Close-up portrait of a young woman. Beautiful cat-eyeliner makeup.
Image: Shutterstock/Maria Ignatenko

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Eyeliner And What It Can Do

Eyeliner seems pretty cut and dry: get a special black pencil for your eyes and outline those windows to the soul. Yet between all the styles, techniques and history, eyeliner can become a somewhat complex topic. Below are ten facts about eyeliner you might not be aware of if you’re applying it quickly without a second thought.

#1 Eyeliner comes from the ancient Egyptians.

In addition to pyramids and mummies, ancient Egypt also gave us eyeliner. Reportedly, the ancient Egyptians wore eye makeup to prevent eye infections and reduce glare from sunlight in the eyes. Eyeliner was also thought to protect a person from the evil eye. When Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in the 1920s eyeliner came to the West.

#2 You can make your own eyeliner with activated charcoal.

Eyeliner doesn’t have to come from those store-bought pencils. You can make your own. A bit of cocoa powder, coconut oil and a little pinch of activated charcoal will mimic the pencil. Use a thin brush with the mixture.

#3 Different application methods give different visual effects.

Using eyeliner can be something of a geometry game. For a natural look, line the upper lid only. To make your eyes look smaller, line the whole eye. If you want to make your eyes look bigger, line the outer half of the lid.

#4 The dotting technique is best for getting a thick line.

Want a thick, intense line for maximum impact? The easiest way to get it is to dot along the eye, and then fill in between the dots. That will guide your hand better and make the line much smoother.

#5 Smoky eye styles require less eyeliner.

If you’re going for the smoky eye, it might be tempting to slather on as much eye makeup as you can with reckless abandon. But for the smoky eye look, you’ll want to line the outer and inner corners thicker, while keeping the middle of the eye light on the eyeliner. Fill the middle portion in with more eye shadow.

#6 There’s more than one color of eyeliner.

Ok, you’ve probably seen more than one color on the market. But it’s easy to forget, with black being the most common eyeliner color out there. A lovely method to try is dual lining the eye with black right above the lash and adding a layer of another color right above the black line. It looks really stunning with black and gold.

#7 Eyeliner can do more than line the eye.

Don’t feel like eyeliner is trapped right by the lashes. You can also cover the eyelid with white eyeliner before adding lighter eye shadow to give it extra brightness. You can also lightly blend white eyeliner around your brows with a sponge for an extra definition to the brows.

#8 There are dozens of ways to do the cat eye.

When most of us think of the cat eye style, we see a basic slight upturn on the outer eye and that’s it. But some cat eye styles mimic lashes, some have unique geometric flairs, some go heavy on the whole eye and some paint part of the eyelid.

#9 You can get creative on what you use for eyeliner.

If you really want to think outside the box, you can also use up some of your other eye makeup before grabbing the pencil. Get a thin eye brush and either dip it into your mascara or into your eye shadow. Outline your eye the way you normally would.

#10 You don’t have to draw freehand.

If you don’t have steady hands, don’t feel like you have to freehand it. Use whatever you have around to make a steady line, especially when trying the cat eye. People have used business cards, spoons and transparent tape as a straight edge on the outside of the eye.