How to Makeup: Eyeliner

Guides, How to Makeup

How to Makeup: Eyeliner

Part six of the How to Makeup series.


What is it?

A powder, liquid, cream or pencil product used to enhance (or completely change!) the outline of the eye.

Why might I want to use this stuff?

Eyeliner is the picture frame for the eyes. It can be as subtle as making your lashes look fuller, adding a bit of drama with a colored liner, or going all out with a sixties cat eye. A simple google images search for ‘eyeliner’ should give you an idea of what a huge impact eyeliner can make on your overall look.

How do I choose the right one for me?

Location, location, location

There are a few different places that eyeliner is commonly used, and that tends to dictate what sort of formula you’ll want-

  • Waterline – the inner rim of your lower eyelid. Pencil is usually the most appropriate choice here. You can find the best eyeliners for waterline at Twelvmag.
  • Tightline – the inner rim of your upper eyelid. Many people prefer pencil here too, but others find it easier to tightline with a powder product and a small brush.
  • Upper/lower lashline – anything goes.


So just what are the formulas available?

  • Pencil – just like it sounds, eyeliner pencils come either in a wooden pencil that you sharpen, though there are also retractable pencils where you twist the barrel to expose more product. This is often the easiest product for beginners to learn with, and tends to be really versatile since you can use a sharp pencil for a fine line or you can smudge it out.
  • Cream/gel – these formulas come in a small pot or pan and you apply them with a fine-tipped brush. Storage tip: storing them upside-down can help prevent the top from drying out. Like pencils, these can be used for smudgy looks but are also fantastic for making wings.
  • Liquid – liquid liners come either in pens with a brush or felt tip, or in a little pot that you dip a brush into (the brush is usually included). They can be a little more complicated to work with since they require a steadier hand, but you can get incredibly precise lines.
  • Powder – there are several pressed powder eyeliners available that you use with a small brush (generally not included). Best results usually require wetting the powder with either water or activator fluid. I also like to use a wet brush with powder eyeshadow as a liner.


Like eyeshadow, you can get eyeliners in pretty much any color you want. Black, brown and navy are good day-to-day colors; the right one for you will depend on your preferences and coloring. For example, brown eyeliner can look less harsh on paler complexions.

My favorites

These have all treated me really well-

  • Pencil – Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl and Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils
  • Cream – Laura Mercier Creme Eye Liner
  • Liquid – Lorac Front of the Line Pro
  • Powder – Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner


You made it to the end! Feel free to comment below if you still have any unanswered questions.


  1. Tracey A. Jones

    November 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    What are the reasons for waterlining and tightlining? I’ve never tried to apply eyeliner to the tightline, but I can’t seem to keep it in the waterline at all — it ends up in my eye within seconds.

    1. Nikki

      November 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      For waterline, you can use a dark color for a more intense look (smoky eyes and all that) or a nude color to make your eyes look bigger/more awake. Tightlining makes your lashline darker (and therefore your lashes look thicker), and it also helps get rid of any gaps under liquid liner if you do a cat eye. For that instead of putting liner on the inner rim, it’s actually easier to use a tiny brush and just smudge the liner at the base of your lashes. Rimmel pencils stay on my waterline pretty well, and so do the Marc Jacobs Highliners.

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