Makeup » How to Apply Eyeliner to Get the Perfect Flick

How to Apply Eyeliner to Get the Perfect Flick

This post may contain affiliate links.

Eyes are the window to the soul, and eyeliner is the curtain; the strategic frame around a masterpiece painting. Beauty is an ambiguous, multidimensional, and eternally versatile universe. Within this universe there are few constants. Eyeliner is one of these constants, a foundational makeup product that orbits through the beauty universe creating definition and intrigue in one strategic flick.

Eyeliners are a vital inclusion to your makeup bag, and today, we will introduce you to the best tips and tricks on how to apply eyeliner effectively and flawlessly.

In this article:

The Basic Application Method

When you are equipped with your luxurious and lusted-after new collection of eyeliners, it is time to apply like a pro to put your best face forward. Eyeliner intimidates many women because of the potential for disaster when misapplied. When broken down into manageable steps, a flawless eyeliner look can be achieved.

The trick is patience and a steady hand! Sharp, crooked lines can create a harsh and unflattering appearance so the foundation of a successful eyeliner look is symmetry.

Step 1: Prepping Your Eyes

  • Prepping your eyes is a necessary, and overlooked, step. Ensure you apply under-eye moisturizer to create a hydrated and smooth base for the eye products to follow.
  • Allow the moisturizer to sink in, and then follow up with a layer of under-eye concealer. This will create a flawless and even base for your eye makeup.
  • You can always apply more product after you apply your eyeliner. We caution against putting moisturizer on your eyelids, as this will exacerbate the natural oiliness and minimize your eyeliner’s staying power.
  • There is a reason that eyeliner creases and runs: did you know that the eyelids are the greasiest part of the face? A prepping powder applied to the lid will ensure that your eyeliner will stand up to the forces of nature.
  • We are fans of placing a weightless setting powder to lock the concealer in. Avoid heavy or dry setting powders in the delicate under-eye area, though.

Step 2: Tightline

To avoid the beady eye look that can be a consequence of heavily applied eyeliner, try the tightlining technique! It is the best ‘invisible’ technique that will create muted and understated definition.

Carefully draw your eyeliner along the inner edge of the eyelid, between the eyelash line and eye itself. Because this is a sensitive area, ensure you use an ophthalmologist-tested product. Dab it on gently to minimize dragging.

Step 3: Build It up Layer by Layer

Balance your arm on a surface and tilt your head upward to create an optimal angle for your eyeliner application. This will set you up for success. The true foundation of effective eyeliner application? Patience!

Eyeliner is designed to be buildable. Begin with thin, delicate lines around the lash line. You can build a progressively thicker look as you go. Beginning with lighter strokes will ensure your expectations are brought to life.

Close your eyelid and hold your lid taut with your non-dominant hand. A gently taut eyelid will allow for a cleaner eyeliner application.

To create a coherent and even look, draw small dots on the edge of the eyelid, the middle of the lash line, and the inner corner. This connect-the-dot method will give you a map by which to guide further application. This slow and steady approach will ensure you get the look right the first time.

Scotch tape can be an innovative tool in the creation of your best eyeliner look. Tap the tape against your arm to remove some of the stickiness. Apply a few millimeters above the eyelash line and then trace in the area under. This will create an even horizontal ridge that follows your lash line effortlessly.

Eyeliner Makeup Tips: How to Apply Eyeliner

Step 4: Customize

Begin with a symmetrical line that hugs your lash line. Once this initial layer has been applied, you can experiment with a cat eye or winged liner. Allowing your base eyeliner to dry will prevent smudging and stains.

The beauty of eyeliner? It is customizable. There is no one size, or one shade, fits all approach. You can create the subtlest of lines or create a forceful impact with layers of kohl.

Allow yourself room to customize and experiment with your preferred density and intensity. Remember that the more pressure you apply, the thicker and deeper the line will be.

Step 5: Create a Dream Cat Eye

Applying a perfect, symmetrical cat eye can seem like a tall order for novices. But that need not be the case. Creating a beautifully sculpted cat eye is achievable. It just requires the ability to work with the natural shape of your eye.

A line should extend with a slight horizontal uplift from the edge of your lash line. For a more dramatic upward flick, we recommend using a spoon under the eye to illuminate the perfect shape. Use the handle of a curved spoon to allow you to trace out a natural looking line. Map out the line with a thin line of eyeliner in the event that the shape is not immediately desirable.

