One of the questions I’m most frequently asked, both as a Makeup Artist and being an eyeliner junkie (and wearer most days) myself, is how?! How to apply it, how to do flicks/ cat eye liner and how to get it to stay put! Considering it’s one the the most worn, basic makeup products around, globally, it often seems to be the one a lot of people have issues and struggles with, the makeup wearers nemesis! Even us most seasoned liner users succumb to it’s evil ways sometimes. You know yourself…makeup’s on point even if you do say so yourself, but it needs that something extra to complete the look…liner! Feeling good, visualising a pair of sexy little feline flicks and bang…fear sets in, the liner can sense it and an otherwise pretty and put together turns in to an anger inducing mess! People find it hard to believe that this happens to us professionals too, but it does! Never on someone else (I’m happy to confirm, haha) but on the odd occasion it does go wrong, it’s on myself and usually when I have 5 minutes to get out of the house, grrr!
Everyone’s seen the internet meme’s about eyeliner sensing fear and as funny as it is and unfortunately accurate at times, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s lots of things you can do to minimise the horror of an eyeliner mishap and tips and tricks to make sure you’re cool, calm and ready to line and define like a boss!
Firstly, the type of liner you choose has a huge impact on the style of liner you’re going to achieve. For example, a soft, smudgy kohl pencil is going to give the most beautiful, sultry smoky liner, but not so much a ‘so sharp you could cut someone’ accurate wing, which you would get with a liquid or gel liner. Here, I’m going to concentrate on the non pencil varieties, just as they do take a bit more time/ effort/ skill to master. You can definitely get it down to a fine art though, a bit of know how, patience and practice is all you need!
If you’ve not even so much as picked up a liquid liner before, I’d recommend starting off with either a gel liner in a pot (like Inglot AMC Brow Liner Gel – Available direct in UK and Ireland), with either a fine tip (like the MAC 209 brush available from MAC) or angled brush (like the MAC 263 brush available from MAC) or one of the ‘felt tip’ brush style ones, I love the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper (Available from Debenhams*). Both can be used in a kind of join the dots way, so instead of a one sweep liner, you can dash it on bit by bit to build up the intensity that you want.
➕ For a seamless look, always line the upper, inner lid (tightline) with a pencil (or with your gel liner, just not liquid or pen)…it’ll make you lashes look thicker, your liner more intense and will make sure there’s no fleshy gaps, which will in turn make your liquid liner look neater.
➕ To widen and lift your eyes (great if they’re close set too), keep your liner to the outer half of the eye only.
➕ Staying calm is key…at the end of the day, it’s makeup, you can take it off, try not to worry and just take your time!
➕ While on the point of removal, that’s often more important than the application itself! You can use a Q-tip and some micellar water (just try to avoid oil based removers as it’ll make it difficult to reapply/ might make the rest of your liner run!) or even a clean angled brush with some concealer will do the trick, just to tidy up the edges and clean up any mistakes.
➕ For symmetrical feline flicks, do each one bit by bit…so instead of doing one and trying to match up the other, so a bit on one eye and alternate until you’re happy with how it looks.
➕ If you’d rather do one eye at a time and if you’re more used to wearing liquid liner, just try and do the eye that you struggle with the most first. You know how you do one eye perfectly, then mess up the other, this way, by doing your ‘bad eye’ first, you’re more likely to succeed matching up your ‘good eye’.
➕ If, like me, you have slightly hooded eyes/ heavier lids (also a great tip for a more mature eye) instead of closing the eye/ pulling the lid taut (which can result in a wonky line), look straight on in to a mirror and apply your liner with your eye open. It might not look straight when your eye is closed, but will look perfect when it’s open, which is all that matters!
➕ If your lid is hooded, extend out your liner slightly, up and towards your hairline, before going in with a flick…it’ll give you more space to work with, a smoother area for your flick and will elongate and lift your eyes.
➕ When you start your flick, hold the brush/ pen over where you would like your flick to finish/ end, once you have it in place make contact with your skin, apply pressure and lightly pull the brush/ pen back towards your eye, connecting to your straight liner. You can then take your time to fill it in and thicken it to how you want it…it takes the pressure of getting the flick right off and a perfect, even result!
➕ Create the shape of the wing you want with a pen/ eye pencil before going in and tracing over with liquid (I like the NYX matte liquid – available from Boots*) for a super black, intense finish.
➕ If you find it easier, remember you can always use tape or a card to get a straight line too, there are no rules as such, just do what you feel best doing!
➕ If your hand isn’t so steady, do your liner in a freestanding mirror and rest your elbow on a table surface for more stability.
➕ Instead of trying to close one eye to do the other and ending up with a wonky line…look down in to a mirror to do your liner, this way you have full access to your eye area and can see everything properly!
➕ You can use a bit of dark eyeshadow on an angled brush to diffuse the line for a softer look or if it doesn’t look as even as you’d like too.
My last tip is just to practice! It really does make perfect and means you’re less likely to go wrong when it matters, even if you just have a few minutes of practice at the end of the day before your makeup comes off…what’s the worst that could happen?