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How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner

By Edited Oct 2, 2016 3 0

Eyeliner has been used for decades and is beloved of many celebrities. Some women are a little frightened to experiment while still longing for the look. With new formulations and ways of application it is easier than ever to apply which is why it’s enjoying a surge in popularity.

And no wonder – when applied properly it can open up your eyes and make them the focus of your face. But it’s easy to get it wrong – it can go smudgy or flaky and then it’s not such a good look.

Here is a step by step guide to putting on eyeliner for a wow factor.

Prepare your palette

Perfect eyeliner
All make up needs a good base and eyelids are no exception. In fact, it’s extra important to prepare lids. Many women find it difficult to prevent eye shadow or eyeliner from just sliding off their eyelids. This gets worse with age as hormonal changes can increase the oiliness. So how do you avoid this problem?

First, cleanse your eyelids to remove any oil that is already there. Then use a very light moisturiser on them. This will help to even out the skin of the eyelid.

Now it’s time to apply your primer. Give it a few minutes to dry thoroughly and then you’re ready to apply your eye makeup.

Eye Shadow

Mila Kunis
If you’re going to be wearing eye shadow with your eyeliner, put this on first. Even if you’re not going to wear coloured eye shadow, it’s a good idea to put on some skin coloured shadow, just to even out your skin tone.

As with foundation, many women find it hard to choose a nude eye shadow that completely matches their skin.

One way round this is to buy a palette of nude shades, choose a couple that are the best match and blend, blend, blend.

See how Mila Kunis has kept all of her face, including her eyelids, in natural shades. This really makes her beautifully eyelined eyes stand out.


Now the big moment has arrived. You’re ready to put on your eyeliner. First, you need to ask yourself what kind of a look you're aiming for.

If you're going out, is it to an elegant event or a club with strobe lights where you can go mad with colours and effects...

Day Wear

If it’s for the day, it’s generally better to go with a softer, less dramatic look that still enhances your eyes. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use pen type eyeliner.

stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, Intense Black
Amazon Price: $22.00 $20.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2016)
These are much easier to apply than the brush kind and are an ideal way to start out using eyeliner.

To make application easier, first get yourself a decent mirror and ideally sit with the light behind you. This will illuminate your eyes in the mirror and stop you squinting. It's virtually impossible to put eyeliner on with your eyes half closed or squeezed shut against glaring light.

Sitting comfortably, rest your elbow on the table to make your hand as steady as possible. Move your head back slightly as this will have the effect of closing your eyelids slightly - without scrunching them up. If you feel as if your eyelid is still creasing a little, use your other hand to pull your eyelid smooth from the outer edge. Do this gently as the skin around your eyes is very thin and the last thing you want to do is encourage wrinkles. It may feel odd to begin with but the more you do it the easier it will become.

Subtle eyeliner
For a great ‘day’ look, try dotting between your eyelashes with the fine pen applicator. This will give the illusion of darker, thicker eyelashes without the dramatic sweep of full on eyeliner.

For this look, avoid a thick line as this can make your eye look smaller and we’re after a wide open, awake look. Put on a little bit at a time. It's easier to add more but more difficult if you have to take it off and start again. Especially if you're in a hurry to get to work!

Using white eyeliner to open up your eye

To enhance your eyes, a very old make up trick is to line your waterline with white pencil.

This really has the effect of opening your eyes up and making them look bigger. It also makes the eyeliner on the top lid look darker, so it stands out more.


Night Wear

Go a little wild at night!
This is where you can really have some fun with your eyeliner and go as dramatic as you dare. Prepare your eyelids in the same way as for daywear.

Many women like to start their evening look eyeliner in the same way as the day look – i.e. dotting between the lashes. This makes the roots of your eyelashes look darker and will make your eyeliner look even more dramatic.

Now you can start drawing your line. You may find it feels awkward at first – and it’s a good idea to practice a few times. It's not a good idea to try and put in on when you're rushing against the clock, especially when you’re starting out.

If you want a full on look, start your line at the inner corner of your eye (by your nose) and carefully but firmly draw the pen or brush along the edge of your lid to the outer side. Once you become more used to doing this, you can increase the pressure as you go, so that the line becomes thicker as you go.

How to do The Flick

Nicole Richie
This look has become very popular as it is a great way to make your eyes look bigger. Another trick when doing ‘the flick’ is to apply coloured eyeshadow in the same way as Nicole Richie (or, let's face it, her make up artist) has done here.

See how the coloured shadow has been used in the socket of Nicole's eyes, echoing the flick of her eyeliner.

