Beauty 101: "I Suck At Putting On Eyeliner"

Illustration for article titled Beauty 101: "I Suck At Putting On Eyeliner"

Yesterday, I asked our commenters if there were any beauty basics they felt they just couldn't master. The response was overwhelming, so I've decided we're going to tackle one of these beauty basic bummers each weekend. Lesson #1: Eyeliner.


I was struck by the number of responses and the honest and humor in the comments: it appears that there are many of us who never really learned how to do the so-called "basics," though we all apparently assumed that everyone else had. I guess not, eh?

So here's how this is series is (hopefully) going to work: much like we did with constipation cures, I'm going to solicit beauty advice on specific topics from our makeup-savvy readers, and then round them up in a big, helpful post for those of us who are, uh, not as cosmetically-inclined. Over the next few weekends, we'll be touching on hair issues, blush problems, nail woes, lipstick queries, waxing and shaving worries, and so on and so forth. Today, we're going to concentrate on eyeliner.

While scanning the 1000+ comments left on yesterday's Beauty 101 thread, I noticed that eyeliner popped up quite frequently as a makeup basic many women felt they just couldn't get the hang of:

I can't do liquid eyeliner whatsoever. Nada, not at all. The line tends to look like the Fraiser logo, and then I blink and I end up with a matching line just below my eyebrow.

I've never been able to apply liquid eyeliner. I always make it too thick and end up looking like Amy Winehouse.

I suck at putting on eyeliner on my eyelid. It looks horrible and I can never get it to look like a straight thick line.

I cannot do eyeliner - is it supposed to go INSIDE the outer edge of your eye? that seems so unsanitary! but if it's outside I can't get it close to the edge, it's just glorified eyeshadow!

One word: eyeliner. I'm 30, and I still can't put the stuff on.

I'll admit that I have my own issues with eyeliner; I've tried tricks I've read in magazines, but playing "connect the dots" with the stuff usually ends up with my eyes looking like one of those maps little Billy creates by running through a panel of Family Circus. It's...not cute.


So help your fellow Jezebels out! If you have any tips or tricks when it comes to applying eyeliner, either leave them in the comments below.

Update: Your answers have been posted!


Earlier: Beauty 101: Which Basic Beauty Skills Did You Never Quite Get The Hang Of?
The Reader's Treasury Of Constipation Cures


Baberaham Lincoln

Ok guys. I might be late to the party here since the answers have already been posted, but I've been rocking liquid cat eyes since 7th grade. Not only that, but I'm a neurotic perfectionist, and a squiggly line will just. not. do.

The trick to straight liner is in the tools, not the person applying it. Anybody can do this with enough practice.

Necessary tool #1: a good applicator. For me, anything with a brush-type end is really difficult to use. I have much better luck with felt pen applicators. Basically, the firmer and shorter, the easier to control. Also don't be afraid to mix and match applicators and eyeliner, and always save, wash, and re-use applicators (especially varying sizes) that you like. I've bought some eyelining pens that have great applicator tips, but the ink sucks and drys up, so instead, I dip the pen in one of those creme/gel pot eyeliners like Loreal H.I.P. Which brings me to...

Necessary tool #2: good eyeliner. This is really just personal preference. You'll probably go through a few before you decide what you like. Some liquids come out shiny, some matte. Pencils vary RADICALLY (although I've tried a LOT of different eyeliner pencils, and hands-down the best, richest, softest, most draw-able one I've ever found continues to be that classic staple, the 99-cent Wet-N-Wild black eyeliner). Loreal has some nice liquids too, but lately I'm loving the resurgence of gel and creme eyeliners because they're flexible like pencil and don't flake off like liquid can, but still have that sharp, dramatic liquid look and dry to being smudgeproof. The brush that comes with the Loreal H.I.P. liner sucks, so I use one of my old felt-tip applicators and/or the pointy end of a manicure stick or toothpick. (Toothpicks can be helpful when correcting a teeny spot, but be CAREFUL - this is not a subway activity!)

You might also want to consider mixing types of liner. Liquid liner can start to flake and drag off if you keep fucking with it and going over your lines. Sometimes it's worth doing a line of liquid first, and then a line of creme/gel over it. Or, if you find it easier to put on pencil but want the look of liquid, you can lay down pencil first as a guide, slide the liquid down on top of that, and clean up the edges with a Q-tip, which brings me to...

Necessary tool #3: Moist Q-tips.

You think my liner goes on straight? Fuck no. Nobody can put that shit on perfectly, evenly, and symmetrically every time. I probably spend more time correcting my lines with Q-tips than actually drawing the line on. It's really, really fine, minute work. Sometimes you're literally just gently tapping at the edge of a line to try to bump it down, like, 1/8 of a millimeter in one spot. There's a lot of drawing the line on, then correcting with a Q-tip, then going back and filling in spots I took too much out of, and then having to tamp that piece of the line down a bit, and so on. It can get intense.

And yes, I lick the Q-tip. So sue me.

As much as I wish it were effortless, perfect bold eyeliner is not a low-maintenance project. When I go to do my eyeliner, I'm literally surrounded by an arsenal of different-sized applicators, toothpicks, Q-tips, pencil, liquid, and creme eyeliners. But once you practice and get your technique down, you can at least make it relatively quick and frustration-free.

Bonus tip: Diet Cat Eye

If you want a fun eyeliner look but don't have time to do all this crazy shit, do really black thick mascara (and kind of grind it into the lashline), smudge a bit of black eyeliner pencil in the outer corners and edges of your eyes, and then use a Q-tip, a smudger tool, or your finger to sweep n' drag that smudgyness out and slightly up in a cat eye motion. You can keep using your tools to manipulate the wing and clean up any out of place smudgieness. If it's not working, lick a Q-tip, clean your area, and re-smear the liner that's still in the corner (add more pencil if you need to). In general, it's a lot easier to "smear" a cat eye wing than to draw it - you get a much more naturally-pointy line. Even when I do thick, dramatic cat eye liner with liquid, I usually make the wing with this "smear" method and then trace over with liquid only on the thicker part.

Good luck kids!