In the quest for the perfect cat eye, the scotch tape stenciling technique has been making the rounds in the beauty stratosphere. Create a triangle at the outer corner of your eye with two criss-cross pieces of tape.

The lower piece should be placed directly under your lower lash line and end parallel to the end of your eyebrow. The upper portion of tape should tilt slightly upward while remaining reasonably aligned with your iris. Fill in the intersection with your liner for a perfectly triangular look. A more dramatic tilt will create a new wave wing, while a smaller tilt will be more understated.

Another easy technique of applying eyeliner to create a cat eye is the business card hack! Line a business card slightly diagonally against the end of your eye. Trace the liner along the ridge of the card to create a straight and crisp line.

Step 6: Apply Your Under Eyeliner

Apply your under-eye eyeliner (should you desire) with a light hand. Line on the waterline or slightly under the eyelash line, depending on the look you want to achieve.

A tightline will create alluring bedroom eyes, especially when paired with a smudged kohl. A line traced under the lash line will create a doe-eyed doll effect.

Step 7: Use Your Tools

Q-tips will be your friend throughout the eyeliner application process. They are easy and cheap tools that will aid you in creating the perfect smokey eye, and they are also your best defence in maintaining a smooth and symmetrical eyeliner look.

Dip your Q-tip in moisturizer, water, or primer to remove excess product or unintentional mishaps.

How to Apply Kohl Eyeliner

A perfect kohl eyeliner application begins with a sharpened tip. Ensure you are regularly sharpening your eye pencil for a more precise application. It need not be sharp or overtly pointed, but should be defined enough that you can target your application. A dull pencil will drag on your eyelids and create an uneven line.

Trace your eye along the lash line to enhance the natural shape of your eye. A thinner line will create a subtler style, while a thicker line will create a moodier and sexier bedroom eye.

Kohl eyeliner is our favorite choice for the construction of a decadently smokey eye. A Q-tip or eyeliner brush will help you in tapering out the line and creating a luscious and organic gradient.

Apply a thick dose and muss it up with a brush for a rocker girl appeal or apply a medium brown color for a softer wash of color. We love a light brown color for an everyday look, and a midnight black kohl for a daring evening look.

How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner

Patience may be your biggest ally in the quest for stellar eyes. Liquid eyeliner is user-friendly – it just requires a lighter hand. A felt-tip liquid eyeliner is particularly approachable.

Begin from the inner corner of your eye and create light brush strokes towards the outer corner. If you have close-set eyes, begin at the inner lash line as opposed to the deep inner corners.

Create a gentle tracing of color. Let the first layer dry before applying a second coat. Liquid eyeliner has a reputation of being messy but this is only the case when you don’t provide the product amply drying time.

To create a perfectly flicked eyeliner look, draw a guiding dot about 3 to 5 mm upwards toward the end of your eyebrow. This will provide guidance and allow you to trace a more even line. Look down slightly and raise your eyebrows for a subtle tautness.

Tips For Applying Eyeliner Right

How to Apply Gel and Cream Eyeliner

A brush is an absolute necessity in the application of gel products. An angled brush will serve your purposes best. Remember to dip the brush into the gel and dab a bit off on a piece of cloth to keep the color consistent. Ensure you are closing the lid on your gel whenever it is not in use, as these formulas have the tendency to dry out.

An eyelid primer will keep your natural oils in check and will ensure staying power. Use light dashes to apply the gel eyeliner to the lash line. The key is using a sparse amount of product and building up where necessary. Excessive gel can be goopy and cakey and will promote smudging.

Cream eyeliner can be applied similarly to its gel counterpart. Because it is on the softer and more malleable side, it is a sound idea to use less product for the first round of applications. Let the product dry, and apply a second coat. Smudge it out lightly for a smokier look with a Q-tip or eyeliner brush.

How to Apply Shadow Eyeliner

Prep your eyes to ensure the easy removal of excess product! Makeup artists swear by placing translucent powder under the eyes to enable easy removal of fallout. Even a light swath of face powder under the eye will be effective should spare flecks of powder migrate as you apply the thinly milled shadow eyeliner.

Use a dry or damp eyeliner brush to dab on your eyeshadow liner. We love this format because it can be lusciously subtle or daringly bold.

Eyeshadow liner looks best when concentrated on the lash line, particularly on and below the lower lash line. Avoid your water lines and inner eyes.

