Resolution #5: Master Liquid Liner


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 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."

—Stacey Nishimoto

Liquid liners we love (for beginners or old hands):

Givenchy Parad'Eyes Fluid Eye Liner

Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner

Lancôme Artliner Precision Point Eyeliner

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. 

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Nomadic D.

    So fun. Makes me wanna try this immediately. In fact, I think I will! My favorite liquid eyeliner is actually Revlon's ColorStay, in case anyone wanted a good drugstore option. But I do love the way that blue looks on her! Maybe this year I will be braver with color...

  • iamturquoise
  • Inubia- Marsha

    i am in my 30's and I have never ever worn makeup. My skin is flawless and İ actually think I would make a face model.

  • TinaOurWonderLust

    I love this. I'll have to try the cobalt blue. She pulls it off so effortlessly. I wonder how it will look on my small Asian eyes though. Cat eyes are harder to apply on smaller lids. I have a tip that I call "kitten eyes" :)
    Thanks for "the extras" I love ITG

  • Erian

    That love!

  • Maria

    oh wow, this was a much-needed post, thanks so much! And I love the clashing outfits on mom and child :p

  • Jen

    Black liquid liner is my go-to look for easy drama. I'm a huge fan of Revlon ColourStay Liquid eyeliner pen in Black. Super easy to apply! Love the vibrant blue liner featured here. Will have to try this for spring! :)


  • Samantha

    Well, heck, if she can do it with a baby in hand, I know I can!

  • mlle p

    That is the master class of eyeliner, to do it with a baby on your lap and one-handed!

  • eastvillagesiren

    Lovely pics and color suggestions. I just booked a trip from NYC to Ft Myers Beach for the end of Januar; the blue Givenchy eyeliner will be a perfect purchase for my evening "look."

  • Cybil Lake

    i have a hard time with that liquid eyeliner ;-)

  • Michelle

    Looks gorgeous!! How old is "too old" for this blue?? lol, hoping I can still pull it off! Also, need to know what is on her perfect lips??

    • ITGNick

      This just in from Stacey: "I apply YSL glossy stain in #18 a pale cream pink then I saturate the center of lips with the same formula in # 17, which is the perfect pop of fuchsia that dissolves right into your lips."

      • michelle

        Thank you so much!! :)

  • Kirsty Hill

    I never found liquid eyeliner that hard after a bit of practice! But I was nervous to try it!

    I have just started a blog and would love if you came to check it out! :)

  • Meredith

    Another good drugstore option is L'Oreal Lineur Intense. It is easy to use and stays on until you take it off. The colors aren't quite as cool as the Givenchy though.

  • Colleen Oczkowski

    The best liquid liner I found so far is the Sephora brand. It is easy to use, gets the job done, stays put and is budget friendly.

  • marjorie hernandez

    amazing, but guys, video is needed!

  • Chloe

    I want to be this woman. Amazing.

  • Tayyebah

    does blue mascara and eyeliner look good on south asian skin tones?

    • Cece

      Navy blue!


        Gonna try this one out!

  • Amaltee

    Love the liner - definitely an inspiration - but what is that fabulous color on her nails??

    • ddenise

      Maybe YSL N°18 Bleu Majorelle?

  • Stormy Holt

    I love a nice cat eye! It is something that I can't let go of, ever since high school! I know I should move on, but it's just too good to me!

  • Lust Covet Desire

    Someday I'll be just as good at liquid eyeliner as she is. Love the color.

  • kubaojp

    great ,i will try

  • Heidi

    A video of her instructions would make it sooo much better for the visual learners that read your blog :)

  • texasvegmama

    Elf has a liquid liner that goes on perfectly and it is totally budget-friendly.

  • Pixel_Queen

    For me, this is the definitive cat-eye/eyeliner tutorial. Never fails. Ever. You're welcome :) :

  • Chloe Moon

    I wish I could perfect liquid liner too!! =)

    Ergo - Blog

  • Lisa Best

    I need the baby so can concentrate on holding something (someone) and not be nervous about doing the liner, haha! I go back and forth, liquid or pencil, but I am finding liquid is just longer lasting and has more impact. Thank you for the great support I agree with Marjorie below, would love a tutorial. Thanks!


    I've mastered the liquid liner by watching my mother do it every single day of my life. Even till this day I can't even imagine my mother without it. I used to try to reason with her out of her "liquid liner rut". Now I know better. This is as classic as they come.

  • Ellen

    I totally agree, liquid liner is my go-to and I find it the easiest and quickest to do! Love this article!

  • MelloZee

    Nars is an overrated failure. It smudges within a few minutes of application and drying. Stila is on the same boat. Marc Jacobs flakes. I prefer Eyeko and Maybelline Master Precise. I used them in DC's humid, humid weather. I barely had any embarrassing creases throughout the day. This is great for someone with oily eyelids, and the typical East Asian eye shape.