Do you tilt your head, or close your eye when you apply your eyeliner? Our expert MUAs explain the mistakes we all make and how to avoid them
Adele's mega comeback has got us thinking about eyeliner all. the. time. The singer is never seen without her trademark flick which requires a steady hand (and in Adele's case probably a pro makeup artist too).
Whether a cat flick, a smokey smudge or a defined waterline is the look you favour, our expert MUAs are here to share their pro hacks for perfect eyeliner every time.
1. DON'T pull the skin taut or tilt your head - Ruby Hammer
Before we even realise we're doing it, we're leaning into our mirror and pulling our eyelid to make sure our line is perfect. But makeup artist Ruby Hammer implores us not to.
"My key hack is to look directly into the mirror (face on, not tilting) and work from the outer corner inwards drawing along the lash line without pulling the skin taut," Ruby says. "You can use either short strokes or one sweep whichever works for you. This gives the most even line and allows you to see exactly where you are placing the liner. If you pull the skin, when you let go, the placement shifts and can look uneven. The same applies when you tilt your head."
Try: Ruby Hammer Precision Liquid Eyeliner, £19
2. DO use concealer to tidy up your flick - Aimee Connolly
When we're trying to perfect our eyeliner, most of us turn to cotton buds to correct errors, but makeup artist Aimee Connolly has a better way of fixing slip-ups.
"We all have days where liner doesn’t go to plan so my favourite thing to do is to clean up with concealer," she tells us. "Taking a flat concealer brush with some concealer on the bristles, I love drawing this up alongside the flick to clean any edges and create a tapered end. This gives the perfect effortless flick every time and hides any messy mistakes should they happen."
3. DO use a pencil rather than a liquid if you're not very confident - Mary Greenwell
Makeup artist Mary Greenwell doesn't always wear eyeliner herself (her eye makeup in this video consists of two shades from her favourite Surrat eye palette). "If you are not very artistic or don't feel capable and many of us don't (by the way, I'm useless at putting eyeliner on myself) then I always use a pencil because it's much easier and then you can smudge it.
"Unless a liquid liner is used extremely well, it will always look messy. So practice makes perfect, or just go with a pencil and blend it in."
Try: Trish Mcevoy Intense Gel Eyeliner, £18.70
4. DO apply mascara before your liner - Madeleine Spencer
If you find the placement of a flick tricky MUA and podcaster Madeleine Spencer suggests applying mascara first and following the line of the outer lash as a guide.
"Coat your lashes with mascara, then use the outer lash on your top lid as a guide for where your flick should sit," she says. "Trace underneath it – you can always use a sharp kohl pencil and then follow with a liquid or gel liner when you’re happy with the placement. This method gives you a very wide eye – a sort of 1950s' Hollywood starlet vibe."
Try: Surratt Auto Graphique Liner, £36
5. DO use dark powder eyeshadow as liner on older skin - Tricia Cusden
"Eyeliner is a challenge on older eyes because it's very difficult to create a sharp, solid line on a bumpy, crepey eyelid," says makeup artist Tricia Cusden, founder of makeup brand Look Fabulous Forever , which is formulated specifically for older women. "However all eyes benefit from a darker defining line along the base of our lashes, so we need to find a softer, more subtle approach to get the same effect
"My best advice is to use a really dark powder eyeshadow instead of gel or pencil, which can look too hard on crepey eyelids. Apply it with a very small angled wedge brush and push the colour into the base of the lashes and don't go for precision, slightly smokey is good. Eyeliner is intended to make lashes look thicker, darker and better defined. My method does all of those essential things on an older eye in a soft and really flattering way."
6. DON'T close your eyes - Jessica Kohn
Most of us apply our liner when our eyes are closed, right? Apparently, the key to perfect eyeliner is to keep your eyes open! This definitely takes some practice, trust us, we've tried, but once you've got the hang of it, you need to do fewer touch-ups and corrections.
"Applying eyeliner on open eyes allows us to see what the finished product will look like," says Laura Mercier makeup artist Jessica Kohn. "For example, with a more hooded eye, if we apply liner with our eyes closed, when we open them the liner may smudge or no longer be visible."
7. DO sketch it out first in a neutral shade - Jessica Kohn
If you're not in a rush and have a defined flick in mind, Jessica suggests sketching your liner out first. "Whether you want to do a sharp liquid liner flick or a smudgy smokey wing, the best way to make sure your eyeliner looks perfect every time is to sketch it out first with your eyes open," she says.
"I suggest using a sharpened pencil eyeliner or neutral eyeshadow on a small precise brush to do this. Once you have the shape you like you can go over it with a liquid or gel liner, or build intensity with an eyeshadow. By sketching the shape first, you can easily remove any mistakes and perfect the size and shape you are looking for."
Try: Laura Mercier Longwear Crème Eye Pencil, £21
8. DO start on your lower lashes and tightline the upper lid – Lisa Caldognetto
Image: Instagram @lisacaldognettomakeup
Many people go straight in on the upper lid, but this isn't always the best course of action especially if you have hooded eyes . "If you have a hooded eye or not a lot of lid space, start and connect the liner from the lower lash line whilst your eyes are open and tightline [ie drawing on the waterline] on the top lash line," advises makeup artist Lisa Caldognetto.
"Drawing on the top lid will take up precious eye space and most definitely cause everything to transfer."
9. Do join the dots for a razor-sharp wing - Lisa Caldognetto
"Start your liner by drawing on the wing and flick, creating dash lines and joining them up. Use a small cotton bud or a brush such as Morphe’s Pro Flat Liner Definer Brush M432 , £4.50, to clean the line up with a dab of moisturiser, using a firm sharp stroke. Avoid using an oil-based remover as this will continue to remove the product.
"This technique will give you a razor-sharp liner. Play up the texture by using a metallic or glitter liner for the party season. It looks flattering and soft on everyone."