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How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner - Tips & Tricks

Makeup & Beauty Tips on How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner

Share your best tips and tricks for applying liquid eyeliner!  Feel free to share your experiences, how you mastered techniques, or what you struggle with.

Temptalia’s Tips

  1. Try resting your elbow on a flat, stable surface
  2. Apply in short, quick lines, connecting them rather than doing one fluid line until you’ve gotten the hang of it
  3. Try applying before you apply any other makeup – either to practice or to get the majority of the outline ready and then just go over it at the end to darken/redefine. This lets you have more freedom and flexibility to clean up if you make any mistakes without ruining your eyeshadow!


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Janeen Avatar

Right brush definitely helps. I used to use a pencil type brush, then switched to an angled brush and it’s AMAZING. Perfect cat eyes without needing to fix anything, and I’m still a noob at liquid/gel eyeliner. So try out different brushes until you find one that works for you.

collier Avatar

Toooootally. And see, I’ve got three or four nice flat angle brushes, and I just can’t do liner with them (and I paint! it’s not like I can’t handle a brush!). My faves are MUFE’s 2S liner brush (quite small head, but a rounded flat shape instead of a point — if it were a paintbrush it’d probably be classified as a filbert – which, oddly, is also my favorite type of paintbrush) and NYX 23B, which is kinda the same shape but wider and proportionally shorter. Also, different brushes will behave differently with various types of cream/gel liners, depending on their thickness, slip, opacity, etc.

collier Avatar

I’m a fairly recent convert to non-pencil liners, and I’ve ditched pencils entirely! It’s just too hard to get a clean, sharp, pointy line with them.

I’ll also add : 1) try a good creme or gel liner in a pot! The YSL one is my fave, performance-wise. MUFE Aqua Creams a little too thick/dry to get a neat line. 2) If you don’t already have brushes, grab some cheap ones in different shapes and styles to see what works best for you…THEN get a nice one in that configuration. I blew a fair bit of cash on brushes that other people apparently love for eyeliner, but which really don’t work for me.

Janeen Avatar

I agree with you 100% I spent over $20 on Bobbi Brown’s extra fine liner brush, just to prefer my $10 Sephora angled brush. Oh and I spent over $20 on Bobbi Brown’s gel liner, just to prefer $4 Essence gel liner. Ridiculous.

Wwendalynne Avatar

And here I prefer my bobbi brown extra fine liner over any others I have tried 🙂 especially for gel liners. I like the flex in the brush. That being said, clearly trying different brushes can make a big difference and it all depends on what works best for you personally.

collier Avatar

Ha, I just sent the black Bobbi Brown gel liner back to Sephora and ordered the black YSL instead! The BB was no where near black enough/opaque enough (though the texture was pretty okay). I think one of the YSLs turned up in Christine’s “Best Of” lists not too long back? I’d link, but search seems to be malfunctioning. Srsly, that liner is just the greatest. Opaque in one swipe, nice texture, doesn’t take too long to dry, was flawless after 12 hours with no primer. And I have oily skin AND it’s humid here.

Wwendalynne Avatar

I’m far better with gel liner than liquid, but I find I’ve improved since I’ve broken down the application into 3 stages. I do the outside wing first–also the easiest place to clean up and start again–followed by the inside by tear duct to where my lashes start growing and then join the two pieces with one smooth motion.

kary b Avatar

Don’t pull the skin on the edge of your eye. It moves your skin and you’ll end up with a completely different line than what you thought you’d do. Also, it creates wrinkles later on!

Jamie L Avatar

What I did at first was I just used my pencil liner and then took my liquid liner and traced the pencil line. You get used to the motion and more comfortable that eventually you won’t even need to use the pencil liner anymore.

GUSnail Avatar

Like others have said, everyone’s preferences are going to be very individual and you have to test out formulas and brushes.

In addition to Christine’s great tips, I reccomend:
When applying, I recommend using your pinky on your face to stabilize your hand. If you have a magnifying mirror you can place low, so that you can tilt your head back and look down, that helps.

Also, remember to stop and take a step back to look at the total picture of what you are doing-especially when you are working on the second eye, so that you can get them as even as possible.

As far as products go, I like a felt tipped liner I have from Milani, and the MUFE Aqua Liners. For cream/gel liners, I prefer the MUFE Aqua Black Cream Eyeshadow. I’ve tried the MAC Fluidline, but I didn’t like it at all. I prefer the thicker formula of MUFE.

