How to Use Eyeshadow as Eyeliner
Using eyeshadow as eyeliner can be pretty handy if you have an eyeshadow palette with lots of colors you want to experiment with, or if you want to see how colored eyeliners would look on you. It can also be useful if all you have with you is an eyeshadow trio or quad, and you want to line your eyes for a more complete look. In my case, I like using black eyeshadow to line my lash line because it looks natural, especially when compared to liquid, gel, or even pencil eyeliner.
The technique of using an eyeshadow as eyeliner is also called ‘wetlining’. Also, somewhat related, ‘foiling’ is a term used to refer to eyeshadow used/applied wet on the lids. Anwyays, if you’re interested in trying to use an eyeshadow as eyeliner, but aren’t sure how to do it, here’s a quick, easy step-by-step how-to.
First, here are the few things you’ll need:
- A pressed or loose eyeshadow. I personally prefer black for this, for everyday makeup looks, but colorful shades would be fun to try too. Here I used the black shade in the Sleek Storm Palette.
- A fine-tipped, angled liner brush. I used the MAC 208 Brush in this article.
- Your mixing medium. This can be plain water (which is what I used here), makeup setting spray, or a mix of glycerin (you can find this at the shelves of Mercury Drugstores) and water, with the ratio being 3 parts water to 1 part glycerin. Why glycerin? Because it can help pigments adhere a little better onto the skin.
1. Get your mixing medium. If it’s stored in a bottle or jar, pour a dot of it onto a surface, like the lid of a jar. We don’t want to dip or double-dip our brush into the whole thing and contaminate all of the contents. For this tutorial, I used plain old water stored in a spray bottle. If your mixing medium has a spray dispenser, spritz a small amount on the back of your hand.
2. Grab your brush and dab it in the dispensed mixing medium. The brush doesn’t have to be soaking wet, damp would be just fine. After that, load pigment on the brush. Tap the brush gently against the container once to get rid of any excess.
3. Looking closely and straight ahead into a mirror, point the brush to the center of the upper lash line. Try to hold the brush straight, instead of at a 45° angle (I couldn’t hold the brush straight in front of me in the photo because it would block the camera). I find that this helps draw a fine line that’s close to the very base of the lashes. If you’re using loose eyeshadow or any eyeshadow with lots of fallout, try placing a sheet of tissue on the undereyes, right underneath the lower lashes, to prevent any pigment from falling or smearing on the undereye.
4. Instead of lining the eye from the inner corner all the way to the outer corner, especially if you’re not used to lining your eyes, I suggest starting at the center of the lash line, then going towards the outer corner. The line here can be relatively thick, because in this part of the eye, the lashes tend to be thicker. After that, I go to the innermost corner of the eye, then connect it to the middle of the lash line. In the inner corner of the eye, lashes tend to be a bit more sparse, so try to draw a finer line here progressing to a slightly thicker line as you meet the mid point. By applying eyeliner this way I can create a less thick and more natural-looking line. You can place a flick at the end of the eye or outer corner, if you’d like.
5. You’re pretty much finished at this point. I would also suggest tightlining because it makes the lashes look even more lush, without looking overdone, and definitely mascara! Eyeshadow shades like gold or green can be lined over black as well. Gold over black on just the center of the lash line looks really pretty with matte neutral shadows on the lids.
For your mixing medium, the gycerin + water mix or setting spray would be better to use rather than plain water because those can help eyeshadow apply more smoothly and stay longer. I just use plain water most of the time I do wetlining because there’s a spray bottle that’s always in plan view on our dresser, and also because I only mostly use eyeshadow as eyeliner when I don’t need my eyeliner to last long.
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