Home Makeup How To Wear Eyeliner Without Mascara

How To Wear Eyeliner Without Mascara

by Gabbi

Mascara is the ideal introduction to makeup because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require the skill of a professional artist. However, it can also transfer from the lashes and smudge the rest of your eye makeup.

While it may look unnatural initially, you can skip applying mascara during your makeup routine. Other products like eyeliner provide just as much dimension and depth as mascara. You may even find that eyeliner is more long-wearing and budge-proof.

In addition, most editorial shoots in magazines feature makeup looks that are entirely mascara-less! By ditching the mascara, you can accentuate your eyes with varying techniques and create a look unique to your facial features.

So, how do you wear eyeliner without mascara? You can experiment with different eyeliner techniques and placements to see what flatters your eye shape. Eyeliner can be applied to the lower and upper lash lines or onto the waterline. To start, try choosing an eyeliner color similar to your natural lash color.

Unlike mascara, there is less chance that eyeliner will smudge the rest of your makeup. In addition, mascara can feel quite drying on the eyes, and it may crumble or flake throughout the day. How can you update your makeup routine?

Can You Wear Eyeliner Without Mascara?

While learning the fundamental basics of makeup is crucial, it shouldn’t confine you into a box. 

Instead, makeup can allow you to be creative and find new techniques that flatter your facial structure. One way to experiment is by using eyeliner without mascara.

Eyeliner can be worn by itself and accentuate your eyes. In addition, eyeliner is more versatile than mascara because it’s available in multiple formulas, finishes, and colors. So, yes, you can wear eyeliner without mascara. 

Reasons To Ditch Mascara

Mascara is often the first product, besides lip gloss, to introduce beginners to makeup. It’s the easiest way to transform your eyes from tired looking to bright and flirty. However, mascara can be an overhyped product. It’s great for defining the lashes, but it can pose other problems that might affect your makeup look as well.

For example, most mascaras are prone to smudging or transferring. While you can opt for a waterproof formula, these mascaras are too harsh and can ruin the integrity of your eyelashes. 


Mascara can have a short lifespan and doesn’t react well with moisture or sweat. You may notice that it can quickly transfer to other parts of the eye. In addition, mascara can easily create a raccoon effect if the smudging is intense.

Mascara transfer can also ruin a detailed eyeshadow look that may have taken hours to blend and perfect. Mascara running down your face can be hard to fix, but ditching it will ensure there is no transfer in the first place.

Clumpy Lashes

It can be tricky to find the right mascara formula. Often, mascara can quickly congeal together and create an unflattering finish. You may notice that adding multiple layers of mascara can make the lashes look thick and spidery instead of defined.

Clumpy lashes may not be a look that everyone loves. In addition, clumpy lashes can have a textured appearance and be prone to flaking or transferring. It can also feel uncomfortable to wear for long periods.


Mascaras quickly expire, and it’s crucial to replace your mascara tube every few months. This can raise a high price tag if you prefer high-end mascaras. However, this makeup product can contain sensitizing ingredients and breed bacteria.

So, eye irritation can increase if you continue using an expired mascara or share mascaras. Another reason to ditch mascara is to keep the lashes clean of dirt and bacteria.  

Harms Your Natural Lashes

Waterproof mascaras seem like a genius invention because they allow you to enjoy all the benefits mascara has to offer without smudging. However, the ingredients used in waterproof mascaras are often harsh and sensitizing to your eyelashes.

In addition, waterproof mascaras are extremely challenging to remove. You will need an oil-based eye makeup remover. Also, you’ll be adding more pressure and friction to your lashes which can also cause them to weaken.

How To Apply Eyeliner Without Mascara

So how can you use eyeliner without mascara? Interestingly, eyeliner can offer more variety to define your eyes than mascara.

While it may look unnatural at first, implementing a few tips in your routine can make you look like you’ve stepped out of an editorial magazine shoot. You may also be inspired to venture out and try other makeup techniques.

Stick To Thin Lines

One subtle way to wear eyeliner without mascara is by drawing thin lines. Thin eyeliner can add just enough depth to your eyes without overpowering your features. 

