If you've ever admired a stunning eyeliner look on the red carpet and had trouble re-creating it at home, you're not alone. Eyeliner is one of those beauty basics that can cause a whole lot of confusion, and perfecting your application technique or figuring out what formula works best for you can take a bit of trial and error.
In our quest to become eyeliner pros once and for all, we consulted our resident makeup maven, TODAY style expert Bobbie Thomas. She stopped by the studio with celebrity makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes to break down the basics and share a few insider tricks to help us all master the art of eyeliner in no time.
The best eyeliner for your eye shape
Whether you prefer natural, graphic or winged eyeliner, most of us naturally gravitate towards one style over another. Still, some beauty lovers are a bit intimidated by this makeup staple and aren't so sure it works for their eye shape.
"People always DM me and say, 'I've been told from somebody in a counter or a makeup artist once that did my makeup for a event that I can't do eyeliner,'" Hughes said. "Everybody can do eyeliner."
Some eyeliner styles are naturally more flattering for your eye shape, but that doesn't mean certain looks are actually off limits.
"We all just might have to do it differently. It's like somebody says to me, 'Oh, one of my eyes is a different shape to the other eye. How do I make them match?" Treat each eye as if it's its own face in a way," Hughes said.
For instance, if one of your eyes is a bit downturned and the other is slightly upturned, don't focus on making them match. Just focus on what each eye needs! Hooded eyes, on the other hand, can go a bit wild and have more fun with funky eyeliner shapes.
The best eyeliner formulas for your eye shape
Gel, cream, liquid, oh my! With so many eyeliner formulas out there, finding the right one for your peepers can take a bit of trial and error. With practice, you might find that you prefer one texture over another, or discover that a gel formula is easier to apply than liquid eyeliner.
Your age can also influence the type of eyeliner that works best for you. For instance, Hughes suggests a more "fluid and malleable" formula for mature skin, and a denser formula for younger skin.
You can also make your own eyeliner at home with Hughes' go-to technique:
- Take an eye shadow of your choosing and a makeup-setting spray with glycerin in it.
- With a makeup brush, mix a little corner of the eye shadow and a half a pump of the makeup setting spray together to create a paste.
- Play around a bit until you find the perfect eyeliner consistency for you, and have fun!
- Note: Eye shadows with mica typically turn white when you add in a mixing agent like makeup spray, so pay attention to the ingredients before starting.
Tips on applying eyeliner
There's no right or wrong way to apply eyeliner, but there are a few tricks of the trade that'll help you create a professional-quality look.
- Follow your eyebrow: For a classic, easy-to-create eyeliner style, follow the shape of your eyebrow. Take the liner up toward the tail of the brow without actually touching it.
- Relax, relax, relax! "You have to relax your eyes like you're about to fall asleep, but don't be sleepy," Hughes said.
- Different formulas need different techniques: If you're making your own eyeliner with liquid and powder, work quickly if you can because the paste will dry in a few minutes. Need more time? You can always add a touch more liquid to revive that paste consistency. Liquid liners, on the other hand, require a slower, more methodical approach.
- Do what works for you: If you have an eyeliner technique that goes against conventional techniques, but always looks beautiful, keep using it!
- Don't be afraid to get a little wild: "We all look in the makeup mirror at ourselves in a certain way, but the fun part is, you forget that other people look at you when you're looking down or looking to the side. And that's just as cool to have some surprise or pop that you may not see," Thomas said.