Ultimate Guide to Eyeliners

Whether you’ve been in a cat costume as a child, or a tween with a love for grunge or emo, eyeliner was likely one of the first makeup products to make its way to your face. From using eyeliners, you probably learned all about eye shadow, mascara, and others, but eyeliner was your first love.

If that’s the case for you, you probably are now an expert when it comes to applying eyeliners. But for most people, getting a perfect application is a struggle. The time, accuracy and upkeep is not that easy. And sometimes, it’s hard to choose the best eyeliner when there are many types of options out there. So, here’s a guide to help you out with your eyeliner dilemmas:

Types of Eyeliners

Eyeliners don’t come in only one option. There are different types of this makeup item, and what suits you best depends on what you’re looking for.

Pencil eyeliner

A popular pick, eyeliners serve as an introduction to eyeliners for a lot of people. It usually comes in a form of wood, like a typical school pencil, that needs to be sharpened. It’s the ultimate makeup tool you can purchase on a budget. However, there are also retractable pencils that don’t need to be sharpened.

This type of eyeliner is easy to use even if you don’t have the steadiest of hands. When freshly sharpened, the wood pencil eyeliner can get close to the roots of your lashes and even right between them. The retractable, twist-up pencils – on the other hand – are great for making blended looks rather than sharp lines. The formulas are often very creamy so you can smudge out or layer an eyeshadow on top, giving you greater control over how dark the final look is. The downside to pencil eyeliners is that they are prone to creasing and running. To prevent this, you must prep your eyes with an eyeshadow primer.

Gel eyeliner

If you like making smeared or precise lines, a gel eyeliner works for creating both makeup looks. Gel eyeliners create solid color in an instant without needing another layer, and it can be super crisp when applied using a thin brush. This type of eyeliner has a similar texture to an eye pencil and a liquid eyeliner. It’s quite thicker than a liquid liner, and creamier than a pencil liner. It comes in small pots and is applied with a brush. The brush helps to make your eyeliner application thick or thin, depending on your preferences.

Gel liners work with different brushes, so if you want a cat eye, use a thin brush for precise lines. If you want a smokier effect, use a smudger brush. Gel liners are made up of wax, so it won’t come off easy. It’s also great to use in the waterline since it’s waterproof. If you’re really talented, you can even use a gel liner as a creamy eyeshadow.

Liquid eyeliner

Liquide eyeliner is the best option if you want a precise line in your eyes. It’s one of the trickiest type of eyeliner to master, but it has an avid following for a reason – it can make sleek and on fleek cat-eye wings. Liquid eyeliner is available as either a liquid with a brush, or a pen with w felt tip. The felt tip offers more control in the lines you are making.

If you have a steady hand, using a liquid eyeliner can work a lot in favor to you. Making beautiful shapes and smooth lines with this eyeliner is easy. A piece of advice for you is to hold it flat against your eye to achieve a thick line, and perpendicular to the eyes if you want a thinner, wispier line.

Cake eyeliner

A cake eyeliner works similarly to a watercolor paint, since it’s activated with a wet brush. If you’re confident about applying eyeliner with a brush and you want an intense, matte black line, this type of eyeliner works just well. It may take a few tries to figure out how much water you need and how much working with the brush you have to do before they set.

You can wet an eyeliner brush under a faucet and simply shake off the excess water. But if you want to pick up less moisture, dampen your brush by sweeping it across a wet cotton pad.

Kohl eyeliner

Kohl eyeliner is traditionally used by dipping a stick applicator to a powder, and then dabbing along the waterline of the eyes. But today, it comes with waxy applicators that look like chubby crayons. It’s known in the beauty industry for its creaminess.

This type of eyeliner can be easily smudged, making it perfect for a smudged-out effect. It can help you create perfect smokey eyes, and it’s also easy to apply even to the waterline. Since it won’t cause your eyes to water so much, you don’t have to retrace your liners often.

Kajal eyeliner

Kajal eyeliners aren’t the creamy type – it’s like a dried-out marker. The non-creaminess poses a benefit over other eyeliners: smudge will be out of the question. This eyeliner won’t smudge even when applied in the waterline. Its formulation makes it last longer than other types of eyeliners.

If you use this eyeliner in itself, it won’t make a mark since it’s dry. You have to use a bit of water and it will write smoothly. Whether it’s a drop of water from the tip of your finger or the water from your waterline, your kajal eyeliner will work.

Popular Eyeliner Styles

There are a lot of eyeliner looks that can suit the style and aesthetic you are going for, but here are the most popular eyeliner styles:

1. Fine line

If you need eyeliner for a natural-looking makeup, a fine line will do. This is a thin line drawn right up against the upper lash line to subtly define the eyes.