I have a couple of different brushes I like-basically the thinner the brush, the more I find I have control of the product.

collier Avatar

Oh my god, let me tell you, mounting a tilting swing-arm magnifying mirror on the wall at right angles to your bathroom vanity mirror will CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE. (And the reverse non-magnifying side is great for checking the back of your hair in the big mirror.) Seriously, they’re like $30 on Amazon or Home Depot (mine is a Jerdon, I think?) and they’re super easy to install.

The downside is that you’ll spend sooooooooooooooo much more time tweezing your eyebrows because suddenly WHAT, JESUS WHERE DID ALL THESE HAIRS COME FROM, ARGH. On the plus side, you’ll suddenly be much better about exfoliating regularly because your pores will seem like freaking moon craters.

Kat Avatar

I just recently started experimenting with liquid liner. I use a black Jemma Kidd formula. My advice would be to use as little product as possible on your first pass – especially with this brand, because it is pigmented! I stay very close to my lash line as I have small eyes and too much liner makes them look even smaller.

Veronica Avatar

1. Know your eye shape and what works on it. I have hooded eyes, so there are certain shapes that absolutely cannot work on my lids because it will smudge everywhere. Somebody with almond-shaped or rounder eyes will have more space to pull off more extravagant shapes. It will also effect what kinds of brushes will work on you – flat angle tend to be harder to use on my eye shape, while bent angle can squeeze into the smaller lid area more easily.

2. If you’re just starting out, first try the products that come with a felt tip applicator than a brush. Much easier to control and more forgiving if you slip while doing the line.

3. Start with drug store liner. Don’t waste your money on the pricier versions until you know your preferences for formula and application.

4. When I do cat eye, I like to do a small, thin “base” line over the upper lash line that goes from corner to corner. That way I can simply build on it slowly, rather than trying to do the full shape all at once. Winged liner should start thin in the inner corner and fatten as it goes to the outer corner.

5. Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. Consistently and regularly. If I do liquid liner every day, I can just swipe it on. If I go awhile without doing it, it becomes hard again. It’s a skill that requires maintenance.

Jennifer Avatar

I SUCK at liquid liner but the one I have managed to be able to work with is the Stila Stay All Day. That stuff is seriously awesome and it DOES stay on all day even with my oily eyelids. It’s like a pointy felt tip marker and very easy to use. The black is very black but it does leave a patent leather kind of finish so if you prefer a matte you will have to trace over it with some black eyeshadow.

xamyx Avatar

For me, the most important thing is the brush/applicator. While UD 24/7 Waterproof is HG in terms of formula, I rarely ever use it, as I hate the applicator. Conversely, L’Oreal Lineur Intense has an adequate formula, but the applicator is what keeps me buying. I can’t explain why I love it, but all I know is I get a perfect application each & every time I use it. Like many others have said, find what works, and don’t waste time/money on a product/brush just because it gets rave reviews. Everyone has unique needs, and if we were all the same, there wouldn’t be a myriad of different products outt there.

kastehelmi Avatar

I love my Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner, but when I want to apply a liquid eyeliner without carrying a nice brush (which is pretty much always) I draw the line first with powder eyeliner–if I make any mistake I can clean it with eye makeup remover quite easily, or even smudge it a bit. Then trace over it with liquid eyeliner. The results are neat and make me feel accomplished in my makeup, cause I can’t tell you how many times I try the single stroke of liquid eyeliner only to get asymmetrical results, or a bumpy spot and then I have to remove it and try again 🙁 I start drawing from where my lashes start and make a thicker line, then line the rest of the eye to try to make my closer-set eyes look more wide-set. Then after the lines are even enough I either wing it up, or out for a more Cleopatra-style look, using lots of kohl on the lower lashes if I feel like it.

Quinctia Avatar

Because of the amount of liquid on the applicator often causing where you begin your line to be a little thicker, I always start by doing a line from the center of my eye outwards, then I go back in and go from the inner corner to the center. Then, I dip back into the tube and do the same on the other eye. I want the part in the inner corner to be the thinnest, and that’s the easiest way to accomplish the feat without wasting any product!

Jade Avatar

Confidence is key! Don’t go in with a hesitant hand – quick, deft strokes are better than cautious strokes.

Keep in mind you will improve with time – if your finished product doesn’t look perfect, just chalk it up to experience and head out the door anyway.

Resist the urge to “fix” mistakes – you will MOST likely just make it worse, and your line will become too thick.

Try a few different brush types – I started out with an angle brush, and never really got the hang of it, then I switched to a pointed liner brush (like the MAC 211) and found it MUCH easier. I can now use an angled brush more easily too,


Navina Avatar

This is by far one of the best tips… i struggled with the application of liquid liner for years… until recently i figured i’ll do the best i can.. and head out anyway… worked… not perfect in the beginning.. but definitely good.. n i’ve only improved since… confidence is the key .

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