Eyeliners are perhaps the thing that would instigate many people to step on to the magical makeup journey. They’ve been used to great effect in movies, dramas, and some iconic Hollywood celebrities just wouldn’t look the same without them.
While eyeliners aren’t as daunting to try out as eyeshadows and mascaras can be, it is certainly difficult to do them nicely. Everyone could probably draw a line above their eyelashes, but can everyone really say that they knew how to apply eyeliner?
To help your eye makeup achieve the best that it could, we’ve put together this tutorial that will teach you exactly how to draw eyeliner, and how you can make it work the best for you.
1. Experiment with eyeliner formulas
Eyeliners can be broadly categorised into three categories: pencil, gel, and liquid. We won’t say one is better than the other; it’s really about what you prefer, and what look you’re trying to create.
Pencil eyeliners are generally preferred if you’re going for a more natural, blended-out look with vague edges. They also come in waterproof formulas that will be useful if you have watery eyes, or if you’re trying to tightline on your upper or lower eyelid.
Eyeliner pencils are popular among makeup beginners because they’re more forgiving since they’re easier to remove. Most people also find them easier to control.
Though there are still some pencil eyeliners that require sharpening, many of them are mechanical now. Just twist up and draw on, any time and any where!
Gel eyeliners are typically a solid clay-like substance found in pots and applied with an eyeliner brush. They’re more troublesome to bring around, but they do deliver precision, pigment, and long-lasting wear.
Liquid eyeliners are the most mainstream of the lot right now, and are an ink-like formula delivered in pens. The tips of these pens are usually felt tip or brush tip, and different brands may also vary in softness.
Liquid liners deliver the cleanest and most dramatic lines but they can also be hard to control – a slight mistake is easily noticeable because of how pigmented they usually are. This is also why makeup beginners tend to shy away from them.
They come in waterproof and non-waterproof formulas, but it is not recommended to use them for tightlining – it’ll be a rather painful experience.
If you’re worried about costs, don’t. Drugstore brands nowadays carry good quality eyeliners in all three of these formulas, so you won’t have to burst your bank account when you’re learning how to apply eyeliner and finding what works best for you.
Pro tip: When you’re shopping in the stores for a new eyeliner, swipe it on your hand and leave it on for as long as you can. Wash the spot and rub it as you naturally would, and see how the eyeliner holds up to these actions.
2. Use the thinnest lines possible
With eyeliners, one of the most common mistakes is to try and cover up a jagged line with another line over it. Believe us, folks, that’s how you end up with eyeliner that’s way too thick and which drowns out your eyes.
Instead, draw the thinnest line possible following your lashline and end it at the outer corner of your eyes. You can fill in a wing later.
You may need a while to perfect this but make sure the line is the same thinness from inner to outer corners of your eyes. If you like the way this look as it is, you can even stop here!
If you want to do something like a wing, however, start from the center of your lashes and start thickening the line outwards. DV recommends that you do this in small, incremental steps so you don’t end up with too-thick eyeliner by accident.
If you do make a mistake, resist your natural urge to draw another line over it to correct the jaggedness. Instead, have cotton buds and makeup remover or micellar water at hand to carefully erase the mistake and then go over the now-empty area.
Extra tip: practise with a pencil eyeliner, which is easier to remove, first. If you’re satisfied with how it looks, go over it with a bolder eyeliner.
3. Fill in the gaps
This is another mistake that many beginners make when they’re first learning how to apply eyeliner. Because our eyes are, after all, a sensitive area, there is a tendency for us to naturally avoid drawing too close to our eyeballs.
Even if you have gung ho’ed your way past that natural reflex, skin folds on your eyelids may also mean that you miss out some spots when drawing your eyeliner, and this may still be obvious to others.
This creates the number one no-no in drawing eyeliner: the eyeliner gap.
To avoid this, you may need to practise angling your mirror such that you can draw your eyeliner with your eyes looking downwards.
Some people try pulling up their eyelids instead to expose these gaps and fill them in, but many sources now discourage this as it may cause more wrinkles in the long run.
Tightlining with a waterproof pencil eyeliner will eliminate the eyeliner gap even further, but this needs to be gotten used to – the same way people have to get used to wearing contact lenses!
4. Use your lower lashline to guide your wing
Winged eyeliners are generally what comes to mind when people think about drawing eyeliners, and for good reason. The bold and dramatic look can really make a gorgeous difference to a person’s look, and also make them look more awake.
A wing can also really help for those of us with downturned eyes, or eyes that need further perking up at the outer edges. The shape of the wing lifts up the eye and affords the illusion of a more upturned eye that looks more energised.
Most people don’t freehand their wings though – it’s difficult to get that straight a line without some kind of guide, so don’t be too afraid if you’re a newbie.
Use the angle of your lower lashline to guide the angle of your wing. You can place a dot where you want the tip of the wing to be, and fill in from there.
To help you achieve clean lines, you can also consider using straight-edged items to help you draw the line, like sticking a piece of tape (make sure it’s not super sticky first by sticking it on any surface and removing it repeatedly a few times), using an old name card, a ruler, or even the handle of a spoon.
5. Your wing can be however look best on you
Although pop culture has us believing that winged eyeliners must always be a va-va-voom, dramatic, cat-eye look, it doesn’t always have to be the case.
Experiment with the length and curve of your wing – you may surprise yourself with how much better a smaller and less ostentatious wing might make you look!
6. Know your eye shape
Our Asian eye shapes can be very different from those of Caucasian beauty junkies, so watching tutorials on YouTube may not be the best way to learn how to apply eyeliner.
Also, everyone’s eye shapes are different. In fact, one person can have a slightly different eye shape from one eye to the other. To achieve the most symmetrical eyeliner look, it’s important that you take the time to observe your own features and practise.
Monolids are also generally known as single eyelids. With monolids, you want to make the outer corner of your eye more defined than the inner corner, so it opens up your eyes rather than closes it.
It’s often hard to tell hooded lids and monolids apart, and they often happen together as well.
Hooded lids, however, have a small but significant difference: they happen when your eyelids seem to partially or entirely cover your entire lashline, where your eyelashes begin to grow.
Drawing eyeliner for hooded lids is quite tricky, as it really depends on how hooded your eyelids are. If they are only partially hooded, you should probably only stick with thin eyeliners, as a thick one would obscure your lower lid entirely.
If you have a fully hooded lid, however, you may have to consider a wacky technique called the floating eyeliner look.
7. Practice makes perfect
As with most things in makeup, your eyeliner skills will only get better the more you use them, so we highly recommend practising as much as possible.
Start with thin lines and make it thicker in small increments. Don’t leave any skin-coloured gaps between the eyeliner and your eyes.
And if you need a step-by-step video, we find this old but gold tutorial by Michelle Phan very useful.