What are Some Tips for Applying Eyeliner?

Cathy Rogers

The purpose of applying eyeliner is to define and accentuate the shape of the eye. When applying eyeliner, consider the desired result. If you seek a dramatic look, try liquid eyeliner. For a softer look, try pencil eyeliner. Whether you use a brush or pencil, it’s helpful to tilt your head back slightly when applying eyeliner so that you can see what you're doing. A dark eye shadow can also be moistened for use as eyeliner.

Eyeliner pencil may be used to create a bold, dramatic look for the eyes.
Eyeliner pencil may be used to create a bold, dramatic look for the eyes.

Color-wise, use these guidelines: gray, brown, bronze, plum and navy are good accent colors for light colored eyes. For darker eyes, black, brown and plum shades are flattering. Silver and gray shades are complementary to green and blue eyes, as are gold colors for green eyes and reddish-brown shades for blue eyes.

Liquid eyeliner can have a dramatic effect.
Liquid eyeliner can have a dramatic effect.

Apply eyeliner after eye shadow, but prior to mascara. To line the upper lid, draw a line from the inside corner across the upper lid very near the lash line. Wait briefly before opening your eyes fully to prevent smearing. This eyeliner application creates the illusion of thicker upper lashes.

Silver, gray, and gold colors are complementary to green eyes.
Silver, gray, and gold colors are complementary to green eyes.

For the lower lid, draw a similar line from the outer edge of the eye about two-thirds of the way toward the inner edge. Seek a fine line look on the lower lids, smudging slightly with a finger or cotton swab if desired. To create a steady hand when applying eyeliner, try resting your elbow on the counter or other hard surface and resting your wrist on your face.

Permanent eyeliner application may be an option for individuals who struggle with applying the makeup.
Permanent eyeliner application may be an option for individuals who struggle with applying the makeup.

Other issues to keep in mind when applying eyeliner: different eyeliner products produce varied results. A liquid eyeliner will last longest, but should only be used on the top lashes because its effect is too dramatic for finer, lower lashes. Before application, check a liquid eyeliner for clumps or excess product.

Pencil eyeliner is easier to apply and therefore more popular. The pencil form comes in water-resistant and waterproof versions, also. A pencil eyeliner should be keep sharpened and can be warmed and softened if necessary with the heat of your hands or a warm hairdryer. Another product is cream eyeliner, which is supplied in a jar form and is similar to liquid eyeliner. A powder eyeliner is similar to an eye shadow and creates a softer, more natural look.

A woman wearing black eyeliner has blush applied.
A woman wearing black eyeliner has blush applied.

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