Don't Sleep on the Red Eyeliner Trend—Here's Why

Unexpectedly game-changing.

red eyeliner


Over time, we've grown accustomed to using routine beauty products every day. It's easy to fall into the habit of reaching for the same things daily, hence the reason we've found ourselves in a makeup rut from time to time. If you find yourself less thrilled with your makeup routine than normal, tweaking a few products is a great way to implement change without a lot of excess effort. Using colored eyeliner pencils instead of the standard black or brown is an ideal place to start.

Vibrantly colored eye pencils are having a spotlight moment recently, and it's not stopping anytime soon. Experimenting with a different eyeliner color can open up a world of creative looks, brighten your eye color, and enhance the shape. The go-to color of the moment? Red (seriously). Seeing as red comes in many different shades, there's a versatility like no other for this color, making it the perfect choice to wear when wanting to step up your beauty game instantly.

Keep scrolling to see how cool red eyeliner truly is, and give one—or all—of these looks a try.

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Graphic Cat-Eye

An abstract cat eye with red accents is ideal for experimenting with a liner look you usually wouldn't wear. The shape of this liner and the crimson details make a statement, yet the clean lines applied on bare skin are perfectly minimal. This look is best recreated with gel eyeliner like Inglot AMC Gel Eyeliner in 79 Red ($19) and a fine point eyeliner brush.

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Ruby Red

Ruby red-colored eyeliner applied on the top and the bottom lash line is a great way to rock the red eyeliner trend and keep it chic at the same time. When paired with a softer colored eyeshadow such as lilac, the contrast helps eye color instantly pop. "You might be afraid that red on your eyes can make you look tired," says professional makeup artist Glenn Brownell, "but red can make you look fresh and alive if done right!" We'd say this delicate combo qualifies for sure.

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Cranberry Flick

If deeper, more muted red tones are your thing, this cranberry-colored eyeliner is perfect for testing out a red shade. Apply the eyeliner in a wing shape, or smudge with your finger on the lash line to create a smokier effect. Take it up a notch by accompanying the liner with the same colored mascara to intensify the color without looking overly done.

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Fire Brick Metallic

Adding a touch of metallic to the red liner creates a foil effect that glistens with every blink. Shiny like a candy wrapper, the detail is party and pretty all at once. Brownell recommends Marc Jacobs Highliner Glam Glitter Gel Eye Crayon in Glam Jam ($25) to recreate this sultry, club-ready look.

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Sheer and Scarlet

This look is the perfect example of red eyeliner and shadow used together to create a stunning, sheer watercolor finish on the eyes. Apply liner on the top and bottom lash line and blend the shadow into the crease in a light motion, creating a soft, airy feel. "A wash of Naicari Mirage Sunstone Blush in “Barite Rose” (Editor's note: This product is sold out; we recommend Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in At Night, $40, as an alternative) on the lids is beautiful for a daytime look. I would balance it with lots of mascara and a dark brown liner," says Brownell.

"If you’re using blush, make sure they’re tested for use on the eyes, and use an oil-based makeup remover to take it off," advises Brownell.

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Candy Apple Patent Liner

Candy-apple red liner with a touch of eye gloss gives this liner a patent-leather shine that seriously stands out. Another example of an abstract eyeliner look, you can create any shape you prefer. (A liquid liner that has a precise tip, like ColourPop's BFF Liquid Liner in Try Me $8, would be ideal to use for creating clean lines. Plus, it's not a huge investment if the look doesn't work out). Finish with a few coats of your favorite volumizing mascara for thick, curled lashes.

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Red Hot Chili Pepper

Slightly more neon than your standard red hue, this chili pepper-colored eyeliner provides a bright color payoff while keeping a modern feel. "Reds that have a warmer orange undertone are especially beautiful on darker eyes," reveals Brownell. Depending on your preference, apply a thin or thick line to the eyes, extending out in the corners for a classic wing look.

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Maroon Maven

Thick, maroon eyeliner with a cat-eye flick at the end is beautiful and chic. A simple and effective way to apply this liner look is to use an angled eyeliner brush to help guide the line so it looks clean. If you're using a pencil, apply some to the brush bristles to transfer the color, and if you're using a gel, dip the brush inside the pot. Glide the angled brush along the lash-line to ensure the line looks clean and connected. To get this color, we recommend Revlon So Fierce! Vinyl Eyeliner in Righteous Rum ($9).

If using a brush and potted liner on your lower lash line or waterline gives you trouble, try the following: take a standard pencil eyeliner, dip it into your cream or gel liner, wipe off the excess, and apply as you usually would with a pencil.

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Carmine Inner Line

Lining the inner waterline with a carmine-colored liner as pictured here allows a red accent to accompany any eyeshadow look you create, seeing as the detail is small enough without being the center of attention. Create whatever eyeshadow look you're in the mood for, adding the red liner last as the finishing touch.

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Amaranth Accent

Creative and beautiful, the amaranth red tone blended with blue in this gradient-winged eyeliner showcases how red doesn't need to be the complete detail for eye makeup to stand out. The blending of the cool and warm tones creates a unique perspective on eyeliner that is just as flattering as it is gorgeous.

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Bold Burgundy

Burgundy liquid eyeliner applied in a wing shape is a twist on the traditional black liquid liner used to create a classic wing. This red tone universally flatters all skin tones and pairs well with lip gloss or bolder lipstick color. Try Marc Jacobs Beauty Fineliner Ultra Skinny Gel Eye Crayon in Fine(wine) ($25) for a great date night look, says Brownell.

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Red Parentheses

Strategic placement of red accents—like the inner corner and the tail of the wing here—immediately pop the eye color (especially blue, green, and brown eyes) and acts as a complement to whatever eyeshadow color you choose to apply on the lid. Be as unique as you'd like with color combinations; the sky's the limit when it comes to what you can wear.

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Extra Graphic Wing

There is always an argument for "more is more," and red eyeliner is no exception. Make it extra graphic with a crisp black liner around the outside, and the look will be sure to turn heads. "[I use] MAC Basic Red Pigment ($23) mixed with Eyeliner Mixing Medium ($15) to create a red, winged liner for an impactful and unexpected look," Brownell shares.

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Touch of Rose

Red and pink work so well together, which is why this rosy-toned eyeliner paired with softer pink eyeshadow is a perfect duo when pairing red eyeliner with shadow combinations. The eyeliner's deeper color offsets the powdery pink, making it a winning combination in our book.

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Imperial Detail

You don't need to commit to a full red liner look if you don't want to, which is precisely why this small eyeliner detail at the end of the eye makes just enough of a statement. All you need to do is draw the wing outward with a liquid liner like NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Brights Eyeliner in Vivid Fire ($7) from the corners with the included brush or one of your own, and extend it as long or short as you'd like.

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