The Do’s and Don’ts of Wearing Eyeliner

You know what they say: Eyes are the windows to the soul, and as such, they can be one of the most captivating parts of your face. Thus, the role of makeup should be to enhance your eyes and give them definition and impact — not take away from their power.

Eyeliner, specifically, can really perk up your peepers when wielded properly. But, on the flip side, it can also really drag down your makeup look when used incorrectly. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind before you grab that eye pencil or liquid liner.

Do choose the right color

Close-up of blue eye

Choose the perfect color for you. | iStock.com/jean-marie guyon

If you’re stuck on black eyeliner only, then you’re missing out on a range of hues that can really boost your eye color. For example, a brown shade is a less harsh option that creates a softer, more subtle effect. A deep, jewel-toned eyeliner such as an emerald green or sapphire blue can work wonders to bring out the color of your eyes whereas a white or nude eyeliner on the lower lid works to brighten the eye, creating a refreshed, awake appearance.

Do make it last

woman doing makeup in front of a mirror

Try a waterproof gel liner. | iStock.com

As much as we’d like to tell you that there is a miracle way to make your eye makeup and eyeliner stay perfectly in place from morning until night, at the end of the day, you will still have to reapply and touch it up. For an extra dose of staying power, waterproof gel liners are often your best bet for liner longevity — especially for the bottom lid. They also have less chance of smearing or running. But not even waterproof product will stay as fresh and strong as when you first applied it. So, pack your pencils with you, and refresh the line when needed. It shouldn’t take but a second if you’re starting from a solid foundation. Blotting papers for your lids are also a great idea, as they will take care of the eye makeup that may have smudged into the creases without ruining your liner.

Do use a sharp pencil

black eye pencil package

A dull pencil won’t do. | iStock.com/annadeba

While this may seem like a no-brainer, don’t slack on keeping your eye pencils sharpened. Dull pencils with flat tips at the end will only yield a messy application of product when smooth and precise is what you want.

Don’t walk an uneven line

asian woman applying eyeliner on eye

You need a steady hand. | iStock.com/Sasiistock

While no one is calling for absolute perfection when it comes to your eye makeup, there’s a fine line between sophisticated and sloppy. Jagged, uneven eyeliner can ruin an otherwise good look. The biggest offender is liquid liner as it requires an ever-so-steady hand and it can be quite the challenge to apply smoothly. Of course, it also delivers a strong, fluid line which means drama in spades. To keep a liquid liner straight, avoid tugging at the outer corners of the eyes, advises makeup artist Laura Geller. When you let go of the eye, the line will appear distorted. Plus, that tugging over time can lead to wrinkles. On the other hand, a pencil or gel product is far more forgiving if you’re in a rush or short on practice time.

Don’t get too bottom-heavy

woman applying black eyeliner

Keep the eyeliner minimal on the bottom. | iStock.com/ValuaVitaly

Like many things in life, there is too much of a good thing when it comes to eyeliner, especially if you’re painting too much product on the lower lid. Overdoing it with a thick line under the eye is too bottom-heavy and can actually make your eyes look smaller rather than enhancing them. You’re also more likely to end up with under-eye smudges if you go this route. Better to swap the dark, thick liner for a lighter line and a subtler shade of taupe or light brown. And avoid using liquid liner on the bottom lid, too; it’s just too dense and will be dripping down your face by midday.

Don’t skip the smudge-proofing

woman applying eyeshadow

Finish with shadow. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

The smudge-proof is in the pudding when it comes to your eyeliner. It’s a common oversight to skip this step of eye makeup application. But in order for your eye makeup to last from sunup to sundown, you’ll want to combat the smudge. It’s not enough to just apply liner. First, you’ll want to prep your lids by brushing them with a translucent powder. You’ll also want to avoid putting any lotions or creams on the lids, as that can cause a good deal of smudging. Then, trace over the eyeliner line with a matching powder eye shadow. And for an even more dramatic effect, retrace more liner over the powder for double impact. To make it last even longer, wet the shadow brush with Visine first, Jo Davis, artistic director for Trucco Cosmetic, tells Good Housekeeping.

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