Style & Beauty

7 Common Mistakes You’re Making With Your Eyeliner

Finally—eyeliner application demystified!

No matter how many YouTube beauty tutorials you watch, doing your own makeup is not as easy as it looks.

And in my opinion, one of the toughest cosmetic tasks to pull off is applying eyeliner. Liquid or pencil? Top, bottom or both lids? Can you wear eyeliner without eye shadow? What about mascara? It gets really complicated really quickly!

Here are seven of the most common mistakes you might be making with your eyeliner, and how to correct them:

1. Pulling Or Tugging Your Eye

I am so guilty of this one. In order to provide a smooth canvas for my eyeliner, I pull the skin out at the corner of my eye to make it as flat as possible. Everyone does this, right? While it may be a go-to move for many, it turns it out it’s actually not the best idea.

“When you pull and then release your eye, it bounces back—and your eyeliner does, too. This can create bumpiness, texture, and that dreaded check-mark shape hanging off the eye,” Lijha Stewart, makeup artist and director of artistry at Make Up for Ever, tells Glamour. Instead, try using your fingers like an anchor on your top lid.

2. Only Lining Your Lower Lash Line

You may think that either lining just your lower lash line or lining the entire eye are the ways to go, but it turns out that the opposite—only lining the top lid—is best. The reason may surprise you.

“Using a dark liner on the bottom without a liner on the top makes the eye feel unbalanced and bottom-heavy, dragging the eyes down,” Fiona Stiles, celebrity makeup artists and founder of her own makeup line at Ulta, tells Glamour. If you really prefer to use liner on the bottom, too, Stiles recommends using a lighter color there than on top. “This will give you definition, but feels softer and more flattering.”

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3. Closing Your Eyes When Doing A Cat Eye

The cat eye look is a dramatic, and difficult to achieve, eye makeup look. While it’s tempting to close your eye to pull it off, it turns out that’s a mistake. If you want your cat eyes to be totally even, it’s essential to keep your eyes open to ensure a balanced appearance.

“When the eye is closed, you can’t see where the crease at the corner of the eye falls,” explains Stewart.

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4. Not Smudging

After you’ve struggled to draw a precise line, the last thing you want to do is mess up your handiwork by smudging it, right? Wrong. You should smudge your liner with a small angled brush to soften a harsh line, fill in gaps and create an overall more natural look.

“The key is to also have a clean tissue handy,” Sonia Kashuk, celebrity makeup artist and founder of the Sonia Kashuk Collection for Target, tells Prevention. “Every time you smudge with your brush, clean the bristles off so that you’re not smudging eyeliner all over the place.”

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5. Not Using A Waterproof Liner

Life happens. That means sweat, tears and rubbing your eyes can all make your eye makeup look less than perfect.

To prevent these blunders, celebrity makeup artist Maya Michelle Shapiro recommends that you use both flour setting powder and a waterproof eyeliner. Set your undereye concealer with a translucent power, followed by waterproof eyeliner. Voila!

Never again will someone ask if you’ve been crying when you’re unwittingly walking around with eyeliner streaked down your face.

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6. Not Switching Up Your Eyeliner Look

There are so many fun ways to wear eyeliner, from the aforementioned cat eye to experimenting with funky colors. It’s essential to not get stuck in a rut! One big reason to make a change is that the same look you’ve been sporting since your teens might not look as great as you get older.

“We lose color in our skin as we age. This can make the makeup shades that we used to use appear to dark,” Taylor Babaian, celebrity makeup artist and author of “Beauty Rewind,” tells Prevention. So have some fun and mix it up now and again to avoid sporting an outdated look.

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7. Putting On Mascara First

Mascara is great for making your eyes pop, but the key is to make applying it the last thing you do, not the first. If you attempt to put eyeliner on over already mascara-coated lashes, they may get in the way, making it difficult to line the roots. Applying eyeliner first also ensure that you’ll have a better idea of how much mascara to put on.

mascara photo
Getty Images | Andreas Rentz