Eyeliner is (mostly) a confidence game

Eyeliner is (mostly) a confidence game

Written by: the editorial staff of goop

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Published on: September 13, 2022

Photo courtesy of RMS Beauty

Let go of the fear of making a mistake and you’re at least 90 percent of the way there. While this applies to many things in life, it’s especially important when applying eyeliner – whether the look you’re going for is natural or dramatic.

  1. You can use liner in a stealthy way to all but invisibly make your eyes look bigger, or use it to create the smokiest French girl eye, and the approach will be much the same. The key, experts say, is to dispense with the idea of ​​perfection—even for something as sharp-looking as a sharp cat’s eye. “It’s all in the touch-ups,” says top LA makeup artist and beauty founder Jillian Dempsey.

    “Liner doesn’t have to be super precise,” says Chicago-based Sam Michalska, managing director of global education at ILIA. Once you’ve found the look you want, choose your liner and hit the mirror armed with Q-tips or cotton balls, remembering that liner easily smudges into a sexy haze or wipes off completely. “People get stressed about getting it perfect,” says Michalska. “I understand, but the only thing that happens if you mess up is you just take a damp cotton swab and clean up the edges.”


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“If you go too heavy or draw where you didn’t mean to, just use a cotton pad to adjust as needed,” says Dempsey.

Liquid or pencil?

Although you might think of liquid liner as more dramatic, it’s actually brilliant for this: because the pigment is so intense, you only put a bit of it into your upper outer lash line – think of connecting the base of one lash with the next – so wiping away excess with a Q-tip will make your eyes stand out without reading like “makeup”. (If you find yourself applying extra layers of mascara in an attempt to make your eyes look bigger but don’t like the look of extra mascara, this is a great tip for you too.) Of course, liquid is also great for bolder looks like a cat eye, says Michalska: “Liquid gives more precision and looks more polished.” Pencil, on the other hand, is loved for its softer look and its ability to be smudged and smudged. “Pencil liner gives you a more lived-in effect,” she says.

  1. Lightest ever
    Liquid pen


    ILIA Clean Liquid Liner, goop, $28

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  2. The sexy smoke
    Pencil


    Jillian Dempsey Khôl Eyeliner, goop, $20

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If you want natural definition

“It’s as easy as following the natural curve of the eye,” says Michalska. “Apply in short dashes or strokes rather than drawing a straight line.” You can use either liquid or pencil to create a natural look. Dempsey’s technique: “Place your chin forward in the mirror and use a finger to lift your lid to get close. Draw a small back and forth line to fill in the gaps as you draw on the lining.”


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The easiest Smoky Eye

  1. “Use a pencil with a rich, super blendable texture and intense pigment payoff. That’s how you get the most flattering effect,” says Rose-Marie Swift, the Charleston-based founder of RMS Beauty, whose pencil glides on like a dream. Dempsey’s advice is to go in stages. “Do not Start with a thick line – it just makes a mess,” she says. “Sketch gently along your lash line, as close to your lashes as possible, and use your finger (or the smudge tool on the back of my pencil) to give it that worn vibe. It’s beautiful on just the top lashes or just the bottom lashes , but my favorite is to apply it to both.” From there, you can gauge how much more you want to build up the look. “Warming up a kohl pencil with your fingers right before you use it is a brilliant tip,” continues Dempsey. “The pigment responds well to heat, and the smooth glide helps you to draw a beautiful shape.”


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Keep your eyes peeled for a classic cat eye

  1. Most liners stay put pretty well, but if liner tends to travel on your eyes, here’s Dempsey’s tip: “Dust translucent powder on top to set the line.”


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Why black is always the bestseller

“Black frames the eyes best,” says Michalska. “It’s like getting a black frame for a piece of art: It makes the art – or in this case the eye – the focal point.” Also, don’t shy away from black for a more subdued look, she says: “Black eyeliner absorbs light so your eye colors can stand out.”


  1. Jillian Dempsey Khôl Eyeliner in Jet Black, goop, $20

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Which mascara?

“The more dramatic the liner, the thicker your lashes should look,” says Michalska. “When pulling up at night, focus on building volume. For natural-looking liner or a simple cat-eye, super-parted, long, long lashes look best.”

  1. Easily defining


    Ami Cole Lash-Amplifying Mascara, goop, $19

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  2. More dramatic


    Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara, goop, $58

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  3. False eyelashes


    LoveSeen Cate Lashes, goop, $22

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Foreplay: Lift, Depuff and Moisturize

  1. Most makeup artists smooth eye cream on their clients before beginning any makeup; Dempsey has raised the bar dramatically on that step: Before you even begin makeup, apply one of her hydrating, firming masks under the eyes, then roll over it with her vibrating gold wand—always moving upward and out to the sides—for five minutes or so. “The gold bar’s vibrations really wake up your skin, subtly lifting and toning. You can almost see a difference right away,” she says. “And when you use it directly over the eye masks – they’re soaked in a rich, luminous hyaluronic acid and prebiotic serum — the results are even better.” If you have time, use some of the serum from the masks on the rest of your face and roll the bar all over for a firm, lifted look that lasts all day (or night).


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Post-liner and lashes: a little color

“You don’t need too much if you have a good eye,” says Dempsey. “I love cream blush, tinted lip balm or lightly textured lipstick and clear brow gel for shape and definition.”


  1. Tata Harper Vitamin-Infused Cream Blush, goop, $42

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  2. goop Beauty GOOPGENES Clean Nourishing Lip Balm Trio, goop, $48

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  3. Westman Atelier Lip Suede, goop, $85

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  4. RYE Beauty Brow Grooming Serum, goop, $42

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More questions?

Contact the beauty concierge team at personalshopping@goop.com and they will get back to you with answers (good ones).

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