Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Beauty Discovered

Makeup & Beauty Tips on How to Apply Gel Eyeliner

Share your best tips and tricks for applying gel eyeliner!  Feel free to share your first experiences, how you’ve grown, what you’ve learned, and what, ultimately, you found most helpful in learning how to apply gel eyeliner.  (And if you haven’t conquered it, hopefully some of these tips will help you get there!)

Temptalia’s Tips

  1. The applicator is important!  My preference is for a very thin, angled brush (I like MAC’s 208)  The thinner brush allows me to do both thin and thicker lines.
  2. Look up to see how close the eyeliner is to your lash line, because ultimately, you want to the eyeliner to get between the lashes, too, for a very solid, crisp line.
  3. If your hands are unsteady, try stabilizing yourself by resting your elbow on a flat surface.

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53 thoughts on “How to Apply Gel Eyeliner – Tips & Tricks

  1. With any eyeliner, if I’m doing a more complex or dramatic look, I like to “sketch” it out using an eyeshadow or light liner so I have a guide.

    For gel in particular, I try to make sure as little liner as possible’s on the brush, so I clean it in between strokes in order to avoid any over-application disasters. I’d much rather take a long time applying and have it perfect in one go than have to reapply ten times over out of frustration.

  2. r0saL1n3

    Temptalia’s tip number 1: the applicator is important! For non-expensive brush, I love the Sonia kashuk’s bent eyeliner brush at Target (did I spell her name right?). It is awesome. I use to have a hard time seeing when I try to line my eyes or tightline. I love love this brush. I buy extras of this brush because I end up giving it away to friends and families when we “play” with our makeup. Haha. Love this brush!

  3. -I always like to start in the middle of the lash line or outer edge instead of from the inner corner outward. Initially, your brush holds the most amount of product, so depositing it there first avoids getting the line too thick in the inner corner area.
    -I don’t know if this works for anyone else, but I actually hold my breath as I drag the line into the inner corner; it makes the line more smooth! Weird trick, I know.
    -If you have slightly wrinkly lids like me, you can gently pull your lid up to make sure you don’t do a jagged line. This is less harsh than pulling out the skin at the outer corner (that causes crows feet too).

    Hope my tips help someone xx

  4. GG

    My problem is–how do you clean the brush immediately after use, especially when you’re off somewhere. I’ve wiped down with MAC brush cleaner and a napkin but the next day it’s stiff and still coated in liner….do I need to deep clean after each use?

    • Are you just wiping once? I’d probably wipe it down a little more. I actually will just wash my brush quickly with water and brush cleanser (or baby shampoo) – takes the same amount of time as wiping it on a paper towel. Brush cleanser will foam a little and works out all the product!

    • mirian

      Ditto to what christine said. I will just quickly rinse it with baby shampoo or brush shampoo if I have some. It’s much easier and quicker to do than with bigger brushes. if you don’t want to do it right after, do it before you go to bed. That’s usually when i just spritz mine with brush cleaner as a ritual anyway

    • lilly04

      I clean the pencile just with soap, sometimes with make up remover and after that with soap,because some gel liners don´t like soap. I don´t use brush cleanser.

    • xamyx

      You can try wiping it with eye makeup remover, or a light oil, but make sure you wash it fully later that same day.

    • Sara

      A quick dry product like Brush Off or Naimie’s brush cleaner is what I use for daily cleaning and do a deep cleaning when I have time to let the brushes dry.

    • Quinctia

      I’ve had good luck by just wiping the excess onto the back of my hand–just have to remember to wash my hand before it gets too set. Then it’s easier to wash the brush later.

  5. mirian

    I also use a mac 208 brush! I always applied wet eyeshadow with a flat brush and when i was older i discovered gel eyeliner and this amazing mac brush. Steady hand, close the the lash line, fill between lashes if possible. Also CLEAN BRUSH DAILY. It keeps it hygienic, crisp, and gentle application.

  6. I find a longer brush with some flex easier than an angled brush. MAC 209 is my fav. The natural ‘spring’ in the brush provides momentum to follow through with the stroke in a straight line. I started using this method when I saw artists using extremely long thin brushes to do detail line work on resin dolls.

