Two Cool Ways to Master Liquid Eyeliner

I know the scenario well: You’re in the mood for more party on your face than usual but you can’t handle a smokey eye tutorial and you’re scared of liquid liner because you used to overdo it in high school.

Christina Han, Head of Development and Special Projects at Violet Grey, has the winged look mastered. She also understands that liquid liner can be overwhelming, but believes anyone can do it when armed with the right tools. She’s here today to walk us through two looks (very little drawing skill required) that will cause you to catch your own reflection and say, “Damn, girl, who did your makeup? Oh, I did? Cool.”

Passing the mic over. All words from here on out are hers.

Look Number One: Bottom Liner’s Not Just for Your Emo Phase

If you can draw a straight-ish line with a Sharpie, then chances are you can wield a liquid-liner pen.



1. Turn the pen on its side so that the length of the liner is parallel with your face (instead of pointing the pen right at your eye as though you were attempting to poke it).

2. Make the first mark in the center of your eyelid, then see-sawing the length of the mark. Continue the see-saw technique along the upper lash line until you’ve reached the outer corner, stopping at the end.


3. Using the tip of the pen, go back to line the inner section of the lash line and then to create the outer flick. Some artists have told me to make a little dot to mark the end of the flick and then draw a line from there to the corner of your eye. This is a pretty helpful trick, but I usually just take a deep breath and go for it while hoping for the best.


If you screw up, dip a Q-tip in makeup remover (I prefer Erno Laszlo’s Multi-Phase and Utowa’s pointy-tipped Cotton Swabs) and erase your mistake. Try again until you’ve got it just right.


4. Once you’ve finished the flick, take the pen and line your bottom lash line, ending at the outer corner. Next, use the top flick as a guide to create a parallel line extending from the outer corner of your lower lash line. Mistakes will occur and that’s okay.


5. Next, take Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Liner and go over the upper and bottom lash lines to “set” the look. Her legendary formula truly withstands the elements (sweat, tears) and will make your already black liner look even blacker.


If you feel like you’re missing a bit of razzle dazzle, add shimmer. I used Charlotte Tilbury’s pinkish, shimmering shadow in her Uptown Girl palette. Sweep this above the liner to the crease of your lid.


6. Finally, use Dior’s Waterproof liner to rim your water lines on the top and bottom, then curl your lashes and coat them in mascara. YOU DID IT.

A quick note about the Serge Lutens Comb Mascara:


If you’ve been searching for a long-lasting formula, then this is the mascara for you. It does not budge and you will absolutely need an oil-based makeup remover to take it off. It’s lengthening and truly waterproof; the answer for those who tend to suffer from “panda eyes.” I no longer am a member of this club due to my undying allegiance to the Serge Lutens mascara.

Look One: YSL eyelinerErno Laszlo Multi-Phase Makeup RemoverUtowa Cotton SwabsDior Waterproof Crayon Eyeliner in Trinidad BlackBobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Liner in Black InkCharlotte Tilbury Luxury Eyeshadow Palette in Uptown GirlUtowa Eyelash CurlerSerge Lutens Comb Mascara

Look Number Two: Dark Side of the Moon

Celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey specializes in no-frills makeup (one of her regulars is Kristen Stewart, the other is Jennifer Lawrence). Earlier this year she debuted Lid Tints, which are easy-to-use, gel-textured eye shadows. There’s one particular color, Smoke, that you should get to know intimately. While it appears jet black in its clamshell packaging, in reality it glides on sheer and cool as shit.



1. Line your top lash line with a liquid liner, finishing with a slight flick on the outer corner of your eye. You can technically use a pencil liner for this (Jillian Dempsey likes to blend a pencil with her Lid Tints for a greasy, rocker vibe), but I suggest a liquid liner for this particular tutorial because it will stay put on your lid and add definition to the overall look once you’ve layered on the Lid Tint.


2. While the liquid liner is drying, take a waterproof black liner and rim your upper waterline to fill the gap beneath the liquid liner.

3. After you’ve rested your eye for a second (blink a few times if you need to) take a clean concealer brush (I find that a concealer brush has the right dimensions and bristles for this application technique) and dip it into the Smoke Lid Tint.

4. Use your liquid liner as a guide and sweep the pigment on top, going slightly above and beyond the liquid line. The general shape should be similar to the top half of a Goldfish cracker, with the flick equaling the tail. I don’t know if this analogy works for you but I’m looking at a Goldfish right now and it’s feeling so right.


5. Next, take your ring finger and pick up some product on your fingertip. Using a tapping motion, deposit more color over your lids to deepen the eye shadow’s payoff. In the event that your fingertip went beyond the safe space of your original Lid Tint application, take a Q-tip and clean up.

6. At this point, you’re thinking this looks and feels like just another smoky eye. You’re not mad at it, but you yearn for something next-level. To take you there, grab a round eye shadow brush, dip it into a gold shadow (I used the top left shade in Charlotte Tilbury’s Uptown Girl palette) and plop it right into the center of your eye lid.


7. The finished effect should look like a reflection of the moon on the water. As the night wears on, the Lid Tint will warm with your skin and eventually settle into your creases. When you see this happen, don’t panic. Take your finger and smoosh the shadow to blend it all in on your next trip to the powder room.

As always, finish the eye by curling your lashes and coating them in mascara.


Look Two: YSL eyeliner, Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint in Smoke, Dior Waterproof Crayon Eyeliner in Trinidad Black, Utowa Regular Eyeshadow Brush, Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eyeshadow Palette in Uptown Girl, Utowa Eyelash Curler, Serge Lutens Comb Mascara, Erno Laszlo Multi-Phase Makeup Remover, Utowa Cotton Swabs

Good luck, you got this!

Show me your wingtips in the comments below.

Christina Han (@christinathehan) is the Head of Development and Special Projects at VIOLET GREY. Follow Violet Grey on Instagram @violetgrey.

Photos by Shelby Duncan.

Click here for holiday makeup looks that are 100% fun, 0% cheesy. And watch the Charlotte Tilbury Chatroom! She does Leandra’s makeup.

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