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To use eyeliner on your waterline or not: that’s the dilemma. Articles say wearing black eyeliner on the waterline makes eyes look smaller, but YouTube beauty gurus do it in their tutorials all the time. What’s the deal? This topic can be tricky to cover because there are so many variables that can affect the final look. Here are a few tips and tricks for how and when to wear eyeliners in different colors on the waterline:


For a while in high school, I wore black eyeliner on my waterline (bottom) and tightline (top) every day. I thought it defined my eyes and made them pop. Even if I didn’t wear eyeshadow, I at least had eyeliner on. Boy was I a mess. It’s true, black eyeliner on the waterline can make your eyes look smaller. That’s why it’s important to know when to use it. In this picture, the left eye is a smoky eye with black liner in the waterline, and the right eye has the liner, but not the smoky eye. Which do you think looks better?


If you aren’t wearing much eyeshadow and you’re going for a more natural look, skip the black. However, if you’re doing a dramatic, dark smoky eye, try adding a little black. It can help define your eyes when there are a lot of blended colors around them. Typically, my rule is if I could use black eyeshadow in my smoky eye, black eyeliner on the waterline is okay. If you’re doing a medium colored brown smoky eye, black eyeliner will make your eyes look small. Just keep in mind that black eyeliner on the waterline will define your eyes, but it must be used with the right look to avoid the raccoon look.

It’s also helpful to blend the black on the bottom waterline out into your lower lash line. To do this, use a small fluffy brush and look up while you move the brush from side to side along your lower lash line. Try to get close to your eye without actually hitting it for the best results. Blend, blend, blend until you’re happy! This effect will help to smoke out the lower lash line, creating a wide-open-eye effect.


White and nude eyeliner have been increasingly popular recently because they make your eyes look bigger. White eyeliner tends to be a bit more harsh than nude, so I personally prefer nude on my waterline. I like using these colors when I’m doing a more natural look. Typically these colors are more versatile than black because they make the eyes look wider, rather than smaller.

I actually apply a combination of black and nude on most days. I wear black on my tightline to define my lashes more, and nude on the bottom to open my eyes up. Try this combination and see how much more defined and open your eyes will look!


Colored eyeliner is fun to play with in the lash line. I’ve done a look with gold and navy blue where I smudged blue liner on the bottom lash line, and it looked super cool. Colors can include brown, however, brown eyeliner often looks great in the waterline. Copper or bronze colors typically look best, especially with blue eyes. Blue can be used to make the whites of the eyes look whiter. Experiment with different shades. Find a pigmented liner like NARS Larger than Life liners, and try out some fun colors!

What’s your favorite way to wear eyeliner?