Eye See!

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” Groucho Marx

One of the reasons I became a makeup artist is because I wanted to create beauty and one of the most beautiful things about makeup is that “anything goes” (thanks Ethel Merman).

Hands down, the eyes are the first thing people notice about others. You can create connections with a simple glance, so focusing on enhancing your eyes can help build your confidence and self-esteem.

Let’s think of the iconic women of the past and present: Sophia, Elizabeth, Marilyn, Angie, Amy, Lady, Beyonce, Madonna, Queen and Dianna. Not only did these women create trends in fashion, they influenced the world of makeup with one product…eyeliner! With a simple sweep or smudge, these ladies made us stand up and take notice of their beauty and their talent!

Eyeliner defines and enhances a look whether it is the basic 5-minute face at home, the crisp and beautiful appearance from the board room or the bold and courageous look straight off the runway. Eyeliner is the ultimate and men are even jumping on board by embracing Guyliner, made infamous in the 80’s, now men can clasp their metrosexual side with a product line made especially for them!

There are several liner formulas on the market from which to choose and all of them have the power to “pop” your peepers using the right tools and application. Here is the run down:

Liquid Liners: made a major impact in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s - think Rosie the Riveter. Liquids are extremely long wearing and give you the ability to create very precise dramatic looks like the beloved cat-eye, “winged” or vintage look. These liners can be intimidating, but with practice you can shake the shyness and become a pro!

Pencils: the most popular and easiest to apply, pencil liners are easy to smudge (some more than others based on wax content) and usually have a creamy consistency. Pencils offer a more natural approach to lining and give you more control of the look you are trying to create. They sharpen to a razor-edge point and usually have no irritancy potential.

Kohl: these pencils are softer than traditional pencils and they won’t pull or tug the eye area. They are also more intense in color and blend easier. Some Kohl pencils do not have the ability to be as pointy when sharpened or they come in a roll-up component.

Cake: looks like an eye shadow, but is liner and trumps the longevity of liquid and pencils. You need to get them wet prior to use and a flat eyeliner brush is recommended. These liners are in every pro-makeup artist’s kit and celebrities adore them because they dry instantly after application.

Gel: becoming increasingly more popular because they offer the precision of a liquid liner with ease in application. Gel liners have all the staying power of a liquid, but the formula is thicker like mascara and is used with a small, filbert brush. This product won’t flake and gives you the ability to smudge or blend before it dries.

Stain: this is new on the market and it falls in line with other “stain” type products available to consumers. Lip stain and cheek stain are popular because they are long lasting. This pro is a firm believer in removing all your makeup at night, but stains have a tendency to “hang around” even after a good scrub. I love using eyeliner stains in conjunction with powder eye shadow to prolong wear and intensify color.

Eyeliners come in a rainbow of “flavors” and using liners that are in contrast to your actual eye color will create looks that are wildly sexy! Remember my color wheel from an archive post on concealors? This motto applies to eyeliners too - here is a guide:

Brown eyes – navy or sapphire
Blue eyes – chocolate, taupe, bronze
Green eyes – eggplant, purple, burgundy
Hazel eyes – forest green, emerald

Now that you are ready to receive your certificate in “Eyeliner Perfection,” here is a list of what this Pro carries in her kit and a few tips on application:

Liquid: MAC Liquid Last Liner – this liner comes in so many gorgeous classic and trendy colors! I use this product on the top lash line only to define the eyes. This product has its own brush and has major staying power. Line the entire upper lash area with a thicker line at the outer corner and gradually thinning the line toward the inner corner.

Pencil: Kevyn Aucoin, MAC, Sue Devitt, Tarte – all of these cosmetic lines make eyeliner pencils that provide rich, consistent color and are easy to apply. They blend evenly and soften to create gorgeous smoky effects. I use pencils to line the upper and lower lash line and the inside rim of the top and lower water lines. Apply as close as possible to the lash line to create the illusion of fuller, more lush and natural lashes. Make sure that your top and bottom lines meet at the inside and outside corners to make the eyes appear larger. Not connecting the lines can make the eyes appear smaller or too round depending on the natural eye shape.

Kohl: MAC Eye Kohl, Technakohl Liners, Tarte, Benefit – offer ease in application of soft, silky-smooth color. These liners are very versatile and long wearing. Lining the lower lash line is a breeze and doesn’t irritate or tickle when applied. You can create thick or very thin lines with these pencils.

Cake: La Femme Cake Eye Liners – come in a wide variety of colors from basic black to turquoise. I like to spritz a very thin and pointy eyeliner brush with Evian water and dip the brush into the cake liner. Blot on the back of my hand to remove excess color and apply to upper lash line only. These products won’t flake and dry instantly. Works well with false lashes and I like to double layer this liner with pencil eyeliner first and then cake liner applied over pencil to intensify color.

Gel: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner – recently awarded Elle Magazines’ Genius Award, In Style’s Magazine’s Best Beauty Buy and Allure Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award, you can’t go wrong with this amazing liner. It offers the precision of a liquid liner with the ease of a gel-based formula. Allows for smudging or correction prior to drying and comes in a variety of colors. My favorites are Black Ink, Black Plum Ink, Espresso Ink, Graphite Shimmer Ink and Ivy Shimmer Ink. Use in conjunction with Bobbi’s gel eyeliner brush.

Stain: Makeup artist, Mosha Katani developed Sormeh Eye Lining Powder that works as an eyeliner stain. This powder, which is made from castor oil and zinc-oxide is available in black, midnight, nude, purple smoke and rustic brown. I love to use these powders over eye shadow to increase the intensity of the color and longevity. It gives you that gorgeous second-day makeup look that recently ruled the runways!

To brighten the whites of your eyes, use white or nude eyeliner in the water line of your lower lash rim. This technique will also create the illusion of larger eyes. Use a gentle hand and don’t rub the color into the lashes or you will have a clown type effect!

Up next: This yummy product line is sure to stimulate all 5 of your senses!


  1. I LOVE cake eyeliner and have wondered for a long time if the La Femme ones are good. If you recommend them, I trust them!

  2. I love what a white or nude pencil on the waterline can do! I also keep Laura Mercier Kohl Pencil in Iced Blue in my kit - the pastel/baby blue color brightens eyes, makes them look a bit bigger, and kind of gives and "ethereal" look.

  3. Cake Liners are fantastic and La Femme's are incredible and CHEAP!!!!

  4. OHHH Rebecca!!! Great tip!!!! Love pastel baby blue too and Laura Mercier's pencils are amazing - so soft and won't hurt the waterline area! Thanks!