Eyeliner 101: Suss Out What’s Right for You

Posted by in Makeup

A staple in every respectable woman’s makeup bag, the humble eyeliner can play a great part in completely transforming the look of your eyes. From a smudged smoky eye to a defined cat eye, we all rely heavily on our eyeliners to help us achieve the latest eye makeup style (at least I do!). But what’s the best type of eyeliner out there? Pencil? Gel? Kohl? Liquid? Whether you’re a pro at the 60’s flick or a complete eyeliner fiend, we’re sure our guide to eyeliner will teach you something new. It’s time to demystify the difference between the overwhelming number of products out there, and find the perfect fit for you (whilst picking up a few great eye makeup tips here and there).

Pencil/Kohl Liner enter image description here

Starting off simple with something we’re all familiar with – the pencil. A popular choice and probably the first type of eyeliner you started using when makeup was territory anew. It’s a pioneer and always has been due to the fact it’s manageable and easy to control. Sharpening can help you vary the eye style you want to achieve. Get crisper lines with a sharper tip, or opt for a duller pencil to help you set a base for a smokey eye. Pencil liners are easy to apply and blend, and the best choice if you’re looking to use them on your waterline. They come in a range of colours and are very common to find, however they’re not the most durable so you’d have to reapply half way through the day. We recommend Benefit’s Badgal Waterproof Eye Pencil in extra black, which will stay put whatever the weather.
Kohl liners are a softer version of the pencil liner, operating on the same basis. Because they’re closer to a crayon than a pencil, blending is much easier. If you’re looking for clean, sharp lines though, kohl liner is not your friend. This creamy, matte-black Minorque Kohliner from NARS is also a great option for a softer look.

Liquid Liner enter image description here

Next up is the most high maintenance liner of the lot. The liquid liner usually comes in a small tube with a pull-out applicator brush. The applicators tend to vary according to the type of line you’re looking to achieve. Felt tip applicators help you draw on thicker lines, whilst the thin brush applicator lets you get closest to your lash line for subtle definition. Liquid liner is the most difficult to apply, as it requires a steady hand which takes practice, practice, practice! When you finally master the art, this type of liner is ideal for bold, sleek eye makeup styles which are well defined. Treat yourself to Guerlain’s Eye Care, Eye Liner Noir with plant oils to fortify lashes when you become an expert in thin-bush application. Use a liquid liner if you’re after Arabic style eye makeup, cat eyes or to add drama to your eyes. Liquid liner is long-lasting so you won’t need to dash to the mirror for constant touch-ups, but it is an intense look which is only for some. Liquid liner pens are an alternative to the original tube/brush package. They combine the ease of controlling a pencil liner with the sleek lines achieved by using liquid. The pens usually have felt tip applicators in a range of ‘thin’ to ‘fat’. Beginners, try NYC’s Liquid Eyeliner with a mistake free applicator to help you achieve that perfect flick.

Gel/Cream Liner enter image description here

Gel liner is like liquid liner’s younger sister. Although it’s not been around for as long, gel liner is actually the preferred liner of professional makeup artists….and me! There’s two parts to this – a pot full of gel and a brush (you can pick between angled or fine tip) which you’ll need a slightly steady hand to glide on a line close to your lashes. It takes a bit longer to dry than liquid liner, but with ultimate staying power it’s worth the wait. Rich of colour, gel liner is perfect for dramatic and defined eye makeup styles. Our favourite gel liner is the Long Wear Gel Eye Liner from Bobby Brown in shade Black Ink, with its long wearing water resistant colour. Although often used interchangeably, gel and cream liners are not the same. They slightly vary in texture which can completely alter the effect. Cream liners also come in a pot and are applied using a brush, however they’re ideal if you’re aiming for a smoother line which is natural-looking. It’s a soft appearance liner with great staying power.

Shadow Liner enter image description here

For a more subtle, daytime makeup look always opt for using eyeshadow as liner. You’ll need to find a brush you’re comfortable with and you like using, but variation in brush equals variation in eye style and look. Shadow liner is perfect for defining your lash line without applying much makeup or effort. The least durable form of liner but with the most colour options, you can really get creative here. Shadow liner is your go to for a subtle, sexy look without the harsh effect of dramatic definition. It’s definitely the easiest liner style to apply, but avoid using on your waterline. Try Too Faced’s Eyeshadow Exotic Colour in Night Nymph for a shimmering, smoky eye.

I don’t know about you ladies, but I have one of each liner living somewhere in my (growing) makeup bag. Finding a perfect fit for you goes beyond picking just one type of liner – experiment with all of them until you don’t even need to blink your mascaraed lashes twice to know which your go-to is for the look you want to achieve.