How to Create Eyeliner Styles

Applying black eyeliner

Experimenting with various eyeliner styles gives women plenty of options when it comes to playing with makeup. You can easily change your look from natural and subtle to glamorous and sexy with a simple eyeliner switch. Learn how to create eyeliner styles that suit you, and how to change up your look for a special occasion or just a different look.

How to Create Popular Eyeliner Styles

cat eye look

Eyeliner comes in several application types. You'll find pencils, liquid and cake varieties and in a rainbow of colors. No matter what application you use, there are several common styles that you can create with this makeup to create a look that fits your own personal style.

Cat Eye

The cat eye is one of the more dramatic eyeliner looks out there, and this sassy and flirty style can be retro or very modern. Eyeliner is applied all the way across the upper lids, beginning with a thin line at the inner corners and gradually becoming thicker as you move outward. To finish off this catty look, make sure you give your liner a gentle upturn at the outer corners. This look is typically done in black liner with matching mascara. While usually too heavy for the daytime office, it's perfect for after hours.


For times when you want to merely enhance your looks and don't necessarily want your makeup to take center stage, you can still wear eyeliner and give off a natural vibe. Pencil is usually the preferred application, but you can line your eyes in your favorite, neutral eye shadow and get similar results. Taupe and brown won't overpower your eyes, but you can also try subtle hints of lavender and gray liner. Just apply with a light hand in a thin line, follow up with one or two coats of mascara and your eyes are done.


bold cleopatra style eyeliner

For glamorous eyes worthy of a queen, you can extend thick black liner just past the corners of your upper and lower eyelids to create the Cleopatra look. This dramatic makeup is probably best reserved for Halloween and costume parties but if you want to create a memorable look for an evening on the town, this style may be the perfect fit.


Smoky eyes call for much more than eyeliner, but you can sport an eyeliner style in a smoky fashion. Apply cake eyeliner in the color of your choice: black, chocolate brown and violet work well. Then blend very well until you have an artfully smudged look.

Full Rim

If you are looking for a bold look that downplays the size of your eyes, then the full rim may be for you. Simply use the color of your choice to outline the rim of the eyes in a complete circle, connecting the lower line of makeup to the line on the upper lid. Repeat the process until the desired thickness is achieved. This look is popular with Goth and emo makeup styles.


Similar to the full rim, the Goth look is often classified by thick, black eye makeup. To try to Goth eyeliner style out, simply take a black waterproof eyeliner and create a thick, heavy liner on the top and bottom lid. Continue making the lines thicker until you achieved your desired look. Do not smudge the eyeliner at all.


creative teal eyeliner

For those occasions when playful makeup is appropriate, you can get a little wild with your color and application style. This is the time to pull out bold, vibrant shades such as magenta or electric green. Peruse various fantasy makeup looks for ideas if needed.

Bold Evening

For a unique, bold evening look, use liquid liner to line the eye from the middle of the lid to the outer corner. Draw another line from the inner corner to the middle, letting the two lines meet so the outer line is thicker than the inner line.


You can hardly go wrong with an eyeliner style like this. Use a sharpened pencil or a thin liquid brush and apply a very thin black or brown line to the upper lids. Take the line just past the outer corners, but not further than that. This eyeliner style is appropriate for daytime and evening, and is a simple standby variation when you want an easy, polished look.

Eyeliner Techniques

By learning a few basic application techniques you can get a professional looking application every time or mix and match styles to create a look all your own.The best way to master any eyeliner technique is to practice, so when it is time to create your look for real, you will be an expert. Make sure to have a Q-tip and waterproof eye makeup remover handy.


lightly smudged black eyeliner

The smudged eyeliner look is a popular style for both day and night and can be worn on its own or with a smoky eye. There are several steps to follow to properly smudge your eyeliner to create a smoky, sultry eye that won't look messy.

  1. Line your upper and lower eyelids with a waterproof eyeliner of your choice.
  2. Use a smudging pencil to carefully smudge the lines you just created.
  3. Dip a eye shadow brush into a coordinating color of shadow and apply directly over the eyeliner.
  4. Fill in the thin line with a large strip of powdered color and begin blending to desired depth and pigment.

Creating Natural Lines

The natural line is perfect for office or daytime looks. Before beginning choose a natural color such as brown, taupe or tan.Depending on the desired coverage, you can work with a waterproof eyeliner, a shadow or a kohl pencil. To apply, make small dots along the lash line in between each hair follicle. As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to sweep or smudge your color. Once the small dots have been applied, tap a coat of mascara on your lashes to separate and add volume to your natural, fresh-faced look.

Applying Liquid Eyeliner

Although liquid eyeliner is necessary to achieve certain looks, many women struggle with the application of this type of liner. Liquid liner is usually applied from the inner to outer corner of the eye in one sweep, although you can also start in the middle and work outward and then fill in the area between the inner corner and the middle if this is easier.

Liquid liner can also be applied by dotting it in the spaces between the lashes. This technique requires a very steady hand, makes the lashes appear extra thick at the roots, and will give you a wide-eyed look.

Eyeliner Tips

clean but dramatic evening eyeliner

After you have mastered the technique of applying eyeliner to your upper and lower lids, try a few easy tips to ensure a flawless look.

  • Use the right brush: Slanted makeup brushes are designed for detail work, so when you need to apply thin lines of cake liner, use the right brush for it. Once you dip it into the liner, shake off any excess before applying; this way, extra liner won't fall onto your face.
  • Steady your hand: Liquid eyeliner may look like it's difficult to apply properly, but with practice and patience, most anyone can get the hang of it. Look into a large mirror, preferably a bathroom or vanity, and steady your elbows on a countertop. Use one hand to gently pull your eyelid taut and then apply liner with the other hand.
  • Blend well: For the smoky or natural look created with eye shadow or soft pencil, use a Q-tip to blend it well.
  • Setting the application: Because pencil lines tend to melt during the day, you may want to set this type of liner with a soft smudge of eye shadow.

Eyes That Pop

Skillful eyeliner application, particularly when done with flattering colors, can make eyes "pop" and look radiant. Try any of these eyeliner styles the next time you want to add some flair to your makeup. You may just find a new look you love.

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How to Create Eyeliner Styles