Makeup Advice

Tips and tricks on how to choose and apply eyeliner

Jul 31, 2019

Taking your eyeliner technique to the next level needs a little practice, but once you do, you’ll find eyeliner is an ideal tool to accentuate and reshape your eyes. Lines can be drawn faithfully along the contours of your eyes to achieve a refined, classic look. Or, you can break the tradition with daring styles like winged eyeliner to add an intense impact to the eyes. Once you’ve mastered the skills, you’ll be easily changing your makeup look for different moods and occasions in no time. That’s why we’ve put together this set of tips and tricks to choose and apply eyeliner that suits your sense of style and individual eye shape.
Each eyeliner type offers a unique finish and style with endless makeup possibilities. Choose your eyeliner based on the specific look you want to achieve:

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  • Finish: Soft lines that blend naturally.
  • Ideal for: A more natural blend with eye shadow, or beginners who don’t feel comfortable with liquid or gel eyeliner types yet.


  • Finish: Fine lines that reshape the eyes (cat eyes, for example).
  • Ideal for: Glossy lines or delicate, clearly contoured lines.


  • Finish: Clear lines with good coloration and subtle gradations.
  • Ideal for: Controlling the thickness of the line and for smudge-free, long-lasting eye makeup.

How to apply eyeliner

Figure 1: The gaps between each lash are clearly visible

Figure 2: The gaps between each lash are concealed

The basics: Natural look

To achieve a more natural and beautiful eyeliner, make sure the skin between the eyelashes is not visible. Since eyelashes grow in layers, it’s important to check your eyes in a mirror—if you notice any skin color peeking out from between your lashes (figure 1), use eyeliner to fill in the gaps (figure 2). This will add impact to the eyes and make your lashes look denser.
Tilt your chin up and look slightly downward in the mirror. See the roots of your lashes on your upper eyelids? Take note of where they are because this will make it easier for you to draw precise lines.
Gradually thicken the line as you move from the inside to the outside of the eye, drawing attention to the outer corner of the eye. For a more natural finish, use a cotton swab or eye shadow to blend in the borders above the eye lines. Eyes look more natural when the lines don’t stray far from the actual corners of the eyes.

Figure 3: Upward wing starting at the corner of the eye

Figure 4: Downward wing from the final point, toward the corner of the eye

Winged Eyeliner (or, Cat Eyes)

Winged Eyeliner has an upward swing from the outer corners. But, to really master the professional look, you have to be extra careful when you make the lines. They should be perfectly symmetrical, with narrow tips at the outer corners. Remember liquid or gel type eyeliner render sharper lines—ideal for the cat eye style.

You can draw winged lines in a variety of ways. Some women prefer an upward swoosh that goes outwards and upwards from the corner of the eye (figure 3). Others prefer to define the final point of the line first and then draw the swoosh backward, toward the corner of the eye (figure 4). Beginners might prefer this method because it’s easier to render longer, more symmetrical lines.

If you want to create a thicker winged line, draw an outline first and then fill in the space in between. This method is also great for drawing sharper lines.

What is the best eye shadow for winged eyeliner?

Cat eyes stand out beautifully when you use a natural eye shadow color. A distinct, dark color will cover up those thick, winged-lines.


If you feel unsure, you can easily draw a soft-winged line using a dark eye shadow instead.

Advice from the Kanebo makeup artist

Make sure the winged-line matches the shape of your eyes. If you have narrow eyes, a line with a long-slitted impression looks best. If you have naturally large, round eyes, a wider outward line will suit you perfectly. Always check shape and symmetry with your eyes open, not closed. Think the line is weak or uninspired? Add an extra touch.
A line that runs too long and too high looks off if it reaches your eyebrow. Avoid this by pinpointing the final stop before you start drawing. For straight eyebrows, a long, cat-eye line will suit you well. If you have arched eyebrows, balance the eyebrow and cat eye line. A soft eyebrow color may help.

Special hints for East Asian women

Asian women have brown eyes, so they should embrace more color. Those with flatter facial features look gorgeous with layers of eye shadow colors—built up with the right amount of depth.

Advice for monolid eyes

Do you rely solely on eyeliner to make your eyes appear larger? If you do this, the eyeliner might look too strong when you close your eyes. Avoid this with an eye shadow and mascara combo. First, use the dark or medium color from your eye shadow palette to create a gradation from the outer corner of the eye. Next, add extra dimensions with mascara. Your eyes will look beautiful—with a real sense of depth.

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