How to Apply Black Eyeliner

Black eyeliner frames the eyes well
Learn about dramatic eye makeup...

The woman who knows how to apply black eyeliner in various ways can get a different, but sultry look every time, depending on her technique.

Dramatic Eyes

There's no doubt about it: black eyeliner is one of the easiest ways to add exotic flair to your makeup look. Lining bright blue eyes with deep black is sure to make them pop, but black eyeliner looks just as fantastic with green, hazel and brown eyes. It's a great neutral that works with all skin tones and eye colors.

You may find that you prefer one look, or you may be the chameleon who wants to try everything. Once you learn how to apply black eyeliner in a way that works for the look you want to achieve, there's no limit to the number of sexy eye looks you can create.

Liquid or Pencil

Eyeliner comes in different forms.

  • Some women feel comfortable using liquid liner, which takes more of a steady hand for best results. Liquid liner also provides a very dramatic and severe line.
  • You can get great results with pencil liner as well; this type of liner allows you to smudge and blend for a soft look. Regular pencil liners can create very skinny lines; thick pencils can double as liner and shadow, and create thicker lines that smudge well.
  • You can also try using a cake liner, which requires the use of a brush to apply. This is good for creating smoky eyes.

One tip that everyone can use, whether she prefers liquid or pencil, is to hold the outer corner of the eye taut as she applies liner. This helps ensure a smooth, straight line.

How to Apply Black Eyeliner: Basic Techniques

It may take some practice to perfect your eye-lining technique, but once you master it, you'll enjoy creating a variety of looks, depending on whether you want to be subtle or sexy.


While some women think black eyeliner can be too harsh for daytime wear, you can still use it to create a well-defined eye that works for your professional environment.

  1. Make sure your black pencil liner is sharpened.
  2. Beginning in the middle of your lower eyelid, draw a skinny line to the outer corner.
  3. Start at the inner corner of your upper lid and draw a thin line to the outside corner.
  4. Optional: Thicken the line slightly as you get to the outer corner.

With a coat or two of mascara, this is a suitable daytime look.

Cat's Eye

For more flair, try a cat's eye look. Create it with pencil or liquid liner, though liquid will give you more dramatic results.

  1. Line your lower lid from inner to outer corner with a thin line.
  2. At the upper lid, begin at the inside corner with a thin line, and make it bolder and thicker as you get to the outer corner.
  3. Proceed just past the outer corner of the eyelid, turning the liner up a little for a slightly "winged" effect.
  4. Follow up with two to three coats of mascara.


Cleopatra was memorable for her beauty and power. Like many Egyptian women of her time, she lined her eyes in thick black kohl. Liquid liner may be best for creating an exotic Cleopatra eye.

  1. Line the lower lids with a thin to medium line. Extend the line past the outside corner of the eyes.
  2. Line the upper lids with a medium to thick line that extends past the outer corners.
  3. Make the upper and lower lines parallel to each other or cross them at the corner.

Gold or bronze eyeshadow and generous coats of black mascara make this look Queen-of-the-Nile-worthy.


A smoky eye makeup look is perfect for an unforgettable sexy eye. While you can use liquid liner, a soft pencil is easier to blend and smudge.

  1. Apply black eyeliner to lower lids in a thin to medium line, making it thicker as you approach the outside corner.
  2. Line the upper lids with medium to thick lines, making them fatter as you get to the outer corners.
  3. Use your fingers, Q-tip or sponge to blend the lines.

A charcoal, deep violet or dark blue eyeshadow, paired with the black eyeliner, helps make a great smoky eye.

It's All in the Technique

Practice makes perfect when it comes to makeup application, so don't worry if your first try with black eyeliner doesn't turn out just right. Once you know the ins and outs of great eyeliner technique, you can be a natural beauty or you can go for all-out bold.

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How to Apply Black Eyeliner