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The most common question I get asked is which black eyeliners are best for the waterline. The struggle is real! Honestly, my search for long-lasting, smudge-proof, and highly pigmented formulas is never-ending. And I’m a great subject to test out eyeliners on because they have a tendency to run and bleed onto my skin no matter what I use. I don’t know about you, but carrying Q-tips, makeup remover, and concealer are not an option. But I’m just a sucker for lining my upper and lower waterline…the look is sultry and adds drama to any eye makeup look.
Luckily, I’ve compiled a list of eyeliners that are formulated to stay put and are safe for sensitive eyes. But there is a tried and true trick (or two but you may not be so brave) to ensuring that your liner doesn’t run onto your lower eyelid. Personally, the second method works wonders on me. Sometimes I think I’m not made to wear makeup because my skin and eyes love to reject makeup. Fortunately, there are so many primers on the market that I’m able to prolong the wear of my makeup as well as achieve a more smooth application. So in addition to using one of the methods I will discuss below, I highly recommend using a eye primer if you have issues with your makeup moving around or fading throughout the day. Now let’s first discuss how to apply liner to your waterline.
How To Line The Waterline
What you need:
- Eyeliner: pencil or gel
- Flat definer brush (Sigma E17, sigma.com $9.80)
- Black or dark brown eye shadow
Ok, so I’ve been doing this since I was about 17. And it’s not scary to me at all, but I realize that’s not the case with everyone. Not to worry, with the method below, you will completely avoid poking yourself in the eye!
Upper Waterline (a.k.a. Tightlining): Tilt your head back, gently lift your eyelid to expose the more of the waterline and also avoid contact with your eye. Then gently run the liner along your waterline.
You can use a pencil or gel liner. If you prefer to use a gel liner, apply a small amount using a liner or angled brush. With an angled brush, gently dab the liner on your waterline with the flat side.
TIP: This is my favorite trick to give the illusion of fuller lashes. I also think this is an absolute must paired with a cat-eye! It makes such a dramatic difference.
Lower Waterline: Tilt your chin down, gently pull your lower lid down, and run the liner along your waterline.
TIP: Make sure to line your waterline before you apply mascara so you can cover the spaces between your lashes as well.
How To Keep Eyeliner In Place
After lining your eyes with either a pencil or gel liner, using a flat square brush, set the liner with a very small amount of black eye shadow (Try Urban Decay ‘Black Out’ urbandecay.com or ). You can even set your upper waterline, but that requires some bravery. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this step if you have very sensitive eyes.
For this technique, you’re basically creating a barrier between your lash line and your skin. Once again, first line your upper and lower waterline. Then using a flat square brush (such as the Sigma E17), apply a line of black or dark brown eye shadow by pressing the top of the brush right along your lower lash line. It’s a personal preference on how thick you would like to apply the shadow. You may also soften the edges with a pencil brush (Sigma E30, sigma.com $14). Ever since I started using this technique, my liner has not smudged, even after a long day and tons of laughing. I don’t know about you, but usually, the second I smile after applying eyeliner to my waterline, it’s all over the place.
I’ve also heard that baking your under-eyes creates a barrier as well, but I haven’t tried that out since I prefer not to bake my concealer.
Check out this short tutorial I filmed showing you how to do both techniques. I applied a very dark black and thicker line of eye shadow just so you could really see what I was doing (Anastasia Beverly Hills Single Eye Shadow in Noir, $12 sephora.com). Also, keep in mind it was tricky filming without using a mirror since I had to use both hands! #thestruggle
Tips for how to apply eyeliner to your waterline:
Avoid applying liner all the way around and concentrate it on the middle to outer corners. You want to keep your inner corners light to give the illusion that your eyes are farther apart. I also use this trick even though my eyes are not set closely because makeup tends to bunch up in my inner corners. I still get the sultry more full lash appearance without dealing with the maintenance of cleaning up my inner corners.
Apply liner to the entire upper and lower water line to make it appear as though your eyes are set closer together.
Avoid applying black eyeliner on your lower waterline. Opt for more soft colors. You may still apply it to your upper waterline to make your eyelashes appear fuller. TIP: Add a flesh tone or white eyeliner to your lower waterline to open up the eyes and give a more doll-like appearance.
If you want to create the illusion of smaller eyes, apply black eyeliner to your top and bottom waterline.
My Favorite Eyeliners For Waterline and Tightlining
Waterproof, cruelty-free, paraben free.
2 Make Up Forever Aqua Eyes, $21
Waterproof, paraben free, gluten free.
Waterproof, cruelty-free, paraben free, sulfate free, fragrance-free.
Waterproof, sweatproof, heat-proof, heat-proof, humidity-proof. Dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested.
7 Maybelline Precise Skinny Gel Pencil, $7.99
Paraben free. They do not test or condone animal testing (“some of our natural fiber brushes are made from animal hair, no animals are harmed during the brush-making process’).
9 Inglot Gel Matte Eyeliner, $14
Waterproof, heat-resistant, humidity-resistant.
(Waiting to hear back for more product information – I got your back!)
Hope you learned something new and are able to create a sultry look without the fear of ending up with a messy eye makeup look. As always, I love your feedback so please leave any comments or questions below! xo Sarah