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How to Use White Eyeliner on the Waterline — A Guide

May 26, 2023May 26, 2023

Your definitive guide to brightening up your gaze.

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The beauty of white eyeliner is that it's striking on its own, but it can also be used to spice up any eye look. Winged liner? A thick cat eye? Negative space? You name it, and white eyeliner can do it. But especially for the warmer summer months, this milky shade can brighten up the eye area when applied to the waterline. In fact, the more you learn, the more you might be inclined to reach for it as an alternative to your trusted darker pencils.

Below, experts break down why you should consider using white eyeliner on the waterline and how to put it on the right — and safe — way. Read on to see their tricks and tips.

Sean Harris, celebrity makeup artist

Kasey Spickard, celebrity makeup artist

The primary reason you'll want to use white eyeliner on the waterline is that it'll give your eye area a radiant glow. "White eyeliner has a brightening effect on the eyes, making them appear larger and more awake," says celebrity makeup artist Kasey Spickard. "Other liners provide depth and enhance or complement different eye colors, but white eyeliner really creates an awakened, refreshed look."

Spickard explains that white counteracts the redness that appears when we're tired, making it easier to fake looking well-rested. Simply put, white liner is universally flattering while serving as a pretty flourish for the eye.

Applying white eyeliner on the waterline is fairly easy. Spickard first recommends washing your hands and sharpening your pencil so that the pigments can glide on easily. You may even want to spritz it with a cleansing agent and wipe it clean so that you aren't putting anything with bacteria near your eye.

Celebrity makeup artist Sean Harris says you'll then want to take a cotton swab and remove excess moisture from the inner waterline so that it doesn't interfere with how the liner is going to look on. Then, use your finger on the hand not holding the pencil to press underneath the eye to expose your inner waterline and apply product on. Take your white eye pencil and run it back and forth a few times until you get the saturation of white pigment you're looking for.

Of all the pigment formula options, a pencil is best to use on the waterline. "I like soft pencils that glide in easily for the inner waterline," says Harris. "I would avoid using liquids or gels as they may irritate the eye."

His pick is the MAC Cosmetics Eye Kohl in Fascinating, which he says is a true bright white that wears beautifully. Spickard adds that you'll want to look for something waterproof so that it doesn't run and likes the Makeup Forever Aqua Resist Pencil in Sand or Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Yeyo.

If you have sensitivity around the eye area, Spickard says to look for liners that are hypo-allergenic and approved by an ophthalmologist. Harris would avoid eyeliner altogether on the waterline if you're sensitive. Instead, he recommends drawing liner on just the inner tear duct to avoid possible irritation and pairing it with a neutral shimmer shadow to get the same brightening effect.

Harris recommends pairing white eyeliner with softer neutral shadows for a nice balance. "The brightness on the inner waterline pairs well with the smokiness of the shadow," he says. "For example, you can use warm brown shades to define the lash lines and then a white or cream-toned eye pencil to brighten the inner waterline and make your eyes look bigger and smoky at the same time."

He also recommends using a brightening eye highlight to complement the white eyeliner and really make that effect pop. So, if you're looking for an easy way to fake some sleep, reach for that white eyeliner. The results are chic, and you walk away with a dynamic eye look that everyone will love.