10 Pencil Eyeliner Tricks to Make Your Eyes Pop

a model at fashion week

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Pencil eyeliners are less expensive and easier to use than liquid liners, but they are not as long-lasting. And yet, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can apply your pencil eyeliner like a makeup professional and make your look last all day. 

01 of 10

Start With a Dash

Do you struggle with creating a straight line? Renowned makeup artist Laura Mercier offered one of the best beauty tricks for eyeliner in Allure Magazine. She says that the secret to creating the perfect line on the upper and lower lashes is to begin with a few dashes.

  1. Pull the skin taut at its outer corner.
  2. Apply a series of dashes with the eyeliner, starting from the inner corner and working your way out.
  3. At the halfway point of the line, angle your pencil so you're now drawing with the side of it. This will create a thicker line.
  4. Connect the dashes.
02 of 10

Set Your Line With Eyeshadow

One of the biggest problems with a penciled eyeliner is that it looks great in the morning, but tends to melt away by the end of the day. You can prevent that by setting your line with eyeshadow, using it as sort of a primer.

Simply dip an eyeshadow brush into a dark shadow and run it along your lid, right next to your lashes. Then, all you have to do is trace over the penciled line with the liner.

03 of 10

Go With a Brown Pencil

Black eye pencils may look a little too harsh for some women with fair skin and hair. Instead, use a brown pencil for a more subtle, "no-makeup" look. 

If you have dark hair, you can try a trick from makeup artist Mally Roncal. She suggests lining your upper lash line with black eyeliner and your lower line with brown. It's a soft yet sexy eye.

04 of 10


There's a simple trick to getting a casual, smudged, "I slept in my makeup last night" look. Simply apply a pencil line only to the bottom lashes and then smudge it with your finger. It can really play up your eyes in the most subtle of ways.

If you want a little more definition, go ahead and give the line a thin, second coat with your liquid liner.

05 of 10

Create a Smoky Eye

Smoky eyes are sexy and they're easier than you may think. The secret is to use a kohl pencil, and the fatter the better.

  1. Warm up the kohl pencil by rubbing it on the back of your hand.
  2. Dot it along the upper and then the lower lashes.
  3. Dab a cotton swab with a little moisturizer or eye cream into it, then smudge your line of kohl dots with it.
  4. Finish with a sweep of dark shadow (browns, deep purples, blues) to the lid.
06 of 10

Rim the Inside of Your Eyes

Lining the inside of the eyes can be super sexy, especially for a night out. The technique is actually called tightlining and there's a trick to getting it to last.

  1. Use a waterproof pencil and make sure to sharpen it to a point. This not only adds control but will also remove any germs that might have been on the pencil.
  2. Pull your upper lid up and line the inside rim first from the inside corner of the eye out.
  3. Follow with the bottom lid.

If you have small eyes, avoid lining with dark pencils, which can make them appear even smaller. Instead, use a beige pencil to line the inside rim to make the eyes pop.

07 of 10

Warm Up Your Waxy Eye Pencil

There's nothing worse on your lids than an eye pencil that won't go on smoothly because it's too cold or waxy. The lines you try to create can look chunky and splotchy, so the trick to avoiding this is to warm it up.

There are three easy ways you can do this:

  1. Rub the tip on your hand until it softens.
  2. Roll the point between the tips of your fingers.
  3. Heat up the end quickly by holding it in a flame for a very quick second. Then let it cool for another couple seconds before applying to your lids.

Next time you buy a pencil, keep in mind that anything labeled "creamy" or "kohl" will go on softer. Typically, these will not need to be warmed up.

08 of 10

Make Your Eyes Appear Larger

There are a number of tricks you can use to make your eyes appear larger than they are. One of those involves the liner.

If you completely cover both the top and bottom lash lines with liner, you're going to close the eye. This makes it look smaller. To prevent that, only apply it halfway on both the top and bottom.

09 of 10

Try Colored Pencils

You can have a lot of fun with your eye color and it goes beyond eyeshadow. Use colored eyeliner pencils to brighten up and enhance your color.

  • Purples and maroons make green eyes glow.
  • Navy blue and purple enhance blue eyes.
  • Green and golds brighten up brown eyes. 
10 of 10

Fix It With Cotton Swabs

All of us make mistakes from time to time and eyeliner can be a tricky one to clean up after a slight blunder.​

If you mess up a penciled line, dip a cotton swab in a bit of eye cream or moisturizer. Dot it over the messy spot and it will be easier to wipe away. You can also use the swab to smudge the line and make the mistake look deliberately smokey. 

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