Of all the makeup products in the world, it’s eyeliner that seems to hold the most mystery and intrigue. There are countless formulas, from smudgy kohl to razor-sharp liquids, to try and a plethora of techniques to master. Just think about how many “how to get a perfect cat eye” tutorial videos you’ve seen in your life and you’ll know what I mean.
Eyeliner hacks are a dime a dozen on the internet, but one TikTok trend in particular has gone viral because it makes a super tricky technique a bit more accessible than fumbling with different applicators and brushes, and that technique hinges (literally) on something you probably have in spades in your haircare drawer: bobby pins. Don’t be scared—it’s not as terrifying as it sounds. Ahead, everything you need to know about TikTok's viral bobby pin eyeliner hack.
This technique aims to give you a more precise application of liquid liner, especially in the delicate inner corners of your eyes. By coating the tip of the pin with color, you can really target that area with more control than a traditional brush or felt-tip pen applicator, and because the pin dot is so small, you’re less likely to apply too much product and have to redo it.
The trend has exploded on TikTok over the past year, with users testing out the hack for an elongated eye look. To DIY, all you have to do is pull open a (clean!) bobby pin and paint one of the dotted ends with liquid liner, then apply the liner gently at the inner corner of your eye. You can also use the pin tip to draw a wing at your outer corner, though the technique is most popular for that hard-to-reach tear duct area.
User Nafia Khan was the first creator to share the technique and others quickly followed suit to put their own spin on the precise pin application. (We also love Youngcouture’s tutorial and final look, but there are lots to choose from once you start scrolling.)
After hearing some “mixed reviews” about the application, Khan got even more creative with the technique, flipping the script and suggesting that if applying liner with the bobby pin tip didn’t work, you may see success using the “hinge” section of the pin instead. TikToker Ria, who did have success with the first application method, gave gel liner a try for equally impeccable results.
I have to be honest—I don’t know if this hack will become a mainstay in my makeup routine. I had a few issues with this hack, notably that it was difficult to get concentrated color on the tip. I used Rare Beauty’s Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner ($19) which I love for drawing easy flicks and flips, but couldn’t get enough pigment on the pin to draw a true line of color on my inner and outer corners. I eventually coated the pin tip in mascara, which worked better but didn’t provide great coverage either.
I don’t often wear a lot of eyeliner in my everyday life, but if I were looking to really change things up with a dramatic liner look, I might consider bending a bobby pin and using it to draw in a more sculpted shape. It was pretty easy to maneuver once I got over the fear of holding a sharp object right near my eyeball. I also tried Khan’s hinge technique, which required a steadier hand but was equally simple—great for anyone who’s afraid of accidentally stabbing themselves in the eye.
If I were to try this technique again (and I probably will, because now I have a bent-up bobby pin sitting in my makeup drawer), I would likely swap the liquid liner pen for a gel formula for more pigment. (Mascara did work in a pinch.) If you’re new to experimenting with liner and feeling intimidated by the long brushes and sharp pens, this may be a more accessible way to begin honing your drawing skills, but like any great liner look, practice makes perfect.