Do you spend ages trying to perfect your eyeliner? We all know one wrong move can have us looking less cat eye, more black-eye, but how do you avoid those easy mistakes?
Today we're sharing some essential eyeliner tips that make applying eyeliner a breeze, whether you've got 30 minutes or 30 seconds to spare. Learn these tips by heart and you'll never have to redo your eyes again!
Editor's Note: This post was originally posted in January 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in September 2018.
General eyeliner tips that everyone should know
1. Know the difference between pencil, gel & liquid eyeliner
When you're trying to nail the perfect flick, don't just grab any old pencil. There are three main types of eyeliner:
- Pencil: matte and easy to apply, this is a great eyeliner for novices. Does not spread as smoothly as gel or liquid, but mistakes can be easily blended for a smokey eye effect.
- Gel: - gels mostly come in matte effect and they apply very smoothly. Can be used for both thin and thicker lines.
- Liquid: great for creating precision lines. Most have a pen or nib to apply, like a felt tip. Done right, they can create a very thin line but can be used for a thicker effect, too.
2. Don't pull your skin
There are some vital eyeliner mistakes everyone should avoid, and this is certainly one of them!
When you're applying your eyeliner, particularly liquid, avoid pulling the skin around the eye as it's more likely to smudge. If your line isn't perfect, grab a cotton wool swab soaked in makeup remover, or a petroleum jelly, and tidy up any mistakes.
It's far less stressful to correct a mistake rather than striving for perfection the first time.
Different eyeliner styles
3. Enhance your eye shape
You may love a smokey eye, but does it really suit you?
Just as different clothes suit different people, some makeup looks work better with different eye shapes and colours than others.
The best way to figure out what suits you best is to first identify your eye shape using this guide by Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. You'll be amazed at how different not only your eyes, but your whole face can look with different techniques!
4. Try both soft & sharp lines
There are so many different ways to use eyeliner - experiment with soft and sharp lines to see what suits you best.
Liquid and gel eyeliner works best for sharp lines while Kohl can be blended with a smudge brush for a softer look.
5. Or try the upside-down cat eye
If you fancy something more unusual, try a statement-worthy, upside-down cat-eye.
It's a real show-stopper!
6. Try the eye-opening ombre eyeliner effect
Eyeliner is all enhancing your natural beauty - make your eyes look magical with this stunning ombre effect.
It's a lot easier to achieve than it looks, simply start by lining the first three-quarters of your upper lash line with a light eyeliner - white and gold both work beautifully. Then, grab a darker eyeliner in the same shade and line from the outside corner of your eye in the middle
Finish by using an eyeshadow brush to blend the colours in the middle of the eye so that they overlap.
7. Tightlining eyeliner
If you feel liquid eyeliner looks a little too harsh on your eyes and you'd like to soften the contrast between your upper and lower eyelids, try tight-lining. This is the technique for drawing eyeliner beneath your upper lash line so there is no visible space between your eyelid and eyeliner line. It gives a really professional look, and your eyes will look magnified and bigger than ever as a result.
For the full tutorial visit Beauty Lish.
For a more subtle look that takes just seconds to do, try using the tight-lining technique alone.
8. Make your eyes look bigger with WHITE eyeliner
Have you ever tried white eyeliner? It's great for anyone with smaller eyes.
Sometimes, black eyeliner can actually make eyes look smaller, whereas white will do the opposite. Line your lower lash line with a white pencil to make them pop.
9. Try eyeshadow instead
Sometimes, eyeliner's just a bit too much. If you're not quite ready to commit to eyeliner or you want a subtler look, try using a dark eyeshadow as a faux eyeliner.
Use a thin liner brush to create a uniform line with your eyeshadow for a similar but softer effect.
10. Experiment with eyeliner
Makeup should be all about having fun.
Eyeliner doesn't always have to be dark, there are loads of other ways to line your eyelids to create stunning effects. Experiment with colours, designs, glitter, double lines and more.
