Basics Series: Eyeliner and Mascara

If the eyes are truly the windows to the soul, then naturally we want them to look as amazing as possible. The two tools you need in order to accomplish brighter, larger-looking eyes are eyeliner and mascara. These products are super simple and easy to use, but they can also be amped up to create a dramatic and intricate look if needed. They are essentials to your makeup arsenal, so it’s time to make sure that you know plenty of ways you can use these staples! Eyeliner can be a bit of a beast to tackle if you’re new to it. The first aspect to understand is the variety of textures available. You can find gel liner, liquid liner, felt tip liner, cream liner, and the classic crayon liner. Not only do they vary in texture, but you will also come across a wide array of colors during your eyeliner search. Choosing between all of these types may sound a bit overwhelming, but once you understand the basics, you’ll be able to buy and wear eyeliner like a pro.

Before I go into detail about different kinds of products, here are some terms you’ll need to know:

Smudging: blending out liner to make it softer and smokier, often using a smudging brush or the sponge tip of a crayon liner.

Waterline: this is the thin, slick area of skin that is slightly above your lower lashes.

Tightline: this is the same area as the waterline, but it is right underneath your upper lash line. It can be pretty difficult to reach, so you typically pull your eyelid up and use a crayon liner to line this area.

Wing: creating an extension of liner away from the outer corner of the eye (there are tons of tutorials out there, but this one is really explanatory and simple).

The type of eyeliner you use ultimately depends on the kind of look you want to create. For a smudged, smoky look then you’ll want to opt for a charcoal stick liner. The easiest way to apply stick liner is to gently pull your eyelid towards your temple and carefully trace the liner along your lash line; it can be smudged out to your preference. Crayon liner also looks fantastic smudged along the lower lash line, and it is the easiest use for waterlining and tightlining. I definitely recommend keeping a charcoal liner on hand at all times; you can’t go wrong with Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, available in a wide array of colors, or Revlon’s ColorStay Eyeliner.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils

Of course, I wouldn’t be caught dead without my trusty liquid liner. The step from stick to liquid or gel liner can be pretty difficult for some, but the rewards are well worth the challenge. These liners can be used when you want a crisp, dark line that really makes your eyes pop. If you want to create a wing, definitely pick up a liquid or gel liner. An easy way to apply these kinds of liners is to again gently pull your eyelid and make small dash along the lash line. Then all you have to do is connect the dots and you’re set! Achieving a straight, smooth line may take some practice, but you may find that you love the look that gel and liquid liners provide. My favorite liquid liner is NYX Collection Noir Liquid Black Liner, but Stila also makes a great felt tip pen. As for gel liner, MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack is a fan favorite that is both longwearing and smudge-proof.

MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack

Once your liner is set, you’ll definitely want to apply mascara. There’s a lot of debate about whether curling your lashes prior to applying mascara is necessary, but I find that my lashes appear a lot longer when they’re curled. All you need to do is gently clamp the curler near the base of your lashes and pump it about five times before releasing. Voila! Now you have some extremely long lashes.

I find that it’s much easier to apply mascara when you’re looking down. Take a handheld mirror and hold it near your chest so you’re looking down into the mirror. Apply the mascara a the base of your lashes and sweep upwards. It can be difficult to achieve separated, voluminous lashes and avoid massive clumps, so here are some tips:

  • Blink into the wand. This will ensure that you’re covering every single lash.
  • While sweeping the wand upwards, try to rotate it around. This way, you’ll be getting new product all over your lashes as opposed to leaving the tips of your lashes uncovered.
  • Wiggle the brush from side to side in order to separate the lashes and avoid clumping.
  • Do not pull your lashes towards the outer corner. This will make them all point in the same direction and lead to clumping. Instead, try to brush your lashes either straight up or direct them slightly towards your nose.

When buying mascara, make sure you pay attention to whether or not the formula is waterproof. Personally, I tend to avoid waterproof formulas because they are much more difficult to remove. However, if you’re headed to the pool, beach, or a place where you may tear up over something, definitely opt for waterproof mascara. I recommend checking out Tarte’s Lights, Cameras, Lashes mascara as well as Maybelline’s Volum’Express The Rocket mascara, because these are two incredible formulas that add length and volume as well as helping us avoid those treacherous clumps.

Maybelline Volum'Express The Rocket mascara

Once you’ve got the hang of both eyeliner and mascara, you’ll fall in love with how amazing these products can make your eyes appear. Of course, if you’re running late and don’t have time to whip out a fancy winged liner look, just quickly sweep on a coat or two of mascara. Even just a touch of mascara can make you look that much more awake, and honestly, who would complain about that? So find that flawless mascara and work on perfecting your liquid liner and you’ll soon realize how transformative these two staple products can be.