The (eye)Liner is Finer

Not just a quote by one of my favorite bands of all time, but a reference  to makeup. More specifically, eyeliner. I know many people are plagued by eyeliner: How do you put it on straight? What kind is easiest to use? Is there a certain color I should wear? All of these questions are pretty common but I think the best advice is: practice putting it on, play with the different varieties to find out which is easiest for you, and experiment with color!

One of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received is Kevyn Aucoin’s book Making Faces. He was an amazing makeup artist and I can flip through this book anytime because it is still so amazing. He was a master of makeup. He could make anyone up. If you don’t believe me, check out his books for the before/after photos. What he knew to do was to use makeup to enhance features you love and mask the ones you aren’t so in love with. He also preached the importance of practice. Especially with eyeliner. It took him a long time to master eyeliner so it shouldn’t be something you pick up and master right away. Even the best makeup artists make mistakes with eyeliner every now and then.

After I read this book, I started practicing with eyeliner. I wouldn’t say I was a natural, but I think because I believe a wet q-tip fixes everything, I learned to do eyeliner fairly well. So, I did a little expose on different types of eyeliner to see how different…or similar they really are.

I normally use eyeshadow or liquid liner, but there are myriad eyeliners out there to choose from. You can use  pencils, eye shadows, creams, felt (thicker applicator), brush (thinner applicator), etc. I’m sure there are more out there, but these are the only ones I played with. I sampled the various eyeliners on my arm so you could see what they look like on skin.

1. Clicker eyeliner, 2. Pencil eyeliner, 3. Kohl eyeliner, 4. Eyeshadow (dry), 5. Eyeshadow (wet), 6. Felt tip liquid (thick), 7. Brush tip liquid (thin)

Those are just some examples of the various eyeliners you can use. I also rinsed my arm off with water so you could see which are the most waterproof. Based on the image below, you can see that the pencil eyeliners tend to withstand a heavy rinse cycle more than the shadows or liquid liners. Actually, I had to use soap and scrub the pencil eyeliners off. So, if you need an eyeliner that is less likely to run, choose a pencil.

Now that you know the types of eyeliners I use, I thought I would show what they look like on an actual eye. Putting eyeliner on myself is not the same as me putting eyeliner on you. All of our eyes are shaped differently. Take my sister for example: her eyes are taller than mine are so she has a high “arch”. This makes putting eyeliner on her really fun because it looks so pretty but it also is much more dramatic on her than me because my eyes are wider than they are tall. The images below were all taken on different days, so mind the different angles/shots.

1 & 2. Clicker/Pencil Eyeliner: These are some of my favorites because they are pretty casual looking and easy to apply. I go for dark brown more than black with pencils because there tends to be  a noticeable “gap” between your eyeliner and your lash line. Most people like to use really sharp pencils (a fine point) but I like mine to be more dull because it applies easier and to be frank, sometimes the fine point is sharp! (Note the messy mascara application. That is also easily remedied with a q tip).

3. Kohl eyeliner: I didn’t include this picture as kohl liners can be similar to image 1/2 and also be smudged to look like image 4.

4. Eyeshadow (dry): I love this method of using eye shadow as eyeliner because you can use any color you want! The best thing about using dry shadow as eyeliner is that you can achieve a smokey look pretty easily. I use lots of different colors, but my favorites are dark beige, silvery gray, and dark teal. Using a smudge brush you don’t even need to match up your eyes perfectly, so long as you are in the general area because it has a large margin of error. This is definitely something you should try for experience!

5. Eyeshadow (wet): I love this look because you have the freedom of choosing any color you want and you can keep it thin and clean looking. I use the same colors as I listed above, but with this look, I also like to throw in burgundy and cerulean because it is still a thin enough line that the color isn’t obnoxious and it livens up your look. This is also an easy method of applying eyeliner as you can mask any mistake easily and it also is one of the best methods for making a perfect “cat eye” look.

6. Felt tip liquid: This is definitely one of my favorite eyeliner types. Lots of people think that because it is a liquid eyeliner, it will be more difficult to use. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have found that when I make a mistake with the felt tip brush, it can easily be corrected with a q tip…or by just making the line thicker. This is also one of the easier eyeliners to use if you are a beginner because it washed off completely without a hint of color.

7. Brush tip liquid: This eyeliner seems like it would be really easy to use, and it is, but only if you use it sparingly. If you try to make a thicker line, it will end up looking sloppy. Because the brush is so thin, it is meant to “paint” the liner along the lash line. I’ve made many mistakes with this type of brush, but this brush has made me better at applying eyeliner because I have learned to keep it very basic. This liner also washes off incredibly easy, so mistakes aren’t a big deal. One of the best things about this type of eyeliner is that you can make lovely cat eyes by sweeping the end up at a 45 degree angle.

If you want to see what the actual eyeliner applicators look like, mouse over the images below and you will see which ones they are.

Eyeliner, as you can see, is a big “to do”. There is a lot to know about eyeliner. The sad thing is- this is barely scraping the surface. There are so many other products, tools, and techniques associated with eyeliner- but you will just have to search those out on your own.

In my ripe old age of 28, I have “mastered” eyeliner. It took me a long time and I truly love it. In fact, I love it so much, I wasted a week preparing for this specific blog post. That is crazy, but I am glad I am done. Soon, I may decide to waste a whole month on eyeshadows. You just never know with me.

One thing you should know by now is that I like makeup and I think learning about makeup and what you like and don’t like is important. I don’t spend anywhere near as much time as I use to on makeup, which is probably why this post was so tough…I just didn’t want to take the time to apply eyeliner most mornings. I like that I can use eyeliner to express my mood and how I feel on a certain day. Sometimes I wish men would wear makeup. I bet they would enjoy what it does for them. But wait, that won’t really happen until we change our social construct of gender…

Nevertheless, enjoy eyeliner for what it can (and can’t) do for you. Some of you will hate certain types of eyeliners and some of you will love them all. Either way, its ok to play around and make mistakes with your makeup. Practice makes perfect and isn’t our “Journey to Thirty” all about figuring out what works for us and what doesn’t? Sometimes what’s on the outside makes us feel good when something on the inside doesn’t feel so hot…and eyeliner certainly does the trick.

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