How to Apply Eyeliner Like A Pro: Our Complete Guide

Photo of a woman with eyeliner

Most of us have, at one point in our lives, tried to delve into the world of eyeliner but soon learned that it is not as easy to do as it originally seemed. When you don’t have any idea how to apply eyeliner, the task itself can seem rather daunting. There are even those of us who feel we have it pretty handled some days while other times the eyeliner will just not cooperate and we get the dreaded “raccoon” look. Luckily there has been plenty of tips and tricks released that now allows us to learn how to apply eyeliner like a pro. So let’s discuss how to achieve that perfect eye makeup look, for once and for all.

What is Eyeliner?

For those who are not as informed about eyeliner and what it actually is or does, it is a cosmetic that is typically used to define the eyes.  It is able to enhance the eye shape and color of an individual and can be done in a multitude of ways. Not to mention, there are different types of eyeliner that each will achieve a different level of intensity and drama. To fully know how to apply eyeliner, it is best to learn about the different eyeliners first, though.

Different Types

Photo of a woman with eyeliner

Eyeliner Pencil

Pencil eyeliners are used most often, particularly by those who don’t know as much about how to apply eyeliner. The only problem is it can have a high probability to smudge or even smear, so always make sure to use a pencil that is not too creamy to avoid that issue. You can even apply an eyeshadow that matches the color of the eyeliner over it to help seal it in and avoid the aforementioned smudging that can occur.

Gel And Cream Eyeliner

These eyeliners come in pots/jars and are used often by professional makeup artists and even some amateur makeup artists.  This is because it is long-lasting and has a more dramatic look with the richness of its color.  For people who live in humid climates or even those who typically have oily skin, this is a great option because it is far less likely to smear than a pencil eyeliner.

Powder/Cake Eyeliner

Using powder or “cake” eyeliner will give you a significantly softer look than any of the other eyeliner options would.  All you need to do is apply to the lash line and if it is a more dramatic look you’re going for, just wet the brush before applying the powder.  Pro Tip: Any highly pigmented eyeshadow that is already in your arsenal should do the trick because it will give the same effect as buying a special powder eyeliner.

Liquid Eyeliner

There are definite pros and cons to using liquid eyeliner.  The main pro is that if done right, it gives a defined and precise line and is especially helpful when trying to achieve a dramatic eye makeup look.  But if you either don’t fully know how to apply eyeliner or do not have a steady hand, then this can end in disaster. Be sure you know what look you are trying to achieve and also have a very steady hand when applying this to avoid any issues.

How to Apply Eyeliner Like a Pro

Woman applying makeup

Let’s start with the basics of eyeliner application.  The first thing one should always figure out when learning how to apply eyeliner is how thick the line should actually be in proportion to the size of the eyelid.  For instance, if someone has a larger eyelid, then it would be better for them to do a thicker line but with a possibly less bold or softer color of the eyeliner.  On the other hand, if someone has a smaller eyelid, then they should stick with doing a rich, deep color but with a thinner line for an overall more flattering look.

Furthermore, for those who have hooded eyes, it would be beneficial to “tight-line” or distribute a very thin line to the upper lash line and even add liner between the lashes.  Adding a thick application of mascara will finish off the look beautifully as well.  Finally, for those with drooping eyes, start at the inner corner of your eyelid with a thin line, and progressively add thickness to the line as you go to the outer corner.  It will, in a sense, reshape the eye as a whole and complement the makeup look in a truly gorgeous way.  

Wing It Out

Whenever applying liquid liner, it can be tricky.  But if you start out holding the upper lid of your eye taut and keep your hand as steady as possible, things should go more smoothly.  When applying the liquid eyeliner, try to use a fine point eyeliner to draw across the lash line until you get to the outer corner.  Once you’ve completed that, take the fine point tip of the liquid eyeliner and mark where you want the tip of your wing to be.  Then, proceed to angle it back towards the original line you made across your lash line to connect the two.   After you’ve made sure it flows perfectly into the eyeliner, you are ready to go.

Tips If You Don’t Have A Steady Hand

It can be an agonizing process to learn how to apply eyeliner if you are incapable of having a steady hand.  But there are still some valuable tips and tricks you can use to aid in the process.  One, in particular, says to dot along the base of the lash line and then connect the dots with the eyeliner to get the perfect look. You can also attempt other techniques, such as following the curve of the lash line to draw one line to the outer corner, by balancing your arm and hand and placing your elbow on a table as you do it.  This will help you have more control over the situation.

Always remember that adding a highlighter to the inner corner of the eye after applying any type of eyeliner will help complete your eye makeup in a beautiful, flattering way.  Also, if you make a mistake while applying the eyeliner, just use a Q-Tip with makeup remover to adjust it to your liking.

The Color Of Your Eyeliner

Photo of a woman's eye

There are no specific rules for picking the color of your eyeliner because many colors of eyeliner can complement different eye colors.  But if you want a dramatic look, it is better to go with deeper colors such as black, brown, plum, and gray.

Lining The Inside Of Your Eye: Yes or No?

There has been a back-and-forth conversation amongst makeup artists and experts on whether or not it is actually safe or needed to apply eyeliner to your waterline. Some worry that it introduces too much bacteria to the eye while others just think it takes away from an eye makeup look by making the eyes look smaller than they’re supposed to.  Regardless, if you prefer eyeliner on your waterline, just avoid bacteria by sharpening your pencil before using it and using waterproof eyeliner to help with tears making the liner not stay put.

Lower Lash Line Application Tips

This is another instance where it can be a matter of preference or what is more flattering on your eyes, but if you are going to apply eyeliner to your lower lash line, there are some helpful tips to follow before you do.  For one, only line the outer two-thirds of the eye.  This way it is not quite as a harsh and will give you a softer look.  Also, make sure you connect the lower lash line to the outer corner of the upper lash line to make it flow into each other, giving you a more put-together look.  Lastly, only apply a thin line to the lower lash line, so it is not as severe.


Woman applying eyeliner

Any time someone tries a new makeup technique who is not professionally trained in the makeup artist field, it can be a terrifying endeavor with, at times, disastrous results. It can even feel as though giving up is the only option. But thanks to the significant amount of tips and tricks on how to apply eyeliner which have been compiled into this list alone, the task of trying a new eyeliner technique shouldn’t seem as scary as it once did. The key is to learn the basics of the art of eyeliner application and work your way up.

It also is very helpful to know what compliments your eye shape, eyelid size, and even the color of your eyes before embarking on this. As long as there is plenty of time given to create the perfect winged eyeliner or even just a simple day look that may still require technique, then you will surely see improvements in your makeup look. There’s the added benefit of realizing that you did, in fact, do the seemingly impossible and learned how to apply eyeliner – properly this time.