How to Apply Pencil Eyeliner Like a Professional

A Winged Eye or Smokey Eye: Pencil Eyeliners Can Do it All

Pencil eyeliners are less expensive and easier to use than liquid liners, but they are not as long-lasting. But with these tips and tricks, you can apply your pencil eyeliner like a makeup professional and make your look last all day. 

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Renowned makeup artist Laura Mercier tells Allure Magazine one of the best beauty tricks she's learned is to create a perfect line on the upper and lower lashes by first creating dashes. Here's how to do it:

  • Pull the skin taut at its outer corner.
  • Apply a series of dashes with the eyeliner starting from the inner corner out.
  • At the halfway point of the line, angle your pencil so you're now drawing with the side of it. This will create a thicker line.
  • Connect the dashes.

For more eyeliner tips, see How to Apply Eyeliner. More »

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Set Your Line With Eyeshadow

Eyeshadow on woman.
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Penciled lines tend to melt away by the end of the day. Set your line with eyeshadow. Dip an eyeshadow brush into a dark shadow and trace over the penciled line.

Best Eyeliners from Drugstores and Department Stores

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Use a Brown Pencil -- Not Black -- If You Have Fair Skin and Hair

Extreme close up of a woman eye with make up pencil
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Black eye pencils can look too harsh on women with fair skin and hair. Instead, use a brown pencil for a more subtle, "no-makeup" look. 

If you have dark hair, you can try makeup artist Mally Roncal's trick: line your upper lash line with black eyeliner and your lower line with brown.

How to Make Eyes Look Bigger

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Smudge

Woman with smokey eyes
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To get a casual, smudgie "I slept in my makeup last night" look that everyone's after at the moment. apply a pencil line only to the bottom lashes and then smudge it with your finger.

How to Get Smoky Eyes

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The Easy Smoky Eye

Woman with smokey eye eyeliner
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The easy smoky eye requires a kohl pencil -- the fatter the better. First, warm up the kohl pencil by rubbing it on the back of your hand. Then apply the pencil by dotting it along the upper and then the lower lashes. Take a Q-tip and dab it into a moisturizer or eye cream and smudge your line of kohl dots with it. Follow with a sweep of dark shadow (browns, deep purples, blues) to the lid.

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How to Line the Inside Rim of Eyes

Eyeliner for older women
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Lining the inside of the eyes can be super sexy, especially for evening. To do it correctly, use a waterproof pencil and make sure to sharpen it to a point. This will remove any germs that might have been on the pencil. Pull upper lid up and line the inside rim first from the inside corner of the eye out. Follow with the bottom lid.

Note: If you have small eyes, avoid lining with dark pencils, which will make eyes look even smaller. Instead, use a beige pencil to line the inside rim of the eyes. This will make eyes pop. Avoid a white pencil, which doesn't look natural on anyone.

Get the full scoop in Tightlining: How to Help Eyeliner on the Inner Rim Stay Put

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3 Ingenius Ways to Warm Up a Waxy Eye Pencil

Woman holding an eye pencil
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There's nothing worse on your lids than an eye pencil that won't go on smoothly because it's too cold or waxy. There are three easy ways to warm up a cold or waxy eye pencil:

  1. Rub the tip on your hand until it softens.
  2. Roll the point between the tips of your fingers.
  3. Heat up the end quickly by holding into a flame for a very quick second. Then let it cool for another couple seconds before applying to lid.

Anything labeled "creamy" or "kohl" will go on softer. Keep this in mind next time you buy an eye pencil.

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How to Make Eyes Appear Larger

Older woman with eye makeup
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If you completely cover both the top and bottom lash lines with liner, you're going to close the eye, making it look smaller. To make it look larger, you only want to apply it both halfway on top and bottom.

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Try Colored Pencils

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Use colored eyeliner pencils to bring out the color of your own eyes. Purples and maroons make green eyes glow, navy blue and purple enhance blue eyes, and green and golds brighten up brown eyes. 

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Q Tips to the Rescue!

Qtips
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If you mess up a penciled line, take a Q Tip and put it in a bit of eye cream or moisturizer and dot it over the messy spot.You can also use the Q tip to smudge the line to make a mistake look deliberately smokey.