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As the name implies, eyeliner is a cosmetic product designed to outline the eyes. Unlike darker shades of eyeliner, though, white eyeliner does not create a defining outline. White eyeliner and its variations highlight the eye, brightening an individual's eye make-up to make the eyes seem wider. If poorly applied, however, this light shade of eyeliner can cause the eye to seem washed out.
Most individuals use black eyeliner and other dark shades to create a dark outline around the eye, making the eye stand out from the rest of the face. Even though dark eyeliners help emphasize the eye, these shades also have a narrowing effect and may make the eye seem smaller when used too heavily. Individuals seeking to make their eyes seem wider should apply some form of white eyeliner.
Typically, the phrase "white eyeliner" specifically refers to pure white eyeliner, but some stores or make-up artists may use the phrase as a general term to describe other light tones, including beige, off-white, and blush. Each of these shades serves the same highlighting purpose as pure white eyeliner. This shade is most often seen in pencil form, but some manufacturers do produce white in liquid, gel, and cream forms, as well. Pencil liners work best for the creation of precise, simple lines and marks, while creams and gels work best for blending.
The most common way to use white eyeliner is to apply a little to the inside corners of the eye. Individuals using this technique first apply black eyeliner, or another dark shade, to the top and bottom lids as usual. Afterward, they apply white to the inner rims of the lower lid or to the inner corner of both lids, depending on skin tone and personal preference. This typically helps capture the light and brightens the make-up just enough to make the whites of the eye appear larger.
Other common uses for white eyeliner are layering and blending. Individuals who layer their liner place a wide line of white along the lower lid before applying a thinner layer of dark liner near the lashes. Both the white and dark liners remain distinguishable, but the white helps reduce the severity otherwise created by the use of dark liner. The two liner shades can also be blended into a new hue using a cotton swab or cosmetic smudge stick. This technique creates a shadow effect, reducing the harshness of the dark shade while still creating an outline for the eye.
Too much white liner can cause an eye to look "washed out," however. Outlining an entire eye with white without using a darker eyeliner effectively erases the border between eye and skin, especially on individuals with pale skin tones. As a result, the eye fades away and does not stand out from the rest of the face at all. Individuals with dark skin tones do not need to worry as much about this adverse effect, though.