For a comprehensive structured look, eyeshadow eyeliner is best paired with a kohl pencil or gel eyeliner.

Applying Eyeliner According to Your Eye Shape

Your eye shape should not dictate your look but should be considered a guiding star in choosing the best formula for your face. Almond shaped eyes benefit from softer, creamier blends that can smudge and play up the natural contours of the eye. Smaller eyes benefit from a smokey shadow eyeliner. Round eyes are flexible and can be defined effectively with liquid formulas.

Read on for our specific eyeliner application techniques!

How to Apply Eyeliner for Almond Shaped Eyes

If the inner and outer corners of your eyes are at the same level, then you have almond shaped eyes. A thick and smokey eye perfectly complements almond shaped eyes.

To accentuate your eye shape, draw a thin line from the inner corner out to the very edge. Extend the line slightly beyond the edge of your eye to create an alluring and wide-eyed appeal.

Women with almond eyes are lucky because they have room to be flexible in their eyeliner application techniques. For a twist on the traditional shape, try a multi colored flick. Add on a jewel-toned shade for a hit of unexpected and whimsical color.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Hooded Eyes

If you have a more prominent eyelid that hangs over your eyes slightly, you have what is considered a hooded eye. While the configuration of your eyelid may create the appearance of smaller eyes, eyeliner can create the illusion of roundness.

Creating a thick black line that covers a large portion of your lash line will create an intriguing and mesmerizing effect. This all-over liner look is daring and sexy and will create an intriguing bedroom eye appearance.

Begin by applying your eyeliner from the outside in to ensure that your flick extends past the hood, revealing the liner. Maintain a steady hand as you sculpt the perfect line, moving patiently towards your inner eye.

Flick your eyeliner out in a dramatic cat eye to create an elongated and uplifted eye. A subtler wing will be an understated way of playing up your natural eye shape.

Draw a thin line under your eyes to achieve a harmonious balance but concentrate the color on the upper lash line.

Keep the waterline along your lower lashes clear of product and limit the eyeliner to a subtle wash along your lower lashes. A tightline waterline effect will exacerbate the tired-eye tendencies that hooded eyes can fall victim to.

Top off the look with a curled lash for a wide-eyed and dazzling look.

How to Remove Eyeliner

How to Apply Eyeliner for Deep Set Eyes

If the distance between your two eyes is larger than one eye’s width, you have deep set eyes. To create the illusion of eyes that are closer together, accentuate the inner corner of your eyes with a thick treatment of eyeliner or an application of dazzling pigment.

Create a dense line around your top and bottom lash line but avoid flicking the eye liner past the outer corner. Apply mascara on bottom lashes and subtly brush them towards the nose to create the optical illusion of closer set eyes.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Round Eyes

If you have round, large eyes, you can use eyeliner to accentuate or minimize the natural shape of your eye. Rimming the lower lash line under the lashes will create a doe-eyed, ultra-feminine look. But round eyes are not destined to be wide-eyed and cutesy.

Begin by applying a cream eyeliner with an angled brush. Trace along your lash line, adding extra thickness as you go. A smokey look will ensure that your eyes are expressive without being disproportionate.

For a crisper look, use a liquid eyeliner and lengthen your eyes to create a cat eye look with a flicked out wing.

A square tipped edge is an unexpected geometrical hack that will create a boxier look with a cool abstract overtone. Smudge the pigment for a sultrier style. A jet-black eyeliner can also soften the appearance of wide eyes by making the eyes appear seductively narrower.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Smaller Eyes

Small-eyed women may want to use their eyeliner to create the illusion of having wider eyes. A double wing is a brilliant beauty hack that will create a bright-eyed appearance.

Paint on a line along the upper lash line and angle it outwards to create a sweet flick. On the bottom lash line, use an eyeliner pencil or angled brush to create a line just under the lower lash line. Extend the line past the outer corner for a lower wing.

Pat in some concealer or sheer eyeshadow between the two lines to create an appealing contrast. The hit of shimmer will brighten your style, and the two lines will create the impression of a larger set of eyes.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Monolid Eyes

If you have monolid eyes, i.e. eyes that don’t feature the natural crease, a thicker eyeliner application will be the most flattering. Cover your eyes in a swath of dark eyeliner. The key is to apply enough that you can see it peek through when your eyes are open.

A symmetrical wing will create a brighter, wide-eyed look. A liquid liner will be the ideal product through which to create this look.

