6 Eyeliner Hacks Makeup Artists Swear By
Smudges and smears be gone.
The bad news: In the world of makeup, eyeliner application truly may be one of the more challenging things to master. (Just how many times have you dealt with uneven lines?!) Whether you prefer a crisp cat eye or a sultry, smoky effect, getting there can be a process riddled with smudges and frustration. Still, there’s no denying the impact (well-applied) liner can have, oftentimes pulling together a look. It can also help you fill in a sparse lash line and look more awake. The good news? Pro tips, tricks, and hacks make eyeliner application easy and effortlessly precise. Here are six to try now.
1. Maintain a Steady Hand
A shaky hand translates to shaky lines, so makeup artist and beauty expert Neil Scibelli suggests relying on a little extra support, literally. Steady your elbow on a table, bathroom countertop, or any other flat surface as you apply the liner; this keeps your arm steady to minimize movement, which is especially helpful when using liquid formulas, he says.
2. Create a Smoky Eye in One Easy Step
If you search for instructions on applying smoky eyes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with complicated, multistep tutorials involving multiple different colors. Not necessary. Apply a light shadow across your entire lid, then simply draw a tiny hashtag (#) at the outer corner of each eye. A creamy pencil in a dark tone like Maybelline TattooStudio Eyeliner Pencil in Intense Charcoal ($9, Ulta) works well here. Smudge it with a brush and voila, instant drama.
3. Use the Side, Not the Tip
When using a traditional pencil liner, turn it sideways. “I like using the sides of the point to draw across the lid,” Scibelli says. “Sometimes when you press the point down, it can start to chip away and get thicker, making for uneven lines.” Using the side of the pencil ensures a more uniform result.
4. Layer Products to Perfect the Winged Eyeliner Look
Crisp cat eyes are modern and graphic but can be a pain in the you-know-what to create, particularly given that they require liquid eyeliner, which is notoriously challenging to use. Celebrity makeup artist Bryan Cantor suggests first tracing out the line using a brow pencil one shade darker than your skin tone. A pencil makes it easy to create clean lines, to fix any mistakes, and layer without interfering with the liquid formula you’re going to put on top. Once you’re satisfied with the shape of the lines, all you have to do is trace over them with a liquid liner to complete the look, he says. His pick: Fenty Beauty Flyliner Longwear Liquid Eyeliner, $20, Sephora.
5. Use Eye Cream for Touch-Ups
It’s the secret weapon for cleaning up any mistakes, without ruining the rest of your eye makeup, Cantor says. Eye cream is thicker than liquid makeup removers, so you can dab it on more precisely, without the risk of it running and interfering with your mascara or shadow. Simply dip a cotton swab (or a clean, angled liner brush, if you have one) into the eye cream, dab off any excess on your hand, then run it along the edge of your liner. “Repeat the process until you perfect your liner, wiping the brush clean and rewetting with the cream as necessary,” he says.
6. Think Beyond Black
Nothing against basic black, but there’s a whole world of liner hues out there. One of Scibelli’s go-tos? Chocolate brown. “It adds definition, without being as harsh as black,” he says, adding that swiping it under the lower lashline is also an easy way to make small eyes appear larger. We like Glossier Colorslide in Brack, $15, Glossier. You can even go lighter with your liner; beige and even white hues help counteract discoloration and redness and our one of the pros’ top tricks for waking up tired eyes. Apply it along the waterline, the most inner part of the rim of your eye. Try one of Cantor’s picks, Stila Smudge Kajal Eye Liner in Nude, $10, Stila or L’Oréal Paris Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner in White, $9, Ulta.