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How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner Like a Makeup Pro


Liquid eyeliner is one of the best makeup products to have in your beauty arsenal for creating flawless cat-eyes, graphic wings, and statement lines.

While you might think learning how to apply liquid eyeliner is tricky, with a little bit of practice, you can master any eye makeup look with ease using liquid eyeliner—whether you’ve been using liquid eyeliner for years, or just got one in your IPSY Glam Bag.

Here are three liquid eyeliner makeup tips for every eye shape and skill level.

About the Expert:

Jessica Thomas is an Ohio based freelance makeup artist. Her work can be seen in editorial spreads, in your favorite TV shows, and on the runways at New York Fashion Week.

Types of Liquid Eyeliner

1. Brush-Tip Liquid Eyeliners

These liquid eyeliners, such as KVD VEGAN BEAUTY Tattoo Eyeliner, have loose, flexible bristles that are similar to a paintbrush. For this reason, brush-tip liquid eyeliners can take a bit more practice for beginners to get the hang of, but are excellent for creating varying eyeliner widths—whether you’re going for a thicker, bolder wing or just a thin, elegant sweep across your lash line.

“I feel brushes are easier for me solely because you can control the amount of product on the brush! With some liner pens once you apply the product, sometimes too much can be released with the felt tip, which then can throw off your whole liner application,” says Jessica.

2. Felt-Tip Liquid Eyeliners

Eyeliners like MORPHE’s Felt-Tip Liquid Liner are stiffer than liquid liners with brush tips, and as such, are great for creating thick, intense winged eyeliner looks. Because the tip is solid and not made up of bristles (like a brush-tip applicator is), felt-tip liquid eyeliners can have a higher color payoff (that is, the pigment will appear darker on your skin) and can be easier for beginners to control, especially if you’re going after a sharp, more defined cat-eye look.

Of course, deciding to use a liquid liner with a brush tip or felt tip will depend on the type of look you’re trying to create, and your level of comfort with each applicator.

How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner if You’re...a Beginner

“A fun tip that I tell anyone who is struggling with liner is to apply it with your eyes open! Nothing is worse than doing your best liner job and then opening your eyes and seeing it transferred all over your lid,” says Jessica. But, if you mess up, it isn’t anything a little q-tip and makeup remover can’t fix.

If you haven’t had much practice with liquid eyeliner, never fear—we’re here to take the guesswork out of your eyeliner application. The following technique is ideal for beginners or those with shaky hands, and works especially well on monolid, round, and almond eye shapes.

“Holding makeup brushes towards the end instead of close near the actual hairs gives you way more control and fluidity of the brush itself,” says Jessica. If you have shaky hands, this tip will aid you in drawing a straight line.

Technique #1: The Connect-the-Dots

  1. Start by resting the elbow of the arm you’ll use to apply your eyeliner on a flat surface in front of a mirror. 

  2. Hold the liquid eyeliner like a pencil, and anchor your pinky on your cheek–again, this should be the pinky of your hand you’re using to apply your eyeliner with. 

  3. Look straight ahead, or tilt your head back slightly and look down at the mirror: whichever allows you the best view of your upper lash line.

  4. Begin by making little dots or dashes as close to the lash line as possible, keeping the brush level with your eyes. 

  5. When you get to the end of your upper lash line, continue the dots at a slight angle toward the end of your eyebrow, going as far as you’d like. Using short, feathery strokes, connect these dots to create a slight wing. “I like to start winging the liner right before I get to the end of the eye,” says Chinchilla. “Most eyes dip down at the end, so it’s best not to follow the dip with eyeliner. There are no rules to where your wing should stop though. Make it as short or long as you'd like. It’s always best to start small, and graduate to more dramatic liner looks.”

  6. If you have a monolid eye shape or not much eyelid space, start your wing from the bottom eyelashes instead. Work from the outer edge of your lower lash line up towards the end of your eyebrow, then sweep in to meet your upper lash line. Fill in the empty space, and you have a beautiful graphic wing shape.

  7. Finish the look by applying eyeshadow in a similar color to set the line, and apply mascara.

How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner if You’re...Intermediate

Maybe you’ve used liquid eyeliner a few times before, or even everyday, but you still find yourself having to erase some mishaps with makeup remover or concealer more often than you’d like. This technique is great for those who have some experience with liquid eyeliner, or if you have almond or upturned eye shapes.

Technique #2: The Inside-Out

  1. Rest your elbow of the arm you’ll be using to apply your eyeliner on a flat surface in front of a mirror.

  2. Look straight ahead, or tilt your head back slightly and look down at the mirror, until you have a clear view of your upper lash line.

  3. Begin at the center of your eyelid. Resting your pinky on your cheek if you need, draw a single line from the top of your lash line toward the outer corner of your eye.

  4. Then, draw a second line from the center of the lid out, but at a slightly steeper angle than the first so that the two lines create an unfilled triangle when they meet at the outer corner of your eye.

  5. Fill in the triangle by using long, fluid strokes from the outer corner of your eye towards the inner corner. Make sure the eyeliner tip stays as close to the lash line as you can get, especially as you move closer towards the inner corner of your eye.

  6. For a more dramatic or graphic look, line the bottom lash line with the eyeliner, then sweep up at the outer corner to connect to the thickest part of the wing on the upper lash line (so that it looks like the wing is extending from the lower lash line as well). 

  7. Finish by setting the line with eyeshadow in a similar color and applying a few coats of mascara.

How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner if You’re...a Pro

Who needs a professional makeup artist? When it comes to liquid eyeliner, you’re calm, cool, collected, and ready to rock any look you dream up. The following technique is a quick and easy way to expand your makeup look toolkit, and is great for those with steady hands and almond or downturned eye shapes.

Technique #3: The Outside-In

  1. Rest your elbow on a flat surface in front of a mirror for best control. 

  2. Look straight ahead or tilt your head back and look slightly down at the mirror–whichever you’re used to!

  3. Beginning at the outer corner of your eye, sweep the liquid liner from the outer corner in, towards the eyelid but staying close to the lashline.

  4. Repeat the stroke, but this time, don’t meet the upper lash line until you’ve reached the center of your eyelid, so you’re left with an unfilled triangle. 

  5. Fill in the triangle by continuing to sweep the brush toward the inner corner of the eye. As always, keep the liner as close to the lashline as you can.

  6. If you want your eyes to appear more elevated, don’t bring the liner all the way to the inner half of your eye. Instead, slowly taper the liner so it disappears near the middle of your upper lash line.

  7. Set the liner with eyeshadow and finish up with mascara.

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Article Last Updated July 4, 2022 12:00 AM