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Eyeliner 101: Mastering the Art of Different Eyeliner Styles

CEO Tinh Phung
Eyeliner is a classic makeup staple that has been used throughout history to enhance the eyes and create various looks. From ancient Egyptians to modern-day makeup enthusiasts, eyeliner has evolved into different types and styles....

Eyeliner is a classic makeup staple that has been used throughout history to enhance the eyes and create various looks. From ancient Egyptians to modern-day makeup enthusiasts, eyeliner has evolved into different types and styles. In this article, we'll explore the five main types of eyeliner and how to apply them for different looks.

The Origins and Evolution of Eyeliner

Before we delve into the different types of eyeliner, let's take a quick journey through history. The origins of eyeliner can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, who used kohl to rim their eyes. Today, we still use ingredients derived from ancient practices in our eyeliner products.

Over time, eyeliner formulations have evolved, offering a wide variety of choices. From liquid eyeliners to cream liners, gel eyeliners to kohl liners, and pencil eyeliners, there's an option for everyone. Let's discover which eyeliner is right for you.

Liquid Eyeliner Caption: Micaela Klein applies liquid eyeliner to her upper lash line.

Which Eyeliner Is Right For Me?

The type of eyeliner you choose depends on the look you want to achieve. Here are some expert tips to help you decide:

Smoky Eyeliner Look

For a sultry, smoky effect, start with a pencil or kohl eyeliner. Draw a line near your lash line and slowly connect it, using a small brush or round eyeshadow brush to smudge the line. Gradually smudge it until you reach the outer corner of your eye.

Easy Winged Eyeliner

To achieve a simple winged eyeliner, use a gel liner and an angled brush to draw the details of the wing. Layer eyeshadow on top of it to create a matte layer. Finally, emphasize the wing at the outer corner with a liquid liner.

Sharp and Defined Line

For a sharper, more defined line, reach for liquid or cream eyeliners. These options offer a more precise application. For softer, diffused looks, opt for pencils, gels, or kohls.

Grungy and Dramatic Look

If you're going for a grungier, dramatic look, a kohl pencil like PIXI BY PETRA Endless Silky Eye Pen in BlackNoir might be your best bet.

Soft and Smudgy Eye

For a soft, smudgy eye, a gel liner like SMASHBOX COSMETICS Always On Gel Liner is perfect. Smudge it across the lower lid and upper lash line for a smoky effect.

Crisp Cat-Eye

To achieve a crisp, cat-eye look, use a liquid or cream eyeliner, such as KVD VEGAN beauty Tattoo Liner in Trooper Black.

Pencil Eyeliner Caption: Lynette Cenée applies pencil eyeliner.

If you're new to applying eyeliner, starting with a pencil is a great way to begin your journey into eye artistry. Pencils offer more control and precision. Liquid liners, on the other hand, are ideal for bold, graphic looks but require more practice to master.

No matter which eyeliner you choose or your current skill level, there are tips and tricks you can use to master any product.

What's the Best Eyeliner Product for Me?

If You're a Beginner...

Beginners can start with simple and natural thin eyeliner pencils to fill in the waterline or use dark brown eyeshadows as eyeliners. It's foolproof and simple! Pencil eyeliners come in three main types: standard, kohl, and gel. Standard pencils, like the LOTTIE LONDON Am-Pm Retractable Liner, offer precise, budge-proof lines. Gels and kohls allow for building pigmented, inky colors that can be worn in a straight, sharp line or blended around your eyelashes. Remember to sharpen your pencil before application for precise lines.

Pencil Eyeliner Caption: Lynette Cenée applies pencil eyeliner to her upper lashline.

For a classic look, choose a natural eyeliner color like MAKEUP GEEK Brown Eyeliner and gently sweep it across your upper lash line. Add a flick at the edges for a winged eyeliner look. Finish with mascara for a polished effect.

For more adventurous looks, apply a gel pencil in a bright color like MAYBELLINE EYESTUDIO Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Pencil Eyeliner in Lustrous Sapphire to your lower waterline or lower lash line. Smoke the color out with a blending brush and apply mascara for a stunning eyeliner look.

If You're Intermediate...

If you've mastered using a pencil and want to try something new, cream eyeliner is the next step. Cream-based eyeliners come in small pots and are applied with a small detail or angled brush. These liners offer versatility, allowing for bold, graphic looks or softer, smudged effects. They do require a steady hand for precise application.

To apply cream eyeliner, start by applying your eyeshadow as usual. Then, dip a small angled brush into a cream eyeliner pot, like E.L.F. Game Up Eye Win Eyeliner Pot. Create a small triangle at the outer corner of your eye, following the natural angle. Drag one leg of the triangle across the lash line and taper it until it disappears near the inner corner. Fill in the triangle with the gel eyeliner. For extra precision, use a cream concealer and angled brush to clean up and sharpen the line.

Cream Eyeliner Caption: Lynette Cenée shows off her eyeliner.

If You're an Eyeliner Expert...

Liquid eyeliner is the choice for expert eyeliner enthusiasts. It provides a sharp, dramatic look and is perfect for creating cat eyes or avant-garde eye looks. While it may seem challenging to use, mastering liquid eyeliner only requires a steady hand and lots of practice.

When applying liquid eyeliner, hold the pen barrel horizontally and parallel to your eye. Use the body of the tip to create a smooth line, dragging it instead of drawing at a 90-degree angle. Relax your hand, hold your palm and wrist closer to your face, and use your little finger for support and balance.

To create the perfect wing with liquid liner, try the dots or dashes technique. Use a pencil to create a dotted line for the wing shape. Adjust both sides gradually, checking if the lines are aligned. Once you're satisfied, connect the dots for a flawless wing.

Liquid eyeliners come in two main applicators: felt-tip and brush-tip. Felt-tip eyeliners, like LANCOME Artliner Precision Felt-Tip Liquid Eyeliner, offer more control and are ideal for those with shakier hands. Brush-tip liners, such as EM COSMETICS' Illustrative Eyeliner, are slightly more flexible and can create vivid, graphic eye makeup looks.

Liquid Eyeliner Caption: Lynette Cenée applies pencil eyeliner.

For an exaggerated double-color cat-eye, choose your brightest liquid eyeliner hues. Apply the deeper shade close to the lash line and the lighter shade on top in a thicker line than the bottom.


Eyeliner is a versatile makeup product that allows you to enhance your eyes and create various looks. By understanding the different types of eyeliner and how to apply them, you can experiment with different styles and find what suits you best. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to try different techniques and have fun with your eyeliner journey.