11. Easy-to-apply liquid eyeliner: connect the dots
Liquid eyeliner can be tricky business. The answer? Connect-the-dots eyeliner.
The video above is an easy-to-follow guide from Maybelline, showing you how to connect the dots and create a smooth liquid line.
Using dots has got to be one of the best liquid eyeliner tips out there, especially when you're in a rush.
12. Or fill in the dashes for the perfect gel line
For gel eyeliner, the same technique can be used, but with dashes instead of dots. This technique works fantastically well with a flat-edged gel eyeliner like Benefit's They're Real push-up liner.
Stamp 3 dashes along the upper lash line.
Connect the dashes with small strokes.
Thicken the line by sweeping over it in one stroke.
This is amazing eyeliner, made easy!
13. Use a pencil eyeliner as a guide for liquid eyeliner
If you really struggle with liquid eyeliner, but you want to achieve the sleek look, try using both a pencil and a liquid liner together.
First, line your eyes with a pencil eyeliner, then trace over it with liquid - it makes the perfect template, especially for bold cat-eye looks.
14. Gel eyeliner hack
If you're after a really dramatic, bold look, gels what you need. If you don't have any to hand, transform your kohl eyeliner with this clever eyeliner hack.
Use a lighter to gently melt your kohl liner, then apply it with a small, angular brush.
15. Use concealer to camouflage mistakes
Happy with your eyeliner apart from that pesky little smudge?
There's no need to start over - if it's only a small mistake, grab the concealer. You can camouflage any smudges and everyone will be none the wiser.
16. Use tape to perfect your cat flick
Do you struggle to create a slim, straight flick? This tip should make it easier...
...take a snippet of tape, repeatedly place it down and rip it off a surface until it loses some of its stick then place it alongside your eye as a template. Gently draw along the edge of the tape and it will create a barrier for any mishaps.
The result? A perfectly even, smooth cat flick.
Check out the Elle guide to using tape to perfect your liquid eyeliner - they make it look easy!
17. Use a card for the perfect winged look
Finally, a use for all those loyalty cards!
Find a card with a flat edge and curved edges in your purse and use it to trace a line with your liquid eyeliner. Copy the image above, using the curved edge to trace, just imagine you're tracing around a Nike tick.
18. Spoon eyeliner
Who'd of thought it - you can even use a spoon to help you get picture-perfect eyeliner.
Watch the video above for loads of clever ways to use a spoon to create both subtle, and stand-out eyeliner looks.
19. Freeze a crumbling eyeliner
Over time, temperature changes can cause the texture of your eyeliner to change.
If your kohl liner is crumbling or leaving tiny bits of residue on your face, freeze your eyeliner for 5-10 minutes before applying. It'll help solidify it again to make application easier.
20. Mascara doubles up as an eyeliner
If you're travelling, or all out of liner, you can use mascara as a replacement.
Take a thin makeup brush (either lip or gel liner) and swipe it over the mascara wand then use as normal.
21. Line & curl... at the same time!
If you're in a real rush, you can save time by lining your eyes and curling lashes at the same time.
Before curling, apply pencil eyeliner to the top of your curlers to imprint kohl onto your upper lash line. You can also apply it to the underside to recreate the tight-lining effect.
22. Winged eyeliner technique
Winged eyeliner can look amazing, but it's tricky to master.
Don't just 'wing' it - break it down into 8 individual steps (as shown in the video above), and you'll find it a lot easier to pull off.
To get the perfect angle for your eye, hold the eyeliner diagonally from the corner of your nostril up to the corner of your eye.
We hope you enjoyed our eyeliner tips! If you have any of your own, we'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
Thanks, very useful!
Every time I’m trying the cat eye with liquid eyeliner it breaks up on my lids and the wing breaks up. I have some loose skin there ( where the wing is) so it’s a nightmare to get a cat eye. I love the cat eye look. Would it be better to use something else like gel or pencil?
Hi Isabell, Do you stretch your skin out when you apply your eyeliner?
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