All you need to do is apply a thin line of eyeliner to the top, bottom, or both lash lines to achieve this look. Also, thin lines won’t be as messy, and there is no stress of making them even.

If you’re working with a pencil liner, you can even smudge it for a causal effect.


Another way to accentuate your eyes is by tightlining. Tightlining your upper or lower water line will bring attention to your eyes without needing mascara.

It can help create a no-makeup-makeup look because you’re only applying liner to the water line. 

You can use any shade of eyeliner for tightlining, but gel and pencil liners tend to stay longer than liquids. Also, avoid liquid liner for tightlining because it can seep into the eyes and sting.

Unless your natural lashes are black, you may also want to avoid black eyeliner for tightlining because it can be too harsh, make light lashes look obvious, or end up making your eyes look smaller.

Baby Wings 

You can easily accentuate your top lash line with a baby wing. This technique will allow you to elongate your eyes without creating a bold cat eye. In addition, a baby wing won’t swallow your eye or draw attention away from your other features. 

Choose your favorite liner (we recommend a color close to your natural eyelash color or a few shades darker) and slowly apply the product to the upper lash line. Once you get to the outer corner, look straight into the mirror, relax your face, and draw a mini wing. 

Beige Is Best 

How can you wear eyeliner without mascara but still have it be undetectable? Beige eyeliner is an underrated shade because it can instantly create an awakened effect. This is the ideal product to achieve brighter eyes or cancel redness.

In addition, beige eyeliner will also create a no-makeup-makeup look. Darker complexions can choose an eyeliner pencil with a similar shade to match their skin tone. This look is minimal, easy, and versatile.

60’s Flick 

Did you know you can create the illusion of a thick lash line with eyeliner? 60’s-inspired eyeliner can help you rock eyeliner without mascara. All you need is your favorite eyeliner to get the job done. 

You’ll want to draw fake lash fibers on the outer edge of the lower lash line. You can even do so on the top. You can pair this look with a graphic eyeliner to complete your eyes. 

Experiment With Color 

One way to take away attention from your eyelashes is by experimenting with color! Eyeliners are available in hundreds of tones and hues. You can make a bold statement with royal blue or have a subtle pop of color by swiping on lavender. 

Choose colors that flatter or accentuate your skin tone and eye color to make a statement. 

Try Graphic Eyeliner 

Graphic liner in shades of blue, yellow, and pink in crease.

Graphic eyeliner can be wearable, fun, and creative. For example, try dotted liner for a subtle artistic look. Or you can create a blocked-out wing that encompasses your lid space.

You can even keep the eyeliner in and above your crease to accentuate your eyelid space and avoid your eyelashes looking too bare in contrast (see picture to the right).

Another popular eyeliner technique only applies liner to the bottom lash line. There are no rules to eyeliner, so you can create any shape and use as many colors as you desire. Or, you can apply liner to match the curves of your eye shape.

Tips To Make Your Lashes Look Better Without Mascara

What if you’re not ready to completely ditch mascara? You can still enhance your natural lashes without adding mascara. You can also take this time to apply a lash serum (we love this one from Grande Cosmetics) to ensure your natural lashes are long and strong. 

However, some helpful tips include curling your lashes or adding a coat of clear brow gel. 

Curl Your Lashes 

Whether you’re wearing mascara or not, it never hurts to give them a curl. This tip is constructive for those looking to ditch mascara. Curling your lashes will help give them an extra boost of length and volume without using additional products.

Even if your lashes tend to fall flat, curling them will significantly affect your overall makeup look. It can help create the illusion they are fuller, even if you’re only wearing eyeliner.

Coat Lashes With Clear Brow Gel 

Another technique you can use if you’re not ready to quit mascara cold turkey is using clear brow gel (like this one from Covergirl)! Clear brow gel can offer hold and lift to your lashes, especially if you curl them with an eyelash curler. 

Also, clear brow gel will look undetectable on the lashes. You will get hold and lift without the look of clumpy lashes or mascara transfer. 


There are hundreds of ways to rock eyeliner without mascara. Mascara has its drawbacks; eyeliner can define your eye shape in countless ways. In addition, ditching mascara will help create a cleaner or more put-together makeup look.

Which eyeliner technique are you trying next? 

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