The Different Types of Eyeliners, Explained

Different Types of Eyeliners

There are different types of eyeliners. And depending on your choice, you can either save yourself 20 minutes in the morning or waste a $20 product. I know, we all like to blame our lack of fine motor skills or our inability to perform well under pressure for not being able to do the perfect cat-eye.

But in reality, using the right type of eyeliner for your level of expertise makes a huge difference in how easy things can get during makeup application. And learning which type of eyeliner is the best one for you can help you up your eye makeup game, and save you some time.

Basically, there are four main types of eyeliner: pencil, liquid, pen, and gel. Below we’re going to dive deep into every single type of eyeliner, its advantages, and drawbacks so that you can find the right one for you and learn how to use and apply it.

Different Types of Eyeliners

Different Types of Eyeliners with Images and Names
Types of Eyeliners

1. Pencil Eyeliner

Pencil eyeliner is the most common type of eyeliner. Pencil eyeliners are beginner-friendly as they give you more control over the application. So you can take your time and color up your eyes one tiny stroke at a time.

You can smudge things out with a brush or thicken your eyeliner by layering. There’s a pencil eyeliner for every eye shape. Whether you have almond eyes or need eyeliner for hooded eyes, pencil eyeliners are universally practical.

Pencil eyeliners are also the most versatile eyeliner. While other ones simply work for lining the contour of the eyes, pencil eyeliners are the ones we use to tightline.

In case you don’t know, tightlining is applying an eye pencil on the upper or lower waterline. It’s like an inner eyeliner. It defines your eyes, makes your lashes look thicker, and makes your eyeliner look even more dramatic.

Pencil eyeliners can come in different forms such as retractable pencils, mechanical pens, or regular sharpenable pencil eyeliner. There are waterproof options and they are available in all colors with different finishes such as matte or shimmery.

Additionally, there are kohl and kajal, which look like regular pencil eyeliners but they have a more creamy feel to them. So when you’re buying kohl eyeliner, in any shape or form, know that the application is a breeze as the pencil practically glides on the eyelids.

In sum, pencil eyeliners make the best types of eyeliners. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, pencil eyeliner is a must-have for anyone who wears makeup.

How To Apply Pencil Eyeliner

  1. Draw a small, thin line starting from the outer corner of your eye toward the center
  2. Then draw another small, thin line starting from the inner corner toward the center
  3. Connect the lines
  4. Go over the lines if you wish to thicken your eyeliner or add a little flick
  5. Depending on your preference, you can use your eyeliner on the waterline to achieve a more defined look
  6. Using a smudging brush, you can feather out the edges and achieve a smoky eye

2. Liquid Eyeliner

This is the eyeliner type that is associated with, well, eyeliner. It’s for lining the upper and or lower eyelid for a sleek eye makeup look.

Liquid eyeliner usually comes in a small jar with a dipper, which has a brush tip. Liquid eyeliners tend to be more pigmented than pencil eyeliners.

Their rich colors are great for achieving that high impact, glossy finish eyeliner in various thicknesses with various shapes.

They’re not always beginner-friendly. Because they can spread out very easily and start to bleed as soon as you start applying.

It’s all because of the liquid texture and the brush tip. Even though they’re great for very precise wings and lines and different eyeliner styles, they require practice and steady hands for proper application.

How To Apply Liquid Eyeliner

  1. Ideally, you want the lines to be thinner on the inner corner of the eyes and thicker on the outer corner of the eyes
  2. By using small strokes or even tiny dots, start by drawing a thin line from the center of the eyelid toward the outer corner
  3. Then start drawing a very thin line from the inner corner and connect the dots at the center
  4. Apply the eyeliner as close to the lash line as possible
  5. Once you’re done lining the eyelids, experiment with different eyeliner wings and styles by making the tail longer

3. Pen Eyeliner

Pen eyeliner or eyeliner pen is a type of liquid eyeliner that comes in a pen and has a felt tip. Because of the tip, pen eyeliner is also called felt-tip eyeliner.

The most important benefit of an eyeliner pen is that it allows you to benefit from a liquid eyeliner without the difficulty that comes with using a brush tip. So you can define your eyes and create more dramatic looks.

Eyeliner pens dry down relatively faster and don’t spread out as much as brush-tip eyeliners. So pen eyeliners are more beginner-friendly.

Additionally, liquid eyeliner pens, the oil-free options, tend to work better for people with eyelash extensions all thanks to the easier application and easier removal without the need for rubbing.

How To Apply Pen Eyeliner

  1. Start from the outer corner of the eye and using your eyeliner pen, draw a line on the upper eyelid close to the lash line
  2. Bring the eyeliner close to the inner corner of the eye
  3. Draw an angled line on the outer corner of the eye to achieve a winged liner look

4. Gel Eyeliner

Sometimes called cream eyeliner, gel eyeliner usually comes in a small pot. Gel eyeliners basically fall between liquid and solid. They require a brush for application, which is sometimes sold together with the eyeliner.

Gel eyeliners have a very creamy, waxy feel to them. You dip your brush, preferably an angled or pointy brush, into the pot and get a small amount. And you apply it the way you apply a pencil liner.

In terms of beginner friendliness, this type of eyeliner can fall anywhere on the spectrum. But the most important advantage of gel eyeliners is that you have control over the amount you apply, which prevents mess.

Subtle or dramatic, gel eyeliners will work for both. The downside is that you can’t really tightline with them. The waxy substance tends to get dry and clumpy, which makes it difficult to color up the waterline and it can be really irritating.

Also, things can get messy during makeup removal so make sure you double-cleanse to get rid of stubborn makeup or learn how to remove waterproof eyeliner.

How To Apply Gel Eyeliner

  1. Use an angled brush to apply cream/gel eyeliner
  2. Dip your brush into the gel and get a small amount
  3. Start lining the eyelid by using small strokes
  4. Slowly build up the lines to achieve whatever look you’re going for

What Else Can Be Used as Eyeliner?

Last but not least, as one of the most practical DIY methods of all time, you can use eyeshadow as eyeliner. If you have eyeshadows in darker shades you don’t like to use on your eyelids anymore, you can now make use of them.

Just damp an angled brush and dip it into a black eyeshadow plate. And apply it like you’d apply gel eyeliner. The damp brush will make the eyeshadow stay put.

And even though an eyeshadow can fade during the day and not look as sleek as eyeliner, it’s still a great way to save and repurpose the product instead of tossing it away.

On a side note, this is actually a great method to prevent eyeliner from smudging. If you frequently deal with your eyeliner smearing under your eyes, apply your eyeliner first and then ‘stamp’ it in with a black eyeshadow.

So these are the most common types of eyeliners out there. Honestly, there’s no such thing as bad eyeliner anymore. If you’re having trouble making peace with liquid eyeliner, you probably haven’t found the right one yet.

If you don’t like the matte finish of pencil eyeliner, maybe you haven’t tried a satin finish. If black is too mainstream for you, try colorful options like burgundy eyeliners for a more dramatic effect.

Almost all types of eyeliners have a beginner-friendly option. I mean, we have liquid eyeliners we literally roll over the eyelids.

We have eye pencils that have angled tips. Don’t worry too much about it and get to experimenting. And once you’ve achieved your desired look, finish off with a mascara of your choice to complete your eye makeup.

Related: Best Drugstore Waterproof Eyeliners


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