Begin tracing the line in the middle eyelid, right above the pupil. Create small flecks outward and then fill them in progressively.

Makeup artists advise that heavy crease lining, in an effort to create a larger look, can be too harsh in day-to-day life and should be reserved for evening wear or dim lighting environments.

Brightly colored liners are a perfect and playful way of flattering a monolid eye. A pop of blue or orange liner brightens the eye and draws attention to the lids.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Elongated Eyes

Elongated eyes can be skillfully crafted to maximum effect. To widen your eyes, draw a petite and angled line away and upwards from the outer corner of your eye.

Utilize a white eyeliner along the lash line and waterline of your lower lashes to create a luminous and wide-eyed look.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Close Set Eyes

If you have close set eyes, you will want to create the illusion of a bit more distance with eyeliner. Use lighter shades in the corner of your eye to brighten your peepers and create a gradient look.

A dark brown in the center of the lash line should taper out into a jet-black color. Raise the flick slightly to create the illusion of length and draw attention to the outer corner of your eyes.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Upturned Eyes

If you have upturned eyes, you want to accentuate your alluring natural shape with eyeliner. Draw a thin line around your eye and connect this line with an artistically designed cat eye. This will accentuate the beauty of your seductive shape.

The benefit of this eye shape is that you can experiment with a super thin or thick bottom lash line, as both applications will flatter your natural eye shape.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Downturned Eyes

For women with downturned eyes, you must strategically manage the thickness of your liner. Create a thin line near the inner eye and paint it progressively thicker towards the outer edge of your eye. Extend the flick past your eye, and ever so slightly angle it upwards to create the illusion of wider eyes.

Angle the eyeliner upwards toward your crease to create the illusion of upturned eyes. Because of the natural downward shape of the eye, we encourage women with downturned eyes to exaggerate the flick upwards for the most flattering look.

A sheer shimmer concentrated along the upper eyeliner line can further open and widen your eyes. Coat your upper lashes and keep the waterline clean to maintain the fresh-eyed appearance.

How to Apply Eyeliner for Eyes with Crow’s Feet

Women with wrinkles should not be deterred from wearing eyeliner – they just need to be more attentive to creating a soft, non-harsh, look.

Begin coating your eyelid and crow’s feet with an eyelid primer to set the stage for a beautiful canvas. We would recommend avoiding black eyeliners and refraining from liquid eyeliners, as they can appear harsh. Gels and softer creams will glide on and create a more delicate look.

Pat it on to avoid dragging and begin in the inner corner of your eye. Create a thin line to avoid an exaggerated look. For a cat eye, keep the wing at an upward angle so it doesn’t settle in the lines at the outer corners of your eyes.

How to Remove Eyeliner Without Harming Your Eyes

No matter how gorgeous and flawless your eyeliner flick has ended up looking, it’s always important to remove your eyeliner, just like the rest of your makeup, at the end of the day, before going to bed. To remove eyeliner without harming your eyes, here you have the most foolproof steps to follow:

  • Get the best eye makeup remover to suit your skin type, as this is the most basic and quickest way of removing eyeliner. While cleansing water is great for taking off liquid liner, for waterproof products, turn to oil-based makeup removers.
  • Use a cotton pad saturated with the makeup remover and press it against each eye for 20 seconds, acting gently and trying not to scrub in order to avoid pulling off lashes. Using downward strokes, remove your eyeliner completely, and then wash your face using the best cleanser for your skin type.
  • Alcohol- and fragrance-free facial wipes are good not only for removing your entire makeup, but also taking off eyeliner. Without tugging or pulling your skin, wipe along your eyelid outwards to remove any eyeliner residue. Again finish off with a fresh cleanser.
  • If you prefer natural products, turn to natural oils to take off your eyeliner, whether it’s coconut oil, jojoba oil or olive oil. They are especially great for removing waterproof eyeliner. Apply the oil to your eyelid with your fingertips and gently message a few seconds to make the eyeliner melt. Use a cotton pad to wipe off the dirty oil from your eyes. Cleanse your skin, and you are good to go!
  • Petroleum jelly is another universal product used in the beauty world. It acts as a great eyeliner remover, of course, if it’s a quality one coming from a trusted brand. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on your cotton pad and gently wipe away any eye makeup. Wash your face with a cleanser to take off any remaining eyeliner and petroleum jelly residue from your eyes.
Best Eyeliners: Liquid, Gel, Pencil, Kohl, Cream Liners

Extra Eyeliner Makeup Tips and Hack for the Perfect Flick

Now that we have perfected the basics of eyeliner application, let’s dive into the depths of expertise. These eyeliner tips and tricks will take your new flick to fantasy proportions.

