How-to: Eyeliner

Eyeliner is often considered essential in finishing eye makeup or accenting the bare eye. You would be surprised at how much of a difference adding a touch of black eyelilner on the lower rim of your eye can be. There are many different types of liner–from gel to kohl to liquid to pencil–and nearly infinite shades and colors. Even textures vary from brand to brand and certain types of liner have a specific texture.

Gel liners are similar to both kohl and pencil liners, but they might seem a bit “wetter” and more movable (kind of like fluidliners, which come in a pot-form). Liquid liner is just what it says; liquid color that is applied using either a separate brush or with an included applicator. The biggest differences between liquid and other forms of liner are that liquid liners can allow for stronger color, often have longer staying power, and more precision.

When applied correctly (with a great deal of accuracy!), liquid liner allows for a distinct and precise line of color. Gel liners like fluidliners also allow for similar precision when used with thin angle brushes (like MAC’s 266). Fluidlines in particular also provide the same staying power and usually similar in color boldness as liquid liners. Kohl and pencil liners have a higher chance of the liner migrating to the corners of the eyes throughout the day, but they are easily handled by even makeup beginners because they give the user more precision and forgive more easily than a liquid liner’s applicator. However, kohl pencils are frequently used along the lower lash line, and especially for smokey eyes. It is easy to smudge black kohl liners with brushes, q-tips, or sponge-tip applicators (pick your poison!). Liquid liner is really great for lining the upper lash line because of the sensitivity of the eyelids, the softness and lightness in pressure of the liquid liner work very well. Sometimes pencil liners take several strokes to get the color strength desired, and lining the upper lash line is hard enough without taking this into account.

Black is often known as a staple eyeliner color, and it is a good idea to have one in your make-up bag, but there are many other shades to choose from and shouldn’t be ignored. Of course there are liners in every color imaginable, but other good staples for a collection would be brown, dark gray, and gray. Even if you cannot find a particular eyeliner in the color you want, eyeshadows can be used dry or wet to line eyes, as well. Some people find that putting a touch of dry shadow on their lower lash line helps accent the colors they used on their lid.

In terms of application of liner, users with small eyes may find lining both the upper and lower lash line to be counterproductive and actually make their eyes appear even smaller. Someone with naturally big, open eyes may find the opposite is true: lining both can further open and enhance their eyes. To apply liner on the upper lash line, one method to do this is by using one of your fingers to lightly pull your eyelid slightly upwards and to the side. To apply liner to the lower lash line, look up if you can and apply liner against lower lash line. To get deeper color, it may be necessary to go over the same area with the kohl pencil several times. The lower lash line is definitely easier to apply liner to than the upper lash line–at least for most people!

When lining the upper lid or using liquid liner, be cautioned that liquid liner is much less forgiving for errors in application than pencil. Keep this in mind, because practice, practice, practice is essential to master the artistry of liquid liner (and liner, in general, too!). Just don’t get caught up in frustration when it doesn’t work. One way to practice without ruining your makeup for the day is to make liner attempts shortly before you are ready to remove your makeup for the day/night. This way you can see how it works for you without worrying about a jagged line or smudges over your eyeshadow. Another trick is to start off make-up application by lining the lid (upper, lower, or both) and using make-up remover (usually with a q-tip) to clean up any mistakes and keep the line defined and precise.

It is truly practice that is going to give you the results you want, so stick with it and let it come as you experiment and try it out.

Product Suggestions: I suggest the following specific products as my preferences in lining: MAC technakohl in Graphblack for a strong black; L’Oreal Automatic liner in Ebony for a good drugstore black; MAC’s fluidline in Blacktrack for a good gel liner black; MAC’s Boot Black liquid liner; MAC liquidlasts make for great colored liquid liners, as well.