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This Trick Helped Me Master Liquid Eyeliner Application

Beautiful pink-haired woman shows off her perfect eyeliner in pink beret
Lydia Hrycko

Eyeliner has long been the most powerful tool in my makeup kit. I’d choose it every time in what-if scenarios where I’m forced to give up some of my favourite makeup products (goodbye contour, foundation and yes, even lipstick). Luckily for me in 2020, eyeliner is pretty much all you see when I’m bundled up with my mask and a winter hat on.

Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tried-and-true tips that make for the best eyeliner application. I’ll specify that while some of these will work for any type (gel or pencil), they’re specifically for how to put on liquid eyeliner.

Photo of girl with pink hair wearing pink beret looking to camera with large winged eyeliner


First things first, you have to prime if you want a sharp line that lasts all day (and night, I don’t know your life). Whether you’re doing an eyeshadow look or not, I always recommend starting with a primer to ensure your liquid eyeliner doesn’t smudge. Next, apply your eyeshadow – even if I’m not really doing a shadow look I’ll apply a shade close to my own skin tone just to ensure that I have a nice base to work on. I find that applying liquid eyeliner over a shadow allows for a smoother application with less cling. Applying over a completely bare eyelid can be the opposite – too slippery from the natural oils of your skin. The primer and shadow base is my sweet spot where the liner works best, gliding on but still giving me precision.

Related: We tried $675 worth of 2020 beauty makeup trends and here’s what we learned.

Photo of girl looking down with sharp winged eyeliner

Now, the application. I start applying the liner about one-third of the distance from my inner corner and work in small strokes to create a line all the way across the lid as close to the lash line as possible. I work out towards the end of my eye, going back and thickening the line if needed. Then I go back in and fill the innermost corner of the liner – this is the part where I want the line to be the thinnest, so I do it last, after I’ve established the width of the rest of my liner.

Now that we have the liner on our lid, it’s time to create our wing or cat-eye look. Finding the right angle for a wing can be tricky at first and I’m a fan of a wing that’s not too straight across. A more angled wing will create the illusion of longer lashes and make your eyes look bigger and more doll-like.


Here’s my pro-tip:

When applying your wing, start by drawing an imaginary line from the bottom of your closest nostril to the end of your eyebrow on the eye your working on. Follow this angle to create the outer corner of your wing, making it as little or as big as you choose.

Photo of girl with pink hair and large dramatic eyeliner

For me, bigger is better. As long as my liner isn’t meeting up with the end of my eyebrow, I’m happy with it but you might like a more subtle look. Always start small and adjust as needed. It is so much easier to make your wing bigger than to wipe everything off and start over because you’ve gone overboard.

Finishing the perfect liquid eye application

Once you have it to your desired length, finish off the wing in whatever style you like. For a cat-eye look, fill in the final line of your triangle wing. For a batwing liner (which is often a preference for those with hooded eyes), draw a small straight line from where the tip of your wing. Fill in the corner where the lines meet.

Voila! You’re done! Hopefully, it looks something like this. The perfect liner takes time and practice so don’t stress if it doesn’t turn out perfect every time – and especially if you have trouble matching up your wings on each perfectly. Like eyebrows, they should look related but some days they’ll be sisters and some days, distant cousins. I find that on the days when I think they’re wildly different, I’ll still get compliments! It’s likely that you’ll be able to tell more than anyone else.

There are tons of eyeliner styles you can experiment and there’s no one “correct” way to do it. I’ve found over the years that this is what works well for me, but if the angle of this wing isn’t right for you, switch it up and find whatever feels right for you. And eventually, you and your winged liner will be ready to fly.


Related: How anxiety ruined my skin and how to fix it.

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