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How to Apply Gel Eyeliner

A silky formula makes a big difference.
March 13, 2023

While many would argue that no eye makeup look is complete without a few coats of mascara, a little bit of eyeliner can be just as impactful, and it can take your makeup look from work to a night out in minutes. Whether you choose to create the sharpest wing or take part in something blended and smokey, eyeliner is ultra-effective at upgrading your look. there are plenty of formulas to consider — from pencil to liquid to gel — and one of the easiest ones to work with that many overlook is the latter. 

If you don’t keep gel eyeliner in your makeup bag, keep reading as we share how versatile gel eyeliner is for any makeup look, plus how to apply gel eyeliner and the best gel eye pencils for the job.
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3 Benefits of Using Gel Eyeliner

We mentioned that gel eyeliner is one of the easiest eyeliner formulas to use, so let’s dive deeper — here are three reasons why you should add one to your makeup routine.

It Can Make Your Eyes Appear Bigger

Many turn to eyeliner to emphasize their eye shape and make them appear bigger. If that is what you’re after, gel eyeliner is the best formula to achieve that because the blendable, jelly formula is easy to apply on the lower or upper lash line and it looks the most natural.

It’s Easy to Apply

Gel eyeliner is the best formula for an eyeliner novice because its silky, buttery formula doesn’t drag or skip against the skin. It glides and it’s a bit easier to manipulate so you can use it to achieve whatever eye makeup look you’re after.

It Can Be Used for Many Different Looks

Gel eyeliner can be used to simply line your upper lash line and waterline, or it can be used to create a quick smokey eye. It can even be used to create sharp winged eyeliner with the help of an angled brush. That said, you can’t use liquid liner to smoke out your lower lash line so its gel counterpart definitely wins on the multi-use front.

The Best Gel Eyeliners

Before we share the best tips and tricks for applying gel eyeliner, it’s important that you have the best formula for the job. Check out the best gel eyeliners to spice up your eye makeup looks.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Mechanical Gel Eyeliner

This gel eyeliner comes in six ultra-pigmented shades, including classic black and emerald green, to suit a number of different makeup goals. The formula is seriously budge-proof — it lasts for up to 36 hours and it’s waterproof, transfer-proof and smudge-resistant. The added bonus in all of this is the built-in smudger that can be used immediately after applying the liner to easily create smokey, dramatic eye looks.

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Makeup Satin Glide Eyeliner with Mineral Pigments

Intended for mature skin, this waterproof pencil glides across the skin without tugging and leaves a long-lasting finish that doesn’t smudge or migrate. The formula is enriched with mineral pigments for comfortable charcoal color even sensitive eyes can enjoy.

How to Apply Gel Eyeliner

Ready to learn how to use your gel eyeliner? Follow these four simple steps for a flawless gel eyeliner application.

Step 1. Prime Your Eyes

Before you reach for your gel eyeliner, make sure your eyes are primed or that you’re nearly finished with your eye makeup look. Whether that’s eyeshadow primer or a few layers of eyeshadow, eyeliner typically goes on after the rest of your eye makeup as a way to bring the look together. If you’re still unsure what that means — apply your eyeliner right before you apply mascara.


Step 2. Choose Your Shade

The aforementioned L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Mechanical Gel Eyeliner comes in six shades. Choose gray or brown for a soft glam makeup look and reach for emerald green or turquoise to flaunt a colorful eyeliner look.

Step 3. Line Your Lash Line

Drag the eyeliner pencil across your upper and lower lash line, moving from the inner corner to the outer corner. If you want to use your gel eyeliner to create a wing, move your wrist slightly upward and flick the pencil at the outer corner of your eye at a 45-degree angle. If you have trouble creating a straight line, you can use your free hand to slightly pull the corner of your eye outward. When you drag the pencil across, the skin will be taut and the line will be smooth.

If you’re using a brush to apply your gel liner, the same instructions apply. Make sure to lightly grip your brush so you’re creating smooth, even strokes of eyeliner. A harsh grip on your brush can lead to heavy application and uncontrolled strokes.

Step 4. Gently Smudge

The best time to smudge your gel eyeliner is right after you apply it because if you wait any longer, it will set. Using the built-in smudger on the Infallible Grip Mechanical Gel Eyeliner, lightly smudge the upper and lower lash line to create a smokey eye or flick the outer corner to create a soft winged shape. If you used a brush to apply your gel eyeliner, use a clean smudging brush to create the smokey edges.

What Can I Use to Apply Gel Eyeliner?

If your gel eyeliner doesn’t have a pencil applicator, use a clean angled makeup brush to apply it. 

What Kind Of Brush Do You Use for Gel Eyeliner?

For a wing or graphic eyeliner look, use an angled or pointed eyeliner brush to apply your gel eyeliner. For a smudged smokey eye, use a densely-packed eyeshadow brush to apply it. 

Do You Wet the Brush Before Applying Gel Eyeliner?

If you’re applying gel eyeliner in a pot, you can wet your brush with water or setting spray to help the formula glide across your lids. That said, read the instructions included with your eyeliner first because using a wet brush may dilute the formula, which can lead to smudging and fading.

Can Gel Eyeliner Be Smudged?

Depending on the formula of your gel eyeliner, the best time to smudge is right after you apply it because there’s a good chance it will set. The L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Mechanical Gel Eyeliner dries down with a smudge-proof finish so it can only be smudged and blended immediately after application.

Gel Versus Liquid Eyeliner?

Gel eyeliner is good for smokey eye makeup looks and for those who like to apply their eyeliner in a single, imperfect swipe. Because you can smudge it, you don’t have to worry too much about imperfections. Liquid eyeliner, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Precision Felt Waterproof Eyeliner is great for creating sharp wings and intricate eyeliner looks. That said, it’s better for someone who has a steady hand or experience with liquid eyeliner because it’s a bit trickier to apply. If you make a mistake, it’s much easier to spot with liquid eyeliner than with gel eyeliner.

Next: 6 Of the Best Colored Pencils to Replace Your Go-To Black Eyeliner

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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