How to Get "Barely-There" Eyeliner for a Subtle Makeup Look

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Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018/Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images

While we love the look of dramatic wings, neon water lines, and abstract Euphoria-inspired looks, there's something about a barely there eyeliner look that will always hold a special place in our hearts. Whether tightlining or traditional lash line application is your method du jour, natural eyeliner instantly adds definition to any eye look, allowing for a more polished result.

That's all fine and lovely, but framing your eyes with a thin strip of eyeliner is easier said than done. That's why we've tapped a celebrity makeup artist to show you the ropes. Ahead, celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter shares a step-by-step guide to creating a natural eyeliner look.

Meet the Expert

Sandy Linter is a celebrity makeup artist with clients among the likes of Christie Brinkley and Elizabeth Hurley. Her work appears in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and more.

Step One: Choose Your Formula

While you can create stunning eyeliner looks with liquid liner, gel liner, and everything in-between, Linter suggests using a pencil liner if you're going for a natural, barely-there look.

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Step Two: Prime Your Lids

"Put a shadow base on your lid," says Linter. "Not under the brow, just the eyelid." This helps the eyeliner pencil better glide along your lash line for even, consistent application. The right primer can also help extend the life of your look, keeping the color intact along your lash line.

Step Three: Apply Liner to Top Lash Line in Short, Quick Strokes

Rather than dragging the pencil along your eyelid, Linter suggests more of a connect-the-dashes approach. "Line the eye in tiny, little, short strokes," she says, taking 3-4 sweeps of product to fully line the lash line.

Step Four: Thin the Line You Created With a Pointed Q-Tip

Even a professional makeup artist like Linter finds that her first eyeliner attempt is usually a bit too thick, so she's mastered a genius hack for thinning down the line you've applied by using a pointed cotton swab dipped in moisturizer.

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Q-Tip Precision Tip Cotton Swabs $3
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"Quite often when I start to line the eye, it gets thick," says Linter. "And then I don't have a barely there eyeliner look. So I take a pointed Q-tip (there isn't a lot of fuzz on the Q-Tip), then take some moisturizer and put it on the back of your hand. Take the tiniest, tiniest little amount [of moisturizer] on the Q-Tip and you just shave it down. It works every time."

Step Five: Touch Up Blank Spots Between Lashes With Your Pencil

"And after you've done your barely there liner look... nestle the pencil in-between the lashes to make sure there's no white spots where the skin is showing between the lashes," says Linter.

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