It’s only been a couple of weeks, but we’re still talking about Janelle Monae’s winged eyeliner at the Golden Globes. Trying to get that perfect, movie star-looking line can seem impossible. But here, we have the least-intimidating, most helpful expert tips and tutorials to learn just how to apply eyeliner the easy way. Whether you’re going for subtle definition or a dramatic cat eye, here’s everything you need to know.
How do you put on eyeliner?
This short video from Birchbox is all you need to get started. Using the Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner pen ($22, ulta.com), place the liner tip as close to your lash line as possible. To create a smooth line, hold your finger to make the skin around your eye taut, but don’t tug. “It can cause skin to crinkle, and your line will not be as smooth,” says makeup artist Laura Geller. Instead, she recommends pointing your chin up and looking down, so your lids are half-closed but you can still see them in the mirror.
Once you’re in position, draw short dashes along your top lash line, starting at the inner corner of your eye.
Is liquid or pencil easier?
Pencil. “They’re usually creamier and melt or blend into a sultry smoky line,” says Stila’s creative artistry director Sarah Lucero. She recommends reaching for a “creamy kajal kohl” liner like Sephora Collection’s Long-Lasting Kohl Pencil ($10, sephora.com) to deepen or brighten your eyes in the waterline. Less is more with this product, so make sure to dot along the lash line and then blend closer to the roots of your lashes with a smaller brush “Almost like you are erasing the liner away but it’s buffing it into the most sultry, soft, smoky eye ever!” she says.
Liquid eyeliner fans: Pick up a pen like the Stila’s Stay All Day® Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner ($22, sephora.com) and lightly apply the product tight to the root of the lashes, says Lucero. Keeping it as close to your lashes as possible will make your eyes look bigger and more defined, and your lash line will appear fuller and thicker.
Should eyeliner go on top or bottom?
Stick to the top. “Top liner defines and adds depth to eyelashes,” says Lucero, adding that it will also elongate your eyes. “Depending on your eye shape, lower liner could close up the eyes and do the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.”
But if you want to throw a little liner on the bottom lash line, Lucero has a tip to get her “wide eye-doll eye” effect.
“I love taking the tip of my liquid liner and dotting every other lower lash root,” she says. “If you line a solid line you lose the light and space between lashes that actually allows light and dark to play. I call this ‘lash contouring.'”
How do you get eyeliner to stay on?
Apply a coat of mascara before your liquid liner, says Lucero. “Pretend you are drawing one last flick at the tips of your lashes and work your way toward the lash line — this trick is helpful to get a modern edge to your liner. Plus, it helps you understand your eye shape and allows you to create the perfect cat eye stroke that is always flattering on you.”
You can also set it with a little “bling,” like Stila’s Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow in Molten Midnight ($24, sephora.com). Lucero says to tap it right over your liner for extra movement and shimmer.
If your liner still isn’t staying on, Lucero says to consider your skincare routine. You might want to swap your eye makeup remover or use less eye cream. She loves using the Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm ($68, ulta.com).
How can I do a cat eye or winged eyeliner?
YouTuber Joanna Spicer has a quick routine that helps her get symmetrical, smooth wings every time.