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How to Use Water-Activated Eyeliner

July 30, 2020

You’re likely familiar with the likes of liquid eyeliner and retractable eyeliner, but if you like to keep up with the latest makeup trends and products, you may be curious about water-activated eyeliner. This new eyeliner formula, also known as cake eyeliner, seems to be taking over our social media feeds as it’s used to create an array of highly pigmented, eye-catching looks. Curious about cake eyeliner and how to use it? Read on for all the details.


As you can probably guess, cake liner (and all water-activated makeup) is exactly what it sounds like. In the case of water-activated eyeliners, they're a product that uses water to transform into a vibrant, pigmented eyeliners. They work the same way that watercolor paints do! They’re a great option for those who are worried about their eyeliner getting messy, as the powder formula turns into a creamy, liquid consistency once water is added, and this allows for easy control. They can also be used to create some seriously stunning gradient looks since each shade can easily be blended into one another before fully drying. One thing to keep in mind is that since water-activated eyeliner is water-based, it won’t be waterproof.


Want to put a water-activated eyeliner to use? Follow the steps below to bring your water-based formula to life. We’ll also be sharing how to tightline your eyes with cake eyeliner!


Starting with an eye primer is an important step in any eye makeup look. Smooth one on to increase the lifespan of your makeup. Don’t have an eye primer on-hand? A dab of concealer or foundation will do the trick in a pinch!


Grab your eyeshadow color(s) of choice and apply them now before moving on to your water-activated eyeliner.

Editor’s note: Consider creating a watercolor eye shadow and eye makeup look to go with your water-activated eyeliner. For a step-by-step tutorial, here’s How to Do Artsy Watercolor Eye Makeup.


Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for: using your cake liner! To activate your eyeliner, you can use regular tap water or a setting spray, which will give it an extra lasting boost. Dip an angled brush or thin eyeliner brush into your liquid of choice, then dip the brush into your water-activated eyeliner to pick up the product. For a softer look, use more liquid to dilute the pigment. If you want a bold, vibrant look, keep your eyeliner a thicker consistency by adding less liquid.


Lining your eyes with water-activated eyeliner involves the same process as using a liquid or gel eyeliner—take your time and let your brush do the work. You can apply cake eyeliner wherever you would normally apply eyeliner. If you plan to tightline your eyes with a water-activated eyeliner, make sure it’s on the thicker side consistency-wise. The paste-like formula can be applied with an angled brush to your upper waterline by gently pressing the liner against the base of your lashes.


As with any eye makeup look, it’s important to finish with a few layers of mascara to tie everything together and give your lashes an extra boost. Sweep on the L’Oréal Paris Bambi Eye Washable Mascara, Lasting Volume to do just that!


Like we said, water-activated eyeliner isn’t waterproof since it’s water-based. So, when it comes to removing cake eyeliner, the process is actually quite simple. Saturate a cotton pad with a makeup remover, like the L’Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water Complete Cleanser Waterproof - All Skin Types, and gently hold it over each eye for a few seconds before wiping away any traces of liner.

Now that you’re familiar with water-activated eyeliner and how to use it as part of your eye makeup routine, it’s time to brush up on other eyeliner types you may not be familiar with. Here’s The Ultimate Guide to Eyeliner.

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