Dramatic Eyeliner Made Easy

BlogHer Original Post

The other day, I read a friend's post on how to wear black eyeliner without looking like a cast member of The Craft. She had a bunch of really smart suggestions, but when I finished reading, I found myself thinking, "Oooh, but what about ..." and it was then that I had an epiphany: I have a lot to say about dramatic eyeliner. Who would've guessed?

The thing is, I firmly believe that you should choose a feature to accentuate with makeup, and early on, I chose my eyes. They're not all that special, I guess, but I love the fact that eye makeup provides so much versatility -- you can play with color, shimmer, contouring, the works. And, you know, there's no need to reapply after sipping on a glass of wine. That's a big plus.

I also firmly believe in going all out with makeup. Not to the panda-eyed point of, say, Taylor Momsen, mind you, but I love a dramatic eye that doesn't look like it was applied by a middle school student who stole Mom's eyeliner and applied it in the three minutes she had between homeroom and third period. I've talked before about how to create a smoky eye, but I didn't go too far into the science of applying eyeliner. And ladies, it's a science.

First, you have to decide what kind of eyeliner you want. A liquid liner (like Maybelline Line Stiletto, $5.09 at Soap.com) will give you a sleek, precise line, but applying it is a skill even I haven't mastered. An easier option is to go with a liner designed to give a smudgier look, like CoverGirl Queen Collection Liner for Eyes, $4.99 at drugstore.com). With a smudgier liner, you can easily smudge away small mistakes, so it's perfect for beginners. However, in my experience, it's not perfect if you tend to touch or rub your eyes a lot. It starts smudgy and continues to be smudgy, if you catch my drift.

My go-to liner is the Stila Smudge Pot. It's pricier, which breaks my drugstore makeup-loving heart ($20 at beauty.com), but it really does last a long time. I love these because, despite the name, it's not particularly smudgy, but it's not perfect and precise, either -- it goes on fairly thick (though, I suppose with the right brush you could apply a really thin line) and once it sets, it doesn't budge.

Second, you need to decide how you want to wear it. And, rest assured, you have options. As my friend Sarah mentions, you first need to decide if you're a top, bottom, or top and bottom. Liner on just your top lid will make your eyes look larger and more wide open -- great if you're feeling a little tired and don't want it to show. Liner on the top and bottom will make your eyes stand out more, but won't make them look as big. Liner on just the bottom ... well, I just don't see an upside to it, but if you do, feel free to tell me about it in the comments.

But wait! You still have a choice to make! Do you want your liner all the way across your lid, or focused on the outer corners? Drawing your eyeliner from the outer edge of your pupil (or the iris, depending on the size of your eye and your preference) will make your eyes look more wide-set. As someone with fairly close set eyes, I use this trick a lot, but normally, I keep it thin on the inner part of my lid, drawing it a bit thicker on the outer third. And, I put eyeliner on the bottom lid, but only about half an inch in from the outer corner.

Third, apply! The trick with dark, dramatic eyeliner is to get it nice and close to your lash line. Seriously, get it right in there. If you don't have the steadiest hand, the best way to do this is by dotting the liner along the lash line (I actually dot in between my lashes), then connecting those dots. You can easily add more makeup to create a thicker line, but playing connect the dots will keep you from drawing your eyeliner too high on your lid and having to start over.

If you apply to both the top and bottom lid, do me a favor and please make sure those lines connect at the outer corner. I know, we're not exactly going for the natural look here, but when you have two totally separate lines, it just looks funky. And not in the cool way.

Once you're happy with your liner, it's up to you to decide how you want to accentuate it. One of my favorite tricks is to start with a matte black liner, then add either a colored liner over it, or smudge a dark shadow along it -- that way, I get the pow of heavy black liner, but with a twist. Plus, it's fun! But, you can stick to just the liner, then add red lipstick for some Mad Men style. And, of course, don't forget to make sure your brows are well groomed. All the eyeliner in the world won't make you look polished if you look like you have caterpillars hanging out above your eyes. Unless you're Sam Waterson. Sam can let his eyebrows do whatever they want.

And, is the case in all important things, finish with at least two coats of mascara. Trust me, this makes everything just a little better.

Photo courtesy of drugstore.com

Kristen also blogs at Jeez-o-petes, and when she's not there, you can find her on Twitter.

Photo Credit: PlaitsandBows.

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