2. Thick line

Not everyone likes a subtle makeup. A thick line starts with a fine line, only with additional layers. You may even want to take the eyeliner underneath the eyes for a rock and roll vibe.

3. Tight line

If you simply want to make your lashes appear fuller, a tight line will do. Use your pencil eyeliner to fill in the space just below your upper lash line and you’ve got a more defined lash line.

4. Winged out

A flick at the end of the line is a tried and tested way to spice up any makeup look.

5. Smudged out

A smudged out style works great for those who want to make their eyeliner messy, especially those who also use eyeshadow with eyeliner. Line your eyes with a gel or creamy pencil eyeliner, then smudge it out with a smudging brush and cotton swab.

6. Floating crease

This style is achieved by applying the eyeliner just above the crease to make a floating effect. This gives off an avant-garde makeup look. Just use an eyeliner that doesn’t smudge out easily for this trick to work.

Eyeliner Colors and Finishes

Though it’s not available in as many colors as the eyeshadow, eyeliners come in different hues and finishes to suit any makeup look.

  1. Black – Black is the most popular eyeliner color. It defines the eyes in a dark, bold, and highly noticeable way. It looks great on almost all makeup looks and works for every skin color. Black eyeliner blends great with mascara for additional definition.
  2. Brown – Brown gives great definition without being too harsh. It looks great for natural makeup looks. It works great as a primer for eyeshadow.
  3. White/Nude – These eyeliner colors can make eyes pop when worn on the lower waterline. It can give an appearance of larger, brighter eyes.
  4. Colorful – Colorful eyeliners are fun to use, and can complement both bright and neutral makeup looks.
  5. Metallic – Metallic finishes give off a shiny effect for a bolder definition.
  6. Matte – Offering a flat color, matte finish can usually be achieved with liquid eyeliners. Some may be too creamy to be fully matte, but they aren’t usually shiny.

Guide to Using Eyeliner

Here are some tips that can help you overcome your eyeliner frustrations and improve your tracing, retracing, and flicking.

1. Use a pencil if you’re a beginner

If you’re new to the eyeliner game, you may end up buying an eyeliner you are not ready to use. But for beginners, it’s always recommendable to use pencil eyeliner first because it’s the easiest to use, making it a great starting point for eyeliner beginners. A pencil glides on easily and is more forgiving when used by shaky hands compared to liquid or gel.

2. Take your time

If you rush applying your eyeliner, chances are you’ll mess something up. Take your time and be careful – you don’t want to accidentally get eyeliner on your other makeup, like blush or eyeshadow, and have to re-do it.

3. Use a tape

Getting a perfect winged eyeliner look doesn’t have to be a struggle anymore. You can use a small piece of eyeliner tape to use as a guide, and when you’re done, simply pull it away gently to reveal a perfectly straight line.

4. Do both eyes at the same time

If you do your eyeliner on one side, finish it, and start on another eye, most likely they won’t look the same. The other one is always longer or thicker than the other, and you will have to even them out. To make even applications, work on both eyes at the same time. For instance, if you draw a line outwards for a wing on the right eye, do it on the left eye first before moving on to the next step. This will help your work be more symmetrical in the end.

5. Layer your liners

Making a precise line and a perfectly flicked using a liquid liner takes some skill. If you lack the technique for making a perfect line, try to line your eye with a pencil liner first, then layer the liquid eyeliner on top. This technique also helps intensify your line without needing the skill of tracing precisely on a blank canvas.

6. Flick out, then connect

Cat eyes are challenging to make for the eyeliner beginner. To make it easier and less intimidating to do, start from the outside in. Place your eyeliner in the outer corner of the eye, and draw a wing up at the same angle as your lower lid. After that, trace a line along your upper lid and connect it to the wing.

7. Set your liner to avoid smudges

Have you ever given up on using eyeliner after seeing a smudged and streaked mess on your lid at the end of the day? Good news is there’s a simple fix. Just take a small amount of loose translucent powder on a fluffy eyeshadow brush. Apply it over to your liner to set, and it will keep it there – no more smudging.

8. Know how to clean up

Even the makeup pros don’t trace a perfect line every time. If you mess up a little bit and make a mistake, reach for a cotton swab with a pointed end and dip it into micellar water or a bit of makeup remover to swipe away any mistakes. You may also use a little bit of full coverage concealer to cover any eyeliner that went out of the lines.

9. Go for a nude eyeliner to conceal tired eyes

If you got tired eyes due to lack of sleep or any other reason, take a nude eyeliner pencil and trace your bottom waterline lightly. The nude color will help open up your eye and make it look like you got eight hours of sleep. Using a white liner may only emphasize any redness in your eyes.

10. Clench your toes

You may think, “How does doing something with my toes help my eyeliner game?” Before we lose you, read on – if your hands are annoyingly shaky, just clench your toes. It keeps your hands steady, apparently.