Prepping for Eyeliner Application

  • To avoid a waxy texture put your eye pencil in the freezer for a minute prior to sharpening. This will create a more precise and stiletto sharp line.
  • Translucent powder centered around your crease will prevent the accumulation of a dark shadow over your eyes and will create a fresh, just applied look all day.

Eyeliner Application Tips

  • A solid rule of thumb is to keep the lower lash line ⅓ of the thickness of your upper lash line. This will create an alluring and natural appearance.
  • Instead of one monoline, the most successful way to create a flawless line is to create a series of dots and dashes and then connect them once dried. This technique is particularly applicable for liquid eyeliners, which can be hard to execute perfectly in one go.
  • While you are welcome to lift your eyelids taut by placing a finger gently on the upper eyelid, avoid pulling on the skin around the outer corner of the eye. This region of skin is sensitive and can be susceptible to wrinkles.
  • Black or dark brown eyeshadow can be layered over a pencil eyeliner application for a denser and more forceful effect.
  • Line your eyes with pencil before applying liquid eyeliner if you are a newbie to the makeup world. The pencil will offer you a map on which to create your perfect liquid line.

Eyeliner Re-Application Tips

  • When re-applying eyeliner, ¾ of your application time should be spent looking directly into the mirror. Excessive tugging and pulling your eyes taut when reapplying will promote creasing and smudging.
  • Blotting papers can be used on your eyelid to remove the natural buildup of oil and creasing that will accumulate throughout the day.
  • A double-sided vanity mirror will allow you to create precise lines and avoid mistakes or misjudgement. Always look down toward the mirror.
  • Concealer can be your weapon of choice on the go when you confront eyeliner smudges. Just pat on a high-coverage concealer and dab until blended to cover the offending smudges.
  • Use a makeup primer for smudges and flaws. Makeup remover can be too aggressive and may end up removing far more of the product than intended. Makeup removers have oils, which will impede reapplication as well.
Eyeliner Makeup Tips & Hacks

Other Eyeliner Makeup Hacks

  • Grey and white eyeliner should be included in your beauty arsenal! They both work to create a brighter and wide-awake look. Rim the waterline or the lash line to create a luminous and dazzling eye look. Lining your lower lash line with a nude or white eyeliner will also help you fake a wide-awake look on days where you would rather be sleeping.
  • For a quick hit of color, draw your liquid eyeliner on, eschewing patience and rules, and then dab on petroleum jelly to soften the look and eliminate any harsh lines or deviations.
  • Clear lip gloss can be used to remove unsightly eyeliner smudges in a pinch! Dab some onto a Q-tip to remove imperfections fast!
  • The lazy girl technique du jour? Apply a pencil or kohl liner along the rim of your eyelash curler. While you curl your lashes, a light line will be stamped along your lash line. While the final product will rarely be perfect, it is an easy way to get the first draft line down, or when you’re in a hurry!
  • Place a business card diagonally against the outer edge of the eye to help you trace an even and symmetrical cat eye. Just trace against the edge of the card.
  • Want to experiment with a gel or creamy eyeliner but have nothing but an old pencil liner lying around? Heat up the tip by hovering it over a lighter to soften the eyeliner. The result? A smooth consistency that will mimic the feel of gel eyeliner!
  • For a multidimensional and luminous look, try an ombre look. Concentrate lighter nude and white colors toward your inner eye and taper it out with a darker color in the mid-eyelid. Add a hit of black to the outer edges to create a vibrant look. Added bonus? This ombre eyeliner technique will mimic the appearance of almond eyes.
  • For a sassy and smudged smokey eye, draw a hashtag shape with your eye pencil and then blend it out with an eyeshadow brush or sponge.
  • In a real pinch? Dab some mascara on your eyeliner brush and dab along your lash line for an extra dose of pigment and lusciousness.
  • When donning a jewel-toned eyeliner, ensure that you are still rimming the waterline or lash line with a thin hit of brown or black liner. This will ensure definition. Pastel eyeliner colors can wash out your eyes without the structure of a darker line.

Photos via @_joanh, Instagram