The Best Eyeliner Technique for Your Eye Shape

Hooded Eyes
Photo: CoffeeAndMilk/Getty Images

A little eyeliner goes a long way, making it one of our ultimate beauty tools. It can define and enhance your pretty peepers, and it can add a touch of flair or drama to any look. The pop of pigment is a fun, yet—at times—daunting accessory. If you get it right, it takes your look to new heights; if you make a wrong move, it jeopardizes the whole process. Just as we learned to tailor our haircuts to our face shape, we've learned the importance of tailoring our eyeliner technique to our eye shape. Pencil, liquid, or gel—none of it matters if you aren't using it to your advantage. Paying heed to your eye shape will make the time spent applying eyeliner more than worth it. Because though no serious life-altering repercussions will plague you as a result of botched eyeliner, you will be doing yourself a small disservice. We want every lady to feel and look her absolute best, and if some stunning flicks and swipes of eyeliner will help get her there, then let's get to it. With insight from the ultra-talented makeup professionals at MAC Cosmetics, we got the no-nonsense scoop. These are the best eyeliner techniques for different eye shapes.

01 of 09

Round Eyes

Round Eyes
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This shape benefits from using eyeliner to create the illusion of a wider eye. A strong cat-eye can do that and add a little drama; but if the thought of pulling off this style makes you nervous, just try to play up the outer corners of the top and bottom by pulling your liner a little further out (and always up!) from your natural corners, smudging slightly for a softer look.

MAC Global Senior Artist, Ashley Rudder, Pro Tip: "This curvaceous eye shape is so unique, and ladies should celebrate the round shape line the lower lid. Create a wing on the back half of the eye lid if you want to elongate the shape. This allows the lids to be as open as possible."

02 of 09

Hooded Eyes

Hooded Eyes
CoffeeAndMilk/Getty Images

Hooded eyes have a less visible crease due to brow skin creating a hood-like effect from the brow bone over the eye lid. This sultry shape can look a little tired, but some eyeliner perks it up easily. Hooded eyes look striking with a winged flick at the corner of the eye, bringing the eyes up. Use smudge-proof or waterproof liner, and generally skip the lower lash line to keep things from looking weighed down.

MAC Global Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal, Pro Tip: "I would focus on making a thicker line just on the top lid. Draw your line from inner corner across the lashes to the outer corner. This will help balance and compliment the eye shape. I would use a long wearing formula like Pro Longwear Fluidline from MAC so that the liner doesn't transfer onto the skin."

03 of 09

Almond-Shaped Eyes

Almond-Shaped Eyes
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Almond eyes, thanks to natural balance, are incredibly easy to style—lucky for you almond-eyed ladies! The shape literally favors the protein-packed nut: oval, but just slightly upturned in the outer corners.

MAC Global Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal, Pro Tip: "Start on the top outside corner of the lid and softly draw over the lash line until you meet the center of the eye. Fade the end of your line into the lashes so there are no harsh lines. If you feel you need more definition repeat the same technique on the lower lash line starting from the outside corner of the eyelid."

04 of 09

Downturned Eyes

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Jody Horton

Downturned eyes get grief for looking a little tired, but you can definitely play up the doe-eyed effect! This eye shape does what it says: turns downwards at the outer corners. Eyeliner can lift up the eyes for a livelier, fresh look.

MAC Global Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal, Pro Tip: "I think most makeup artists' reaction to an eye that has a down-turned edges is to 'lift' them up. I'm on the fence because I think accentuating a shape like this can look really chic. If you want to balance them out, I would use a winged shape on the outer corners of the eye to lift the eyes up. The eyeliner will be mostly on the outer corner of the eye similar to what I would do for an almond shaped eye, but add a wing."

05 of 09


Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Monolids have concealed creases and lack lid space, which makes applying liner and shadow a little trickier. For eyeliner, it's best to go bold and thick to define the eyes in a noticeable way. This shape loves a touch of drama at the end, making a cat-eye or winged flick the perfect finishing effect. Skip the lower lash line, but you can use eye shadow along the outer corner of the lower lash line for a pop of definition.

MAC Global Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal, Pro Tip: "When your eye shape doesn't have a visible crease there are several techniques you can apply to compliment your eye shape. I would recommend using long wearing formulas like Pro Longwear Fluidline, Modern Twist Kajal Liner or Liquidlast liquid liner because they are very resistant to transfer on the skin. Depending how enhanced you want the eyes to look, you can draw over the top lid when the eyes are closed and continue to draw a thicker line so that it's visible on the lid when the eye is open."

06 of 09

Upturned Eyes

Upturned Eyes

Upturned eyes are similar to almond eyes with their oval shape and slightly upturned outer corners, but they don't look quite as symmetric. The upturned corner is more noticeable, making the lower lash line look more pronounced and often longer. This shape benefits from using eyeliner as a way to create balance. Line the top and bottom lash lines, but thicken or smudge your eyeliner at the lower outer corner to get that symmetry.

07 of 09

Wide-Set Eyes

Wide-Set Eyes
Dimitri Otis/Getty Images

MAC Global Senior Artist, Ashley Rudder, Pro Tip: "My eyes are wide set, and one of my favorite tips is to draw a micro wing on the inner part of my eye toward my nose. This makes my eyes appear closer together, and gives my eyes a more exotic look!"

08 of 09

Close-Set Eyes

Close-Set Eyes
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MAC Global Senior Artist, Ashley Rudder, Pro Tip: "Wing it out! If you want your close-set eyes to look like they are further apart, only line the back half of your eyes and create a wing. The longer or more dramatic the wing is, the more it creates the illusion of your eyes being further apart. Add some highlighter to the tear duct area to brighten and widen that area more as well."

09 of 09

Small Eyes

Small Eyes
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Small eyes require a light and strategic hand and rarely benefit from applying too much product. With eyeliner, lining your waterline with light shades works serious wonders.

MAC Global Senior Artist, Ashley Rudder, Pro Tip: "Open up a small eye by using a flesh-toned, or cream-colored, eye liner in the waterline, try MAC's Technakohl Liner in Risque. This makes the whites of the eyes appear larger and more open!"

From there, your thinnest line of liner on the top lid gives some definition, but you should focus more on the outer third of the lash line to draw out the eye in order to make it look larger. When you want to line the lower lash line, focus only on the outer corner and, for goodness sake, smudge!

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