Liquid eyeliner creates the most dramatic makeup looks, however, the application can be more difficult compared to the other types of eyeliner. To make sure you are able to get the sharpest wing, we have added the most thorough and comprehensive liquid eyeliner tutorial possible. Check out how to apply liquid eyeliner like a pro, following all the steps presented below!
Once the night ends, getting liquid eyeliner off can be tough, but I have a special trick up my sleeves for getting it to come off completely and without irritating the eyes – that’s in here too. If that’s not enough, I also added some must-know tips and tricks for using liquid eyeliner flawlessly.
In this article:
Liquid Eyeliner Application Tutorial
- Prepare your eyes – like the rest of your face, your eyes should be clean and moisturized before you start applying any makeup.
- Before applying your eyeliner it’s important that your eyes be primed. You can just use a concealer set with a bit of translucent powder, or opt for a dedicated eye primer like Urban Decay Primer Potion.
- Liquid eyeliner can look very fetching over bare eyes, but if you’re planning on wearing eyeshadow, make sure to apply it before putting on your liquid eyeliner. You might also want to curl your lashes and apply mascara first, especially if you find that your eyeliner tends to get on your lashes and cause them to clump.
- Eyeliner time! Lots of sources will tell you to start out with the wing first, and then move on to line above the lash line. I don’t think it actually matters, as long as you treat the two parts as separate from each other and only connect them at the very end.
- Open up your liquid eyeliner and, if necessary, wipe the brush off on the rim of the eyeliner tube to remove excess product. If you’re using a pen eyeliner that you don’t need to worry about this.
- Throughout the application you will likely need to reload your brush or pen tip with product. Either re-dip your brush into the liquid eyeliner tube or give your pen a shake to saturate the tip with more product.
- Make sure your dominant elbow is stabilized over a solid surface like your bathroom counter or vanity table.
- If starting with your lash line, get in position by tilting your head back so that you have to look downwards in order to look into the mirror. Pull your lid upwards gently with your non-dominant hand; this will ensure that you can get a thin line without any gap between the lashes and eyeliner.
- Begin drawing on your eyeliner using short strokes, as close to the top lash line as possible. Don’t worry too much about having the line be straight or smooth at the top, as you can correct that later. Focus on getting the liner almost in between your lashes.
- It doesn’t matter whether you start at the center of the eye and work your way inwards or forwards, or if you start at one end and work your way to the other – do whatever feels natural and gives you the most control.
- Do the same on the other eye.
- Give that first layer of liner a few seconds to set, and then examine it in the mirror. With your eyes open you can now smooth out and thicken the line by using longer strokes (or you can jump over to do the wings and finish this part later).
- The trick to getting this part of the liner even and equal on each side is to work gradually, going from one eye to the other for each correction, rather than trying to finish one eye and then doing the other.
- Now for the wing! Start by first determining what kind of wing angle you would like. A classic way to start is by choosing a wing that will line up with the angle of your lower lash line.
- Your eyeliner wing is essentially a triangle shape with an elongated tip, and you’ll want to start by drawing the lower liner of the triangle on each eye. Start that line by following the curve of your lower lash line. You may use one of the aids I described in the Tips & Tricks section to ensure that line is straight.
- For a really sharp and thin wingtip, complete the triangle on each eye by connecting its second line a little lower than where the first line ends. With your eyes open, pull that line down towards your eye, stopping it right at where the curve of your orbital bone starts.
- Fill in the little triangle with liquid liner on each eye, so you can have a complete and beautiful wing!
- Connect your wing to your eyeliner. Depending on the shape of your eye, you can do so by progressively making the lash line eyeliner a little thicker on the outer end or by pulling the upper wing line sharply downwards towards the lash line. You can also do a combination of both.
- While you will certainly find that having a super smooth and progressive angle will look nicer when your eyes are closed, this can actually look awkward and unflattering with your eyes open, especially if you have hooded eyes. This is why you want to examine your eyes while they are open to ensure that the wing and eyeliner connection looks seamless, and to mostly ignore what it looks like when your eyes are closed.
- Take a step or two back and look directly at the mirror – this will allow you to examine both eyes at the same time to ensure that they are even. You can now make any small corrections either by applying more eyeliner where necessary or by cleaning things up with a cotton bud dipped into concealer or eye primer.
- To turn this winged eyeliner look into a cat eye, start by applying your liquid eyeliner to the outer corner of the lower lash line in short strokes, keeping as close to the lash line as possible without veering into the waterline.
- Connect the liner on the lower lash line to the lower part of your wing, so it looks seamless.
- In short strokes apply the eyeliner in a thin line, stopping it either ¾ of the way away from your inner corner, or pulling it all the way to the inner corner and then connecting it to the eyeliner on the upper lash line by creating a very thin point.
- Examine your look again from a bit of a distance to ensure everything is even and symmetrical, and make any corrections.
- If everything is perfect and if you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to curl your lashes and apply mascara.
- Finish your makeup as you like! For a retro look, opt for a red lipstick and just a hint of neutral blush.
How to Remove Liquid Eyeliner
- Choose a good solvent. Oil-based makeup removers as well as straight oils like mineral oil or coconut oil will do the trick for almost all liquid eyeliners, including the most persistent formulas.
