They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but what good are windows if the frames let them down? By frames, I of course mean eyeliners…
Eyeliners come in many different forms, they’ve come a very long way since the day of brick hard blue pencils. They’re available in more than just the traditional blue or black, and are now available in a myriad of colours and types.
Before I talk about the different forms of eyeliners, I want to discuss the parts of the eye that are typically lined.
I made this diagram to clarify the discussion into eyeliners and their suitability for various parts of the eye.
The upper and lower lash lines are the line the lashes follow. They’re signified on the diagram by orange and purple respectively.
The tightline is the inner rim of the upper lid as shown in green.
The waterline is the inner rim of the lower lid as shown in blue.
Deciding which parts of the eye you want to line depends on what look you are trying to achieve.
Lining the lash line of the eyes aims to make them look bigger, it is suggested that if you are lining the bottom lash line, you should ensure the top line is thicker so as to avoid looking tired or giving the illusion of darkness under the eyes.
Tightlining your eye gives the illusion of thicker eyelashes.
Waterlining your eyes is a very popular technique for adding drama to your look. When lining your waterline with a dark or colourful liner, be warned, it will make your eyes look smaller. Using a white or flesh-toned eyeliner to waterline your eyes can feign the illusion of a brighter, more awake appearance.
The type of eyeliner you use will be determined by confidence in application, positioning of application and desired effect.
The most common type of eyeliner is a pencil form, and within this “category”, tere are a number of variations:
These are able to be applied straight to the eye, so are particularly useful for on-the-go makeup application. To keep eye pencils free from bacteria, sharpen often with a sanitized and dedicated sharpener (try not to fish one out of your desk drawer usually reserved for the kids crayons).
Also great for on-the-go application, these also usually have some kind of sharpener in the top (perhaps under a smudger). Sanitize this style of eyeliner regularly and keep the pencil sharp.
Both these types of liner are great for achieving an imprecise, smudgy look, or adding definition to your tightline and waterline. Creating sharp, crisp lines with traditional pencil eyeliners can be problematic as they are known to smudge easily and occasionally “grab” the skin during application.
Felt tips (technically not a pencil, I know)
This style of eyeliner is ideal for creating a sharp, crisp line, so is ideal for creating a 50’s style “cat-eye”. Felt tip eyeliners don’t work well to create a smoky, smudgy look as they don’t generally blend easily. I wouldn’t recommend trying to use this style of eyeliner to tightline or waterline as the liquid can cause a reaction if it gets into the eye.
These come with either a felt tip applicator (shown) or a thin brush. Like felt tip eyeliners, these are ideal for creating a sharp, crisp eyeliner look. Exercise caution when applying these to the waterline/tightline (in fact I’d say ‘don’t’) as they can run into the eye easily and cause a reaction.
Using shadow as an eyeliner creates a softer line, but is a good middle ground between the precision of a liquid liner and the smudgy softness of a pencil liner. A small stiff angle brush is the easiest way to apply shadow as a liner.
You can combine eyeliner sealing gel with any eyeshadow or loose pigment. This creates a liquid eyeliner that can be applied with any eyeliner brush. It is great for creating sharp, clean, precise lines. Like most liquid eyeliners, you should exercise caution when applying this to the tightline or waterline.
Often waterproof and extremely long-wearing, these are one of the most versatile types of eyeliner. Gel eyeliners can create a crisp, clean look, but can also be smudged out for something a little softer and smokier. They are generally suitable for lashlining, tightlining and waterlining. Depending on the final look you want to achieve, they are generally applied with either a fine eyeliner brush, and angled eyeliner brush or a push liner brush.
Eyeliner is my personal ‘never leave home without’ product. I started using it when I was about 14, and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone without it. I don’t have a favourite type – as my skills improve, I find that my preferences change.
Do you use eyeliners? What is your favourite type? Do your peepers look perfect without it?