Eyeliner Mistakes You're Probably Making

Eyeliner is basically the Holy Grail of beauty products. You don't have to be a master of makeup to use it, and all it takes is a little dab on each eye to feel put-together and ready to conquer the day. While eyeliner seems self-explanatory, there's actually a science to its application. Whether you're a liquid liner aficionado or prefer the tried-and-true pencil, here are 10 of the most common eyeliner mistakes (and how to avoid them).

You're looking straight into a mirror

You'd have to be some type of wizard to apply eyeliner without looking into a mirror and still manage to look like a normal human being. However, looking straight into a mirror can lead to uneven application, like gaps between your eyeliner and your lash line. To avoid this mishap, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Surratt Beauty, Troy Surratt, told Health that it's best to look down while you're lining your top lid. According to Lori Lieb, creative director for Bodyography Professional Cosmetics, this will ensure "your liner is as close to the lashes as possible."

You're tugging on your skin while applying

When you're applying eyeliner, you want to get the straightest, most precise line possible. In theory, it makes sense to pull your skin tight to make sure you don't hit any bumps or miss any spots along the lash line. However, this is problematic for a couple of reasons. For one, Glamsquad's director of makeup artistry, Kelli Bartlett, told Stylecaster that tugging at the thin skin around your eyes can actually make them prematurely saggy (and no one wants that). Secondly, "when you pull and then release your eye, it bounces back — and your eyeliner does, too. This can create bumpiness, texture, and that dreaded check-mark shape hanging off the eye," Lijha Stewart, makeup artist and director of artistry at Make Up for Ever, explained to Glamour. While pulling at your eyes might be a tough habit to break, it's worth it! In a YouTube video, makeup artist and vlogger Tina Yong suggests "lifting your head up slightly when you're applying your liner" as you look downward toward your mirror.

Your eye pencil isn't sharp enough

The most frustrating part about pencil liners is their affinity to get dull after only a couple of uses, especially when you're in a rush and don't have the time to prolong your makeup routine (which, let's be honest, is all the time). But a sharp pencil is key to having a clean, professional look. In a YouTube video, makeup artist and vlogger Tina Yong said, "Having a blunt pencil can make it really hard to draw precise lines." To ensure your eye pencil is sharp enough and your eye makeup is spot on every time, Rimmel Canadian makeup artist and spokesperson Vanessa Jarman told Elle Canada, "Simply keep a pencil sharpener in your bag and make a habit of sharpening your pencil as need be," which is typically "every 2-3 makeup applications."

A dull pencil isn't only harmful to a perfect look, but also to your health. Makeup is a hub for germs and bacteria. Each time you use your eyeliner, you're adding more bacteria to the mix. A study found that particles from your eyeliner gets into your eye with each use, meaning all that yucky stuff is entering your system. But when you sharpen your eye pencil, you remove some of that nasty bacteria.

You're applying too much liner on your bottom eyelid

It's natural to want to line your whole eye. It makes your look feel more complete and balanced. While lining your entire top lid is fine, bringing it all the way around your bottom lid will "close up your eyes and make them look smaller," according to makeup artist and beauty vlogger Tina Yong. In fact, this is a huge pet peeve for most makeup artists. Sonia Kashuk, celebrity makeup artist and founder of the Sonia Kashuk Collection for Target, told Prevention, "It looks very dated, hard, and incredibly severe."

To avoid shrinking the appearance of your eyes, Yong suggests you "just tight-line your upper lash line" to "make your lash line look fuller." If you absolutely need to add some color to your bottom lid, in an interview with Health.com celebrity makeup artist Troy Surratt suggested applying "a short stroke of color along the outer corner under your lower lashes."

Not lining your waterline

The topic of using eyeliner along your waterline (the bare skin between your lashes and your eyeball) is debated among health experts and beauty experts. While it's possible that bacteria from your eyeliner can contaminate your eye and cause infection, it's a seamless way to complete your look. Celebrity makeup artist Sonia Kashuk told Prevention that using a light or nude color along your waterline helps "create a healthier look." Likewise, makeup artist and beauty vlogger Toni Yong believes adding eyeliner to your waterline can help make your eyes look bigger.

Lining your waterline with black liner

If you do decide to take a chance and use eyeliner along your waterline, stay away from black! According to celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles, who spoke with Glamour, "very often black liner in the waterline can make your eyes look smaller." Instead, makeup artist and beauty vlogger Toni Yong suggests using a nude color along your waterline to make your eyes look wider. While black liner along your lower lid and waterline is generally a no-no for a daytime look, celebrity makeup artist Sonia Kashuk notes that there is a right time (and way) to use it. "The difference between a harsh, dated liner and a smoky eye is simple smudging," she explained to Prevention.

You're not using the tape method

Anyone who's ever tried winged eyeliner knows what a struggle it is to achieve even, straight lines. Luckily, all you need is a little tape to get your winged eyeliner as close to perfection as humanly possible. (Seriously, even Kylie Jenner swears by it) The trick is as simple as it sounds. All you need is a piece of tape that will "act like a guide," according to makeup artist and beauty vlogger Toni Yong. "It should be at an angle diagonal to your lower lash line." You can then trace alongside the tape with your eyeliner to get that precise wing, and remove the tape (along with any stray eyeliner marks) for a flawless look.

You're not setting it with eyeshadow

If you have hooded eyes or oily eyelids, you might notice that sometimes your eyeliner transfers from your lash line to your eyelid throughout the day. Taking the time to set your eyeliner will help you avoid the embarrassment of having someone point out the fact that your eyeliner is everywhere except where it should be. According to Rimmel Canadian makeup artist and spokesperson Vanessa Jarman, who was quoted in an interview with Elle Canada, "This can be easily prevented by simply remembering to apply a shadow or face powder to the eye lids first."

Using the wrong type of eyeliner

The trickiest part of any type of makeup is to choose the one that's right for you. Eyeliner in its varying forms is no different. As Alejandro Falcon, artistic director for Osmosis Colour cosmetics, discussed with Prevention, "The ones that glide on smoothly are usually very creamy but melt and smear easily. The longer-lasting ones tend to dry quickly and scrape and scratch your eyes when being applied." If you're a beginner, celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles suggests sticking with a waterproof pencil. "A waterproof or long-wear pencil will give you a little play time for blending, and then stay put without smudging or smearing throughout the day," she explained to Glamour.

Using the wrong color eyeliner

While black liner is a must-have in any makeup bag, it's not always optimal for everyday use. Softer colors like brown and taupe are more flattering, celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles said in an interview with Glamour. "It still gives you a sultry look without closing up your eyes and making them look smaller," she explained. Makeup artist and beauty vlogger Toni Yong agrees, claiming in a YouTube video that "these colors can still define your eyes without making them appear too harsh." According to Wendy Lewis of BeautyintheBag.com, the color you use largely depends on how you're feeling that particular day. "If your eyes are tired, puffy or red, avoid using pencils or liners around your eyes that have a reddish tone, such as plums and browns," she told Stylecaster. "Blues make eyes look whiter, and blacks and grays are more neutral."