How to Tightline Your Eyes With Eyeliner, Step-By-Step

by Jessica Alberto
Published: Last Updated on
How To Tightline Your Eyes With Eyeliner, Step-By-Step

You’ve probably heard about tightlining from a handful of makeup tutorials. It’s a popular eyeliner technique among professional makeup artists that gives the illusion of thicker lashes while defining the natural shape of your eye.

Tightlining involves lining the upper and lower waterline (the sliver of space inside the lash line) with a gel or pencil eyeliner, hence why it’s also called “invisible eyeliner.” Your lashes will instantly appear darker and fuller.

This eyeliner technique adds the perfect touch to any eye makeup look, whether you’re going for a natural look, a smoldering smokey eye, or a glamorous cat eye. This subtle way of enhancing your makeup look is definitely a game-changer. It can get a little uncomfortable, especially if you have sensitive eyes. But with the right products and a little guidance, you’ll master this technique in no time.

For fuller lashes that will make your eyes pop, read our step-by-step tutorial on how to tightline your eyes with eyeliner.

Step 1: Prime your eyelids

This step is optional, but priming your eyes is always a good idea if you want your makeup to last. A primer will give your makeup more grip, which can help keep your eyeliner in place. Dab some eye primer on your eyelids, then gently blend it out with your finger. Let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Conceal your under-eye circles

Choose a concealer that’s the same shade as your skin tone. (A concealer that’s one or two shades lighter should work just fine.) Dab this under your eye and let it sit for a few seconds to let your body heat warm it up. Gently blend it out with a concealer brush or your finger.

Step 3: Curl your eyelashes

Curling your lashes will allow you to get a better view of your upper waterline and the area where your eyelashes grow out of the eyelid. While this step is optional, this also ensures that your lashes are out of the way when you apply your eyeliner. Plus, curled lashes will open up your eyes, resulting in a brighter look. Take your favorite eyelash curler and carefully align the rubber strip to the base of your lashes. Gently squeeze to curl your lashes.

Step 4: Choose your eyeliner

Choosing the right eyeliner for tightlinining your eyes boils down to preference. Waterproof pencils and gel liners are the most popular choice, though regular pencils work just as fine. Avoid using liquid liners as they are too slippery to apply on the waterline and can sting your eye.

For maximum precision, always sharpen your pencil before application. This will help you get a smoother line, prevent smudging, and also gets rid of any bacteria on the pencil.

Choose an eyeliner color that fits the look you’re going for. Dark black liners will make your eyes look more defined, though they can look a bit harsh, whereas brown and taupe colors look soft and natural.

How to Tightline Your Eyes With Eyeliner, Step-By-Step

Alternatively, you can go for a colorful eyeliner for a fun and quirky look. Try a burgundy, navy, or forest green for a subtle pop of color or jewel tones, such as emerald, amethyst, or gold for a modern twist.

Step 5: Lift your upper eyelid

Raise your chin slightly so that your head is tilted back. Use your non-dominant hand to gently lift the eyelid just enough that you can see the base of the upper lash line. Alternatively, you can use a cotton swab to hold your upper lid in place. Take extra care when doing this as the skin around your eyes is quite delicate.

Step 6: Apply eyeliner to the upper waterline

Hold the eyeliner pencil vertically. Starting on the outer corner of your eye, carefully line your upper waterline using short, back-and-forth strokes. Depending on how intense you want the pigment to be, you can do this two to three times.

If you’re using gel liner, dip an angled eyeliner brush into the gel, making sure that the edge is coated with just enough product. Hold your brush vertically, then carefully press along the upper waterline, working your way from the outer to the inner corner of the upper waterline.

Avoid applying eyeliner all the way into the inner corner, as this will make your tightlining look somewhat unnatural. Stop once you reach the tear duct or where the lashes thin out. Once finished, you’ll want to avoid blinking. Let the eyeliner dry before you release your eyelid. Otherwise, your eyeliner might transfer onto the lower waterline. If this happens, use a clean cotton swab to wipe it off.

Step 7: Apply eyeliner to the lower waterline

Tightlining your lower waterline is optional. You can use a black liner to define your eyes even more, resulting in a super intense look. It can, however, make your eyes appear smaller. Alternatively, you can use a white eyeliner to make your eyes appear larger and brighter.

How to Tightline Your Eyes With Eyeliner, Step-By-Step
PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM/emmachenartistry

Lightly pull down on the lower eyelid to expose the lower waterline. Take your eyeliner of choice. Beginning from the outer corner to the inner corner of the eye, fill in the space with one careful sweep or several back-and-forth swipes. For gel liner, press the product on your lashes.

To prevent your eyes from looking smaller, tightline about two-thirds of your lower lash line. Try your best to keep your line thin as you may end up making your eyeliner look bottom heavy.

Step 8: Set the eyeliner

To ensure that your eyeliner doesn’t smudge or fade throughout the day, you can set it using a matte eyeshadow of the same color or a translucent setting powder. This will give your liner extra protection for a long-lasting eye makeup look.

How to Tightline Your Eyes With Eyeliner, Step-By-Step

Take a clean angled eyeliner brush and load it with eyeshadow or setting powder, then tap to remove the excess product. Carefully press the edge of the brush along the waterline, using a stamping motion from the outer to the inner corner of the eye.

Step 9: Clean up any mistakes

Unless you were blessed with the stability and precision of a surgeon, you’re bound to make a few mistakes when tightlining. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to clean up. Take a cotton swab and dip it in a bit of eye makeup remover, then wipe off any smudges or errors.

Step 10: Apply mascara

Complete the invisible eyeliner look by applying a few coats of your favorite mascara for extra lush lashes.

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