Miscellaneous, Softly Special: All About the Eyes
Comments 19

Liner Notes: 5 Different Types of Eyeliners & what to do with them

Hello everyone! No eye makeup series is complete without a liner post, am I right? I think eyeliner is a relatively safe choice for enhancing your eye. It’s sort of like a gateway into eye makeup. I stopped wearing eyeliner in college because someone asked if I stayed up late, because I was afflicted with Eyeliner Raccoon Syndrome. Well, no more!

In this post, I will write about types of eyeliner that I’ve had the pleasure of trying. Obviously, it won’t be complete, but I can’t speak for everything!


Liner Notes - Pencil

I think we’re most familiar with pencils. This is certainly what I grew up using (or attempting to use). I find that regular pencil liners are drier in consistency than Kohls (see below), so these are ideal for drawing a line that you want to stay put.

In practice, they are also a bit harder to use if you are a beginner, just because the liner “sets” in place right away. Also, the drier formula sometimes causes lines to skip when the pencil tugs at your skin.


Liner Notes - Kohl

Kohls come in pencil form or as chubby crayons that look like incense cones. A lot of people mistake these for regular pencils, but kohls are usually softer and creamier since they are (traditionally) used for smudging/smoking out the eye look.

SS 2 - Look 2

You smudge on a thick layer of kohl on your eyes, and blend on a bit of eyeshadow for a fuss-free smoky eye. While you can also use these as liners, kohls tend to “melt off” and transfer if you have oily lids or watery eyes.

EXAMPLE: Rimmel Scandaleyes, MAC Eye Kohls

Liner Notes - Liquid

Liquid liners come in different shapes, sizes, formulations, applicators, and so on. My favorite standard black one is by K-Palette, which is a Japanese brand. It has a brush-tip applicator (like the Chinese ink/watercolor brushes), but it holds it shape together and has decent flexibility. It is quite easy to maneuver.

Chanel Delicatesse - Face

Some liners like Urban Decay, Le Métier de Beauté, and e.l.f. have a thin, flexible applicator that’s a bit hard to control. The Illamasqua Precision Ink applicator seem to be a felt-tip and is extremely easy to use.


Liner Notes - Painting Liner

Gel and Cream liners have skyrocketed to popularity due to ease of use and generally exceptional quality. They are usually waterproof, easy and smooth to apply, with a matte finish, unlike some of the liquid liners’.

These require a brush because they usually come in pots. The formula and mode of application allows for precision and control. A big con I have found with the gel/cream liners is that they tend to dry out because of the packaging.


Liner Notes - Eyeshadow Powder

A beginner’s dream! If you are new to eyeliner, take a black eyeshadow and a stiff angled brush and practice with that. You get a softer look, and the mistakes are easier to remove.

You can also achieve a more intense look similar to a liquid eyeliner by wetting your brush (to the point where it’s damp and not soaking wet!) with water or a solution like MAC Fix+ and applying the eyeshadow.

Hope that helps! I don’t really prefer one over the other; it just depends on what the look I’m going for that day is.


    • I didn’t either, but it didn’t take too much effort after the first couple of times. 🙂 For truly lazy days, though, I like just smudging on the eyeliner!

  1. My current favorite is the eyeshadow/powder liner technique. It’s just so easy, and I don’t have to buy different products to line my eyes.

  2. I always thought Kohl is just a name for black eyeliner pencil, I learned something new today!

    I use eyeshadow as an eyeliner since I don’t put eyeliner a lot — I’m using the Marionnaud brush with spoolie per your recommendation. 😉

    • Kohls are a traditional mixture that people have used to enhance their eyes or on babies, to ward off evil spirits. Mostly in Asian countries! I guess they just used the name because the smudginess and creaminess of the products mimic that effect.

      Great, hope it works out well for you!

      • Oh wow! I never knew kohl dates waaaaay back. Thanks for the info, Carina.

        The brush works so good and doubles as an eyelash comb.

      • Well, kohls as we know it are different from traditional kohls, but they’re meant to mimic the old formulas.

  3. I think eyeshadow as eyeliner is terrific! If anything, to outline the shape and correct mistakes before going in there with a less-forgiving product. In my case, it allowed me to figure out what eyeliner thickness and what kind of flick looks best on me and I guess my hand got enough practice in the meantime, that now I reach for gel eyeliner more often without going into too much stress about it 😀

    I still wish I could work with pencils and kohls (I didn’t know those were different btw, thanks!). I just find it that even the creamiest of them drag too much.

    • I have a lot of time. JK, I don’t really, but eye makeup is my absolute favorite! ❤ I'm glad these are somewhat helpful. 😀

  4. Pingback: September’s Softly Special: All About the Eyes (Master List of Posts) | Softly Sometimes

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