White Eyeliner Is the Sleepy Girl's Hack For Looking More Awake

See ten ways to wear the trend, plus our favorite formulas.

white eyeliner studio portrait

Julie Meme / Stocksy

If you're like us, you reach for your eyeliner every single day. But if you tend to ink on the same black or brown liquid formula, consider this your formal invitation to foray into different hues—including our favorite at the moment: white. You've heard the age-old tip that dark colors tend to shrink the look of spaces, while whites expand them. The same rule of thumb is true for your makeup, which is why we're reaching for white eyeliner now more than ever to make eyes look bigger, brighter, and more awake (and to modernize classic eyeliner looks). Ahead, we break down exactly how to use white eyeliner, plus our favorite formulas to recreate each look.

01 of 10

Winged Waterline

Dior Haute COUTURE SPRING-SUMMER 2022 winged eyeliner look


A bold swipe of white eyeliner under the lash line? Genius move. As so many people think to only wear eyeliner on the top of the eye, this creates room for play, allowing creativity to reign in your makeup look. The bolder the line the better, as the key for this look is for the white to really stand out.

For the Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2022 Show, all of the models hit the runway with white winged waterlines. "I drew a sharp, graphic line of vivid, white eyeliner using the Diorshow On Stage Liner ($31) in 001 Matte White under the eye and extending it towards the inner and outer corners of the eye," Dior's creative and image director Peter Phillips says. "Next, I applied a line of Diorshow Khôl ($30) in 009 White Khôl to the waterline to accentuate this spotless white eye look."

02 of 10

All Over Your Lids

How to Use White Eyeliner All Over Margot Robbie

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You can easily create a cream shadow look (with incredible staying power) by using a white liquid eyeliner, gel pencil, or eyeliner crayon. To recreate Margot Robbie's look, simply cover your lid with a generous amount of your white eyeliner formula of choice—we like this Sephora Collection Eye Pencil in Pure White ($11). Alternatively, you can create a thick, wingless line across your top lash line to create the illusion that you've covered your entire lid when your eyes are open, revealing a surprising eyeliner look when you close your eyes.

03 of 10

Above the Crease

How to Use White Eyeliner Floating Crease Gigi Hadid

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Some of our favorite eyeliner looks involve application away from your lash lines (top or bottom). You can play with different shapes and lines on your eyes if what you're craving is a more dimensional feel. The sharpness of the white line placed above the crease of Gigi Hadid's eyelid shows that thinking outside the box can still look tasteful. Carefully draw the line above the crease in one motion, ensuring the liner remains thin in shape. Colourpop's True Liquid Liner in Graceland ($8) is great for a thin line.

04 of 10

Awaken Your Waterline

How to Use White Eyeliner Waterline Lady Gaga

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You've heard the age-old advice: Dark colors shrink spaces, while bright colors expand them. The same rule of thumb is true for your makeup. Shading in your waterline with white eye makeup instantly makes your eyes look wider, brighter, and more awake by seemingly extending the whites and covering up any redness. Think of this white eyeliner trick as your best friend after a long night out or grueling week at work. Apply a white liner like Surrat's Inner Light Baton ($45) in the waterline to brighten the look of the eye.

05 of 10

Subtle Cross

How to Use White Eyeliner Subtle Cross Tessa Thompson

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Who said eyeliner had to be simple? For Tessa Thompson's 2018 Met Gala look, makeup artist Kirin Bhatty subtly referenced the catholicism theme by incorporating a subtle cross into the star's lower liner. Whether you have a specific theme to tend to or not, this look creates a sharp aesthetic and is sure to get the inspiration going for the different ways you can use white eyeliner.

06 of 10

All Around

How to Use White Eyeliner Geometric Ariana Grande


We love that despite the simplicity of this design seen on Ariana Grande in the "Rain On Me" music video, it still makes a huge impact with its pigment, angles, and use of negative space. Try using a felt-tip pen, like UZ's Eye Opening Liner in White ($16), to craft your own sharp design.

07 of 10

Oversized Cat-Eye

How to Use White Eyeliner Oversized Cat-Eye Janelle Monae

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While we've spoken about the traditional winged eyeliner look, expanding on the shape of the wing is a great idea when wanting to create drama. Making the wing as thick as you want with white eyeliner is ideal if you want to make a statement. You can start by making a normal-sized wing and then continue to draw out the lines, or alternatively, start with a big outline and fill it in with a shimmery shadow, as seen here on Janelle Monáe. Using an angled eyeliner brush like this one from Morphe ($3) will greatly help in creating your shape.

08 of 10

Just the Corners

How to Use White Eyeliner Just the Corners Rihanna

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A tiny wing on the outer corner of each eye is a great way to wear white eyeliner when you need it to be subtle. A flick on each corner adds just enough drama without being too much, and if you want definition, you can line the rest of the eye with black or your color of choice. Dip an angled brush in a cream pot eyeliner, such as this white one from MAC ($22), and practice making the wing shape.

09 of 10

Inner Corners

How to Use White Eyeliner Inner Corners Rebecca Rittenhouse

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One of the most useful ways to wear white eyeliner is on your inner corners, helping to effectively brighten the look of your eyes. The great thing about white liner is you can use it with any eyeshadow combination you choose—it's as versatile as can be and looks great with anything. Apply liner to the inner corners of each eye after doing your eyeshadow, then finish with a few coats of your favorite mascara. Try applying this Wet n Wild liner ($1) on the inner corners for added brightness.

10 of 10

Touch of Pearl

How to Use White Eyeliner Pearl Dots Kristen Stewart

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Spice up a basic white winged liner look for an event by adding decadent details, such as the pearls placed here along Kristen Stewart's lash line. This is a surefire way to be the center of attention, as people will suddenly notice the subtle complexity upon getting a closer look. Draw a smooth line across your top lid with a white eyeliner like this one here from Milk Makeup ($22), then place your extras of choice and enjoy your makeup moment to remember.

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