Eyeliner 101

Hey everyone!

I got a request to explain the difference between the various types of eyeliner available in the wonderful world of cosmetics. I'm by no means a makeup guru, just a gal that has loved makeup all of her life, has plenty of it, and has learned some tips and tricks along the way!

There are plenty of YouTube tutorials on how to apply your makeup for natural and dramatic looks, so I would like my posts to help out those of you that are timid when it comes to makeup. These posts will be basic yet (hopefully) informative. My goal: make you all less afraid to use makeup. I won't be posting specific brand recommendations in this entry, but if you want any just leave your questions in the comments.

The first thing I would like to say is that you shouldn't be afraid of cosmetics. While some people think they are a way to oppress women, I call bull on that. It's so much fun and it can help you with your confidence, so I don't find that oppressive at all! Makeup really is a creative outlet as much as painting or drawing can be. It is not just a way to make yourself polished--make it fun!

Quick note: I won't be talking about kohl liners (the loose powder type, not kohl pencil) because even I can barely use it without making a mess ;) Here we go, lovelies: Eyeliner 101!


Positives: Good for lining the rim/waterline of your eye (though this isn't recommended since it can clog tear ducts and cause infection) easier to smudge

Negatives: One of the fastest to slide off/disappear if you have oily lids and/or are in hot and humid climates.

-I think everyone starts off with pencil liner because it's readily available and chances are your makeup mentor (usually mom) started off with that as well. The quality of the pencil is very important. You want one that requires little tugging of the eyelid to get a smooth line and one that will stay on all day. Considering my skin type and where I live (Miami) I never use pencil liner without a sealer, because if not it will just melt off.

If your skin isn't as oily you can try out pencil liners. The kind you can sharpen are good because with a sharp point you can get a thinner line and once the point wears down you can make a smokey eye. I've never had much success with twist-up liners, so I won't recommend those.


Positives: Great for retro and bold looks. Also great for when you need to add emphasis to your makeup look without bold color.

Negatives: One of the hardest to apply. Some need time to "dry" (meaning you need to keep your lids closed or your eyes looking downward to prevent the line from smudging)

-By now I have gotten used to liquid liner, but if you're just starting out it will require a lot of practice. You can find liquid liner in pen or "ink well" type packaging. Some liquid liners, like SANA's Maikohan Liner (my favorite in the world) lasts all day, but others can run at the lightest tear or drop of sweat and cause a huge mess (way more messy than pencil can!) If you are a beginner with an adventurous makeup spirit, pick out a cheaper liquid liner from the drug store to practice your technique. Check out YouTube for great makeup tutorials as well!


Positives: Glides on great, (usually) amazing staying power. Available in a rainbow of colors. With the right brush, great control of application and line thickness.

Negatives: Require a separate brush, the product can dry up quickly in the jar.

Technically, cream and gel liner are two different things, but you will often find people calling the two liners by the same name and generally, the packaging and technique is the same. This has become my favorite type of liner, not only because of staying power, but because with the right brush it is the easiest to apply. You don't need to tug on your eyes at all (less wrinkles!) and pretty much every brand, including drugstore lines, are making them now. I would say this is a great product for those of you afraid to use liquid liner to try out. Depending on the quality of your gel/cream liner, you can also get a strong line that gives your look the impact liquid liner does, but without the mess. You can find angled/slanted brushes at the drugstore and those always work well with cream/gel liners. You can either slide the brush along the lid or press it into the lash line.


Positives: You probably already have an eyeshadow! Pretty good staying power, creative flexibility

Negatives: You need a separate brush and some water, some shadows work better with this technique than others

If you have an angled brush, all you need to do is dampen it up and sweep it on the edge of the eyeshadow pan (don't spray your entire shadow with water!) to pick up some color, then you would apply it as you would with a cream or gel liner. It's cheaper than buying a new cream/gel liner if you already have a brush, and you can often get great results depending on the quality of the shadow.


If you want visuals, I can't recommend YouTube enough. There are some great makeup videos on there that will help you understand the technique and placement of liner, as well as give you some insight into the creative things you can do with it. Please leave comments and questions! I will answer as many as I can and as always, feel free to request a post from me. I'll be more than happy to help you out!

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