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 any time 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.
Meet the Expert
- Glenn Brownell is a celebrity makeup artist based in New York City.
Keep scrolling to see how cool red eyeliner truly is, and give one—or all—of these looks a try.
An abstract red cat-eye is ideal for experimenting with a liner look you usually wouldn't wear. The shape of this liner and the vivid pigment make a statement, yet the clean lines applied on bare skin are perfectly minimal.
Fire Brick Metallic
Adding a touch of metallic to 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. Professional makeup artist Glenn Brownell recommends Marc Jacobs Highliner, which is now discontinued, to recreate this sultry, club-ready look. (We like Dior's Crayon Eyeliner, $30, for a similar effect.)
Ruby red eyeliner applied along 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, the contrast helps your eyes to instantly pop. "You might be afraid that red on your eyes can make you look tired," says Brownell "but red can make you look fresh and alive if done right" We'd say this sharp design accomplishes this for sure.
If deeper, more muted red tones are your thing, cranberry eyeliner or shadow 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. If you feel like taking it up a notch, accompany the liner with the same colored mascara to intensify the color without looking overly done.
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, $43, 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 it's tested for use on the eyes, and use an oil-based makeup remover to take it off," advises Brownell.
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 ($9), 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.
Slightly more purple than your standard red hue, this burgundy look provides a rich color payoff while keeping a modern feel, making for a neutral that looks especially amazing on darker eye colors.
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 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's So Fierce! Vinyl Eyeliner in Righteous Rum ($10).
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.
Carmine Inner Line
Lining the inner waterline with a carmine-colored liner, as Rihanna did expertly here, allows a red accent to accompany any eyeshadow look you create, seeing, as the detail stands out while being subtle enough to pair with other elements. Create whatever eyeshadow look you're in the mood for, adding the red liner as the finishing touch.
Creative and beautiful, the pinkish glitter blended with true red in this gradient-winged eyeliner showcases how you don't have to stick to one bold color for your eye makeup to stand out. The blending of the shimmery and rich pigments creates a unique perspective on eyeliner that is just as complementary as it is gorgeous.
A monochromatic burgundy red eyeliner look is a twist on the classic smoky eye. This shade looks amazing on all skin tones and pairs well with lip gloss or bolder lipstick color. Try an ultra-skinny gel crayon like Chanel's Stylo Yeux ($34) for a great date night look, says Brownell.
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.
This smoky, smudgy look is great even when paired with a similarly dark lip. Here, the look is wine-stained and almost slept-in, so don't worry about keeping it too perfect.
This hazy look takes the red eyeliner past the typical areas, into the corners of the eyes and up to a cat-eye. The trick here is to keep the rest of the look minimal (think nude lips and an otherwise fairly bare face).
Red Liners We Love
Anastasia Beverly Hills NORVINA Chroma Stix Makeup Pencil
Ultra-pigmented, smudge-proof, and water-proof, this is the liner you'll turn to when you want a precise line. It also lasts up to eight hours, so it's a good choice for an event or special occasion.
KVD Beauty Super Pomade Vegan Eyeliner, Shadow & Brow Pigment
This vegan product is something of a Jack-of-all-trades. It can be used as a liner, sure, but also as a shadow and even a brow pigment. It's creamy, so it glides on, and the long-wear formula promises to last and last.
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
This liner glides on smoothly, making application a cinch, and it comes in shades that aren't so bold you'll be too intimidated to wear it. The deep wine metallic "Love Drug," for instance, is just that pop of red to change up your day-to-day look.