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Question: 
What’s the easiest way to apply eyeliner?

Answer: Getting the hang of eyeliner can be tricky at first—but with a little practice, eyeliner will soon become your can’t-leave-home-without-it beauty staple.

Choosing the right eyeliner

The first step is to choose the right product. Liquid liners are best left up to the pros, so a pencil or gel liner is your best bet. Pencils vary from soft and waxy to hard and powder-based. Typically it’s best to start somewhere in the middle—anything too soft might smudge easily, but hard liners can be more difficult to apply. You’ll also notice eyeliner pencils come in a traditional wooden pencil form or retractable pencils that can be twisted up.

A popular pencil is the 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil by Urban Decay ($20, macys.com). While dark brown or soft black shades are best for beginners, this pencil comes in a whopping 40 different shades, so you can get as creative as you’d like. Urban decay’s waterproof formula promises to last all day and all night. The pencil goes on creamy for a smooth application (and easy blending) but dries in about 30 seconds to a long-lasting line. Just remember to purchase a sharpener!

Kohl is also a common ingredient in eyeliner pencils. It goes on softly but smudges more easily than other products, making it great for creating a smokey eye, but more difficult to use for beginners.

Drawing the perfect line

To line the top of your lashes:

1. Start by applying eyeshadow first. It’s a great base and you won’t risk messing up your eyeliner by applying the shadow after.

2. Get about 6 inches away from your mirror and tilt your head back very slightly. Pull your eyelid back and upward gently.

3. Begin at the inner corner and gently draw small dashes, connecting them as you go. Use your lash line as a guide. You can also start with small dots along your lash line and connect them at the end. To get a subtle cat eye look or to make your eyes look bigger, extend the line slightly past your eye.

4. For a smokey, sultry look: lightly smudge the liner with a cotton swap or sponge tip. If you’ve made a mistake, you can also use a cotton swap dipped in makeup remover to clean it up.

5. Apply your mascara. You’re done!

Become an eyeliner pro

Lining the bottom of your lashes can be trickier. Experiment with lighter shades and start by applying liner to the bottom, outer corner to avoid a harsh effect.

Liquid liner isn’t as scary as it seems. Once you’ve practiced a bit, liquid liner is a great option. All you need is a steady hand and gentle touch. By pressing the brush against your lash line, you can get a dramatic but not over-the-top line. My favorite liquid is Magic Ink Liquid Eyeliner by Benefit.

Customize your look. Want to make your round eyes seems more almond-shaped? Press slighter harder about halfway across your top lash to create a thick line at the outer corner. For a sultry nighttime look, apply a little liner to the inner corner of the eye. And to look younger, apply a white, champagne or soft pink liner to the inner corner. Remember to experiment and have fun!