The 5 Biggest Mistakes You're Making with Your Eyeliner

If you can nail a cat-eye on your first swipe, bravo.

Heavily lining your lower lid (opens in new tab) — especially with a very dark color — can make your eyes look smaller, says Mary Clarke, a product analyst in the Good Housekeeping Research Institute beauty lab. Plus, you're more likely to end up with under-eye smudges. If you want to define your lower eyelid, use a light pencil or, for an even more subtle look, a light brown or taupe eye shadow. Clarke recommends MAC Pro Longwear pencil (opens in new tab), a top-performer in our tests.

It's so frustrating to have to wipe off that line on your upper lid with makeup remover a million times before you get it right. To keep liner straight, avoid tugging at the outer corners of your eyes, makeup artist Laura Geller told Good Housekeeping (opens in new tab). "This can cause skin to crinkle, and your line will not be as smooth." Try pointing your chin up and looking down, so your lids are half-closed but you can still see them. And if you're using gel liner, apply it with a slanted brush for a smoother look. You can also use a light pencil to draw in the line to give yourself a guideline.

A little white or nude eyeliner on your bottom lid can work wonders to make you look more awake and refreshed. Gently pull on your under-eye and trace the line between the lower lashes and the inside rim.

Pencil eyeliners are best if you're in a hurry: They're the quickest to put on and resist smearing, Carl Ray, makeup artist to Michelle Obama, told Good Housekeeping (opens in new tab). (Here's his easy tip for applying pencil liner smoothly (opens in new tab).) Gel liners give you a more glam look, are water-resistant, and allow more control over line thickness. Our top pick: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner (opens in new tab). Liquid liners are the "advanced" kind. They apply more precisely, but you really need a steady hand to put 'em on. If you're a beginner trying a wing-tip or cat-eye (opens in new tab), use gel instead of liquid. "Liquid liner is a powerful product that delivers a strong, fluid line," says makeup artist Sonia Kashuk (opens in new tab). "Its intense pigmentation creates definition at the lash line and by controlling the thickness of the line, you can create a range of looks."

Here's how to do it: Apply your liner with a pencil or a tiny brush, and then trace over the line with a matching powder shadow. To make it last even longer, wet your shadow brush with Visine first, Jo Davis, artistic director for Trucco Cosmetics, told Good Housekeeping (opens in new tab).