Is Perfect Eyeliner Possible?


This is a story of firsts…and seconds, thirds, and countless times until you learn your lesson. Or until you give up entirely.

I was 11 years old when everything “woman' came rushing at me. The onset of my period and burgeoning adolescence brought along a strong sense of the need to identify myself through style. My first style icons were men—specifically My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way. The minute I saw him wearing eyeliner in a music video, it was all over for me—I needed to do it too. Since I wasn't allowed to wear makeup at the time, I ended up sneaking literal clown makeup (the dollar Halloween kits) to school where I would haphazardly apply black crayon under my eyes in the bathroom. The chubby black smudges were closer to quarterback territory than elegant waterlines, but luckily I remained in the realm of a Tim Burton character—which at the time, I guess I was going for. While I'm of the mind that all makeup sins committed in high school are forgiven upon reception of a diploma, that doesn't stop me from wondering if I'm still doing it wrong, albeit with more subtlety.

The allure of perfectly executed allure is manifold. It can make you look sexier, more wide awake, and generally like you have your life in order if you take the time to do your makeup every morning. It all sounds like a wonderful look to try—and try I have—but my wings never come out even, even with the tape trick. I may be finally coming to terms with the fact that sadly, I'm just not meant to wear eyeliner.

I felt a tad alone in my predicament until my friend Grace texted me a picture of herself. In the photo, one eye looked sort of OK, and the other eye was accentuated with a little stub of eyeliner, and my sixth-grade memories that I fought so hard to repress came flooding back. I'm a beauty writer now— shouldn’t I have advice readily available, especially with something so basic as eyeliner? “More girls need to talk about how hard it is to get your eyeliner even,” she told me, and she was right. Everyone’s technique is pared down to one passing sentence—'Oh you just practice a lot,” which tells me nothing. So, community at large (or not—I have a feeling eyeliner perfectionists are a rare breed), tell me your secrets. Felt tip or brush? Gel or liquid? How do you get your eyeliner even if you're not Dita Von Teese and seemingly born with it on? Because if you can’t tell Grace, I’ve really let her (and all womanhood) down.

—Claudia Marina

Photographed by Tom Newton.