apply eyeliner pencil?

An eyeliner pencil is ideal for beginners who want subtle makeup. Remember to keep your pencil sharpened for precision when applying. You can use the same technique for applying pencil liner as any other eyeliner (see the above tutorial).

Start shopping

If you’re ready to try your luck at a dramatic cat-eye, check out reviews from Flip creators to see what products you’re most interested in — and ready for — using.

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