  7. I like to “press, pull and roll” with my brush while looking up. You press the loaded eyeliner brush to your eye then pull it along the upper water line, making sure your waterline is truly grabbing the product, then you roll up into the lashes as a guide, but at an angle with the thin of the brush in between. do this in short meaning full strokes.

  8. I agree with the applicator as well! My favorites are the Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush, and Bdellium 760. I’ve tried MAC 208 but it doesn’t work as well for me.

    Some other tips:
    1. For a steady hand, try to rest your pinky on your cheek.
    2. Make sure the brush is well coated with the gel liner. You don’t want an excess of product, but make sure there is enough. If there isn’t, it’s harder to create a crisp line. If you have to go back several times, you’re more prone to making mistakes.
    3. When all else fails, go over the line with a black eyeshadow and pencil brush. It hides a multitude of sins and that’s what I did when I started out!

    • Marisa

      Totally agree about the Bobbi Brown brush – love that it’s a little more robust while still being so soft and versatile. I use it almost exclusively at this point.

      • I own two! That tells you how much I love this thing :) I think it’s very convenient because you can choose to use the point for a thin line or lie it down for a thick one. I have monolids and I tend to wear my liner quite thick. That’s why MAC 208 didn’t work so well for me (too much building up to do)!

  9. stephanie

    I love MAC’s 208 for eyeliner! It’s HG for me!

  10. I like eco tools angled eyeliner brush .

  11. bdellium Tools 760T/760 in the travel/studio is my favorite brush for lining EVER!

    • Ellen

      Oh my god this is my favorite brush for gel liner too! Plus, you can’t beat that price! It’s the only brush I can do a neat cat eye with.

  12. Noelle

    I prefer using a fine liner brush, my fav is the Sigma E10. I usually stabilize my hand on my face and look sligtly down when I draw the line on my upper lashline.

  13. I’d really love to see a video how you do your gel eyeliner, Christine!

  14. Jennifer

    I have really shaky hands whenever I try to do things like gel eyeliner and resting my arm on a tabletop or counter doesn’t help and neither does resting my hand on my face so I work in little tiny strokes. I find that this makes for a better line anyway because I can be super precise and also helps when doing eyeliner on other people.

  15. Lauren

    I have an EcoTools angled brush which looks like the 208 and is pretty good (particularly for lining under the eye) but my FAVORITE eyeliner brush is the liner brush that is included with the Tarte Call of the Wild gel liner. It’s double ended. The handle itself is bent at one end and the brush is perfect for drawing a winged line on your upper lid. The other side is straight and great for lining under the eye.

  16. xamyx

    I love my Posh angled eyeliner brush (available at Bed, Bath, & Beyond). It’s really inexpensive, and extremely dense, yet thin.

    I actually pick up a bit of product on my brush (or a spatula), and wipe it on the back of my hand. This way, I’m not keeping the jar open, and I’m not contaminating the product by dipping my brush in the pot several times. By doing both of these things, I’m prolonging the life of the product. The only issue with this, is you have to work pretty fast. However, since less product tends to be picked up on the brush each time, it’s actually alot easier.

  17. Alexandria

    I feel like a ditz often because while I can work with gel liner and make a lovely line it feels absolutely unnatural when I work on myself. I’m one for liquid liners with brush tips, it is by far the easiest for me.

    After a ton of trial and error though I found bent liner brushes and me are not friends- but very fine liner brushes are alright but that bend is like out to ruin me.

  18. Jennifer

    This will probably sound really strange, but my preferred method of applying gel liner – especially on the waterlines – is to take a sharpened eyeliner pencil and dip it into the gel liner pot, then apply it like a (super-smooth!) pencil. It’s really neat and tidy (no brushes to clean) and it makes a really sharp, crisp line.

  19. Anna

    I use the business card trick (only I use whatever piece of stiff paper I have on hand): I place it against my eye and se it to get a neat line.

