How This One Makeup Product Can Replace 8 Others

Makeup on a countertop

 Pepe León

When I was clearing the clutter off my vanity a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a nude eyeliner had somehow taken up residence in the repurposed Diptyque candleholder where I store all my daily makeup must-haves. It certainly didn’t belong there, as I had never really used it before. But as I reached to toss it into storage with the rest of my beauty “reserves,” I took pause—and suddenly found myself swiping it all over my face.

I traced my waterlines and watched my eyes open up instantaneously. The pencil I have is just a hair lighter than my natural skin tone, so I began using it where I normally would a highlighter—along my brow bones, my Cupid's bow, the bridge of my nose. It was almost too easy. I live for multitaskers, so how could I have missed this?

Needless to say, I returned the liner to its rightful place with the rest of my essentials, and I’ve used it every day since, finding new applications for it all the time. See eight of them below.

1. Use it as a more precise highlighter
Sephora Colorful Shadow & Liner $14

Rather than haphazardly dabbing a cream illuminator along your Cupid’s bow and the bridge of your nose, use a nude pencil to brighten up and sculpt those smaller areas—there’s way less chance of making a mistake. If the line looks too sharp, just blend gently with a Q-tip or your finger.

2. Enhance your pout
MAC Studio Chromagraphic Pencil $18

I usually overline my top lip with a mauve pencil to give it a little extra oomph, since it’s on the thin side. However, the key to making this look natural is highlighting around the mouth to play up the illusion of a pillowy texture. I’ve always just used a highlighter pen—on my Cupid’s bow, around my lips, and a little dab in the center—but using the nude pencil in this way has been a complete game changer. Again, it’s more precise, and it also blends better with the other pencil than the liquid formula does.

3. Clean up your cat eye
Charlotte Tilbury Rock 'n' Kohl $27

Don’t sweat those smudges—even the pros go back and touch up winged liner. But while Q-tips often make an even bigger mess, a swipe of nude liner conceals any slips and sharpens up a cat eye in five seconds flat.

4. Give yourself an instant eye-lift
Nars Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner $25

Makeup artist Kelsey Deenihan taught us to apply concealer to the outer corners of our eyes to look more awake—a tip that’ll go down as one of our all-time favorites. Guess what? Nude pencil does the trick too.

5. Spot-conceal minor blemishes
Nyx Cosmetics Wonder Pencil $5

In a pinch, a nude pencil makes for a passable substitute concealer. (Just make sure you’re using a shade that matches your skin tone, natch.)

6. Define your brows
Rimmel Exaggerate Eye Definer $5

Rather than a highlighter, try using a nude pencil to sharpen the edges of your arches and contour your brow bones—it makes for a more precise touch. 

7. Make your eyes look bigger…
Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Inner Rim Liner $20

In the midst of all these hacks, don’t overlook nude liner’s most popular use: Swiping it along your waterline dramatically opens up the eyes.

8. …or wider apart
Too Faced Instant Attitude Brow Lift $20

Instead of using a white pencil or eye shadow at the inner corners of your eyes, consider a nude pencil instead—it’s subtler but no less effective at widening up your eyes.

Brow highlighters are great stand-ins for a nude eyeliner and vice versa.

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