Which Eyeliner is Right For You?

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I was in a hurry yesterday and forgot to put my eyeliner on. As I took a last look in the mirror before departing for work, I was astounded at how nekkid I looked!  My eyes looked old and tired. I looked ‘unfinished’ somehow, not polished how I like to look. That’s why I’m a huge fan of eyeliner for women over 40–it really defines the eyes and makes them pop. It’s also a quick and easy way to incorporate color in to your makeup routine.

Back in the day, aka ancient times, we certainly did not have the choices we have today. Although this is a wonderful development, it can sometimes leave us dazed and confused–okay, I speak for myself. For example; I don’t remember having so many types of eyeliner when I was learning about makeup; I’m pretty sure it was just pencil and maybe some liquid. Now eyeliner comes in lots of different formulas with just as many application techniques. There are pencils, kohl, liquid, cake and gels. Admittedly, each type does serve a different purpose.


For a soft, natural line use pencil or cake liner – pencil eyeliner is great for the beginner and is quick and easy. It’s easy to control, blendable and forgiving of mistakes. Depending on the brand, the lasting power can be excellent. I love Urban Decay 24/7 liners–they are waterproof, smudge proof and come in beautiful colors. The same can be said for Makeup For Ever Aqua liners and Mally Beauty’s Evercolor Waterproof Eyeliner. One of my favorite eyeliner sets is Smoked from Urban Decay.

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Cake liner looks like an eye shadow but a true cake liner has a much harder texture than an eye shadow. The benefit of cake liner is that you can do a very thin line that enhances your natural lashes. Laura Mercier makes excellent cake liners in gorgeous shades–Blue Marine is awesome! Cake liner is also the best for ‘tightlining.”  Tightlining is best for a natural look, you push the liner in between lashes on top and underneath to make them look fuller. It’s very easy and effective!


For a wearable, daytime line – gel liners are soft so there is no tugging on your eyelids, they have exceptional staying power and are suitable for us over 40’s since they don’t look harsh. Almost every cosmetic brand has a selection of gel eyeliner these days. MAC Fluidlines, Bobbi Brown Gel Liners and Stila Smudge Pots are all good choices. The key to using gel eyeliner is a great brush. Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush is easy to control and creates a slim tapered line. I also like the flat MAC 212 Definer Brush for the lower lash line.


For a strong, defined line – the new eyeliner markers are perfect for this look and are surprisingly easy to use. The fine stiff tip can be used for a thin or thick line. Turn the marker on its side as close to the lash line as possible then sweep outward for a winged line. Some of my favorites are Smashbox Love Me Paint Pen Liner and Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner. These are so easy to use even I can do it!

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For a bold, razor-sharp line with a sparkle/wet finish– I bet you were wondering when good ‘ol liquid liner would show up on this list weren’t you? Perfect for a cat eye and more dramatic looks, liquid liner is THE go-to. Some liquid liners come with a brush, some with a fine tip. Liquid liner takes some practice but here’s a tip: make tiny dots between your lashes and then just connect the dots! Make Up For Ever Aqua Liners come in 15 shades from basic to bold and three finishes-matte, iridescent and diamond. NARS Eyeliner Stylo. A good drugstore option are the new Milani Ultrafine Liquid Liners. Here is a fun video from NARS showing different eyeliner looks.

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For a heavy smoky line – for a thicker, more intense look a fat crayon liner is the ticket. Crayon liners are great for smudging and creating a smoky look. They can also be used as a base for powder eye shadows. I like NARS Soft Touch Shadow Pencils. Dark Rite is my go-to shade.



 For a thick, messyCleopatra look – there are two types of Kohl liners–pencil and loose. The pencil type is much softer in texture making it easier to smudge and the color is usually more intense. It’s fantastic for that sexy smoldering eye that looks like you just finished a romp in the hay. Loose powder kohl liner is applied with a wand; you place it between your upper and lower lashes, close your eyes and pull the wand through. I’ve never tried it, I’m too much of a scaredy cat and it looks very messy, but I sure like the look. Guerlain brought the powder kohl liner to the forefront a few years ago. I’ll stick to the Laura Mercier kohl pencils.


I recommend experimenting with different types to see which one you’re comfortable with.

What is your favorite type of eyeliner? Any tips you’d like to share?