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Eyeliner as a makeup product used to outline the perimeter of the eye. It comes in many forms and can be applied in multiple styles with different techniques. Keep reading the ultimate guide to eyeliner to learn everything you need to know about this staple makeup item!

Makeup Glossary

The Ultimate Guide to Eyeliner

Eyeliner is a makeup product that can truly transform a look!

It can be extremely subtle, or it can be the focus of your eye makeup look. Use it to lightly define, or draw winged eyeliner to make a statement.

Eyeliner is available in many different forms, and some types of eyeliner are better than others for specific techniques and styles.

Types of Eyeliner

The wide range of eyeliner products include pencil formulas, gel and cream formulas, and liquid varieties!

Let’s go over each type of eyeliner individually.

Pencil Eyeliner

Pencil eyeliners are exactly what they sound like – eyeliners in a solid, pencil form.

Just like traditional writing pencils, eyeliner pencils can come in a wooden casing that must be sharpened [use a cosmetics sharpener, not your normal pencil sharpener!) or can be mechanical and twist-up.

For convenience, I prefer to use mechanical (sometimes labeled “automatic”) eyeliners. Makeup artists would likely choose traditional wooden eyeliners because they can be sanitized easier in between clients.

Pencil eyeliners are perfect for tightlining your eye. Tightlining involves applying eyeliner in your eye’s waterline to create a thin line of definition right around your eyes! Another bonus to tightlining is that it makes your eyelashes appear thicker and fuller.

TIP: Tightlining also makes false lashes blend into your real lashes much better! Try it out! 

Additionally, pencil eyeliners are the best choice for your lower waterline and below your lashline – just make sure you have a waterproof formula!

Pencil eyeliners aren’t always the most long-lasting makeup product, but they are the quickest and easiest to use for beginners.

Another TIP: Winged eyeliner is extremely hard with pencils! Opt for a gel or liquid instead if a sharp wing is your goal.

Gel Eyeliner

Gel eyeliner comes in a small container with a lid. It’s a creamy formula that glides on your eye very easily!

Because this product comes in a pot with no applicator, you will need to get a brush to apply it. There are a few different styles of eyeliner brushes, such as flat, angled, and bent:

Try out a couple types to see which one you are most comfortable with using!

Because gel eyeliners are thick creams, they tend to be very pigmented – aka VERY dark! If you’re looking for the most opaque black eyeliner you can get, I suggest a gel formula.

Once the gel dries down, this type of eyeliner stays on forever. Gels do not typically flake or wear off easily, and many will require an oil based makeup remover to take off (they can be stubborn!).

Gels are best used on your upper lashline and for winged eyeliner.

Here’s an example of someone using a bent brush with gel eyeliner:

Liquid Eyeliner

If you’re looking for the easiest way to learn how to wing your eyeliner, liquid is probably the way to go.

Liquid eyeliners come in tubes with an applicator built into the product. There are two types of applicators on liquid eyeliner: felt tip and brush.

Felt tip eyeliners are similar to super thin, tiny markers! They work the same way, releasing product out of the pointed tip.

Brush tip eyeliners have very thin brushes attached to the cap of the product.

One type isn’t better than the other, it solely depends on your personal preference.

I personally prefer liquid brush tip eyeliners for creating my winged eyeliner!

Remember, you can use liquid (and gel) eyeliner without winging it out, too.

Eyeliner Colors and Finishes

While the most popular color of eyeliner is black, there are many colors you can use!


Defines the eye in a bold, dark way! Looks fantastic on almost all makeup looks and works for every skin shade. Blends great with mascara for added definition.


Gives definition without being harsh! Great for natural or softer looks.


Makes your eyes POP when worn on your lower waterline! Gives the appearance of larger, brighter eyes.


Super fun to use, and compliments both neutral and bright makeup looks.


Flat color, most often achieved with liquid eyeliners. Some eyeliners may be too creamy to be entirely matte, but they aren’t usually shiny.


Speaking of shiny – metallic finishes give you a shiny effect. Most often in the color gold.


Adds sparkle to your look in a quick and easy way. Easy to apply AND wash off – and eye safe!

Eyeliner Tips and Tricks

  • Take your time!

If you rush your eyeliner, chances are you’ll mess something up! You definitely don’t want to accidentally get eyeliner on your eyeshadow or other makeup and have to re-do it.

  • Use the tape trick

If you need help getting a sharp winged eyeliner look, take a small piece of eyeliner tape to use as a guide. When you’re done, pull it away to reveal a perfectly straight line.

  • Clean up the edges with micellar water and concealer

Mess up a little bit? Take micellar water on a pointed cotton swab (or even a clean eyeliner brush!) and wipe away the mistakes. You can also take a little bit of full coverage concealer to cover any eyeliner that went out of the lines!

  • Do both eyes at the same time

I find that if I do my eyeliner on one eye, finish it, and then go focus on my other eye, they never look the same! One is thicker or longer than the other, and then I have to even them out.

A trick to fix this is to work on both eyes at the same time. For example, if you draw a line outwards for a wing, do your left eye and then your right eye BEFORE moving on to the next step. This helps you focus on a small task at a time while keeping both eyes in mind, helping them be more symmetrical in the end.

Ultimate Guide to Eyeliner! Everything you need to know about this staple makeup item.

I hope this ultimate guide to eyeliner was helpful for you!

What is your favorite eyeliner? Do you have any other tips to share? Put them in the comments!

xoxo, Kailey


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