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Once upon a time, you probably rimmed your eyes in black eyeliner, and now this retro beauty trend is back in a big way. Enter: Waterline eyeliner. The waterline eyeliner makeup technique requires placing eyeliner on your waterline, aka the inner rim of your eyelid, for a subtler final look. It can be a tricky eyeliner technique to execute since the waterline is a sensitive place, but you can totally do it—if you use the best eyeliner for your waterline and know how to apply it correctly. Below, learn about our best drugstore eyeliners for lining your waterline and find step-by-step instructions that make applying waterline eyeliner easy.
First things first, you might be thinking something like: is eyeliner really safe for your waterline? The eyes are a sensitive area, after all, so it makes sense that applying eyeliner so close to your actual eyes could cause irritation. However, this will only occur if you use the wrong type of eyeliner! Fortunately for all of us beauty junkies, there are plenty of eyeliner formulas out there that are perfectly safe to use on your waterline. That’s not to say that you don’t still need to be careful while applying it, but we’ll get to that. The point is: Yes, eyeliner is safe for your waterline—if you’re using the right product!
You might also be wondering, “can you put liquid eyeliner on your waterline?” And the answer is usually no. Before you pick up any old eyeliner, hear us out: You’re going to want to use a pencil eyeliner for this task. Our best eyeliner for your waterline? That’d be the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Waterproof, Up to 24HR Pencil Eyeliner, which comes in fifteen different shades ranging from traditional black and brown to purple, cobalt blue, teal, forest green, nude, and grey. This waterproof eyeliner, which is suitable to use on the inner rim of the waterline, glides on easily and has a smudge-resistant formula that lasts.
While applying black eyeliner to your waterline offers a classic makeup look, consider using eyeliner in a brighter hue, like purple or cobalt blue, for an updated take on this makeup trend. Another option: Lining your waterline with nude eyeliner can help brighten the look of your eyes (and make you look more awake), so keep that in mind for whenever your face needs a little perking up.
Now that you know which eyeliner to use to line your waterline, it’s time to actually get to the main event: applying eyeliner to your waterline! Start by using eyeliner on your upper waterline—a technique that’s also referred to as tightlining—following these simple steps:
Use your ring finger to gently—seriously, ever so gently—lift your upper lid and expose the waterline beneath your upper lash line.
Use a cotton swab to soak up any extra moisture that could interfere with your eyeliner application.
Simply swipe your eyeliner along the dried area of lash line real estate and voila—you’ve done it! Just make sure to look straight into the mirror and slightly tilt your head down while you’re lining your waterline. It may feel a little weird the first time you do this, but you'll be a pro in no time!
Once you’re done applying eyeliner to your upper waterline, move on to your lower waterline by following our tutorial.
Looking head-on, you won’t be able to see your full waterline. To achieve a perfectly lined waterline, you’ll want to pull your lower lid down gently using your ring finger. Again, be gentle!
Do the same as you did with your upper waterline, using a cotton swab to remove excess moisture.
Once you’ve done that, pop the top off of your eyeliner and trace it along the exposed area. Continue swiping eyeliner on until you’ve achieved the full color intensity you’re looking for.
If you plan to line both your upper and lower waterline—and happen to be in a rush—we know a little trick for doing so in one step! Working on one eye at a time, tightline your upper waterline and close your eyes before the product dries. When you shut your eye, the color will transfer to your lower waterline. Repeat on your other eye, and you’re good to go. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
You officially know how to apply eyeliner to your waterline! At the end of the day, you’ll want to remove your eyeliner with a gentle makeup remover since this makeup technique involves the product you'll need to remove being super close to your eye. Try using the L’Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water Complete Cleanser Waterproof – All Skin Types. Simply saturate a cotton pad and gently swipe the pad over your eye makeup. If there’s any lingering liner on your waterline, go in with a cotton swab that’s been dipped in the same micellar water.
Ready to try your hand at another eye makeup trend—or 20? Read our article on 21 Eyeliner Ideas You Can Definitely Do, next.
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