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How to Apply Eyeliner?

Do you find yourself googling “how to apply eyeliner with pictures” at 2 AM because you have a meeting or outing the next day that you want to look your best for? You’re not alone. Everybody can attest to how much eyeliner ties a makeup look together, and it’s one of these makeup items that everyone has.

Yet, very few know how to properly apply eyeliner. While foundation and blush don’t take much skill to apply, things with eyeliner don’t happen intuitively. It takes a lot of patience and practice but also knowing the right techniques.

So, if you’re interested in finally taking the guesswork out of applying eyeliner, continue reading.


How to Do Eyeliner

There are tons of how to apply eyeliner videos on the internet. Each one uses a different method that works for the applier. If that overwhelms you as a beginner, you’re not the only one.

Thankfully, there are many types and formulas of eyeliner that cater to different applications, needs, and levels of expertise. If you’d like to know each one and how to apply it, read the following.

How to Apply Pencil Eyeliner

One of the biggest advantages of pencil eyeliner is that it’s the most beginner-friendly, which is why you probably already have one.

Its maneuverability gives beginners full control of the intensity of the look because you can smudge it for a dramatic, smokey look or sharpen it and apply more pressure for a precise, thin line.

In addition, the subtleness of a pencil eyeliner makes it more forgiving when it comes to mistakes. Pencil eyeliner is also great if you’re always in a hurry and don’t have much time for a perfect full-makeup look. So, if you’ve just started getting into the eyeliner game, pencil liner is the best way to start.

  • If there’s one thing that many beginners underestimate, it’s the power of preparation. So, prepare your eyes with an eyeshadow primer to ensure that your eyeliner won’t wear out in a few hours, especially when using a pencil.
  • Next, prepare the pencil itself for application by sharpening it, especially if you’re going for a precise line on your lash line, as opposed to a smudged, smokey look where the pencil needs to be dull.
  • Try to close the eye you’re drawing the line on, or keep it slightly opened to have the lid open like a canvas. Also, hold the pencil sideways to enable yourself to see your progress in the mirror.
  • Rest your elbow on a flat surface and your pinky on your cheek. This trick will help prevent your hands from shaking too much while applying eyeliner.
  • Draw the line from the inner corners of the upper lash line and work it to the outer corner of the eye. Try to keep the line as close to the upper lash line as possible. It’s okay if it’s not perfect, as no one gets it right from the first time.
  • Adjust the intensity of the color with the pressure of your hand. If you want the liner color to be intense, apply more pressure. If you want it subtle and natural, go easy with your hand.
  • Now, it’s time to undo any mistakes. Grab a cotton swab with a little bit of micellar water or makeup remover to make the line look thinner if you draw it too thick or messy. Another trick would be to apply concealer with a brush, especially when perfecting a winged liner.
  • If you want a smokey look, take a smudge brush and smudge the line you drew from side to side. Try to do this step as gently as possible because you don’t want to be too rough with the skin of your eyelid.
  • Repeat the same steps on your lower lash line. Note that lining the whole lower lash line can make the eyes look smaller while lining the outer half can open it up.


Pencil eyeliner is the best for beginners. Sharpen it and apply little pressure for a thin line or dull it and apply more pressure for a bolder look. Also, you can smudge it with a brush to create the classic smokey pencil eyeliner look.


How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner

Liquid eyeliner is the complete opposite of pencil eyeliner in every way. While pencil eyeliner is beginner-friendly, liquid eyeliner is more of an upgrade to the next level.

It takes some time to learn how to put on liquid eyeliner, but the end result is more than worth it, as it solidifies you as a beauty guru.

Liquid eyeliner is where you go if you want maximum precision, dramatic wings, and daring cat-eyes. Its color is intense, opaque, and saturated, perfect for a bold, sharp look when you want to show the world how confident you are.

Liquid eyeliner comes in a variety of applicators. Felt-tip liquid liner has an ink-like, matte finish, while brush-tip liquid liner applies like a wet paintbrush that’s waiting for a masterful artist to create her masterpiece. So, read the following to know how to use liquid eyeliner.

