Eyeliner has been a constant element in the history of makeup starting with 10,000 BC. It was used by people in Egypt and Mesopotamia and it consisted simply of a dark line around the eyes. However, it had a practical role as well: it was meant to protect the skin from the scorching sun in the desert. Today, we have other products to protect us from the sun, but we still haven’t given up the eyeliner. In this article, we are going to look at what types of eyeliner are out there, how to use eyeliner correctly, what types of makeup you can have, and what mistakes to avoid.

Types of Eyeliner

1. Pencil Eyeliner

Two black pencil eyeliners with golden caps

The pencil eyeliner is the most basic version you can use. It’s very easy to learn how to use pencil eyeliner, but some people are not happy with it because it doesn’t spread as thickly or smoothly as the other types of eyeliners. It is available in a plethora of colors and shapes. One of the best pencil eyeliners you can find today is the Urban Decay Double Perversion one.

2. Liquid Eyeliner

Opened liquid eyeliner with pot and special brush

This type of eyeliner is preferred for its precision. Usually, it is available in a small tube with a brush included. Alternatively, you can also find some pen-style ones that come with a brush tip. The downside for these would be that you must wait a while until they dry. Moreover, if you don’t know how to use liquid eyeliner, it can be quite a challenge not to smudge it. One excellent suggestion we can make you is the waterproof liquid eyeliner from Stila.

You might also like- Best Drugstore Eyeliner Products of 2017. 

3. Gel Eyeliner

A pot with black gel eyeliner, with the cap and the brush next to it

The best thing about gel eyeliners is the fact that they have a matte finish. If you don’t know how to use gel eyeliner, you will be happy to know that it glides on easily. Most of the times, they come in a small pot, complete with a special brush. If you need a recommendation, you should go for the Bobbi Brown product.

How Do You Put On Eyeliner? 5 Makeup Styles

The technique you need to choose when learning how to use eyeliner depends on the makeup style you want to obtain. Naturally, there are plenty of styles, and they vary in thickness, shape, etc. It also depends on the occasion for which you’re wearing the specific makeup. Now we are going to have a look at 5 makeup styles that you can use as inspiration for applying your eyeliner.

1. Cat Eye Makeup

Step by step guide to cat eye makeup

Even if you don’t know it by its name, you’ve probably seen this type of makeup worn by countless celebrities and even people you know in your day-to-day life. Don’t worry, it’s not hard to learn how to do cat eye makeup, but you will need to practice a little. Just as the name says, this style relies on making the outer corner of your eyes resemble those of a cat. You need to draw with your hand a tail headed towards the end of your eyebrows.

2. Smudged-Out Liner

Smudged out liner makeup style with eyeliner

For this look, you should use a pencil liner since it’s easier to blend it. Simply line the lashes with the black pencil and then blend it out, heading away from the lash line. Do it with the help of a smudger brush. Add whatever other colors you want to use for your makeup and blend everything well. This idea is perfect if you want to go for a black and white makeup, for instance.

3. Lower Smokey Liner

Lower smokey liner makeup style on a girl with brown eyes

Now you are going to see how to use eyeshadow as eyeliner. If learning how to use eyeliner on its own seems too hard for you, then you can safely use eyeshadow as a replacement. For this, you will need a flat eyeliner brush. Dip it in the gel eyeliner pot and then trace the top and bottom lashes. With a kajal pencil, draw some dots along the lower lash line. Finally, blend it all in. It’s important to match the eyeshadow color as well. For example, it’s best to do some research on what’s the best eyeshadow for blue eyes. They are the most prone to being mismatched when it comes to colors.

4. Winged Eyeliner

Close up of a girl's face while wearing black winged eyeliner and red lipstick

Yet another classic when it comes to using eyeliner is the winged shape. This is slightly different than the cat eye since it’s more curved. However, for this same reason, it’s harder to apply as well. Luckily, there are more ways than one to apply winged eyeliner. Now, there is also a recent trend with the reverse winged eyeliner. This means that you should head with the wing towards your nose, not the temples. Here’s a simple tutorial for the traditional way made by user SarahhBridget to help you out on this one:

5. Colored Liner

Close up of a girl's right eye with heavy makeup and purple eyeliner

Our last makeup style suggestion if you can’t decide on how to use an eyeliner is to go for a colored one. Crazy colors can really brighten up your makeup and keep dullness at bay. Here, you can choose the brightest colors you want. Be careful to keep a certain balance, though. Keep in mind that black is the best for a dramatic look, gray makes your makeup softer and brighter, while brown helps with a slightly smokey look.

Pro tip: Learn how to use white eyeliner. Why is white eyeliner so special though? The trick here is that if you apply it to the bottom lash line, it will make your eyes appear bigger. Of course, for that case, it’s best to use a pencil one.

Eyeliner Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Just like we were explaining above, not everybody knows how to use eyeliner correctly. For this reason, now we are going to focus on some of the most common eyeliner mistakes and ways to fix them.

1. Using a Dull Liner

Side shot of a girl with blue eyes applying eyeliner with a dull pencil

One thing that shouldn’t miss from your makeup bag is a pencil sharpener. You should never use a dull liner, since this affects your precision. And if you’re not an expert on how to use eyeliner, it will make things even more complicated.

2. Transferring Liner

This problem is most often found in people with monolids. The solution here is to increase the height of the liner. As such, when you will open your eyes, the line will still be visible. Moreover, wait a couple of seconds before letting the eyeliner touch the upper part of the eye after you applied it. At the same time, you should learn how to apply eyeliner close to the lash line as well.

3. Colored Liner Everywhere

We explained above that it’s trendy to use a colored liner. However, you should apply it either on the upper or on the lower lid, never both at the same time. A full-on look will have a dramatic, aggressive appearance. Moreover, match the color with your eyes. Make sure you choose the best eyeliner color for blue eyes or brown ones, for instance.

4. Uneven Liner

People who are not familiar with the eyeliner techniques often end up with the line thicker on one eye. Sadly, this will lend you a negligent look. If you don’t know how to use eyeliner evenly on both eyes, you can use some tricks. For instance, trace the shape before with some concealer or a pale pencil. Then, use it as a guide for when you start applying the eyeliner.

Side by side shots of eyeliner applied correctly and wrongly

5. Using Liquid Eyeliner for the Lower Lid

The liquid type of eyeliner is bolder and looks better indeed. However, it’s a bad idea to apply it on the lower lid. One of the reasons is the fact that it might drip and ruin the rest of your makeup. Another one would be that it’s hard to apply it there. As such, you should better use a waterproof pencil for the waterline.

6. Curling Lashes after Applying Eyeliner

If you do this, you risk smudging your eyeliner with the lash curler. Because of this, it’s better to curl them first, then get on to applying liner. It’s very helpful when you want to keep a clean makeup.

7. Spaced Liner

If we had a penny for each time we’ve seen this mistake, we’d be buying a thousand eyeliners now. After you think you’re done with the eyeliner, pull up the upper lid and check it. Sometimes, there might be a space left between the liner and the lash line. This will look very unaesthetic on your final makeup. Fill it up accordingly.

8. Pulling the Eyelid

Many people, when trying to apply their eyeliner, pull the eyelid to get more precision. Though this can help them indeed, it may lead to wrinkles forming in that area in time. Moreover, you can’t see if you’re applying it in the right place if the lid is stretched.


This guide offers a comprehensive view on how to use eyeliner. We started off with an explanation of the three basic types of eyeliner, then moved on to a couple of makeup styles suggestions, and ended with a brief list of mistakes that may appear. Learn from the mistakes others made and find the best eyeliner that works for you. Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and to play around with some colorful eyeliners.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11