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3 Steps For Applying Your Eyeliner Perfectly According To ELLE's Beauty Director

ELLE (UK) logo ELLE (UK) 08/10/2019 Katy Young
a close up of a woman: ELLE's Beauty Director, Katy Young, and her liquid-liner made easy tips © Matteo Scarpellini ELLE's Beauty Director, Katy Young, and her liquid-liner made easy tips

When you get paid to test beauty products for a living, what do you actually pay to use? ELLE's Beauty Director Katy Young comes clean.

Most beauty trends come and go as regularly as the number 94 bus. Take skin finish, for example: it can jump from glossy to matte and back again in just one season, while eyebrows are known for their perennial shape-shifting.

Then there's eyeliner, the steadfast exception to the rule. An inky lashline looked just as up to date on the AW19 Louis Vuitton and Erdem runways as it did on Sophia Loren doing the passeggiata in the 1950s.

In fact, as I write this, the two wings sitting pretty across my lids feel as timely today as they did when I first etched them above my lashes with a Rimmel London eyeliner at age 14. And though this morning’s application came with a lot less wobble and a lot more knowledge, it has remained my unequivocal make-up go-to.

Getty © Getty Getty

The beauty of liquid eyeliner is its multifaceted appearance. Plus, if like me, you’re not one for following the beauty crowd, you’ll also enjoy eyeliner’s lenient style guide. I might wear a ticked thorn in navy or green just peeping out above the outer lashes for my various weekend plans, or a sexy 1950s flowing line in jet black for date night. A straight bar across the lids is my nine-to-five office standard, to open up my eyes and add definition and, for an evening out with friends, I stick to my thick flick starting just above my pupils finishing off at a 45-degree angle by my outer lashes, which I love in brown.

But where there is liquid liner there is fear: fear of failure mostly, but also fear of what shape to even go for. The gently evolving story of liquid eyeliner can make things confusing; would Loren’s signature feline flick elongate your eyes best, or do Amy Winehouse’s thick marker pen stripes work better for that doe-eyed effect? And how the hell do you remove it all without a case of conjunctivitis if you do make mistakes? (A cotton bud dipped in a bi-phase make-up remover works best.)

As a beginner, follow my basic rule of three to make it easy on yourself...

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 10: Amy Winehouse performs, via satellite from London, at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles, California, February 10, 2007. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images) © Getty LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 10: Amy Winehouse performs, via satellite from London, at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles, California, February 10, 2007. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)

How To Apply Liquid Eyeliner

1. Steer clear of brush and inkwell formulas

Instead go for sturdy felt-tip pens with good pigment pay-off so that you don’t have to drag skin or repeat application.

2.Start on the outer edge

Paint a short quick flick from the corner of your eye upwards to mimic the angle of your lashes, which should already be wearing mascara (do if after and you enter a world of smudging pain). Leave it at that, which I personally love, to lift the eye. Or work backwards along the lash line in mini strokes towards the inner corner to fully line it.

3. Always look down on liner

Put a hand mirror on a table - rather than a mirror on a wall - and stare over it to get a good angle, using your spare hand to slightly stretch skin, looking downwards allows you to follow your lashline without having to close your eyes.

And, 28 years of liner later, I can vouch for the fact that if you start to get your eye in now, you’ve got yourself a beauty look for life. 

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