We love a classic beauty reference, and you'd be hard pressed to find one more classic than a masterfully accented liquid-lined eye (Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, I-don't-think-we-need-to-go-on-but-we-could-believe-me-we-could)—the key to that sentiment being the word "masterfully." And even better if you can take that reference into today, and make a liquid-lined eye all sexy and personal and supremely flattering. The problem? Anyone who's tried knows that pulling off the look is not exactly instinctive, winging your liner up and out with a teensy little brush, making it precise and perfect and identical on both sides (all this with one eye quite literally closed). It's intimidating, and things can go very, very wrong. We don't want that to happen (to you, or us, or anybody except maybe our worst enemies and maybe not even then, because karma, people—let's start 2013 with a clean slate). So, welcome to our fifth and final ITG Resolution: master liquid eyeliner.
To help us out, we called our girl Devyn Galindo and asked her to photograph her pal, the inimitable, enviably eye-lined Stacey Nishimoto (a Nasty Gal makeup artist and stylist, and if there's one thing those nasty gals know, it's their way around a liquid liner). Who better to demystify the process than Stacey? NO ONE.
"My first job was at a Lancôme counter, and my first lesson was how to do the perfect cat eye. No creamy pencils, no eye shadow. Not even foundation—it was straight to the liquid stuff. Which means my makeup virginity was taken by a cat eye. And for me, liquid liner is still the absolute easiest makeup to apply. Liquid is effortless, applied in quick, tracing strokes, done in seconds...as opposed to pencil, where there is more strain in application, in blending and softening, extending and erasing. It's timeless and powerful, and not to mention packed with seduction. That being said, liquid liner is not just for over-the-top crazy cats or retro felines (bleh). A cat eye is for everyone, at every age, at any time. The trick to keeping it modern and aaamazing is how you wear it with the rest of your face. On younger girls, it's fun to create a graphic, boxy shape or stretch it all the way out to your temples—it's all in the curve. On mature women, a clean, sharp stroke along your lashline can literally re-shape—define—a slightly softened eye. Yes, indeed ;)
Currently, my favorite way to wear liquid liner is in shocking jewel-tones; a cobalt blue line with deep violet lashes rocks my boat in a major way. Vivid blues and violets are like neutrals on the eye, very easy to wear and match any look. Soft emerald liner with sapphire blue lashes makes me want to die...SO BEAUTIFUL. Really, any colored liners or mascaras are absolutely rad and actually pump life into all complexions, making skintone radiate and your eye color awaken from the dead. To balance a jeweled eye, keep the rest of the face bare, almost non-existent, just moisturizing to make skin soft and touchable (but don't let anyone touch your skin). Use diluted color on the lips with fresh blush colors on the cheeks.
Application: Easy squeezy. OKAY, yes...practice does make it easier, just like with anything else in life. But don't be afraid to approach it. And with liquid liners, the finer the brush, the easier to apply. I don't like pointed sponge-tip applicators because they tend to skip across the skin. As of now, the best liquid liner on the planet is Givenchy's Parad'Eyes Fluid Eye Liner in Blue Lagoon. It has a satin finish that dances on the lid at night and looks soft during the day. And the best part of this liner is the brush—it literally makes application as easy as scribbling your signature on a receipt. It allows for so much control and precision, and the colors offered (*heart skips a beat*) are colors that only the French can do (that goes for colored mascaras, too, like my current faves, Diorshow in Azure Blue and YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils in Fascinating Violet)... But I digress. With the wand in hand, start at the dead center of the eye on your upper lash line and begin to paint/draw a line that curves slightly upward, pointing directly to the end of your eyebrow. This creates the perfect slant customized to your eye shape. Then, go underneath the slant and fill in the 'empty' space with liquid. After that, connect the end of the drawn line to the outer corner of your eye (the movement is up from the corner of your eye and outward to reach the end of the line, you're 'just winging it out'). Once you've mastered that shape, you can do a deadly dagger or Cleopatra blocks. Then, to finish the eye, start painting from the inside corner (the tearduct), pressing firmly and dragging the brush inward back to the center where you started. If you want a more graphic eye or a bolder look, simply retrace your steps, raising the bar one step higher.
Figure out what shapes work on you by playing and having fun. Keep your Caudalie Gentle Cleanser handy. And remember why you're practicing so hard: nothing is more fun and gratifying than a split-second transformation of your face."
Liquid liners we love (for beginners or old hands):
Givenchy Parad'Eyes Fluid Eye Liner
Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner
Nars Eyeliner Stylo
Hourglass Script Precision Liquid Liner
FYI: Stacey's Instagram, @STACEY_NISHIMOTO, is incredible. (Devyn's, too.) We suggest you follow ASAP, if you like goth-tinged makeup inspiration and ridiculously cute babies (Stacey's is named Gussie).
Stacey Nishimoto photographed by Devyn Galindo in Los Angeles.