Eyeliner has been around for over 10,000 years and we are still coming up with new and inventive ways to wear it.
If you’re someone who’s less than confident when it comes to eyeliner, you’re not alone. A lot of it comes down to good technique and a lot of practice.
In addition to knowing how to wear eyeliner, many people struggle with figuring out when to wear it. First of all, trends change, and having “raccoon eyes” isn’t always the look that’s in.
Secondly, not every event or occasion calls for eyeliner. Not every makeup look needs eyeliner. And not every face looks good with eyeliner, although most people can make it work for them.
No eyeliner makes you look younger and more natural, whereas wearing eyeliner can make you look sultry and put-together. Both looks are valid and have their place.
So, eyeliner vs no eyeliner – what’s the difference? Eyeliner is best to wear when you want your eyes to be the main focus of your face, it helps define your eyes and give them a sultry shape.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about eyeliner: how to wear it, when to wear it, and how to style it with the rest of your look.
Everything You Need To Know About Eyeliner
You’re likely familiar with pencil eyeliner – black or brown pencils that you can use to draw lines near your lashes. But eyeliners actually come in a variety of formats.
In addition to pencil eyeliners, there are liquid eyeliners and gel eyeliners. Liquid eyeliners and gel eyeliners come with special brushes that you use to brush the pigment onto your lids. Unlike eyeshadows which are easily blendable and forgiving, eyeliner can be tricky to get the hang of.
There are also eyeliner pens or markers, which look just like liquid eyeliner but are a bit easier to use.
The main difference between these formats is how the eyeliner looks on your face. Pencil liners are soft and easy to smudge. That can be great if you want a more natural or smokey look.
Liquid liners are more precise. You can’t really blend them out. So they are perfect for retro looks or the classic cat eye wing.
Gel liners are somewhere in the middle. They have the staying power of liquid liners but can get a blended out a little bit if needed.
Which type of eyeliner you use depends on what kind of look you want to achieve and what you prefer using. When you’re a beginner, pencil eyeliners are easier to master because they’re more forgiving – you don’t need to be as precise.
Liquid eyeliners take more practice, but once you get a hang of them, the world of possibilities opens up for you. Well, for your makeup game, at least.
There are endless options for eyeliner colors. From the classic blacks and browns that accentuate your natural lashes, to bright blues and pinks that add a pop of color, great for graphic styles.
It’s important to remember that if you’re going to use a bright colored eyeliner, you have to balance it with a neutral-looking lipstick (and other makeup).
Whenever you introduce a new color to your makeup, it’s good to ensure that it doesn’t conflict with any of the other colors on your face.
As long as you can keep your makeup looking harmonious, it’s almost impossible to go wrong.
If your goal is to define your eyes or add a little bit of drama to them, consider using dark eyeliner colors like black, grey, brown, plum, deep green, and navy blue.
If you’re more interested in having a bright pop of color over your eyes, you can opt for lighter and brighter colors like teal, pink, yellow, and lavender. These colors tend to look a lot better if you use liquid eyeliner.
Here are some of the most popular “classic” eyeliner looks you can do:
- Smoky rocker look: use a dark eyeliner pencil on your top and bottom lashlines and blend it out with a soft brush
- Cat eye look: use any color liquid eyeliner to line your top lashline and extend the line beyond the outside of your eye, with a subtle flick up.
- Minimalist look: use any type of eyeliner in a dark color to add thickness to your top lashline
- Cleopatra look: use a dark liquid liner to line your eyes all the way around, elongating them and giving them extra long corners on each side of the eye. Try to point the corner of the inner eye down while pointing the corner of the outer eye up.
- Defined look: use a pencil to line the other ¾ of your upper and bottom waterlines.
There are hundreds of other ways to style eyeliner, so feel free to experiment with it.
Eyeliner Vs No Eyeliner
So what’s the difference between eyeliner and no eyeliner? Well obviously, when you wear no eyeliner, you don’t have the same level of definition on your eyes. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And with certain makeup looks, it’s even better not to wear eyeliner.
There are even some eyeshadow heavy looks that create a similar look completely without eyeliner.
If you are wearing really bright or bold lipstick, wearing eyeliner might be too much. A classic red lip looks best with either no eyeliner at all, or a very simple cat eye.
Inversely, a look with bare or nude lips looks stunning with dark smoky eyeliner. It’s all about balance! If you are someone who likes to look natural, you’d probably enjoy going without eyeliner or very minimal eyeliner.
On the other hand, if you like dramatic looks, eyeliner is a must for you.
You might also consider that different occasions might call for different makeup looks. Eyeliner is often considered an “evening” makeup. Most people agree that wearing eyeliner is appropriate if you’re going to a concert, a bar, a birthday party, or going on stage.
Eyeliners are less necessary for daytime activities or places like school, work, doctor’s office, and the like.
This doesn’t mean you can’t wear eyeliner to these places, because there are no hard rules when it comes to makeup! These are just general guides.
Lips And Eyeliner
We’ve talked a little bit about the relationship between lip makeup and eye makeup. Lips and eyes are two focal points of the face, and most of the time, they need to be balanced against each other to not overwhelm you.
What does this mean? It just means that if you’re going heavy on one, you should go light on the other. And if you’re using bold colors on one, use neutrals on the other.
For example, here are a few looks that work harmoniously:
- Nude lipstick and dark smokey eyeliner
- Red lipstick and a thin cat eye liner
- Bold plum lips and no eyeliner
- Pink lipstick and minimal black eyeliner on the waterline
- Neutral lip and bright pink liquid eyeliner in cat eye shape
On the contrary, the following looks would likely be clashing:
- Magenta lipstick and blue eyeliner
- Dark plum lipstick and a dark heavy smoky eye
- Nude lipstick and light-colored eyeliner
As you can see, these last three examples are unbalanced: there is either too much similarity between eyes and lips or too much clashing colors.
That being said, if the event calls for it – go ahead and experiment. Balancing your makeup is a good rule for “real life” events, but if you’re starring in a show or doing a photoshoot, some of these bold combinations can actually look great.
Does Eyeliner Look Good On Everyone?
There are some myths in the beauty industry that some people shouldn’t wear certain types of makeup. For example, some people think that if you have small eyes (whatever that means) that eyeliner would make their eyes look even smaller.
But is there any truth to this? Not really. People with small eyes can wear eyeliner, they should just avoid putting dark eyeliner directly on their waterline (the area between your lashes and your eyeball) because that can make the eyes appear smaller.
But if they put dark eyeliner on the outside of the lashes, and use a white eyeliner on their waterline, their eyes will actually look bigger!
So, it all depends on the application. Everyone can make eyeliner work for them with a little practice and creativity.
Do You Need Eyeliner?
Nobody really needs eyeliner, some people just like the way it makes their eyes look more defined.
If you prefer a more natural look or if you naturally have very thick and dark eyelashes, you might find that eyeliner doesn’t do much for you.
But many people enjoy what it does for them. It can make your eyes look more defined, bigger, smaller, change the shape of your eyes, etc. You can do a lot with eyeliner, that’s why so many people have been using it for thousands of years.
Hopefully, this guide helps you understand the differences between looks with eyeliner vs no eyeliner, and you will be better able to balance your makeup so that it looks harmonious!