How to Apply Eyeliner Lightly

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Subtle eyeliner
Subtle eyeliner (Image: From writer's personal photo album)

Eyeliner brings out the shape of your eyes and can be worn even if you choose to skip the rest of your makeup for the day. The key to pulling off an eyeliner application that appears lighter than usual, yet makes a difference in your look, is to apply it not necessarily with a light hand, but discreetly, as though you did not line your eyes at all. This creates the effect of lashes that seem to be naturally lush for those times you want a no-makeup look.

Things You'll Need

  • Creamy eyeliner pencil
  • Retractable eyeliner pencil

Decide on the eyeliner color you want to use. If you have dark lashes, black is acceptable. If you have lighter lashes, use soft black or medium to dark brown. Use a skinny eyeliner pencil if you can find one. If not, at least sharpen your eyeliner for a precise point. Make sure the texture of your pencil is creamy, as this makes application easier.

Work the color directly into your upper and lower lash lines and not onto the skin of your eyelids as you may typically do. Do not extend the eyeliner past the outer corner of your eye either. Keep the liner strictly on your lash lines. Proceed to Step 3 for an alternative method.

Run a creamy eyeliner pencil in black or soft black along the waterline or inside rim of your top lash line (see Resources). Retractable eyeliners are especially creamy and not at all painful to apply. Skip the inner rim of your bottom lash line if you want discreet definition, as eyeliner is more visible here. This technique is called tightlining and it is popular even among models and celebrities.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your eyeliner smudges, switch to a waterproof formula to keep it in place throughout the day.
  • Do not use anybody else's retractable pencil when tightlining your eyes. This prevents the spread of bacteria and keeps eye infections away.

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