Like Mila Kunis, the rest of Nicole's make up has been kept natural to allow her emphasised eyes to take cantre stage.

Even her hair and earrings are simple, so that nothing detracts. And with eyes that colour, who can blame Nicole for wanting them to be the main focus.

Kat Von D

Kat Von D is a master at eyeliner in all of its' forms. These pictures show the effect of how she's put on her eyeliner. Kat has started the line mid eyelid and taken it upwards, thickening the line as she goes.With her eye shut, the look is sultry and alluring.



See how she has cleverly thinned the line right down as it swoops outward and upward at her outer eye.

When Kat's eye is open, you can see how the thin line now looks like another - longer - eyelash.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner Trooper 0.55 ml/0.019 oz
Amazon Price: $22.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2016)
You can also use this popular eyeliner to draw on tattoes!

Pen or Brush?

A pen eyeliner is an easy one to start with. Once you’ve mastered that, you may like to move on to a brush applicator. Kat Von D's eyeliner is a brush but has been designed to paint on a line as fine as a pen. Again, it’s down to personal preference, how easy you find it to apply and if it achieves the look you’re after.

Help - I've smudged!

If you’re practicing at home, simply dip a cotton tip in eye makeup remover and carefully erase the bits you don’t want.

If you’re wearing eyeliner on a night out, it’s a good idea to invest in an eye make up remover pen which is easy to slip into your purse for a quick repair job.

Revlon Eye Makeup Eraser Pen .06 fl oz (1.8 ml)
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2016)

I wear contact lenses...can I still wear liquid eyeliner?

If the thought of eyeliner under your lenses has put you off the idea of wearing it, don’t worry! The thinking used to be that you had to wear water soluble eyeliner or mascara in case a flake got into your eye and drove you nuts. Red watering eyes are not a good look.
Make up formulation has come a long way and as long as you shop carefully, you can find an eyeliner that is waterproof enough to stay put but also suitable for contact lens wearers.

Eyeliner Tips

  • Some makeup artists advise you to start with a good quality eyeliner as they are generally easier to apply and give a more professional end result. However, there’s nothing wrong with starting off with a budget buy to practice with – until you decide if eyeliner really is for you. An argument in favour of this is that if you can master a good look with a less expensive version, then using a pricier one will be a breeze!
  • You might like to try putting your mascara on before your eyeliner. This is especially true if you’re using a brush applicator as you can rest the brush on your lashes. This helps to stop the liquid from smudging.
  • When you’ve finished making up your eyes, dust a little transluscent powder under your eyes. This makes clean up easier as any tiny flakes will sit on the powder and not on your skin or foundation.
  • Holding the liner wand closer to the tip will give you more control over it.

If you’re wearing false eyelashes of any kind, it’s generally easier to put these on first before applying eyeliner. That way, you can use the eyeliner to fill in any gaps.

The more proficient you become at putting on your lashes, the less filling in you’ll need.



Adele's eyes show how false eyelashes and eyeliner make a great combination. In the picture above, she keeps the rest of her make up natural like Mila and Nicole but usually prefers to wear a bright lipstick to balance her eyes and mouth.

This gives an entirely different look. Along with her classic hairstyle and diamond earrings, Adele is going for glamour here. I think she nailed it, don't you?

Which colour of liquid eyeliner should I go for?

Black is the out and out favourite. It gives the most dramatic look and is ideal for evening wear. For day wear, you may like to try brown or grey. These can give a natural look and yet still enhance your eyes. They also look softer if you have a paler complexion or blonde hair.

For nightwear, you can go crazy with dark colour and mix in some metallics.

blinc Liquid Eyeliner, Brown
Amazon Price: $26.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2016)

I can't get my eyes to look like pictures in magazines...

Beautiful eyeliner
Don’t forget, the beautiful eyes perfectly lined and made up that you see in magazines have taken a very long time to create. They’ve spent days searching for the model with the prettiest eyes. A professional makeup artist with years of experience and the best cosmetics money can buy has spent hours creating the look.

Then a professional photographer has set up the shot with perfect lighting and taken a lot of photographs.

The Beauty Editor will have spent ages looking at each photo cell on a light box to choose the very best shot out of hundreds.

Once the winning shot has been chosen, tiny imperfections will have been airbrushed out.

I'm not trying to discourage you at all - just pointing out the reality of the situation. Having said that, there's absolutely nothing to stop you making the most of what you have.

Practice, practice practice! Don’t expect to get it right first time, or second time...no one does so don't feel bad if it takes you a few attempts. Just keep going until it feels easy and natural and you achieve the look you want. You'll be glad you did - the end results will be worth it!

Most of all – have fun!



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