Eyeliner is one of the most integral parts of your makeup looks. Sure the artistic cat-eye and smoky eye gazes are all about liner, but even some of the most natural, barely-there makeup has some type of eyeliner involved. Why you may ask? Because it’s a sneaky way to subtly call attention to your eyes, make lashes look longer, your eye colour more vibrant, and even look more awake. Knowing what colour, where to put it, and how to apply it are key skills that any makeup lover should have in her beauty repertoire.
Getting even flicks, lashline hugging perfection, and catch-the-light-just-right placement are skills that take practice. Sadly, not all of us have the steady hands of a master calligrapher. If your hand shakes like you’ve had five cups of coffee every time you pick up an eyeliner pencil, don’t worry: We feel you. Sometimes just making a straight line can be tricky, but that doesn’t mean you can’t master this beauty basic. Truth is — with foolproof tips and a few secret cheats, eyeliner can actually be quite simple once you get the hang of it. Practice enough and you’ll be a whiz not only with natural-looking makeup, but also with a few flashier looks for when you want to jazz things up. Consider this list of tips and tricks your ultimate crash course in eyeliner.
1. There are Three Basic Types of Eyeliner
Whether you choose pencil, gel or liquid, each has its own special application and skill level. Pencil is the most common (and easiest) type and perfect for an everyday look. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not regularly sharpening their pencils. In addition to keeping them clean and bacteria-free, sharpening your pencil ensures you can get your line as close to your lash line as humanly possible. Dulled, rounded off points make for good shading (more on that later), but they lack the precision needed to connect your lash line to your lashes for that seamless appearance. So sharpen them regularly — just not too sharp. Remember, you’re putting this pencil in close proximity to your eyeball — you definitely don’t want to run the risk of maiming yourself with a sharp-as-a-needle pencil tip. Ouch!
Gel eyeliners typically come in a pot and are applied with a brush. These can be a little trickier because you decide how much product is being applied, rather than with a pencil where it’s mostly a controlled amount. Gels have an amazingly creamy consistency so they can glide across the eyelid without pulling or tugging like a pencil can. One drawback is that unlike pencils, which are good to the last sharpening, gels are housed in pots and can dry out faster than other formulas.
The most advanced liners are the liquid category. They can be unforgiving if you make mistakes, but once you master the delicacy needed for proper application, these inky beauties are unparalleled at creating cat-eyes and other dramatic eye shapes. They are the messiest of the three, which is why it’s crucial to find a technique that works for you and will help you avoid turning your eyelid into what looks like a third-grader’s art project.
2. Hold your eye for more control
You’ll find that most liners tend to get stuck or skip across your lid, so start off by creating a smooth canvas for your liner to glide across. Using your pointer and middle finger, pull the skin above your eye taut for a smoother, more precise line. Instead of free-handing it, prop your elbow up on the counter to steady your hand. Just be sure not to manhandle the delicate skin around your eye — you don’t want to tug too hard and risk stretching or damaging the skin.
3. Choose the right color
You don’t always have to go with classic black, especially if you are just starting out. Brown and light gray are great training colors when you’re trying a new technique as they are less stark and much more forgiving if you make a mistake. You can also make your eyes appear brighter and more vibrant by using a color-enhancing shade. For blue gazes that means picking something in the warm browns, bronze, or copper family. Green beauties should try violets and purples, while brown-eyed girls can go bold with bright blues or keep it simple with navy. Hazel eyes, with their multi-tonal colors, have the option to play up either the browns or greens in their eyes. To make them look browner, try rich earth tones, gold, and green. Bring out green by using bronze or eggplant chromas.