- Saturate a cotton pad with your liquid eyeliner remover of choice. This is some super-strong, smudge-proof eyeliner, so don’t be stingy.
- Place the cotton pad over your eye, and hold it in place for about 10-15 seconds. This will allow the remover to permeate through your eyeliner and mascara, properly breaking them down.
- Wipe the cotton pad over your eye in a gentle downward and outward motion.
- If there is still a bit of eyeliner left on your top lash line, fold the cotton pad and use it to gently wipe off the excess liner. If you can feel it dragging over your skin then stop, add a bit more remover and go back to holding it over your eye to break down the eyeliner further.
- For removing the eyeliner on the bottom lash line look up, and then use the cotton pad to remove the eyeliner that’s there, getting as close to the lash line as possible. Chances are just wiping will suffice, but if the eyeliner looks like it’s stuck firmly in place then repeat the process of holding the cotton pad over the eye for a few seconds and then wiping.
- If necessary, use a cotton bud dipped in makeup remover or oil to get rid of any bits of eyeliner stuck in between your eyelashes.
- Finish off your skin care routine as normal, by removing the rest of your makeup and applying various serums, moisturizers, and eye creams.
Other Liquid Eyeliner Tips & Hacks to Know
- Practice, practice, practice. No one has mastered the perfect liquid eyeliner after one try. It takes work and experimentation to learn which shapes work best for your eye, as well as to train your hand to draw those fine, precise lines.
- A cotton bud dipped into foundation, concealer, or eye primer can work like an eraser to help correct small mistakes. Use a rolling motion to remove or thin out your liquid eyeliner without smudging or ruining the bulk of it. Don’t try doing this with makeup remover, as it is a little messier and it might remove layers of foundation or cause the rest of your eyeliner to smudge.
- While I do suggest checking the symmetry and trying to perfect your eyeliner, don’t go overboard. The eyes themselves are rarely perfectly symmetrical so achieving truly symmetrical eyeliner is impossible. No one is going to examine you straight on to see if your eyeliner is perfectly symmetrical, so there is a point where you’re allowed to say “this is good enough” and to let your eyeliner be.
- Anything with a straight edge can act as a guide when you apply your liquid eyeliner, if you find it difficult to create a straight line. A credit card, a piece of paper, and even the back end of a knife can act as guides. My personal favorite, however, is a piece of medical tape, since it stays in place all on its own and it doesn’t hurt or damage the skin when removed. It might take a bit of work to figure out which angle flatters you best, but a good place to start would be to line up your line with the end of your nose and the outer corner of your eye. Use that as the stencil for the lower line of your eyeliner wing.
- Double or triple up on products. Filling in the whole eye with a liquid eyeliner can be time-consuming, so applying a pencil eyeliner first and then finessing the edges is a totally acceptable way to go.
- You can also carve out your wing with a shadow first, and then go over it with a liquid eyeliner. This is a great method, since correcting eyeshadow is easier than correcting liquid eyeliner.
- The right mirror will go a long way towards making the application easier. A wall-mounted magnifying makeup mirror that can be moved around a bit will totally change your eyeliner game, by allowing you to examine your look from a few different angles. A regular wall-mounted mirror is important, as well, as it will allow you to examine your eyeliner from a distance and check the symmetry.
- Don’t bother with gimmicky tips like drawing dots or putting your eyeliner on your eyelash curler – they don’t really work.
- There are two schools of thought when it comes to when mascara should be applied. Some folks find that their mascara smudges or transfers over to the lid very easy, so it ends up ruining their hard work on the eyeliner, in which case it’s definitely worth applying first. For others it’s difficult to apply liquid eyeliner through the enhanced and lengthened lashes. Personally, I prefer first applying a thin layer of eyeliner close to my eyelid, then curl my lashes and apply mascara, and then finish off the eyeliner. Often the lengthened lashes on the outer corner also help act as guides for my eyeliner wing, which is a bonus.
- If you have close-set eyes then don’t bring the eyeliner too close to your inner corner. Instead, have it taper off about ¾ of the way in.
- If you’d like to give your eyes a rounder and more doll-like shape, apply your liquid eyeliner in an arch-like shape where the line is a little thicker and more rounded right above the pupil.
- If you’d like to elongate the eye, then apply the eyeliner in a gradual shape where it is thinnest closer to the inner corner of the eye and becomes gradually thicker the closer it gets to the outer corner of the eye.
- Some liquid eyeliners (though none of the ones we’ve recommended) take longer to set and can accidentally smudge if you blink. You can use a fan or a blow dryer to speed up their drying time.
- Contrary to what some sources suggest, you do not need to set a modern liquid eyeliner with powder or shadow! These modern formulas are going to set just fine on their own, and a powder or shadow will only cover them up, reduce their luster and make their edges less crisp.
- Black liquid eyeliner is not the end-all and be-all. Metallic liquid eyeliners are super popular these days, and we are also starting to see the rise of neon liquid eyeliners. Deeper browns, mauves, and navies are also fun to play around with.
- If it seems like your pen eyeliner is getting dry, try giving it a clean! Often, it’s just the brush tip that gets a little clogged up with dried liquid eyeliner, so by wiping it down with a paper towel saturated with brush cleaner you can get it clean and working good as new.
Photos via Instagram