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How to apply eyeliner: The essential tips to make a sleek line easier

How to apply eyeliner: The essential tips to make a sleek line easier
Acing smooth and even eyeliner is one of the hardest makeup approaches to get right.

Whether it’s a sweeping feline flick or tracing your eyelids with an unassuming brown pencil liner, it’s not always easy to ace a perfect finish.

In fact, we’d go as far as saying the getting eyeliner right, especially liquid liner, is one of the hardest beauty approaches to learn.

Everyone’s eye shape is unique, which means following guidance designed for everyone sometimes isn’t that helpful, and this is where trial and error comes in. But there are a few things that can make the learning process easier.

Choose the right eyeliner

Select an eyeliner product that suits your preference and skill level.

The easiest option is a soft kohl pencil or smooth, glidable gel pencil with rich pigment you can smudge slightly to disguise an uneven finish.

An stiff angle brush dipped into a pot of gel liner and ‘stamped or dragged along your lash line is also a good beginner option. Even eyeshadow applied with a brush along the lash line is a good way of making it look like you’re wearing liner while you’re still learning.

Undoubtedly expert-level liner is the liquid variety that comes with a brush or pen tip. 

Use quality tools

Invest in good-quality eyeliner brushes or pencils with a fine tip for precision. Make sure pencils are sharpened as fine pencil tips or fine brush tips make application easier.

Steady your hands

Find your hands wavering? We can relate, but steadying your hands is crucial. Rest your elbow (of the hand you’re using to apply the liner) on a table or surface or steady your hand by touching your face lightly with your pinky finger or resting the heel of your hand on your cheek.

Instead of standing at a mirror you could try sitting at a table and using a small mirror propped up to look into so you can rest your elbow.

Best eyeliners 2023

L-R: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner; Maybelline Hyper Easy Eyeliner; Clinique High Impact Easy Liquid Liner; Stila Stay All Day Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner: Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner

Start with small strokes

Instead of attempting a single continuous line, start with small dashes or dots along your lash line. Then, connect them for a smoother line.

When applying liner to the upper lash line, start at the outer corner and work your way in. For the lower lash line, begin at the inner corner and move out.

Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look perfect at first, either remove and start again, or just try again next time – practice makes perfect!

Don’t be tempted to start trying right before you’re due out the door for a special event – the pressure can be too much and you might disturb the rest of your makeup. Instead, give it a try when you have plenty of time up your sleeve.

Adjust your eyeliner technique to your eye shape. For example, those with hooded eyes may need to keep the line thinner to avoid hiding their eyelids. 

Create a guideline

A hack that’s often seen on Instagram and TikTok, using a guideline can get your outer flicks precision sharp. Use a piece of scotch tape, a business card or even a Post-It note as a guideline. Place it so it extends out and up from your lower lash line at the desired angle and trace along it with your liner, then carefully take the guide tool away once the liner has set.

You can also use a pencil or light eyeshadow to sketch in a line as a guide you can then go over with a liquid liner.

Try starting your liner with the wing first and then join the rest of your line up.

Try an eye primer

Use an eyeshadow primer before you begin, to create a smooth canvas for your eyeliner and help anchor it in place.

Consider tightlining

An extra touch that can make your lashes appear thicker, tightlining is when you apply gel or pencil liner to your upper waterline (the rim beneath your lashes) or by dotting eyeliner between your lashes. You may need to place your finger on your eyelid and lift it slightly to get the best and angle and it’s best to use a quick-drying gel pencil that wont run.

Clean up your mistakes

Keep some cotton swabs and makeup remover handy to clean up any mistakes or smudges. If you make a big boo-boo, let it dry and use a cotton tip dipped in makeup remover or saturate an angled brush in makeup remover and use it to sweep away the mistake.


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