What is Guyliner?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
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  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2019
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Guyliner is what you might imagine from the name: eyeliner for guys. Though the term guyliner is relatively new, rock stars like David Bowie and Alice Cooper were sporting eyeliner in the 1970s. It is generally associated with certain alternative rock cultures, especially glam, goth, punk, and emo. However, guyliner has recently become more popular in mainstream culture as well.

Some modern celebrities famous for their guyliner include Johnny Depp's character Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Adam Lambert of American Idol fame, and bass player Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, who recorded a helpful video on how to apply the cosmetic. Wentz advises going for a messy look, perhaps even sleeping on it. Some men prefer a very light application of eyeliner to bring out the eyes without making it obvious they are wearing makeup. Others like a thicker, more edgy appearance.

Men should generally choose black or brown eyeliner for everyday wear. The very brave might experiment with other colors, like metallics, for a glam look a la David Bowie. Brown is better for subtle enhancement of the eyes, while black provides a more dramatic, rock star look, especially if applied heavily.


There are two major types of eyeliner: pencil and liquid. Guyliner novices should choose pencil, as it is easier to apply, easier to smudge, and more subtle. Applying liquid eyeliner takes practice, but can produce very sharp, dramatic lines. Make-up remover is also a good investment for newcomers, as it can be used to easily correct stray lines or overapplication.

Guyliner has become so popular that some companies have begun manufacturing eye make-up specifically for men, though it is doubtful that it differs in any significant way from similar products aimed towards the female market. Marek Hewryk has pioneered a line of men's cosmetics called 4VOO, including shine-reducing face powder. Several major makeup manufacturers also now offer cosmetics especially for men.

Guyliner and other male makeup is often considered part of the "metrosexual" fashion trend. A metrosexual is a heterosexual man living a metropolitan lifestyle who puts a lot of effort into his appearance, often blurring traditional gender stereotypes. In addition to eyeliner, a metrosexual is often more interested in fashionable, though not necessarily feminine, clothing than stereotypical straight men. Men who wear guyliner may be considered the modern equivalent of the dandy or fop of the 18th and 19th centuries.


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