Could tightlining be the backstage secret that takes your eyeliner game to the next level? We got the inside scoop on the makeup technique that the pros swear by
‘Tightlining’ - sounds more like something you’d find in a circus line-up rather than on a beauty website, right? However, this easy yet effective eyeliner tip is one optical illusion that plays a trick on the eyes in more ways than one when it comes to feigning a more voluminous lash line.
So what exactly is it? “It means bringing the eyeliner right into the lash line of the top lashes to create an illusion of dense dark lash roots,” says makeup artist Kenneth Soh . “You can also do it on the lower lashes and in the waterline of the eye too. If done properly, it enhances your eyes and creates a fuller, wider eye look.”
A technique that has been used behind-the-scenes for years, it’s a must for anyone looking to perfect the art of natural makeup. “It’s a really effective and quick way of getting definition round the eyes without making you look like you've got makeup on,” says Kenneth. “We used to call this the ‘Invisible Liner’ a few years ago when I was doing shows. It’s perfect for creating that wide eyed natural look we are all after!”
Here are Kenneth’s top makeup tips for how to tread the tightline tightrope trend like a pro.
How to tightline
Step 1: First up, ensure you find the perfect tool. “Choose a black waterproof, flake-proof pencil. I like a twisty mechanical pencil with a fine nib," says Kenneth. If you're using a regular pencil eyeliner though, "Sharpen the nib to create a hygienic, clean and precise tip,” he advises.
In terms of texture, avoid oilier-based pencils. “Don't use a liner that's soft and smudgy, it'll just get messy and end up looking smokey,” cautions Kenneth. As an alternative though, felt tip eye pens also make for a pigmented, precision-friendly pick for getting your tightline on point. “Especially sharp-tipped ones,” Kenneth recommends.
Step 2: “Bring the nib right in between each lash at the roots and wiggle it to dot and deposit a dense line as close to the eye as possible,” says Kenneth. “You should aim for a neat clean line that shouldn't look like eyeliner but more like dense dark lashes. So don't go crazy and end up with a flicked thick liner.”
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Step 3: This technique’s distinguishing feature is the detail paid to underneath the upper lashes in order to create a seamless finish. “I bring the pencil under the lashes to that little crescent of flesh under the lash before the actual eyeball,” says Kenneth. “I find that if you don't line that, it defeats the purpose of lining and will actually make your eye look smaller. So run the pencil under the lash line too. Don't rush though and don’t do this while on the move, for obvious safety reasons...”
Step 4: Minimise distractions by cleaning up your handiwork afterwards - the focal point should be all about the ‘invisible line’ in this instance. “Using a fine tip cotton bud dipped in an oil free cleanser like a micellar, run the bud over the skin of the lid above the lashes to clean up any smudges and to keep the liner ‘tight’ and only in the lash line,” advises Kenneth. “Try using MUJI Thin Cotton Buds , £2.50, and Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution , £10.50, for tidying up smudges.”
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Step 5: Next up, the waterline. “If you line the lower eye, then only do half to two thirds of the eye,” recommends Kenneth. “Start from the outer eye and bring the liner on the waterline and inwards - but only two thirds of the way. Make sure you also bring the liner outside the eyes too, otherwise it will again make your eyes seem smaller. Smudge the outside liner a bit to blend and soften to finish.”
Step 6: “Make sure you curl your lashes and apply mascara to finish that wide eyed effect!” says Kenneth. The duo of Shu Uemura’s Eyelash Curler , £20, and L’Oreal Paris False Lash Sculpt Mascara , £9.99, has been our pairing of choice as of late for feigning more wide awake eyes when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth...
The best eyeliners for tightlining
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in black or brown , £12
“It’s so dense and budge-proof once it sets,” says Kenneth.
YSL Crayon Yeux Waterproof Eye Pencil in Black Ink , £20
“A soft and dense black pencil,” says Kenneth that stays put through thick and thin.
Tom Ford High Definition Eyeliner , £30
Sleek, intense and the perfect size for getting in between every lash, this “smooth and highly pigmented, but also budge-proof” liner is one of Kenneth’s favourites.
Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner , £12
This particular liquid liner provides great control and proves the ideal size for enhancing and accentuating your upper lash line and individual eye shape.
Marc Jacobs Magic Marc’er Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Black , £22
Super fine-tipped and providing great colour payoff, this blacker than black liquid eyeliner is one of our current favourites for creating the finest and smoothest of lines.
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