Applying certain makeup products can get quite stressful, especially if you're in a rush (which applies to me eight times out of 10 because, life). Take liquid eyeliner, for example—a notorious right of passage most beauty lovers go through when practicing the art of makeup application. You could be one of the lucky ducks who picked up the skill rather quickly, but learning how to apply liquid eyeliner is far from easy. My naturally shaky hands have failed my liner many times. After successfully blending eye shadow and concealing my brows, I've had to start the entire process all over again due to the crooked liner. Le sigh. But there's hope. We decided to take the pros up on a lesson on how to apply liquid liner. Ahead, find secrets from celeb makeup artists Patrick Ta, Mylah Morales, Troy Jensen, and Stoj for a play-by-play on achieving the most precise liner and that cool-girl flick. Watch makeup artist Carissa Ferreri's liquid eyeliner tutorial, plus pro application tips from our experts.
Click Play to Watch MUA Carissa Ferreri's Liquid Eyeliner Tutorial
Types of Liquid Eyeliner
Let's talk about the different types of liquid liners. Liquid liners tend to come in two tip types: felt tip and brush tip. Felt tip liners glide on smoothly and usually have a darker/stronger color deposit on the skin. Felt tip liquid liners are great for beginners because they go on naturally and kind of feel like using a pen on your eyes. If you can sign your name, you can use a felt tip liner.
On the other hand, brush tip liners are more precise and let you draw on a thinner line, giving you multiple options for application. They're a bit tricky to use for beginners, as the brush requires a very steady hand to get a straight line.
How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner
According to Stoj, "Most people will start from the inner corner and work outward, and when they open their eyes, it's not the correct shape for their eye." Instead, use these steps to get a great shape.
Step One: Get a Mirror
This step is pretty obvious, but yeah — a mirror will definitely be helpful. Whatever mirror you choose, make sure you look straight ahead so you don't have a crooked liner.
Step Two: Mark a Dot
You want to think of doing your eyeliner like drawing a picture. An outline or a starting point will help a lot. Next, mark a dot where you want the endpoint of your cat eye to be.
Step Three: Apply Liner
Apply the liquid eyeliner from the outer corner of the eye up to the point you would like the cat eye to stop. Liquid eyeliner in this case will give you more control over drawing the wing.
Step Four: Draw Your Liner
Then, start from the inner corner of the eye and work your way to that end dot or point, using small strokes or one long application.
Step Five: Let it Dry
The last thing you want to do is smudge all of your hard work, so make sure to look down to let your liner dry before you move on to the rest of your makeup.
Jensen's technique is to use a cheat line. "A foolproof technique is to create a cheat line using a narrow, thin brush, a medium brown eye shadow, and water," he says.
- Dip the brush in the water and run it across your matte medium brown eye shadow.
- Drag the brush along the upper lash line, slightly winging out.
- Then, go over it with a liquid liner pen, gel liner, or liquid liner.
- Finish by curling and coating your lashes with black mascara and a faux lash for "extra flair."
Both Ta and Morales love using an angled brush. "The best way to apply a liquid liner for beginners is to use an angled brush—I love ones from Make Up For Ever—and to use a cream formula instead," says Morales. Cream formulas have a texture that's a little easier to control than liquid.
- "Take an angled brush and a brown eye shadow and map out your shape," explains Ta. "That way, if I make a mistake, it's easy to fix."
- Next, take your preferred liner and the same angled brush and draw over the brown shadow.
- Take a small Q-tip with some makeup remover to clean up your edges, followed by a bit of concealer.
More Liquid Liner Tips
Stoj suggests giving your liner a quick clean before applying it to rid it of any excess. "Liquid liner is great because it normally comes with a fantastic pointed applicator," says Stoj. "The tricky bit is not to smudge the liner. I suggest wiping the applicator with a tissue, then applying the liner. This will get rid of excess product, and it will let the product dry quicker."
Looking for longevity when it comes to liner? Jensen explains you might want to switch up formulas. "For a wing tip to last all day and through the night, use a cake or gel liner with a small, flat angled brush," explains Jensen. "I'll use this on my clients who have sensitive eyes and tend to tear, as normal liquid liners will tend to run. It's also perfect for brides."
As previously mentioned, Morales relies on the good ol' Q-tip trick: "Use a pointed Q-tip to clean lines if you can't get that perfect line, or you can use a concealer to clean up lines," she says.
There you have it: your ultimate liquid liner guidebook you can consult when you need a little refresher. Rest assured that you're not alone in the liner struggle—we've all been there, and remember that the saying "practice makes perfect" applies here.