How To Suck Less At Applying Eyeliner, With Tips From Pros

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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how to suck less at applying eyeliner, with tips from pros

We’ve got an Achilles heel when it comes to applying makeup. It’s the one step we skip out on when we’ve pressed the snooze button one too many times because it takes about four different tries to get it just right. We’ve even been known to dodge it altogether because, well, our hand-eye coordination isn’t the best. We’re not talking about false lashes or the dreaded smoky eye. No, we got beef with eyeliner.

Liner is a common hit-or-miss situation. You have to get it perfectly close to the lashline, make sure both eyes match, and don’t even get us started on achieving the flawless cat-eye flick. But somehow pros and bloggers make applying eyeliner seem as if it’s as easy as swiping on Chapstick with their videos on Instagram. So, we finally said enough is enough, and reached out to these pros to get their foolproof tricks and tips for getting eyeliner right (on at least the second try).

Ahead, how to apply eyeliner like a pro, straight from the experts.

Bobbi Brown lead editorial makeup artist Cassandra Garcia suggests that beginners go for gel liners. Then, after the initial swipe, use a brush to manipulate lines.”I love using a gel formula like Bobbi Brown ‘s because you can create such a crisp line or smudge it out for a diffused look,” she says. “Once your eyeliner is done, to make it extra precise, pick up a felt-tip brush and use the it to fill in anything that you missed.”


The products you use could make all the difference, and pro T. Cooper turns to two: The Mirabella Eye Definer pencil and the Sigma E21 Smudge Brush. “Mirabella pencils are extremely pigmented, and they don’t smudge. The Sigma brush allows me to manipulate the liner, creating any shape I want,” she says.


If there’s one celebrity who owns liner each and every time, it’s Ariana Grande. And makeup artist Ash K Holm, who works with the singer, shared how she masters Grande’s signature cat-eye. “Use an angled eyeliner brush to extend the wing,” she previously told R29. “Make sure the wing is angled upward towards the tail end of your eyebrows to lift the eyes up.”

We suggest using Morphe’s Bent Liner Brush because it has a unique angled handle that gives much more control than a classic angled brush.


Remember in elementary school when you’d trace out your artwork and then fill it in? Well, apply that method to creating a cat-eye, and you’ll get the results you want, says celebrity makeup artist Yolonda Frederick, who works with Ciara and Cassie. “A foolproof method for constructing the perfect winged liner is by carving out the shape first,” she says. “I like creating a cat-eye template from corner to corner, then fill it in using the Nars Eyeliner Stylo. This method guarantees you slay that winged eye every time.”


If you feel like you make a mess whenever you apply liner to your waterline, Jill Powell, makeup artist to Demi Lovato and Lauren Jauregui, says you’re better off going for a brown or neutral shade with some shimmer. The sheen in the liner will reflect light and provide a softer effect,” she says. “But avoid liners with glitter; look for one with a sheen.”

Cardi B’s longtime makeup artist Erika La Pearl uses a common household item to master her cat-eyes. “I use Scotch tape. I don’t have to be too perfect [when applying liner] because once you take the tape off, it’s sharp,” La Pearl previously told R29. “I use the tape to apply eyeshadow, too, just to keep it in place.”


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