Eyeliner, Beginnings

Introduction to Eyeliner and Products to Help You Get Started

When I first started wearing makeup as an adolescent/young teen, eyeliner was a particular challenge. The smooth lines I tried to create always turned out wavy and clumpy. After trying to line my waterline, I’d be in tears with eyeliner smudged and running down my face. Expertly applying eyeliner takes practice, but it is a skill you can quickly learn and intuit on your own. My mother’s only advice to me when I asked her what to do with my new eyeliner pencil was, “Don’t poke your eye out”–and I still managed! Although I still occasionally end up with a black line smudged on the side of my face at the end of a long day, I’ve learned some tricks about smoothing out my lines and getting long wear out of the products I use. For instance, after I apply the eyeliner I usually seal and/or layer it with eyeshadow to for a smooth and blurred effect that seals in the liner.

For liquid, long-lasting eyeliner I use Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Eyeliner. You can use Stila’s liner to achieve a dramatic look with a thick line and cat-eye technique (a good, simple tutorial by Keiko Lynn can be found here), or you can achieve something subtle with just a thin line of color to make your eyes pop a little more than usual.  I usually only use liquid liner right above my top lash line, but you could also use it below your bottom lash line (not on your waterline, though). Thickly applied underneath your eye will give you a more severe, gypsy look.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Another liquid eyeliner pen I like is Kat Von D’s tattoo liner. I’m a fan of Kat Von D’s makeup line because I think she makes good and affordable products. She’s also vegan and so is her line–but you may want to fact check me on that.

Kat Von D tattoo liner

For an eyeliner that will stay put but is still smudgeable (to better blend into eye shadow for a smokey look, for instance) I recommend a gel eyeliner. You can also use a gel liner to line the watermark of you upper lash line. I use Marc Jacobs gel liner, and I set it with a black or brown eye shadow on top.  Of course, though, there are other similar and less expensive products out there including ones by MAC, Stila, Bobbi Brown, and NARS.I’ve heard good things about the Urban Decay Super-Saturated Ultra Intense Cream liner (that does sound intense, doesn’t it??), but I haven’t tried it myself. Some of these products, such as the Urban Decay liner, come in pots, and you apply it with a liner brush that you usually buy separately. Others come in pencil or crayon form (usually the kind that you do not need to sharpen).

Marc Jacobs gel eye liner

UD Ultra Intense

Example of a brush you might use to line a gel pot product

To line your bottom lid and waterline, I’d use a traditional waterproof eyeliner pencil—nothing fancy. In fact, my go-to is the inexpensive NYC waterproof brand that you can get at most pharmacies. I’ve also used and really like Makeup Forever’s Aqua Eyes eyeliner pencil. Again, I like to seal in the liner with a dark brown or black eye shadow, which is easy to do if you have an eyeliner makeup brush that looks like the one in the link below (I’m showing a MAC-brand brush so you can see the shape, but which makeup brush brand is best is a whole different topic to pursue).

NYC eyeliner pencil

Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes

Eyeliner brush