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Skin Deep: There's no need to be scared of liquid eyeliner, or to spend a lot on it

Now, how do you get them to look the same…

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Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.

The makeup subject I have been asked most about, both since beginning this column, and indeed in my daily life, is liquid eyeliner. It is the one product which seems to absolutely baffle many, while also being a staple item of countless women’s beauty routine. My love of the product began around 2006, when Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse made it clear that if you wanted to be an edgy cool girl, you needed to be getting your flick on. I developed a bit of a dependence on my flicks for the rest of that decade, and spent many encounters with other women sneakily assessing theirs. Were they using the right product? Had they gotten the right angle from the eye? Was it too thick? Too thin? Were they better than my own?

Of course, my analysis was totally subjective, as the perfect eyeliner flick is a matter of personal preference, and indeed style. My own flicks vary from look to look, depending on what I want to achieve. Many women, however, have banished liquid eyeliner from their makeup collection because they simply can not get the hang of it.

PastedImage-97128 Source: YouTube/TinaYong

A cursory glance around beauty internet will present you with countless tricks and techniques to master liquid eyeliner. There’s the one in which you stick some sellotape on your face to create a sort of half-stencil (if you insist on trying this, please use surgical tape instead, it’s much kinder to the delicate skin around your eyes). There’s the one where you use a spoon as a guide. There’s the one where you trace along a business card. So desperate are beauty brands to get you into winged eyeliner that they’ve developed stencils, stickers and more recently stamps. I’ve tried these techniques, and while they can be helpful, they require practice to get them right. In my opinion, if you’re going to practice, you might as well just practice doing your eyeliner without any gimmicks. It’s simpler, and once you get the hang of it you’re set for life.

First, you need to decide which product is for you. There are those who claim that you can get a great flick with a pencil, I think those people are liars. Ok, that might be a bit harsh, but I think they’re wrong.  You might be able to manage with a very fresh pot of gel, but I think that to get precision and a truly great edge you need a liquid.

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Alas, the decision does not end there. Liquid eyeliner usually comes to us via two types of applicator, the felt-tip and the brush. Which is better comes down to personal preference. I have gone through phases of using both, and find that for a precise flick a firm felt-tip is best, because of its precise tip. For a smooth line, however, a brush is better. Its flexibility allows the product to glide easily across the lashline. Unfortunately, it’s really a case of trial and error to figure out which your preference is. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a lot to experiment with good liquid eyeliner. I’m currently using a combination of a Catrice felt-tip pen and Rimmel Glam Eyes which has a brush applicator. Both of these cost well under a tenner, and are very black and last brilliantly. Why you would spend more is beyond me, to be honest. Other budget options I dabble in from time to time include Loreal Paris Superstar Superliner and Rimmel Exaggerate. If I’m feeling fancy I might splash out on a Chanel pen or Tom Ford’s Eye Defining Pen (which has two ends, one thinner than the other which is handy), but I haven’t done that in years, because it’s just not necessary and I’d rather buy a lipstick.

In terms of technique, sorry guys, but again, it’s each to his own and trial and error. Personally, I start from the inner corner and sweep across, stopping near the end of my eyelid. I then draw in from the point of my flick, joining the two lines, before tidying up the shape and filling in any gap between the line and my lashes. Some people prefer to start with their flick and move inwards.

Others like to draw the flick as a little triangle and fill it in. I find leaning my elbow on a surface while applying distracting, others find it to be a massive help in terms of steadying their hand. One thing which is important is to wait for the liquid to dry before you fully open your eyes, otherwise you’ll end up with a black line transfer on your brow bone and you’ll have to start all over. But as I said before, trial and error is key. The good news is, eyeliner is permanent, and even celebrity makeup artists have to go in with a cotton bud and some micellar water from time to time. Don’t use your eye makeup remover though, if it’s in any way oily. If you do, any touch-ups you apply won’t stick, and the rest of your eye makeup will probably smudge.

Oh that moment 🙌 #justeyelinerthings #wingedeyeliner #justforfun #artistanmag

A post shared by Artistan Magazine (@artistanmag) on

My final tips are to remember that we’re talking about makeup here – it’s not that serious. It’s ok if your wings don’t perfectly match. It’s also ok if they end up slightly thicker than you intended because you had to do a few repairs. Having said that, I don’t think it’s advisable to bring your liquid eyeliner out with you on a night out. I have fallen prey too many times to drunken, heavy handed application in a badly lit nightclub toilet, and there are photos to prove it.

I’m sure you all have lots of techniques to share, so I’d love to hear them in the comments!
New Product 

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Inglot are releasing a new range of ‘Signature Palettes’ which are sure to be top quality. More than one makeup artist has told me that they find Inglot shadows to be just as good as Mac shadows, at a significantly lower price. These palettes bring together both new Inglot shades and ones already available as individuals. If you’re someone who isn’t sure what shades to put together, these babies are for you.

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