A Cheater’s Guide To Applying Eyeliner

Invisible Liner Trick
Scotch Tape Stencils
Scotch Tape Stencils (After)
Business Card Line Guards
Concealer Quick-Dry

I have the steadiness and hand-eye coordination of a drunk baby panda, and yet my eyeliner? Always perfect. Over the years I've collected an arsenal of tricks (decade of raccoon eyes + hundreds of hours of very important YouTube-ing = EXPERTISE), and at this point I think I have the definitive cheats for easy cat eyes, straight lines, smudge-proofing, and invisible liner. You might look a little weird doing them, but it's a small price to pay for the perfect flick. Here's how I prevent a few of the most annoying eye makeup issues:

Eyes Somehow Look Smaller When You Use Eyeliner
The Solution: Tightlining/Waterlining, aka 'The Invisible Liner Trick'
How To Do It: With a waterproof pencil, rim your eyes on top of the lash line. For a dramatic look like the one shown, draw on the very inner edges of your lids, between your lashes and eyeball. For more subtlety, dot pencil in the tiny gaps between your lashes, then softly blend upwards with a liner brush or Q-Tip.

Desperately Want Cat Eyes, But Just. Can't. Do. It.
The Solution: Scotch Tape Stencils
How To Do It: Use two pieces of Scotch tape to create a triangle at the outer corner of your eye, then fill in with liner, remove the tape, and you get a perfect flick. Thanks, geometry!
You can arrange the tape however you want, but here's my rule of thumb:
A) The upper edge of the piece you put underneath your eye should align with both your eye's outer corner and the outer tip of your eyebrow.
B) The lower edge of the piece you use on top of your eye should align with the center of your iris and then tilt slightly upward. More tilt creates a thick retro wing. Less tilt looks minimalist and modern.

Straight Lines Are Straight-Up Impossible
The Solution: Business Card Line Guards
How To Do It: Cut one side of a business card off (cardboard works, too!) and use it like a ruler to keep your line crisp and straight. Also great as a lid guard if your liner goes on too thick or when you're applying mascara to keep your lids clean.

You're The Queen Of Smudgeland
The Solution: Concealer Quick-Dry
How To Do It: Even pencil liner takes a little while to set—the wax in it is melting against your skin—so if you always end up smudging, the best fix is to pat a little translucent powder or concealer on top of your liner. It'll help dry things up right away, keep liner from sliding off oily skin, and help prevent it from shifting when you blink.

—Lacey Gattis

Photos by Elizabeth Brockway.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Charlotte MacDonald-Gaunt

    I do like a feline flick, but am hopeless at doing it - so I'll definitely try your advice with the tape :o) Xx

    • ITGLacey

      It's super easy—seriously!

  • Soph – www.thelondonturtle.com

    AMAZING tips, thanks!! :)

  • Emma Helen

    What coloured liner is that guys? I want it! x

    • ITGLacey

      It's Chantecaille Waterproof Eyeliner in Orchid (one of my favorites for obvious reasons—they carry it at Saks: http://into.gl/1eDRoKc )

  • http://www.thebeautyinbox.com The Beauty Inbox

    What's the chances I'll take half my lashes and brow off with the sticky tape?? Nice post, lol-ed to self here in office. x

    • ITGLacey

      There were no brow/lash casualties with the Scotch tape, so I'm saying it's safe! Because if I didn't manage to injure myself, it's prob very benign indeed.

  • ITGLacey

    High fives!

  • Barbara

    Wouldn't putting concealer or powder on top mute the color? I CONSTANTLY struggle with eyeliner transferring to my upper eyelids, and it looks ridiculous. Dying for a solution... Thoughts?

    • ITGLacey

      Hey! If you're worried about muted color, I'd use the tiiiiniest bit of translucent powder. That way you're not covering up the liner and as the powder wears off over the day your makeup never looks faded.

      • Barbara

        Perfect... any good suggestions for brands of translucent powder to check out?

        • Liz K

          I like MUFE HD powder because it is completely colorless. It really does help. I also use a tiny bit of primer + powder on my entire lid if I'm not wearing shadow and it helps with transfer a bunch.
          Would love to hear any other ideas from the ITG team.

        • Amanda

          Hey Barbara -- I used to have that problem until I switched to Stila waterproof liquid eyeliner, it draws on like a marker! Combined with a Nars primer I can sleep with it on and it still looks perfect the next day :)

  • Jane T.

    Is it possible to regress in eyelining skills? I used to be a boss at the cat eye, but the last month or so I keep fudging it and feeling a little on the Mimi side of things. Looks like I now have a use for all those old business cards...

  • Sophie Blumenthal

    Love the scotch tape idea!

    Sophie x

  • Ashly Eyler

    These are perfect tips!!!! Thanks you SO much for sharing! :)

  • Robin

    When I tightline, my eyes are irritated for the rest of the day. I don't have any visible eyeliner in them, they're just itchy :/

    Am I doing something wrong or is it just my eyes?

    • http://unpretentiousbouquetofparentheses.blogspot.com/ Camille

      I'm the same! I was diagnosed with blepharitis a few months ago, and finally learnt (the hard way) why tightlining irritated me so much (that said, it doesn't mean you have blepharitis!). The edge of your eyelids (where you put the liner when you tightline) is the place where your lids secrete oils to keep your natural tears from evaporating. So when you tightline, you block some of the oils from spreading naturally in your eyes, so they're drier than usual and become itchy.

    • Sahmie

      I was the same way with liquid eyeliner. Every time I used it, ESPECIALLY if I tightlined, my eyes would water until they eyeliner was gone and the skin around my eyes would sting. I switched to gel eyeliner a few months ago and it made the biggest difference.

  • http://novelsandlipstick.weebly.com/ Kennedy

    Love scotch tape stencils haha! If you haven't tried it, it really does work! I think everybody should try it at least once, if only to show you how your free-hand eyeliner flick should really look!
    Also, love the periwinkle purple eyeliner :)

  • Jennifer

    There's a video on youtube of a girl applying eyeliner with a spoon, so much easier!

  • http://www.wernerbeauty.com/ Teckie

    I've seen this done with a post-it, too - which might be a little less harsh than tape. Another good tip: fold a makeup wipe in half, line the folded edge up (at an angle) underneath the wing of your eyeliner, then slowly drag it up to sharpen the wing. You have to do your under-eye concealer last, but small price to pay for the perfect angle/thickness!

    • AsphodelJones

      I meant to upvote, not downvote! Sorry! I've done the Post-It trick, but what I'm using these days is a Kleenex folded in quarters, and then angled so it follows my lower lashline up to the outer corner of my brow (obviously, I don't extend the line that far). It works. And yes, having to do under-eye concealer last is a small price to pay for the perfect angle and thickness!

  • http://www.clevergirlreviews.com/ Clever Girl Reviews

    I'm afraid of tape!

  • lisa robb

    Great cheat!!
    L x

  • ellkaybee

    So keen to try the scotch tape. I am terrible at a cateye. Really terrible!

  • Mattie

    I prefer to be called by my formal title: Her Eminence the Grand Duchess of all Eyeliner Smudgery.

  • Kate Ryan

    Thanks! I would have never thought to use tape. It makes perfect sense. Just not something I ever would have thought about. Thanks Thanks Thanks!

  • Chemi dollify

    very awesome hack ;)

  • raina

    ugh i did one eye well but i cant get the other to look remotely alike. ANY HELP?

  • Kerry Sharples

    Help!!!! I have really runny watery eyes..... help!!