Your eyeliner is key to eyes that impress. You can use eyeliner to enhance your color, draw attention to your eyes, and accentuate your lashes. This work of art takes practice to get just the right look, and we’ve compiled a list of insider tips on how to master color selection, design, and placement. We’ve taken the guesswork out of choosing the right shade and style for your eyes with a handful of trade secrets that will give you the look you are going for.
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1. Choose the right kind: pencil, gel, or liquid
Eyeliner comes in three basic forms: pencil, gel, and liquid. The most common (and the one that’s been around forever) is the eye pencil. When using a pencil, make sure you are regularly sharpening it to avoid bacteria build up and to ensure that your eyeliner line is able to hug your lash line.
If you decide to use a gel liner, be aware that you have a little less control over the amount you are putting on and you’ll need to watch for globs and take care to ensure an even line. Gel liners are applied with a brush, and they have the advantage of pain-free, smooth application.
Liquid eyeliners take practice to apply correctly but are ideal for a more dramatic look. You’ll need to have a great deal of practice with these before being able to apply your eyeliner neatly.
2. Use both hands
For smooth application of your liner, use your free hand to gently pull your eyelid skin tight so your liner can slide across without smudges and spaces. Be careful not to pull too hard, though—you don’t want to hurt your skin.
3. Use a shade that enhances your eye color
Eyeliner comes in a variety of shades, and you’ll want to pick one that is compatible with your eye color. Choose a lighter shade if you are just learning how to apply your liner, as mistakes you make won’t be quite as noticeable. To really bring out your eye color, pick a shade that complements your natural color—blue can be enhanced with a brown or copper shade, green looks fantastic with a purple-toned shade, brown eyes really stand out when they are lined in a blue shade, and hazel can go with just about any color.
4. Blend your pencil line
Eye pencils create a sharp, fine line, so for a more natural look, use a sponge to blend your line a little. For a smokier look, use more pressure. You can even combine your eyeliner with a little smudge work to create a smoky eye.
5. Highlight with a nude shade
To open your eyes a little more, you can use a light, nude shade across your waterline. Pick a metallic shade for a brighter effect. You can also apply a smudge to the inner corner of your eye.
6. Use a guide to create your cat eye
There’s no need to draw your cat eye freehanded. If you don’t have a stencil handy, you can simply use a business card or credit card by tracing the edge on a diagonal line out from the corner of your eye.
7. Combine a pencil with a liquid
Remember, liquid liners take a little more skill than the beginner has. One trick to applying a liquid liner in a straight line is to first draw your line with a pencil and then trace over it with your liquid.
8. Use a cotton swab as an eraser
You don’t need to start over if you make a mistake with your liner. Simply use a cotton swab to apply a little makeup remover over the area and erase your mistake.
9. Apply a primer
Using a quality eye primer as a base will give your eyeliner something to adhere to. This way, you won’t find your carefully drawn line becoming a splotchy smudge an hour later.
10. Let your liner dry
If you decide to go with a liquid eyeliner, you’ll need to make sure you give it adequate time to dry. Keep your lids closed for at least 30 seconds after you apply your liner to avoid smudges, and you can also apply a setting powder or eyeshadow over it.
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