Few beauty products have the power to transform your look more than carefully applied eyeliner (just ask Kate Middleton). Depending on the look you want–a subtle, natural sweep or a dramatic, widening cat eye–there are different liner options and application techniques to achieve each.
For all your
eyeliner options, we spoke with L.A.-based makeup artist Stephen Sollitto (starworksartists.com) whose clients include Amy Adams, Hailee Steinfeld and Isabel Lucas, to get the skinny on what beauty products and techniques you need for your favourite lined looks.
Eyeliner option #1: Pencil liner
“Pencil is great for people wanting to practice a cat eye or if you want a softer line in general,” says Sollitto. “The intensity of the colour definitely varies from brand to brand so find what’s right for you—I love M.A.C’s Smolder or Givenchy Black.” Think of pencil liner as an entry-point to lined eyes: The look is soft and natural and perfect for daywear. Sollitto adds: “Pencil is smudgeable too, and great to darken the lash line while keeping the overall eye soft.”
Eyeliner option #2: Kohl liner
“Kohl is black, thick and great for a smudged, smoky eye,” says Sollitto. Although the kohl pencil doesn’t look any different than a regular pencil liner, Kohl in fact produces a much different aesthetic. Not only is better for smudging, it also stays put longer, making it the ideal choice for lining the waterline which is otherwise fairly futile. Try Lancôme’s Le Crayon Khol in Black Ebony for a true Kohl effect.
Eyeliner option #3: Shadow liner
“I love a shadow line because you can blend it away. It’s a very ‘non’ makeup look with subtle definition at the lash line,” says Sollitto. “The only thing with shadow is that it will fade during the day.” For application, Sollitto tell us that shadow should always be applied over pencil, allowing for the longest wear possible. “In general, shadow liner is a great way to amp up an eye while keeping the line soft and blended,” he says. To try this look at home with an angled brush to apply a dark brown eyeshadow that is already in your makeup kit overtop of your pencil liner. For more pigment and a touch more drama, apply the shadow with a wet brush. Try Smashbox Photo Op Eye Shadow Trio.
Two more eyeliner options plus beauty products and techniques on the next page …
Eyeliner option #4: Liquid liner
“Liquid is what you use if you want the line to be razor sharp,” Sollitto says. “Liquid also has the most staying power and won’t fade during the day.” Typically, liquid liner is used for dramatic, precise cat-eyes and can take some practice to get good at. “Each brand will offer brushes with different tensions,” says Sollitto. “This is a personal choice—test them out at a beauty counter.” For practice and application at home, have cotton swabs nearby and an oil-based remover for quick, easy fixes. Create retro cat-eyes with Yves Saint Laurent Effet Faux Cils Shocking Felt-Tip Eyeliner by winging out the liner on the top lashes, following the curve of the eye.
Eyeliner option #5: Gel liner
Gel eyeliner has the staying power of a liquid, but is more forgiving to apply and looks less severe. “Gel liner is great because it’s easier than liquid liner to apply – you have more control,” says Sollitto. “And it has the second greatest staying power behind liquid liner,” he adds. Insider makeup application tip: When applying gel liner, be sure to work quickly as the brush you apply it with can get clogged otherwise. We like Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner.
Whatever your desired aesthetic, it’s a good idea to have a few different liner options in your makeup kit at all times. By switching up the liner type you can easily shift your face from day to night (pencil for work and liquid or gel for nights out), producing dramatic differences with very little effort. If you’re unsure which liners are right for you, head to the department store or boutique cosmetics retailer to test different formulations and application techniques. Where possible, ask for sample sizes before committing to the full product purchase. Happy lining and defining!
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