  • Start by shaking the bottle or container of the liner to ensure maximum consistency in application.
  • Sit in a comfortable position where you can see the progress in the mirror. You can close the eye you’re working on, slightly open it, look down on the mirror, or raise your head slightly if the mirror is on your eye level.
  • As with any type of liner, rest your elbow on a flat surface and your pinky on your cheek to stabilize your hands, which you’ll definitely need, especially when applying brush-tip liner.
  • Start the application in the middle of your upper lash line and work towards the outer corner of your eye. You can use different techniques here. Try making dots or dashes across the lash line, then connect them, or jump straight into the line and fill in the gap afterward.
  • Now, draw another line from the inner corner of the eye to the line in the middle. As always, use the technique you’re most comfortable with, whether it’s dots, dashes, or just small strokes.
  • If you’re using a liquid liner to create a winged look, lightly follow your lower lash line and move towards the end of your eyebrow. Adjust the length of the wing according to how dramatic you want the look to be.
  • Connect the line of the wing to the line on the upper lash line and fill in the triangle. If you make any mistakes, get a cotton swab dipped in some micellar water or makeup remover and wipe them away.
  • If you want the whole cat-eye look, line your lower lash line and connect it to the thickest part of the wing for a true feline appearance. Depending on whether you want your eye to look bigger or smaller, stop at the middle of your lower lash line or keep going until you get to the inner corner.
  • Wait for the liquid liner to dry before you continue with your makeup, especially if it’s a brush-tip one because it has the runniest formula. Otherwise, it will smudge, and your efforts will go to waste.


Liquid eyeliner takes more skill to apply. It comes in two forms: felt-tip and brush-tip. Felt-tip is more matte and precise, while brush-tip is more liquidy.

Start the application in the middle of your upper lash line, then create another line from the inner corner. Draw a wing, connect it to the upper lash line and fill it in; draw a lower lash line, and connect it to the wing.


How to Do Eyeliner with Eyeshadow

Many makeup lovers have eyeshadow palettes that they utilize for different purposes other than eyeshadow. One of the coolest ways to really get the best out of your eyeshadow is to double it as eyeliner. You can even use eyeshadow as a liner to set the actual eyeliner you use underneath.

As long as you have an angled brush, the right shade of eyeshadow, and the desire to experiment, you’re good to go.

  • Grab an angled brush and dampen it by running it under tap water or spraying it with water or a setting spray. This step is essential in making the powder formula of eyeshadow more malleable for you to line with.
  • Apply an eyeshadow primer. This step is crucial when using a powder formula as a liner because it makes sure that the liner stays on and doesn’t move.
  • Gently tap the damp, angled brush into your eyeshadow of choice. The most popular options are black, navy, brown, plum, dark green, and purple. However, you can always experiment with other colors if you’re feeling it. Some people use metallic shades, while others make their eyes pop with shimmery ones for more glam.
  • Tap the brush afterward to knock off any excess powder, which is essential with any powder formula.
  • The most necessary step before starting your application is to stabilize your hand by placing your elbow on a stable surface and resting your pinky on your cheekbone.
  • Find a comfortable position to look in the mirror while applying the shadow-liner.
  • Start your application at the outer corner of your eye and follow the upper lash line inwards for a comfortable application. Try to work as close to the lash line as possible and go over it as many times as necessary, depending on the intensity of the look you have in mind.
  • Repeat the same steps on the lower lash line, leaving the inner third of the lower lash line empty if you prefer to make your eyes look wider. Don’t forget to connect the lower lash line to the upper one for a seamless look.
  • To really lock it in place all day, try setting it with translucent powder. You can also use the setting spray of your choice to set the shadow-liner and all of your makeup.


How Long Does Eyeliner Last

The expiry date of the eyeliner depends on its formula. A pencil eyeliner lasts for years because when you sharpen it, you remove the bacteria on top.

On the other hand, liquid eyeliner is similar to mascara in that you should only use it for three to six months. Otherwise, its exposure to the air harbors bacteria and introduces it to your eyes, which is the last thing you want in such a delicate area.

At the end of the day, you should always check the expiry date of each product to be sure that you’re using it for an appropriate amount of time. You can also smell the product and check its texture and see if it’s changed. If so, it’s time to throw it away and replace it.


Should Eyeliner Go on Top or Bottom?

It all depends on the look you’re going for and the effect you want the eyeliner to have on your eyes.

Many people prefer to only draw eyeliner on the upper lash line to open up their eyes and make them look larger. On the other hand, others choose to line the lower lash line as well for a bolder, more dramatic look, which works best for large almond eyes.

If you want the best of both worlds, try applying a darker eyeliner on the upper lash line and a nude or light eyeliner on the lower lash line. This way, you’ll define your eyes while keeping them open and lifted.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has been helpful in getting you closer to perfecting your eyeliner technique.

As you can see, the most popular formulas are pencil and liquid. The first one is great for natural looks and the second one is best for bolder looks and more precision.

Regardless of the technique or formula you pick, remember that practice makes perfect