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How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner

How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner

Mastering the cat-eye look is a sure-fire way of taking your makeup to the next level. Even celebrities like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift wear cat-eye makeup on the regular. It’s a look that’s truly coveted by many, but for some strange reason, the right technique continues to elude a big percentage of makeup users. If this is also the case for you, don’t fret—we’re here to help you finally achieve that flawless, picture-perfect cat-eye look.

The Different Types of Liquid Eyeliner

You’ll need a liquid eyeliner to be able to test out the techniques below, so if you don’t already have one, now’s the time to look around for a liquid eyeliner product.

Liquid eyeliners also offer different features and advantages, so make sure to do a lot of research before deciding on a product. An ideal eyeliner would be something that’s smudge-proof and waterproof so the liner doesn’t transfer to other areas of your face.

The first thing you’ll need to consider before buying a liquid eyeliner is choosing between the two main types—brush tip and felt tip.

Brush Tip Liquid Eyeliner

The applicator works similarly to a nail polish applicator. The tip is made up of loose bristles that you can easily wiggle around. Thanks to that flexibility, it’s able to create a wide variety of looks, from super-thin lines to thicker, more dramatic lines and wings.

Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner

This, on the other hand, looks kind of like a thin marker with a pointier tip. Because the tip is thicker and more solid than a brush tip, you’ll be able to draw darker, thicker, and more well-defined lines.

Which type you choose ultimately depends on your level of skill and how dramatic you want your makeup to look.  If you’re a beginner, you might want to get a felt tip liquid eyeliner since the stable tip makes it easier to practice and work with. But if you want more control over the thickness and shape of your lines and wings, the brush tip liquid eyeliner is the better option.

Applying the Liquid Eyeliner

Now that you know which type of eyeliner you’re using, let’s get into how to actually apply liquid eyeliner and make your look pop!

Prepping Your Eyes for Liquid Eyeliner

Now that you know the dos and don’ts of applying liquid eyeliner, it’s time to learn how to prep your eyes. You might be wondering, “Is prepping really necessary?” Well, no—and in fact, many people skip this step, especially if they’re in a rush. However, it’s a good habit to get into since it really helps with applying eye makeup and making it stick for long periods of time.

Here are three simple prepping steps you can follow:

  1. Gently clean the area around your eyes with water or a cleanser. Removing excess oil prevents smears and other potential mistakes.
  2. Prime your eyes if you need your eyeliner to stay put all day long. Celebrity makeup artist Sir John recommends using an oil-free primer before applying makeup. Some makeup artists like to prime their eyes using a concealer, but Sir John advises against this since concealers usually contain oils that can smudge your makeup.
  3. Apply your eye shadow before applying your liquid eyeliner. This way, your eye shadow doesn’t blend with your eyeliner and ruin the well-defined lines.

Applying Liquid Eyeliner Step-by-Step

woman applying eyeliner on her eye

If you follow the steps below, you should be able to create a nice-looking cat-eye with a little bit of practice.

1. Shake Your Eyeliner Tube

This ensures an even and smooth formula

2. Hold the Tube Properly and Balance Your Arm

Hold your eyeliner so that the tip is flat and not straight. Doing this makes for an easier and more seamless application.  If you’re using a felt tip liquid eyeliner, hold the tube near the end.

To prevent your arm and hand from shaking, secure your elbow on a flat surface, and rest your arm on your face.

3. Tilt Your Chin Slightly

While doing this, look down at your mirror.

4. Draw Dots or Dashes Right Next to Your Lash Line

The closer, the better—you don’t want a noticeable gap in between. Applying more pressure results in thicker dots or dashes, so if you want to start thin, you’ll want to dab your eyeliner gently and lightly.

5. Slowly Connect the Dots or Dashes

You have to be careful here so you don’t mess up.

6. Draw the Wing

Once you have one even line, it’s time to draw the wing. Starting from your lower lash line, draw a line going slightly upwards to create a wing.

7. Fill in Any Visible Gaps

Use short strokes while doing this.

8. Optional: Thicken the Line

If you want a thicker line, just keep drawing thin lines or dashes until you’ve reached your desired thickness. Generally, your eyeliner should start thin at the inner corner of your eye, then get gradually thicker until it reaches the wing.

9. Dry and Set

Let your eyeliner dry then set it by patting some translucent powder over it.

Liquid Eyeliner Tricks by Eye Shape

To take your liquid eyeliner game to the next level, we’ve gathered some of the most helpful tips and tricks.

Some liquid eyeliner looks only work on certain eye shapes, so if you’re finding that the steps above aren’t helping you achieve the look you want, find your eye shape below to learn some more specific techniques.


Start your wing where your eyelid’s hood starts. After drawing your wing, draw another line from the inner tip of the wing to your upper lash line. You most likely won’t need to draw it all the way to the center of your eyelid. If you can’t see the entirety of this line when your eye is completely open, remove the part that’s hidden.


The eyeliner should be crisp and be as close to the lash line as possible. If you can, tightline your eyes. If your monolid eyes are hooded, you’ll need to try this trick instead.


Draw a thin line and have the wing flick up towards your eyebrow. Keep the wing short and leave your bottom lash line bare.


Start your eyeliner in the middle of your eyelid and make your wing more horizontal instead of a 45-degree angle.


The liner should be thin at the inner corner of your eye and should get thicker toward the outer half.


Make your liner thicker and more concentrated at the inner corner of your eye and apply minimal eye makeup towards the outer half. Opt for a shorter wing.

Small Eyes

Don’t line your entire eye as this will just make them look even smaller.

Other Tips for Using Liquid Eyeliner

To make sure your eyeliner game is totally on-point, keep these helpful tips in mind:

  • Before you use your eyeliner, clean the applicator with a tissue to get rid of any excess formula.
  • If you’re having a hard time creating perfect, symmetrical wings, use a straight edge to guide your hand, such as tape or your credit card.
  • Use a pointed cotton swab dipped in water or makeup remover to clean up bumps and mistakes. Daniel Chinchilla, the celebrity makeup artist who does Ariana Grande’s cat-eye makeup, recommends dipping the swap in an oil-free makeup remover or a tiny amount of moisturizer.
  • Don’t pull your eye during application as this will just create bumps in your eyeliner. Instead, press down on your skin to keep it in place.

How Do I Achieve a Flawless Cat-Eye Look?

One of the easiest ways to learn to do something is by imitating. Perhaps there’s a cat-eye look that you think is perfect and would love to recreate. You might be inclined to use that as a guide, but do remember that what looks good on other people may not end up looking as good on you.

Moreover, there are cat-eye looks that only work on specific sets of eyes. While it can be a good thing to practice by imitating, what’s important is learning how to create a cat-eye without visible mistakes.

Bear the following in mind if you want a flawless-looking cat-eye look:

  • There shouldn’t be a gap between your lashes and your liner, otherwise it’ll look messy. If you’re having a hard time closing the gap, create dots in between your lashes and slowly connect them. This is called tightlining.
  • Draw your wing so it’s pointing upwards in a 45-degree angle. It shouldn’t go below your bottom lash line.
  • If your wing is too short, it won’t look like a cat-eye. It can also make your eyes look smaller than they are.
  • Sharp wings are part of what makes a cat-eye really stand out. If the wings are too blunt, they’ll look messy and distract from your other features.
  • Make sure to clean up bumps and smears when you’re done.

Practice Makes Perfect

Learning how to apply liquid eyeliner correctly is a huge challenge, but it’s definitely not impossible. If you can’t seem to get it right the first time, or the second time, or even the third time—don’t get discouraged. As long as you practice regularly, you’ll eventually get the hang of it.