9 Ways You’re Using Your Eyeliner Incorrectly, So You Can Stop Looking Like You Slept In Your Makeup

by Lynsey Macdonald

Even the most makeup savvy among us goes through it. You’ve just created a perfect, cat eye that would make Angelina Jolie jealous. But then you move on to eye number two, and all makeup hell breaks loose. Your eyeliner wings are completely uneven and you’ve ruined that gorgeous smokey eyeshadow you worked so hard on. You’re left wondering where it all went wrong and in what ways are you using your eyeliner incorrectly.

When it comes to applying makeup, some products are easier to master than others. Foundation? Blend over face and avoid leaving any gaps. Mascara? Coat top and bottom lashes, usually with mouth open because it’s almost impossible not to. But eyeliner? Eyeliner, can seem like the Ulysses of beauty products. Much like the book that only the most determined of intellects will ever finish, eyeliner is the product all true beauty enthusiasts must try, but only an intrepid few will become experts at using.  

As someone with a professional makeup artistry qualification under their belt, I can tell you first hand that consistently achieving the perfect eyeliner is indeed a skill. There are, however, a few basic things you can do to make this process a bit easier. Here are nine ways you might be using your eyeliner incorrectly and the super simple ways to fix them .


You Haven’t Fully Explored Your Eyeliner Options

Just because a product works wonders for everyone else doesn’t mean it works for you. I, for one, experimented with the beloved gel eyeliner for years before realizing it wasn’t meant for me. Thankfully there are many varieties out there, including liquid, gel, kohl pencil, and even eyeshadow on an brush. So don’t despair if a YouTube star’s recommendation doesn’t agree with you. Trying a different texture of product might just do the trick.

L'Oreal Paris The Super Slim Eyeliner, $8.49, Amazon

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner, $7.94, Amazon

ELF Kohl Eyeliner, $6, Amazon

LORAC Pro Matte Eyeshadow Palette, $28, Amazon


You Aren’t Actually Using Eyeliner

These days, people are using colored pencils as eyeliners. Sounds bizarre, right? Although a neon eye looks amazing, be sure to pick up that pencil from an actual makeup counter, where it has been thoroughly tested to make sure it won’t upset your peepers.

Wet N Wild Eyeliner Pencil in Cool Green, $4.39, Amazon


You're Not Sanitizing Your Eyeliner Pencil

As with any makeup applicator, your eyeliner pencils need to be kept clean to avoid spreading infection. Your eyes are super sensitive and the last thing you want is to reintroduce an eye infection after it has cleared up. So keep your eyeliner pencil nice and clean using a sanitiser mist or some rubbing alcohol. Don’t have that to hand? Then simply sharpen them!

Cosmetic Sanitizer Mist, $21.75, Amazon


4. You’re Not Sharpening Your Pencil Enough

Keeping your pencil sharp can really help you create nice, sharp lines. For a softer, more smudgey look, a softened point can work wonders, but for a good, clean line (and to avoid that horrible scratchy sensation on your waterline), regularly sharpening your pencil is a must. Invest in a quality sharpener, like the Nars Pencil Sharpener from Sephora ($6)

Nars Pencil Sharpener, $6, Check It Out


You’re Using The Wrong Brush

To clarify, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the type of brush. That being said,if a you’re still struggling to create the perfect look with your gel eyeliner, the problem may lie in the tool. For some, a narrow angled brush does the trick, while for others, a slim, straight, pointed one gets that wing just right. You can even buy brushes that have an angled handle, like this Laura Mercier Angled Eye Liner Brush ($20), rather than angled hairs, which can be an absolute savior if you feel like your hand constantly gets in the way of your cat eye. 

Laura Mercier Angled Eye Liner Brush, $20, Check It Out


You’re Leaving Eye Makeup Till The End

Once you’re an eyeliner pro, you can draw your flicks in at any point in the makeup application process. But if you find it a bit tricky, do your eyes first. Not only does it mean you can enjoy making up the rest of your face, but if something does go wrong, you won’t ruin a flawless base.


7. You’re Keeping Eyeliner Past The Expiration Date

So if your liner isn’t gliding on like it used to, it might be as simple as throwing your liner in the trash and picking up shiny new one! Who doesn’t love a makeup shopping trip anyway?


You’re Drawing The Wing With Your Eyes Closed

As tempting as it is to snap your lids shut as that brush approaches, the only way you’re going to create the perfect cat eye is to apply the eyeliner with your eyes open. Looking straight ahead in the mirror means you can plot out exactly where you want your flicks to go. To create the perfect look, follow the natural line of your eye, coming up from your bottom lashes and flicking out.


You’re Being Too Cautious

When you’re nervous about ruining your makeup, you’re tempted to take the soft approach. But this is not the best way to handle your eyeliner. Being overly cautious can impact the grip on your applicator, meaning an unsteady hand. Just go for it, and remember if you make a mistake you can start over. That’s the beauty of makeup, after all.

Images: Courtesy of Tom Kershaw/Flickr; Giphy (9)