How to apply eyeliner

Updated April 17, 2017

You can go from soft and natural to smoky and sultry by merely applying eyeliner. Eyeliner shapes and adds depth to eyes, making them appear larger and more noticeable. Eyeliner comes in two main forms: pencils and liquids. Pencils can be used to create a more natural look because they can be applied lightly and smudged to make a softer line. Liquids make bold, well-defined lines, which creates drama. Whichever eyeliner alternative you choose, it's important to apply it correctly.

Stand in front of a well-lit mirror. Rest the elbow of your dominant hand on the table or counter in front of you. Tilt your head back so that your eyes are half-open. Make sure that you can see your whole eyelid.

Roll the tip of the pencil in between your fingers to soften it if you are using a pencil liner. If you are using a liquid, check the liquid liner for clumps.

Pull your eyelid gently up and to the side away from your nose. Start at the inner corner of the eye. If you are using a pencil, draw short, feathery lines across your upper eyelid, as close to the lash line as possible. If you are using a liquid liner, draw a smooth, continuous line across your upper eyelid, as close to the lash line as possible. Allow the liquid liner to dry before opening your eyes or the liner may smear.

Smudge the line with your finger, cotton swab or a smudging brush if you are using a pencil. Rub lightly at the top of the line up and toward the outer corner. Do not rub if you are using a liquid liner.

Draw a line staring at the outside corner of your eye across your bottom lid in the same manner as you did the upper lid. If you want a more natural look, only line one-third to two-thirds of your bottom eyelid. If you want a more dramatic look, line the whole lid. Keep in mind that outlining all the way around your eyes can make them appear smaller.


For a more dramatic look, draw the line on the top lid a little thicker towards the outside corner. Dip a cotton swab into eye make-up remover to fix any mistake you may have made.


Never line the inside of the lower eyelid. Not only can doing so make your eyes look smaller, it can irritate them and even cause an infection.

Things You'll Need

  • Eyeliner pencil or liquid
  • Cotton swab or smudging brush (optional)
  • Eye make-up remover (optional)
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About the Author

Nicolle Gunay worked in the fashion industry for several years before becoming a teacher. She has an Associate of Science in fashion design and a Bachelor of Arts in theater from Florida Atlantic University.