  20. Kris

    This is going to sound really weird, but if you’re doing a flick (or even thickening the liner), don’t be scared of drawing the outline of the flick (or the thickness) differently on each eye: my eyes are slightly different shapes (and one is smaller than the other) so if I angle the flick in a symmetric way on both eyes and thicken the liner identically, they don’t actually look the same! Step back and draw the flick/thicken the liner so the result is the same, even though the actual angle is different.

    Like others said, depositing the colour in short strokes is more precise and more foolproof. I currently use Sigma’s E05 for liner and it’s pretty good! I try to avoid angled brushes because I don’t want the exact same angle on both eyes, haha.

  21. Blake Norwood

    If you have an unsteady hand what you can try is curling your toes while you apply the liner. It sounds strange but give it a try. It really works for me.

  22. Liz

    If I want a medium line, the easiest to use is a bent liner brush. I have the one by Sephora Pro line. I actually find the angled brush the most difficult to use, much more difficult than a flat liner brush.

  23. Mavis

    To get a line as close to the lash line as possible, tilt your head back a bit while looking in the mirror! Having an angled mirror also helps.
    My favorite applicator for gel liner is a synthetic angled brush.


    My eyeliner tip – use a baby post it (they are about an inch long by a half inch wide) rather than using tape OUCH. Angle it at the corner of your eye where you want your flick. Works every time!

  25. Veronica

    1. As for brushes, with my deep set, hooded eyes, I prefer a bent liner brush. I find flat edge and angled brushes more difficult to work with because they work against the curve of my eye. If I do use a flat edge, it’s for my lower lash line.

    2. I usually do a “starter” line when I use gel liner, especially if I plan on building up to a winged or cat-eye look. A thin line applied right up against the lash line gives you a base to decide where you want to go from there. If I do decide to wing it out, I’ll actually use the same method as I do with liquid liner: I take a straight line out from the edge, then draw up from the corner of the eye to make a trianlge, smoothing it out as a I go.

    3. If I find myself having trouble getting

    4. To keep my gel liner from drying out, I’ll flip the container face down onto a rag or tabletop between applications to reduce air exposure.

    • Veronica

      Whoops, got cut off a bit, there! 😀 That third one was supposed to be, “If I have trouble getting the spaces between my lashes covered, I’ll take a liquid liner with a felt tip and gently dab a bit in between each lash for full coverage.”

  26. I found the 208 quite hard to work with when I first started doing gel liner. I switched to a MAC 210 style brush (though mine is Kryolan) and that was much easier for me. To create dramatic flicks I line the lashline with the 210 dupe, then do the flick with the 208. Other than that I found it’s really just practice!

    I do like the tip of starting in the middle of the eye, where you want to deposit the most colour. I’ll try that next time!

  27. Brenda

    I use artist brushes(paintbrushes), the thin liners. They are actually called liners and I have a pretty thin one. It was inexpensive and is synthetic, easy to use and easy to clean! I like to roll my brush in the liner after picking some up to keep the point nice and sharp. I look down into a makeup mirror to do most of the liner but I do look up into the large wall mirror to judge my “flicks”. I find looking straight ahead gives me a better idea of where they need to go.

    And it’s easier to apply liner BEFORE curling lashes but I always curl mine before i do anything else so I deal with it!

  28. Abbi Wallace Pemberton

    I use pretty much the same method whether I’m using pencil, liquid or gel, I start from the outer corner to the middle (where I want the line the thickest and the brush has the most product on it the first swipe), then inner corner to meet the middle, then do my little flick last. I use a MAC 211 brush, is this too big?? I mean it works for me but should I be using something smaller, after reading everyone elses posts it seems like I’m the oddball using a giant liner brush and doing something wrong!!

  29. I think all the basic tips have been covered, but I don’t think anyone has said this one….

    With gel liners I like to swirl or smush my brush around (Or back and forth depending on the brush) gently in the pot of gel liner to emulsify it, or in other words make it a little softer and more workable. Sometimes they can be a little stiff strait out of the pot so this helps it glide on better, which in turn makes it easier to get a crisp line.