How to Apply Kohl Eye Liner

Updated April 17, 2017

Kohl liner has been used for centuries to line and enhance the eye. Today, the term "kohl" is applied to eyeliners designed for smudging and creating a smouldering, smoky look. Many people choose to use kohl on their waterlines, or the inside of the lower lash line, because their oily formulation helps them stay in place. Kohl liners tend to be soft pencils that glide onto the skin smoothly and lend themselves well to blending.

Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before touching the area around your eye or handling the kohl pencil.

Warm the liner by pressing the tip gently on the top of your hand. Roll the tip of the liner around on your hand several times to heat the product for easier application.

Hold the liner in the hand you usually write with. Press the bottom of your eye, just beneath the lash line, with the index finger of your other hand. This will expose your waterline.

Place the tip of the liner on your waterline, at the corner of your eye, near the tear duct. Look up into your mirror.

Glide the pencil along the waterline. Colour the area with one smooth motion or several short dashes, depending on your preference.

Release your waterline by removing your index finger from your lower eyelid, then close your eye.

Place the liner on top of your lid at the inner corner of your eye. Look into the mirror with your other eye. With practice, you may be able to line your eye with your lid slightly open, however, it's best to begin with the eye closed.

Draw a line right next to the natural lash line using the kohl. Use short dashes, then fill in the line rather than lining the lid with one single swipe. Line the entire lash line from corner to corner.

Use the cotton swab to smudge the liner on the upper lid and create a smoky look. Simply blend the colour out gently, smoothing away the harsh line.


Stop using the kohl liner if you experience any itching, redness, pain or discomfort.

Things You'll Need

  • Kohl liner
  • Mirror
  • Cotton swab
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About the Author

Ava Perez cut her journalism teeth in 2005 while balancing her university studies with a voracious appetite for fashion, music and beauty. Her music reviews, interviews and editorials have been published in numerous magazines worldwide. She specializes in writing beauty, health and fitness-related articles for various websites. Perez holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from York University.